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Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Avisail Garcia, Jon Gray, Mitch Garver

Jul 23, 2021
Jon Gray

As the trade deadline draws near, fantasy owners need to be ready to roll with whatever changes may come about. Without the waivers trading period this season (after the deadline), MLB execs are expecting a “frenzy of deals” over the next week. With that in mind, almost no player is completely safe, but for the savvy manager, it’s a situation worth getting ahead of (and taking advantage of).

Many teams looking to sell will move on from short-term veteran deals, opening up roles and playing time for the younger generation. If managers can add these players before they are dealt or before they are put in a more prominent position, then they are already a leg up on the competition.

With that in mind, and just over two months of the season remaining, it’s time to look to the waiver wire to add those players who can help boost at least one of the major categories. There is still plenty of time to make up ground and these 10 players available in 50 percent or less of Yahoo leagues can aid you right now. Just move quickly or they’ll be gone before you know it.

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Batting Average

John Nogowski (1B – PIT): 5%
Nogowski? Yes, I said it. No one believes in this guy after performing so poorly in St. Louis and in Triple-A to start the season. Those who are quick to dismiss, however, haven’t been watching him at the dish (who is watching Pirates’ games?? I am!). Sometimes a change of venue is all it takes for a player to find his groove and boy has Nogowski found his.

Through 57 plate appearances, the hulking Florida native has assembled a fantastic .412/.474/.549 slash line with 11 RBI and nine runs scored since donning a Pirates uniform.

He is currently batting cleanup for the Bucs and looks visibly upset every time he doesn’t get a hit. No one tell this man the best players in baseball succeed just three out of ten times and he may keep working counts and hitting lasers all over the field.

The majority of his hits have been singles so far but that’s not to say they weren’t hard-hit balls. The power will come for the Pirates’ first baseman who looks like a linebacker, just as it did on Tuesday night. He also hit very well early on in his Minor League career so the emergence is not necessarily out of nowhere. Add Nogowski now while he’s hot and putting together multi-hit games.

Home Runs

Mitch Garver (C – MIN): 37%
Garver returned with a bang launching two home runs in his first two at-bats in over a month and a half. The power-hitting catcher is now up to 10 home runs in just 122 ABs. He is on a similar pace as in 2019 where he crushed 31 home runs over 311 at-bats. The Twins backstop won’t have the greatest batting average, but if you’re looking to add some pop to your lineup, especially out of the catcher position, he’s your guy. Even if you roster one of the top catchers in the league, he’s not a bad bench/utility option in daily formats. He’ll miss the next couple of days on the paternity list, but he’ll be back shortly. Congrats Mitch!

RBI

Avisail Garcia (OF – MIL): 49%
I love what Garcia is doing this year and I’ll put him on this list 100 times if he continues to be rostered in less than 50 percent of leagues. I simply can’t understand why fantasy managers aren’t believing in the brawny right fielder, other than maybe for an inconsistent past and his pedestrian batting average. Even at .257, Garcia’s 17 home runs and 57 RBIs are useful in any fantasy format. He regularly bats in the middle of the Brewers’ lineup and to me, he is someone you start (in fantasy) regardless of the matchup.

Garcia does hit lefties better than righties but is 11 for his last 30 (.366) and 23 over his last 63 AB’s (.365) with the majority of them coming against right-handers. He even steals bases on occasion. If Garcia is oddly still available in your league, add him now.

Runs

Austin Hays (OF – BAL): 11%
Austin Hays is scoring runs and will continue to do so. He is entrenched in the two-hole for the O’s and is in a perfect spot to contribute in at least four if not on occasion, all five categories. Hays has scored 40 times over 241 at-bats, a pace that puts him at 100 if he were to achieve 600 AB’s. If it weren’t for an injury earlier in the year, Hays would likely be well above 50 by now, with close to 15 home runs and 40+ RBI. Those numbers would put him on the map in most leagues and likely would put him out of contention for this list. Take advantage of the narrow-minded competition and add the Orioles’ former top-prospect if you need help in the run-scoring department.

Stolen Bases

Greg Allen (OF – NYY): 6%
The Yankees have all their players on the injured list as usual and Greg Allen is happy about it. Well, not really, but he has been granted a starting job and has since run away with it, literally. Over the last three games, Allen has stolen, that’s right, three bases. The switch hitter is five for 12 since his call-up with three walks and has started every game this week. Even after Aaron Judge returns from the COVID-list, Allen will likely keep his starting role.

