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Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: J.D. Davis, Jarren Duran, Heath Hembree

Jul 16, 2021

The All-Star break has come and gone. And while many were taking a much-needed break from fantasy baseball, yours truly stayed glued to the news outlets and continued to search for possible roster additions.

At this point last year, the season had already ended. Thankfully, this season, we’re in for the long haul, and there is still plenty of time to make up ground in the rankings. Depending on where you stand, a few hot players over a few solid weeks could move you up into the winner’s circle.

Continuing with my weekly series, I’ve scoured the waiver wire for players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues who can potentially help you in at least one of the major categories. This week’s piece features a few prospects that have earned their much-anticipated call-up, as well as a few players returning from injury. Most of these guys will aid in more ways than one, with their main contributions coming in the category under which they are listed.

One other topic worth mentioning is, as the trade deadline draws nearer, there are many questions fantasy managers will have to face. Will your closer be traded to a team where he is no longer in line to earn saves? Will your speedster be traded to a team that doesn’t traditionally run? Will a mediocre veteran be traded to a loaded lineup, increasing his production? There’s also the chance that a player loses some playing time due to a new addition or suddenly finds himself in a platoon situation. The possibilities are vast and, at the very least, are worth tracking over the next few weeks. If you are able to stay up on the current events around baseball, then you already have a leg up and may just be able to snag that player in a new favorable position before your competition does. If not, there’s no need to worry; simply follow us, and we’ll do the dirty work for you.

That said, here are your 10 players available in the majority of Yahoo leagues who can help you right now in at least one of the major categories.

View your league’s top available players with My Playbook >>

Runs

Jarren Duran (OF – BOS): 42%
Normally I’d take a cautious approach when adding position-player prospects, but Duran’s power/speed combination offers too much upside to ignore. The Red Sox uber prospect, who was just called up, has already racked up 15 home runs and 12 steals in Triple-A this season, after swiping 28 bags in 2019 (there was no minor league season last year). He was never thought of as much of a power hitter, but now at 24 years old, the outfielder has bulked up to a sturdy 215 pounds and is crushing balls all over the field. He is walking at a favorable clip of 11 percent, and his speed rating is 70 on the 30-80 scale.

Duran should be a candidate to eventually take over as the everyday leadoff hitter for the Sox, where he should score often. Thursday’s game was postponed, so Boston fans will have to wait until Friday to witness Duran’s debut. Add him everywhere he is still available.

Stolen Bases

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA): 49%
It’s time for Kelenic 2.0. After an incredibly disappointing start to Kelenic’s MLB career, the Mariners are ready to give their superstar prospect a second chance. After being sent down to reevaluate his approach, Kelenic failed to reach base only twice in 22 games for Tacoma. He hit seven home runs and stole four bases over that span, and increased his OPS to over 1.000. Even if Kelenic doesn’t perform at the high level many are hoping for, the confident outfielder will undoubtedly continue to be aggressive on the base paths (he stole three bags in his initial call-up). Add Kelenic now for steals and for basically everything else.

Home Runs

Kole Calhoun (OF – ARI): 10%
Calhoun’s batting average may not be too favorable, but his home runs should come in bunches. Over the last two seasons, Calhoun has averaged one long ball for every 15 at-bats, good for 49 bombs in just over 200 games. His home run rate last season was the best of his career, launching 16 (third place in the NL) in just 190 at-bats.

The long-time Angel isn’t on anyone’s radar at the moment, but he will be once he starts launching balls into the seats. Normally I’d take a wait-and-see approach for a player like Calhoun, allowing him to shake off any rust, but with the Cubs and Pirates on tap, I’m taking a shot with Calhoun now. Lined up to face all righty starters, he should be a force at the dish, punishing baseballs all week long. Add him now and look like the savvy manager you are.

Batting Average

J.D. Davis (3B/OF – NYM): 47%
Davis is finally back. After getting off to a blistering start, the Mets’ third baseman missed two and a half months due to a hand injury. In his latest rehab start, Davis went four for six with a homer and two doubles. The California native hit .390 in April and assembled a .307/.369/.527 stat line in 2019 over 140 games. He carried the Mets offense at times that season and could be in store for big things in the second half. Pick up Davis now and watch your BA shoot up in the rankings.

