Hitters to Target in Deep Leagues (Fantasy Baseball)
The All-Star break gives fantasy baseball managers a momentary breather to reflect on what went right and wrong in the opening half. Everyone will have some victories to celebrate and whiffs to lament. Just like any MLB player, a 35% success rate is commendable if hitting plenty of home runs along the way.
Not every triumph or defeat, however, is permanent. At this time last year, drafters were questioning their aptitude for drafting Tommy Pham, Michael Conforto, and Stephen Piscotty. Adalberto Mondesi and Jeff McNeil were still just blips on the radar.
Contributors will continue to emerge from the waiver wire. Some might even be guys jettisoned in April and May. I’m stubbornly going to back to the well on one of my biggest preseason flops in hopes of a late-season turnaround. Even if I was remiss to draft him and justified in dropping him long before a recent hot streak, he could salvage some second-half value in deep leagues.
Chance Sisco (C – BAL): 7% Owned
Catcher isn’t nearly as brutal as everyone believed it’d be. Didn’t draft one of the studs? Chances are diligent managers are just fine after adding Omar Narvaez, Christian Vazquez, James McCann, Roberto Perez, or Carson Kelly off the waiver wire. Speaking of Chance, another intriguing option has materialized in Sisco, who’s hitting .283/.394/.667 with six home runs in 71 plate appearances for Baltimore.
Once a ballyhooed prospect, the buzz fizzled when he mustered a 59 wRC+ in 63 games last season. As proven countless times before, patience is especially necessary for a young catcher. The career .305/.386/.430 minor league hitter is even displaying more pop, expanding upon his 10 deep flies in 45 Triple-A contests. With Pedro Severino also impressing, this could remain more of a timeshare than standard catching split. That’s fine in two-catcher leagues, as more teams are embracing a two-man backstop to keep each of them fresher. Besides, Sisco is seeing cleanup opportunities in his starts, so ride the hot hand upon returning from the intermission.
Jeimer Candelario (3B – DET): 3% Rostered
This is not the first time I’ve touted Candelario, who batted .179/.277/.269 in 42 games prior to an early-June demotion. That’s the end of that, right? For a while, yes. Even demolishing Triple-A pitching to a .345/.427/.631 slash line wasn’t enough to draw fanfare for his recall.
As a result, essentially nobody (myself included) rostered the third baseman as he hit .350 (14-for-40) with four homers over his last 11 games. The 25-year-old reached base in each contest and quickly worked his way back into the fifth slot of Detroit’s lineup. As of Sunday, his 60% hard-hit rate led all batters over the past 14 days.
Why the fuss over a career .229 hitter with 28 home runs in 997 career plate appearances? For starters, the rebuilding Tigers will give him every opportunity to develop if he merely offers semi-competent offense. He showed promise when mustering a 112 wRC+ in 2017’s brief debut. Last year, he batted .275/.367/.526 through May before a wrist injury appeared to sully his swing. He’s more of a depth piece in larger mixed leagues, but Candelario still carries some sneaky upside now that he’s healthy and sizzling in Detroit’s lineup.
Nate Lowe (1B – TB): 2% Rostered
This may seem like an odd thing to say about a rookie promoted last Thursday, but it could be too late to derive any value from Lowe. Called up to replace the injured Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi, the first baseman homered on Friday and Saturday for the Rays.
There’s still no guarantee he stays in the majors this time. After getting promoted on April 29, seemingly for the long haul, he played just nine games before getting shuttled back to Triple-A. He returned for a one-game cameo June 1. The lefty hadn’t circled the bases in either short stint, so perhaps this power jolt gives Tampa Bay second thoughts about discarding him once Choi returns.
Observers always expected power from the 6’4″, 245-pound newcomer. He pounded 27 homers through three minor league levels last year and batted .290/.419/.519 with a dozen more deep flies in Triple-A this season. Lowe is worth a speculative add in deeper leagues in case he sticks around a while longer. Let’s at least hope he gets another week with the Rays, who return from the break to play a four-game series against the Orioles.
Tommy Edman (2B/3B – STL): 2% Rostered
Cardinal Devil Magic strikes again. MLB.com rates Edman as the organization’s N0. 11 prospect, assigning the 5’10”, 180-pound infielder a lowly 35 power grade on the 80 scale. He has already belted three home runs in 55 big league plate appearances.
The power surge began before his debut with the parent club. After tallying seven home runs (mostly in Double-A) last season, he matched that tally while slugging .513 in 49 Triple-A contests. Not bad for someone who profiled as a utility bench bat or defensive specialist. Although far too early to draw any meaningful conclusions, the initial Statcast returns (.354 xwOBA, 90.3-mph exit velocity) are encouraging.
Edman has also stolen three bases, which should especially catch prospective buyers’ attention. He swiped all nine attempts in Triple-A while going 30-for-35 last season. Adding to his intrigue, the Cardinals have tossed him into the leadoff role in each of the last four games. He could be out of a starting job once Matt Carpenter returns from the IL, but a scuffling St. Louis offense may go to great lengths to keep one of its few rolling bats in the lineup as often as possible.