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Players That Benefit from the National League DH (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Eric Cross | @EricCross04 | Featured Writer
Feb 16, 2022

While we baseball and fantasy baseball diehards are patiently waiting for the new CBA to be agreed upon, there have been some reports of certain aspects being agreed to. One of those is the addition of the DH in the National League. FINALLY! Outside of not having to see pitchers who don’t give a flying bleep step into the batter’s box, this generates plenty of additional value in our fantasy baseball world. That’s what I’m going to be discussing today, going team by team in the National League to find some players whose value ticks up with the added DH spot.

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Players That Benefit from the National League DH

Dinged up Stars & Catchers in General
When the news of the National League adopting the DH in the new CBA got out, my mind immediately went to some injured and dinged-up star players that we have some concerns about drafting early. Obviously, this grouping is led by Fernando Tatís Jr. and Ronald Acuña Jr. The two superstar outfielders are the only players in baseball with 50/30 upside, and the addition of the DH is definitely a boost to their value this season, especially Acuña. Everything has appeared encouraging and positive on Acuña’s recovery front, with him advancing to agility drills over the last month, but the questions still remain about when he will debut and how much he’ll run this season. Steamer, The BAT, ATC, and Zips projection systems all have Acuña between 550 and 600 plate appearances with at least 35 homers and 20 steals. With the added ability to DH a few times a week, an opening day return looks more viable now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Acuña exceeded those PA projections this season. If you have a pick late in the first round, Acuña is a no-brainer now, and his ADP could start sneaking closer to the top-5 in March drafts.

The other name that came to mind was Max Muncy who suffered a torn left UCL in last year’s postseason. His status for opening day is still up in the air, but the ability to DH and not play the field might help. I’m obviously not a Doctor, but it’s just something worth monitoring.

As for catchers, I’ll be giving the top options like Will Smith, JT Realmuto, and Willson Contreras a slight boost as they can now DH sporadically to give their bodies a rest from the rigors of catching while keeping their bats in the lineup.

American League DHs
This is definitely more of a minor upgrade, but we can’t forget the hitters that usually lose a handful of games while their teams are playing in National League ballparks. Players like Yordan Alvarez, JD Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Franmil Reyes, Trey Mancini, and Kyle Lewis all get a minimal boost due to not having to miss those 5-10 games a season now.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Seth Beer & Daulton Varsho
Dating back to his days at Clemson University, Seth Beer has always been a bat-first bat-only player, and the addition of the DH really benefits his value in 2022 and beyond. In the minors, Beer slashed an impressive .292/.392/.509 with 54 homers in 289 games. With a strong showing in spring training (whenever that will be), Beer could seize that DH gig and flirt with a .270/25 type of season. Another beneficiary is Daulton Varsho. If there was any doubt in your mind that he was going to play regularly, go ahead and erase that out of your noggin. Between catcher, outfield, and DH, Vaursho should be in the lineup nearly every day and has the power/speed blend to post a 20/10 season and finish as a top-three fantasy catcher.

Atlanta Braves: Marcell Ozuna
With it being reported that Marcell Ozuna won’t be suspended for any 2022 games, he’s an easy fit to slide into the DH spot in Atlanta. A full season of DH duties for Ozuna is definitely a boon to his fantasy value. Ozuna led the National League in plate appearances (267), home runs (18), RBI (56), and total bases (145) back in the shortened 2020 season and posted four straight seasons of 23+ homers and 76+ RBI from 2016 to 2019. With his power and run-producing capabilities in the middle of a good Atlanta lineup, he’s a great pick around his current 197 ADP in February.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Gavin Lux & Will Smith
Yes, I know I mentioned catchers in general above, but I especially wanted to give a nod to the Fresh Prince of LA. Smith put up another impressive season in 2021 with 25 homers, 76 RBI, and 71 runs and now has 48 homers and 143 RBI through his first 834 PA with a solid .262/.365/.527 slash line. With the DH now available, Smith should get some time there too while he’s not catching to keep his potent bat in the lineup. Give him another 15-20 games, and a 30/100/80 season is well within reach. This also helps the always intriguing Gavin Lux. With Chris Taylor’s return, Lux’s playing time went from sunny and 75 to rainy and 45. Between his versatility in the field and the DH spot, it’s plausible to see Lux in the lineup five to six games a week. With a current ADP around 235, Lux’s upside makes him intriguing.

