Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 18
Lost in the rush of the trade deadline are the players who stood out recently without help from a deal.
These players can be major contributors down the playoff stretch in the 10 traditional roto categories. Whether it be due to a promotion, demotion, or a hot streak, all of these guys can help you in at least one category.
Like each and every week, let’s look at the 10 players who are rostered in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues or fewer.
Will Smith (C – LAD): 49%
Stop what you’re doing, cause I’m about to ruin the image and the style that you’re used to. OK, that’s Digital Underground and not Will Smith, but Smith is changing the perception you have of fantasy catchers during the “Summertime.”
OK, the dad jokes are done. I promise.
With Austin Barnes‘ demotion to Triple-A, Smith got the promotion and instantly made an impact with a home run in his first game back. That was the first home run by a Dodgers catcher since the last time Smith was up in late June.
Playing nearly every day in a loaded Dodgers lineup, he’s a top-10 option the rest of the season who could push for top six. Wilson Ramos vs. Smith is a current dilemma I’m having.
Robel Garcia (1B/2B/3B – CHC): 4%
Garcia’s story is really, really cool. If you haven’t read about it yet, take 10 minutes out of your day to read his story, and then come back here to finish this column.
Pretty cool, huh?
Garcia has helped fantasy managers of late by leading off for the Cubs and playing second base. Leading off is the key aspect for Garcia, as he’s hitting atop a pretty good lineup. This has only resulted in four runs so far, but with Addison Russell demoted, Garcia should see his counting stats go up over the next month. Although Ben Zobrist is returning eventually, ride the playing time while you can with Garcia in deep leagues.
Josh VanMeter (2B/3B/OF – CIN): 34%
The Reds are making every effort to get VanMeter’s bat in the lineup. He’s played all over the diamond and has recently started in left field. Jesse Winker has been a disappointment, and Yasiel Puig is heading to Cleveland as part of Tuesday night’s three-team blockbuster. That opens up the outfield as a likely landing spot.
If you look at VanMeter’s minor league numbers this year, what he’s doing in the big leagues should be no surprise. He’s a deep-league add, too, but someone I prefer from a fantasy standpoint as an all-around contributor more than Garcia.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN): 40%
Sano is nursing a hand injury, but he returned to Minnesota’s lineup Tuesday. If it’s minor, like it seems to be, Sano can give your fantasy team a huge boost in home runs. He either strikes out or homers each at-bat, it seems, so know what you’re signing up for.
He’s the rich man’s version of Renato Nunez, but Sano gets an extra boost thanks to the Twins’ scary lineup.
Bo Bichette (SS – TOR): 36%
With Eric Sogard on the move, the Blue Jays called up their top remaining prospect in Bichette. The family trifecta of having a Bichette, Biggio, and Guerrero on the same big-league team is now complete.
The power hasn’t translated yet, but Bichette is going to be a points-league monster with his gap-to-gap approach racking up doubles. A part of his game that isn’t discussed as much is his speed. He stole 32 bases last year and had 16 in Triple-A this year before his promotion.
He’s a must-own player, even at a deep position.
Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CHW): 39%
Wait, I’m recommending a White Sox player to get you wins? A player who has, for the most part, been atrocious this season and owns a 5.43 ERA, 5.11 FIP, and 4.85 SIERA? Yeah, that’s exactly who I’m recommending.
Since the All-Star break, Lopez has been straight fire to the tune of a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings. He’s only won one of those games because, well, White Sox, but he went six, seven, and eight innings, respectively, before Tuesday’s messier turn (5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 ER) against the Mets. When a pitcher goes that deep into games regularly, racks up the strikeouts, and limits runs, it only increases his win potential in the hard-to-predict category.
Alex Wood (SP/RP – CIN): 45%
If you want the definition of a safe pitcher, it’s Wood. In this current offensive environment, safe isn’t a bad thing.
Wood is in the worst home stadium of his career, but he’s never had an ERA higher than 3.86 at any level. He made his first start back for the Reds last weekend, and he’s still available in more than half of Yahoo leagues.
Smith has picked up where he left off since returning from a hip injury. Richards got moved to the bullpen, but he could be a sneaky source of saves in the second half of the season. Lopez is working his way back from a shoulder injury with rehab starts at Double-A Jacksonville. He should rejoin the Marlins rotation soon, which isn’t good news for Elieser Hernandez.
Freddy Peralta (SP/RP – MIL): 11%
I wish there was a “FantasyPros: The Lost Tapes” podcast out there. Bobby Sylvester and I recorded a pod during the second week of the season, but the file was corrupted and couldn’t be used. On it, we ranked our favorite Milwaukee pitchers out of Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes. I had it Woodruff, Burnes, and Peralta, while Bobby had it Peralta, Woodruff, Burnes.
My concern with Peralta was that he is a one-pitch pitcher who only throws his fastball. That caught up to him as a starter, and it would limit anyone’s potential to succeed in that role.
But Peralta has been outstanding since getting moved to the bullpen. As a reliever, he has a 2.52 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. He’s going to keep racking up strikeouts, and he could allow the Brewers some flexibility with how they use Josh Hader going forward.
Yoan Lopez (RP – ARI): 7%
Arizona removed Greg Holland from the closer’s role, and Lopez who got the first last Wednesday. This is a desperation play only, as Arizona could easily go back to Holland or go with a true committee approach. To that end, Archie Bradley picked up a four-out save Tuesday night. Lopez doesn’t strike enough guys out to dominate in this role, but if you need to catch up on saves and have an open roster spot, he’s worth grabbing in deeper leagues.