Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 7

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 16, 2019

Nicky Lopez has made his debut batting second in Kansas City’s lineup.

Earlier this year, it was #ExtensionSeason, where teams were seemingly handing out contract extensions left and right. Now it’s #ProspectSeason as we are getting new, fresh faces for fantasy nearly every day.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a wave of prospects called up to the majors. Guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nick Senzel, Carter Kieboom, Michael Chavis, and Nate Lowe.

Picking up prospects is a hit-or-miss game, as we’ve seen with the names above. Those who wasted their waiver priority or FAAB on Kieboom or Lowe are probably leery to go all-in on some of the recent names promoted. While yes, for every Chavis there is a Kieboom, don’t let that deter you from picking up a prospect who can help your team. Is it really any different from chasing saves off the wire?

Here are some players who can help you in the traditional roto categories and are owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues or fewer.

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Runs – Nicky Lopez (SS – KC): 13%
By moving Whit Merrifield to the outfield, it looks like the Royals are committed to playing Lopez for the long haul. It’s good news for Lopez, who was lighting up Triple-A to the tune of .353/.457/.500 with three home runs and 27 runs scored. He also brings his 14.5 walk rate to the big leagues, and the Royals slotted him into the two-hole in his first game Tuesday night.

It may mean the end of the Billy Hamilton era in Kansas City, though, at least as a starter.

The Royals offense isn’t an elite group by any stretch, but it’s also not the walk in the park that it was expected to be either.

Average – Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): 49%
I’ve mentioned Hiura in this column and in my writing in general on FantasyPros for a while now. Next to Guerrero and Senzel, he had the best hit tool in the minors entering the season. That title now belongs to Alex Kirilloff, by the way.

Hiura was called up Tuesday, as well, as Travis Shaw went on the injured list. Being a second baseman only increases his fantasy appeal, as it’s a mostly shallow position.

Long term, Hiura profiles as a prime Dustin Pedroia meets Anthony Rendon. For this year, he’s a fringe top-12 second baseman who should be owned in most formats. The secured role isn’t there yet, but like most prospects, he’ll stay if he hits. And the one thing we know for sure about him is that he hits.

Stolen Bases – Oscar Mercado (OF – CLE): 23%
There was a chance that Mercado would break camp with the Indians, but he was ultimately sent down to Triple-A. Mercado’s calling card is his speed. While speed doesn’t always translate right away to the majors from the minors, it’s a needed category for most fantasy owners, making him a must-grab in five-outfielder leagues.

His arrival could mean the end of the short-lived Carlos Gonzalez experiment in Cleveland, especially with how Jordan Luplow is hitting. Run — don’t walk — to pick up Mercado off your wire now if you need the speed.

Home Runs – Austin Riley (3B – ATL): 19%
I’m glad that Riley got the call because if not, I was going to have to write about Tommy La Stella, which I really didn’t want to do.

Riley is the latest big-name Braves prospect to get promoted, but unlike the rest of the recent names, he’s not a pitcher. He crushed 15 home runs in the minors, so it was only a matter of time until he got the call to the bigs after having nothing left to prove in Triple-A.

While he’s a natural third baseman, the Braves have had Riley work in the outfield recently in case they needed him there. After Ender Inciarte landed on the IL, it appears it was good foresight by the Braves’ brass.

RBIs – Hunter Pence (OF – TEX): 40%
I guess we’ll call him Papa Pence among this group since he’s the only non-prospect hitter to make the cut this week. The Rangers are an underrated offense in general, and with Pence seemingly finding the Fountain of Youth, the Rangers are getting him more regular playing time. Ride it until he stops producing.

Wins – Corbin Martin (SP – HOU): 39%
It’s funny looking at what we know now, compared to what we thought we knew six weeks ago. On Opening Day, the pecking order in Houston’s farm system was Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker, followed by Martin and Yordan Alvarez. Now, it’s the reverse.

Martin got the call last Sunday, and he impressed instantly. He’ll face a tougher task this week in Boston, but I tend to trust a pitcher going against a team for the first time.

Martin’s arrival sent Collin McHugh to the bullpen, but we don’t know if it’s a long-term move. Although the Astros have a lot of internal and external options (hello, Dallas Keuchel), we are at a point where we can’t be too picky with pitchers.

ERA – Cole Irvin (SP – PHI): 4%
Martin overshadowed Irvin’s debut, which is understandable. Irvin, in general, isn’t a sexy pitcher, as he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys. He does, however, offer assistance with your ratios, which are just as important in category leagues.

If you can find the strikeouts elsewhere, go grab Irvin.

WHIP – Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU): 38%
The middle reliever strategy still hasn’t been widely adopted yet, or Pressly would be owned in far more leagues than he is now. He may be the best pitcher in baseball, and yet not many casual fans outside of Houston have heard of him before.

In 19 innings this year, he’s yet to allow an earned run or a walk, and his WHIP sits at 0.47. Will it go up? Sure, but last year, it was at 1.11.

If you’re sick of streaming closers and you need help in the WHIP category, grab Pressly or another middle reliever like him.

Strikeouts – Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN): 14%
Do you know what’s keeping Mahle from being owned more? It’s his 0-5 record. If he were 4-1, he’d be around 60 percent owned with his 3.97 ERA, 26.8 K%, and 1.19 WHIP. 

Mahle is doing a lot right this year, and he’s due for positive regression with his 3.55 FIP.

Saves – Hansel Robles (RP – LAA): 35%
I wanted to go with Luke Jackson here, but it seems that those of you chasing saves are on the ball. Well done! I’ll instead go with Robles, who, despite my preference for Ty Buttrey, is the reliever to own for the Angels.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
5Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
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7DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
8Davante Adams (GB)WR
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14Travis Kelce (KC)TE
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17Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
18Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
19Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21Antonio Brown (OAK)WR
22George Kittle (SF)TE
23T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
24Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
25A.J. Green (CIN)WR
26Marlon Mack (IND)RB
27Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
28Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
29Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
30Damien Williams (KC)RB
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
6Trevor Story (COL)SS
7Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
8J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
9Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
10Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
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11Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
12Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
13Trea Turner (WSH)SS
14Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
15Adalberto Mondesi (KC)2B,SS
16Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
17Chris Sale (BOS)SP
18Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
19Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
20Blake Snell (TB)SP
21Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
22Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
23Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
24Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
25Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
26Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
27Rhys Hoskins (PHI)1B,LF
28Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
29Juan Soto (WSH)LF
30Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
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3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
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5Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
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7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
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14Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (HOU)PG
16Jimmy Butler (PHI)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
18Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
19Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
26Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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