Milwaukee Brewers: Rowdy Tellez & Tyrone Taylor
There were still some concerns that Rowdy Tellez wasn’t going to play regularly in Milwaukee, but his playing time situation is much clearer now with the DH. I’m expecting Tellez to play close to every day between DH and first base, which gives him significant appeal after pick 300 in drafts. In 325 PA last season, Tellez recorded an 11.6% barrel rate, 92.2 mph AVG EV, and 48.1% hard-hit while keeping his strikeout rate in check at 20%. After a slow start in Toronto, he surged in Milwaukee to end the season, slashing .272/.333/.481 with seven homers in 174 PA. Another that has added intrigue now is Tyrone Taylor. Quietly, Taylor racked up 12 homers and six steals in 271 plate appearances last season and has had a sprint speed in the 81st percentile or better each of his three Major League seasons. He’s still more of a deep league option, but an intriguing one given his power/speed potential. This also should help Lorenzo Cain remain in the lineup a bit more, so don’t forget about him later on in your drafts either. The soon-to-be 36-year-old had eight homers, and 13 steals in just 286 PA last season.

San Francisco Giants: Darin Ruf
After finding minimal success from 2012 to 2016 in Philadelphia, Darin Ruf went overseas for a few seasons and came back a different hitter. Since returning in 2020, Ruf has combined for 21 homers in 412 plate appearances with a .276/.370/.517 slash line in 2020 and .271/.385/.519 in 2021. Ruf was especially potent in 2021 with a 14.2% barrel rate, 93.1 mph AVG EV, and a 54.9% hard-hit rate with an exceptional 14.7% walk rate to go with it. There aren’t any platoon splits to worry about here either, as Ruf handled both RHP and LHP well last season. His ADP is very reasonable around pick 400 for someone that could realistically swat 25-30 homers over a full season with a decent OBP and an AVG that won’t hurt you.

Quick Hitters

Chicago Cubs (Maybe Clint Frazier?): Hopefully, it’s Clint Frazier, and he can rebound given a change of scenery, but Willson Contreras and several others could also see time here. Still, Frazier is worth a dart throw in deeper formats.

Cincinnati Reds (Uhhh, I don’t know): While some might say the primary beneficiary will be Mike Moustakas, I can easily see the Reds rotating Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel, and Shogo Akiyama into the DH spot, depending on matchups. Plus, Moose hasn’t even been productive since 2019.

Colorado Rockies (Charlie Blackmon): Blackmon is still a talented hitter, but he’s going to be 36 this season. Letting his old bones rest a bit at DH should boost his value a tad.

Miami Marlins (No clear beneficiary): I’m not seeing any clear option to step in and see an increase in their fantasy value. It will likely be some combination of Garrett Cooper, Brian Anderson, and a spot where they can rest some of their regular starters while keeping their bats in the lineup.

New York Mets (No clear beneficiary): I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’d love to see JD Davis or Dominic Smith get the full-time role, but a platoon share is a more likely scenario with some Robinson Cano sprinkled in.

Philadelphia Phillies (Rest the Veterans): The Phillies lineup is on the older side, so I’m anticipating them using the DH spot to give guys like Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, and others a break from the field every now and then. But if this gets Matt Vierling into the lineup on a semi-regular basis, he becomes intriguing in deeper formats as a potential double-digit power and speed contributor.

Pittsburgh Pirates (Nobody interesting): The Pittsburgh Pirates lineup is hard to look at outside of four guys, and the DH role likely won’t be any different. Expect a rotation of players that aren’t fantasy-relevant.

San Diego Padres (No clear beneficiary): With the Padres, you’ll likely get some Jurickson Profar, some rest for Machado/Tatís, and a few others as well. If anything, maybe this will help Ha-Seong Kim get into the lineup close to consistently as his versatility is clutch when the bigger names slide into the DH role for a breather from the field.

St. Louis Cardinals (Rest the Veterans): It’s the same situation here as it was with Philly above. The Cardinals have a lot of older veterans that would benefit from getting to DH every now and then. And maybe, just maybe, this helps prospects like Nolan Gorman and/or Juan Yepez debut a bit sooner.

Washington Nationals (No clear beneficiary): The Nationals lineup has more questions than answers outside of Juan Soto and Josh Bell, and that’s not going to change with the addition of the DH spot.

Current Free Agents: Kyle Schwarber, Nelson Cruz, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler

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