Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Andrew McCutchen, Tyler O’Neill, Taijuan Walker
As we get further into May, more and more players should start to veer back towards their career norms. Many of the hottest hitters will start to cool off, and those that began poorly should begin to show signs of life. The trick is to know who to buy and when to sell before it’s too late. After scouring the waiver wire, there are more than a few players who may have started off poorly but are already turning their season around.
I’ve put together another list of undervalued guys who are on the verge of a breakout or are just not getting the attention they deserve for one reason or another. Some of these guys have started off hot, and while they may eventually cool down, there is actually something behind their recent success other than just dumb luck. Their advanced metrics suggest their early production is here to stay, making them a worthwhile addition.
In my weekly series, we’ve already discussed numerous players that were rostered in as low as 2 percent of leagues, who are now up to well over 60 percent and are unavailable in most leagues. These next 10 players, however, are still rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and will help aggressively in at least one of the main 10 categories. Most of these studs will even help your team in more ways than one and should be added ASAP before the competition beats you to it.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B/OF – KC): 43%
Hunter Dozier is on a tear. After missing time last season and early this year due to injury, many have forgotten about the Royals’ slugger. In 2019 Dozier broke out with 65 extra-base hits and knocked in 84 runs in 139 games. After this season’s slow start, he could still put up similar numbers based on his batted-ball profile. Dozier seems to have taken it personally when MLB’s Greg Amsinger called on the Royals to trade for Kris Bryant, as he’s been on fire ever since. Over the past five games, Dozier has clubbed three home runs, three doubles, and a triple. Look for the former first-rounder to continue putting up great power numbers all season long.
Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL): 47%
Tyler O’Neill is angry. He’s angry at being terrible for the last three years and is finally living up to the potential he showed early on in his career. Last week’s breakout was quite the showing. O’Neil produced 11 hits, two homers, three steals, and a sturdy six RBIs. He hit .444 over that stretch but has since gone 0 for five. He only struck out once, though, and still hit the ball hard. His ownership more than tripled in just a few days, but he’s still owned in less than 50 percent of leagues, so grab the five-category production while you can and hope it lasts.
Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/SS/OF – DET): 6% Goodrum has 3 steals over his last four days. For the season, the versatile infielder now has four stolen bags to go along with four home runs. His batting average won’t reach .250, but since when does average matter if a middle infielder is on pace for a 25/25 season. He’s also scoring a decent amount of runs and playing every day. He still strikes out a ridiculous amount, but if you’re in need of steals, he’s a player to consider. The Tigers have nothing to lose by giving him free rein on the base paths (six attempts already), and he’ll even reward you with a few dingers.
Andrew McCutchen (OF – PHI): 50% McCutchen is finally starting to heat up and is six for his last 19 (.316 BA). He has also scored five runs over the past five games. With mashers Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper regularly hitting behind him, expect McCutchen’s run total to steadily climb. His OBP currently sits at .309, but with a career average of .375, you have to believe the Phillies’ center fielder will continue to get on base more often, leading to a plethora of runs scored.
Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX): 13%
A strong case for Nico Hoerner (34%) could have been made before he injured his forearm. Hoerner always hit well in the minor leagues, so if he’s not out for too long, he’s worth a speculative add.
Since Hoerner’s out, I’ll go with Willie Calhoun. Calhoun has done nothing but hit since being activated yet is still only rostered in 13% of leagues. He has suffered numerous injuries over the past two seasons, but it wasn’t that long ago Calhoun showed tons of promise. He hit 21 home runs in just half of the 2019 season while batting in the middle of the Texas order.
He has hit so well this season they’ve moved him into the leadoff spot versus righties, and he has continued to keep up his end of the bargain. His average on the year sits at a majestic .328 with three home runs over 61 at-bats. There’s no reason for Calhoun to remain a free agent. Claim him now.
Taijuan Walker (SP – NYM): 43%
Walker still isn’t getting the attention he deserves. After allowing one hit against the Cardinals on Thursday, Walkers’ ERA for the season is down to 2.38, to go along with a fantastic 1.03 WHIP. He looked just as sharp this spring and over his final eight games of last season, where the Mets’ hurler tossed 39.1 innings and allowed only seven total earned runs. Walker now leads the league in home runs allowed per nine (0.3) while allowing a ridiculously low .171 opponent batting average. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, and better not make this list again next week! Add Walker now for his favorable upcoming matchup at home against the O’s.
Robbie Ray (SP – TOR): 41%
Is it possible Robbie Ray has finally changed his approach and learned some control? The fiery left-hander hasn’t allowed a walk over his past three starts, all of which came against hot-hitting teams. He also lasted at least six innings in all three appearances and struck out an impressive 23 batters in those outings. The Blue Jays haven’t had a ton of success with pitchers in recent years but did help improve Taijuan Walker’s overall production. Ray has fooled us before, but right now, he looks locked in and is always good for a ton of strikeouts. Grab Ray and hope he can shut down the Braves again or if you want to play it safe, add him and leave him on your bench for his trip to Atlanta.
Rafael Dolis (RP – TOR): 35%
Dolis has been handed the ball for the last three save opportunities for the Jays and has successfully converted all of them. He hasn’t given up a hit over his last five appearances and has only allowed one dating back to April 9th (nine appearances). He’s walking a few batters but is also averaging a strikeout per inning. Julian Merryweather’s still at least a month away from returning and is no guarantee to take back the closer job when he does. Add Dolis now if you need saves.
Cole Irvin (SP/RP – OAK): 37%
In Irvin’s last appearance, the A’s breakout starter lasted eight innings against a tough Blue Jays’ team. He only allowed three hits in the contest while limiting their high-scoring offense to one run. He also didn’t walk a batter and struck out nine.
Irvin’s exceptional control has been on display all season long. With his ability to keep the ball down in the strike zone through six starts (35 innings), Irvin has scattered a total of five walks, allowing no more than one in any game. He even limits the long ball as well (0.77 HR/9).
Irvin’s exceptional control, paired with his heavy sinker, should allow him to keep his WHIP down to a respectable number – it currently sits at a paltry 1.10. He’s even striking out batters as of late (29 in his last 25 innings). I thought Daulton Jefferies should have earned the fifth spot to start the season for the A’s, but so far, Irvin has proven me wrong. Grab the young left-hander now and hope he continues the quality work.
Carlos Martinez (SP/RP – STL): 39%
Carlos Martinez hasn’t looked like a viable starter since the beginning of 2018. He thrived in a bullpen role shortly after, but since being moved back into the rotation, he’s been atrocious, not often lasting past the fourth inning, until recently. Over Martinez’s last three starts, he’s thrown six, seven and one-third, and most recently, eight innings. Over those three outings (21.3 innings), Martinez gave up just 11 hits, two earned runs, and five walks. Pitching so deep into games, paired with the fantastic backend of the Cardinals’ bullpen, the resurgent starter should collect plenty of wins. His strikeouts aren’t what they use to be, but if the soft contact continues, Martinez will help your team across the board. Take a flyer on him now.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.