RBI

Alex Kirilloff (1B/OF – MIN): 32%
Since July 1st, Kirilloff has gone 11 for 38 (.289) with two homers, seven RBI, and seven runs scored. He regularly bats fifth in the lineup, directly behind Nelson Cruz (.385 OBP), and often hits with runners on base. Kirilloff has 34 RBI on the year over just 200 at-bats and has 18 RBI in 18 games since moving to the five-hole. The Twins may be sellers at the deadline, but once Byron Buxton returns the lineup, any production lost should be accounted for. Claim the Twins prospect now and expect nearly 40 RBIs in the so-called “second half.”

Strikeouts

Tanner Houck (SP – BOS): 10%
Houck has rejoined the big league club after spending nearly a month rehabbing from a flexor injury. He struck out 22 batters over 18 innings during his rehab assignment in Triple-A Worcester and produced an outstanding 12/1 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings for the big league club earlier this year. Last season for Boston, Houck was nearly perfect over three starts, striking out a third of the batters he faced while maintaining a 0.88 WHIP and a 0.53 ERA over 17 innings.

Houck will be a bullpen option for the series against the Yankees and then will likely start on Wednesday against Toronto. The Sox top draft pick in 2017 may not be the best candidate to roll with against the Blue Jays, but after that, he should be a solid source for K’s. Add him now before everyone else does.

Saves

Heath Hembree (RP – CIN): 44%
Heath Hembree is on a roll. I have to admit I had barely seen Hembree pitch this year, but after the Reds turned to him for back-to-back saves, I made sure to bear witness his next time out. And let me tell you, Hembree passes the eye test.

The six-foot-four righty is not only armed with a wicked, high-spin, mid-90s fastball, he also possesses a filthy sweeping slider that he relentlessly throws 46 percent of the time. The pitch, taught to him by the Reds’ assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers back in April, has already racked up 30 strikeouts with an other-worldly 40 percent whiff rate.

Combined with his fastball Hembree has held hitters to a fantastic .176 batting average with a ridiculous .155 xBA and .257 xwOBA. Hembree has totaled 51 K’s on the season over just 30 innings pitched and should be Cincinnati’s closer for the foreseeable future.

ERA

Kwang-Hyun Kim (SP – STL): 42%
I’m not gonna lie. I dropped Kim after he got shelled against Pittsburgh. Just five days later, however, he made me regret that decision. Then, just to rub it in my face, he did it again. And then, just to make things even more ridiculous, he did it again! Watching a pitcher win three consecutive games after letting him go is painful, to say the least, but I have no one to blame but myself.

A pitcher like Kim, who relies on location and off-speed pitches, is going to have a bad game now and then (as all pitchers do), but I was quick to pull the trigger. Well, not this time! With rematches against the Giants and Cubs on the books (he held both to zero runs over seven innings), I’m adding Kim again and hoping for the best. If you don’t count the game against the Pirates, where nothing seemed to go his way, Kim has allowed three runs over his last 28 innings. Interestingly enough, Kim also had his worst game of the 2020 season against the Pirates, where he gave up a couple of homers even though he only allowed three for the entire season.

The lefty’s rostered numbers have unsurprisingly shot up over the last few days, but he is still available in the majority of leagues. Roll with Kim over these next few weeks and hope he can keep the party going. Just don’t start him against Pittsburgh.

Wins

Chris Flexen (SP/RP – SEA): 43%
Chris Flexen likes winning ball games. With eight wins already to his credit, Flexen has a chance to reach 15 by season’s end. The Mariners’ starter pitches deep into games, limits free passes, and doesn’t give up the long ball (eight allowed over 16 starts). The Seattle bullpen has been a bright spot for the club since the beginning of the season, and with Flexen’s ability to pitch into the seventh inning, wins aren’t that difficult to come by. He’ll face the Angels Friday night after keeping them off the scoreboard just five days ago. Add the efficient Flexen now, and hope he can earn his third win in a row.

WHIP

Cole Irvin (SP/RP – OAK): 43%
Irvin is similar to Flexen in that he limits free passes and home runs. Neither pitcher strikes out a ton of hitters, but they both induce a heavy amount of ground balls and pitch deep into games. Controlling the strike zone allows Irvin to consistently keep his WHIP down, making him a great streamer in most situations. Oakland’s bullpen, like Seattle’s, is also a strength, which helps Irvin earn more than a few victories. He has allowed only 15 base runners via a hit or walk over the last 20 innings – good for a 0.75 WHIP. The righty’s walks and hits per inning sits at a commanding 1.18 on the year. Pick up Irvin now to help lower your expanding WHIP.

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

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