Some of the media were surprised when the Yankees traded a quality young arm for the 28-year-old Allen, mainly because their roster was already full. Everyone knows you can never have too much depth, however, and New York has been notoriously one of the slowest teams in recent years on the base paths. Allen obviously changes that with his ability to swipe bags and his top 10 percent sprint speed (in years’ past).

Steals are always a tough category to fill but with the right addition, it is one in which you can make up ground quickly. Take a flier on the speedy Allen and hope he can continue to get on base – .500 OBP so far and .409 in Triple-A this season.

Wins

Jon Gray (SP – COL): 40%
Gray is on a roll and is likely to be dealt with in the upcoming week. On the season, Gray has produced six wins, a 3.68 ERA/1.22 WHIP, with 87 strikeouts, and has thrown exceptionally well of late. Over his last five starts (30 innings), the 6’4″, Oklahoma-native has struck out 37 hitters and limited teams to just 8 runs. Even more impressive are the opponents he shut down in his latest two outings, the dynamic lineups of the Padres and Dodgers.

Gray’s biggest hurdle has always been pitching in Coors. Not just because of the altitude (although he has been great at home this year), but because of the lack of wins. Pitching for a contender in a better environment, we could see Gray further improve upon his already quality numbers and start earning more victories. Add Gray now while you still can.

ERA

Wily Peralta (SP/RP – DET): 36%
Wily Peralta!? Who!? When?! How??!! Well, a new gloriously found split-finger fastball, that’s how. That is how a one-time 7.85 ERA for a season (2017), is getting it done.

Peralta has completely changed his repertoire. No longer trying to blow away hitters with a high 90’s fastball, Peralta has embraced a more finesse-style of pitching, throwing sinkers in the low 90s, and revamping his secondary pitches. He dumped his miserable change-up and curveball for an outstanding splitter, which makes his sinking fastball much more difficult to read.

This season, Peralta’s sinker has resulted in a near .200 average, while his splitter has produced zero hits out of the 100 he has thrown! That is a zero batting average from a pitch he throws nearly 20 percent of the time! His fastball spin-rate is literally the lowest in the league (among qualifying starters), which allows it to dive heavily before it reaches the plate. The results are a sizable dose of ground balls and very few line drives. Peralta’s slider has also kept hitters off base (four hits allowed), which he throws at nearly the exact same speed and arm angle as his splitter.

Will Peralta keep it going is the million-dollar question, but with a new arsenal at his disposal, the smart money is on yes, albeit with some regression. His lack of K’s will keep many away, but as long as he’s tossing zero and one-run games, he is worth a speculative add.

Strikeouts

Patrick Sandoval (SP – LAA): 26%
I’m not a huge fan of Sandoval for fantasy purposes, but he does pitch deep into games and does rack up a decent amount of K’s. Over his last 24 innings, he has collected 28 strikeouts while maintaining a fine 1.17 WHIP. He seems to get in trouble often though and surrenders too many home runs. He’s a fierce competitor out there, however, and is worthy of your consideration in deeper leagues.

I prefer Tarik Skubal for K’s or even the Mets’, Tylor Megill, but I have spotlighted them on this list before, so for now, I’m going with Sandoval. He’ll take on Minnesota on Saturday.

WHIP

Jameson Taillon (SP – NYY): 40%
Taillon seems to have figured it out after such a dreadful first half. Over his last six starts, the Yankees’ starter has lowered his WHIP and ERA a full point (a decimal in terms of WHIP). He has earned four wins in his last five starts and was always a bounce-back candidate considering his advanced metrics.

Taillon keeps the free passes to a minimum – only 26 through 18 games and actually doesn’t give up a ton of hits either. His two most recent outings came against offensive juggernauts, the Astros and Red Sox, where he only allowed a combined seven hits over 11 and a third innings. He only gave up two runs in those contests (both coming against Houston) and looked like the solid arm the Yankees were hoping they were getting. Taillon did produce a 1.16 WHIP his previous two seasons after all.

Add the rejuvenated righty now to help lower your WHIP the rest of the season. Just consider sitting him for his rematch with the Sox in Boston.

Saves

Scott Barlow (RP – KC): 17%
With the Royals in last place and Greg Holland pitching on a one-year deal, the Royals’ majority closer is likely to be traded by the deadline. With his absence, the door will be open for more save opportunities in KC. Barlow should be first in line, as he has already earned five of them, including three this month. Closing duties could also fall upon his flame-throwing teammate, Josh Staumont, as well. He too has five saves, but tends to be less reliable and strikes out fewer batters. Even if the Royals retain Holland, Barlow is the reliever to own in Kansas City. Add Barlow now, before the rush.

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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.

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