Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Alex Kirilloff, Rich Hill, Tejay Antone
It’s that time again! Tired of seeing an 0-4 or a red X next to your players’ production line? Then it’s time to replace them with these undervalued and forgotten players.
I’ve put together a few names to help support your depleted squad in at least one specific category. Many of these studs will help you in more ways than one, with their primary contributions coming in the category under which they are listed under.
These players are available in more than half of all Yahoo leagues, and many won’t be by the end of the weekend. With the abundance of injuries around the league, and numerous veterans still in a slump, look no further than these 12 players to help fill your squads’ needs.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN): 50%
After a plodding start to begin the season, Sano has really turned it on of late. Over the last seven games, the Dominican slugger crushed five home runs, including a three-homer game. He has also produced an outstanding 11 RBIs in that span and only struck out seven times. Sano has always been an up-and-down hitter, but if you can catch him at his highest points, he can lead your fantasy squad for long stretches at a time. Add him while he’s hot with Baltimore on tap.
Brandon Belt (OF/1B – SF): 34%
Everyone dropped Belt after he missed a week with a side injury. Before that, however, the Giants’ first baseman was rolling. Before getting injured, Belt produced 10 RBIs to go along with four home runs. Last season Belt showed just what he is capable of when he slashed .309/.425/.591, averaging an RBI every five at-bats. He is striking out his fair share to begin the season, but batting consistently in the middle of the lineup, Belt should be presented with an abundance of RBI opportunities. Add Belt now that he’s healthy and returned to the clean-up role.
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN): 48%
Kiriloff is back, and if his first two weeks in The Show are any indication of what he will play like, then fantasy players need to rush and add him ASAP. Dropped in more than half of all leagues, Kirilloff’s availability won’t last through the weekend. Before he injured his wrist, the young breakout star mashed four home runs to go along with 11 RBI and scored nine runs, and that was over a total of 12 games! He’ll be back in the lineup on Friday, where he’ll hit somewhere in the middle of the order. He is one hundred percent worth the risk, so add him now.
Nico Hoerner (2B/3B/SS – CHC): 32%
Do you want hits? Look no further than Nico Hoerner. Besides boosting your average with plenty of multiple-hit games, Hoerner has the advantage of qualifying all over the diamond. With so many players going down with an injury, guys like Hoerner are a godsend as they can fill in nearly anywhere daily. He won’t hit for power but has decent wheels and will produce an adequate amount of RBIs. With his advanced style of approach, a .320 batting average is in the cards for the young infielder. Drafted in the first round out of Stanford for his ability to make consistent solid contact, the Cubs second baseman is finally getting his full-time shot. He’s worth an add in all leagues that require MI and CI.
Yandy Diaz (1B/3B – TB): 7%
Diaz is another very under-the-radar move. Now that Willy Adames has been traded out of Tampa, the infield is no longer overcrowded. With Adames gone and Joey Wendle likely moving to shortstop, an everyday opportunity temporarily opens up for Diaz. He hasn’t hit a homer yet, but his average is up to .280 after hitting .307 last year. He’s better left for deeper leagues because of his lack of pop or speed, but he will hit in the middle of the Rays order and could produce some pretty hearty stats.
Odubel Herrera (2B/OF – PHI): 11%
Part of me feels strange recommending Herrera, but his recent play can help your fantasy roster. He’s currently the everyday center fielder for the Phillies and is 13 for his last 33 (.394 BA) with two steals. He has also hit two home runs on the season. Herrera was a regular at swiping bags dating back a few years ago, so he’s worth taking a shot at again in the hopes that he can keep up the heavy production. He also qualifies at second base in Yahoo leagues.
Rich Hill (SP – MIN): 46%
Rich Hill is an old-man boss who doesn’t care about your doubts and believes age is just a number. After shutting down the Yankees’ full complement of starters last week, the 41-year-old backed it up with six strong innings of one-run ball in the friendly confines of Camden Yards (Orioles Park). Yesterday’s win now marks 27.2 consecutive innings where Hill has only allowed three runs. Over the near scoreless streak, the wily vet has shut down the Astros, the Athletics twice, the Orioles, and the aforementioned Yankees. As long as Hill can stay off the IL, he can help you in all four of the starting pitching categories. Put in a bid for the lefty breaking-ball specialist now.
Josh Fleming (SP – TB): 16%
Fleming doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he’s not your prototypical power arm or highly touted prospect. While others are spending on the big names and high velocity, I’ll quietly take Fleming and his minuscule ERA and WHIP. Dating back to the beginning of last season, the soft-tossing lefty has thrown 67 innings, allowing 19 runs (2.55 ERA) and 69 base runners – on base via a hit or walk (1.03 WHIP). For this season alone, his ERA stands at a paltry 2.34 and his WHIP at an impressive 0.98 (seven games, four starts). Fleming will likely stick in the rotation for the rest of the season, where he’ll continue to induce ground balls, helping drive down your ERA and WHIP.
Tejay Antone (RP – CIN): 41%
The Reds’ entire bullpen has been a mess to begin the season, that is, all except Tejay Antone. Originally thought to have earned a rotation spot out of Spring Training, Antone was somewhat surprisingly sent to the bullpen, where he’s done nothing but dominate. Over 21.2 innings, he has given up only eight hits and nine walks while striking out 29 batters. He is by far the most talented arm the Reds possess in their bullpen and was finally handed the ball to close out the ninth in their most recent save situation. Scoop up Antone now while he’s still flying a bit under the radar.
Luis Garcia (SP/RP): 22%
My guy Luis Garcia does it again! I’ve been highlighting this man for weeks, and he has yet to let me down. Garcia won his second game in a row on Thursday while upping his strikeout total to 47 in 40 innings. Over his last five starts, the young right-hander has produced 33 K’s in only 25 frames. Righties have an extremely tough time making solid contact against him, and lefties haven’t had much success. He tends to wear down near the 90 pitch mark, and the Astros bullpen has blown a few of his leads, but the strikeouts will continue to come in bunches every time he toes the rubber.
While a few of the Astros starters are slated to return soon, Jose Urquidy just went down with a shoulder injury, so Garcia’s starting role isn’t in jeopardy yet. Even if and when all of Houston’s starters are fully healthy, I doubt Dusty Baker and company pull Garcia out of the starting rotation as consistent as he has been. Add Garcia now if you haven’t already.
Shane McClanahan (SP/RP – TB): 33%
McClanahan is also an option for K’s, but he has been less consistent and has a better chance of blowing up and hurting your ERA and WHIP. He’s worth a speculative add, however, because of his high ceiling.
Garrett Richards (SP – BOS): 23%
I gotta go with my guy Garrett Richards again. Another player whose praises I’ve been singing since March and has continued to make me look good. After starting the year off with a disastrous start against Baltimore, Richards has been quite the consistent find. Over his last five starts, Richards has earned the win in four of them. He has produced a 4-1 record and a 2.71 ERA ever since his opening day start. His latest victory came on the road against the Blue Jays, whose offense has been a killer on opposing pitchers. Richards ran into some early trouble but could limit the damage to just two runs over 6.2 innings.
His fastball velocity is back up to the mid-90s, and his slider has looked extremely sharp. With the Sox lineup firing on all cylinders and the bullpen looking surprisingly decent, Richards should be in the running for 15+ wins. As long as he can stay healthy, which has always been his biggest nemesis, Richards is worth an add right now.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.