Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Brendan Donovan, Mike Yastrzemski, Wade Miley (2022)
Ok, I went a little crazy again this week with multiple players listed under most categories. Some are better left for deeper leagues while others are great for all types. There were just so many players I wanted to highlight, I figured with the vast amount of league types out there, I might as well name multiple guys so there’s someone for everyone.
There were some fantastic additions these last few weeks so hopefully, you were able to boost a few of those problematic categories.
For this week, as always, we’ll be looking at players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues who can help you in at least one major category. The majority of these players will help in more than one, but their primary contributions will come under the category in which they are listed.
I hope some of you went out and got Martin Perez two weeks ago. I just watched him pitch again and there’s just something so refreshing about a veteran breaking out so late in his career. He’s been downright nasty this year pitching with so much movement that he has yet to give up a home run. He’s also throwing with a ton of confidence, which you have to love from a fantasy perspective.
If you missed out on Perez though, don’t fret! Add any one of these undervalued players and you’ll be well on the road to recovery. Some of these guys are obvious and some are not, but act fast, or else some other savvy manager will be laughing his way to the winner’s circle.
Holy Calhoun! Calhoun took it out on his former teammates last week and blasted three extra-base hits, including two home runs against the Angels. He’s hit five homers over his last seven games and has been nearly unstoppable since returning from their road trip on May 10. Calhoun will likely fall back into fantasy obscurity within a few weeks, but he’s been relevant before and can hit a ton of home runs over a short period of time. Ride the wave while it lasts and add to your home run total.
Walker’s slowly becoming one of those true three-outcome guys where he either walks, strikes out, or hits a home run. It took him all of last season to reach 10 home runs, a number he has already met this season. He did crush 29 homers in 2019, so it’s not like the power output has come out of nowhere. Walker is just lifting the ball now more with better contact behind it. The Diamondbacks are firing on all cylinders and Walker has been smack dab in the middle of it. His average isn’t high enough to be valuable in shallow leagues, but he makes for a decent corner infielder in deeper ones.
As Yonder Alonso put it on MLB’s broadcast of Wednesday night’s Cubs-Pirates game, “if you were building a major-leaguer on a video game, this is how you’d want him to look.” Morel has all the swag of a Big Leaguer and the tools to back it up. Oozing with vitality, Morel’s youthful energy could be just what the doctor ordered for Chicago.
Already a clubhouse favorite as many of his teammates have raved about him in interviews, he fittingly hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat. He then had a two-hit outing, including another home run.
Morel was just as impressive in Double-A to start the year where he produced a .945 OPS with seven homers and three steals in just 108 at-bats. He could very well be sent back down once Jason Heyward returns from the COVID-IL, but Chicago may choose to keep him around a while. Perhaps Alfonso Rivas moving to the bench and Frank Schwindel playing full-time at first base could free up some more PT.
Either way, Morel is worth a flier in deeper leagues because even if he is sent down, it likely won’t be for long. And if he becomes the five-tool player he seems destined to become, you’ll be glad you got him now for next to nothing.
Daza has been on a tear this season producing 27 hits in just 72 at-bats (.375 BA). The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Venezuelan doesn’t put a lot of loft on the ball, but he rarely strikes out and has an IFFB (infield fly ball) rate of zero. Daza won’t add any power to your roster and he’s not great on the basepaths either, but if your batting average is tanking, Daza’s Major League-leading (if he qualified) .375 average will help.
Even with Kris Bryant returning from the IL, Daza should continue to see semi-regular at-bats with Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson struggling. Add the line-drive-hitting Daza now in deeper leagues to help raise your unsightly average.
Since receiving regular playing time, the Royals’ former prospect has gone 9-for-23 (.391 BA) with three doubles. With Edward Oliveras (quad) likely on the IL for at least another month, Isbel should be in line for more starts. Micheal A. Taylor could take over in center when he returns from the Covid-IL, but it’s not like he was hitting the cover off the ball, and his defense wasn’t enough to warrant regular playing time. The Royals could choose to go with the younger, hot hand against righties, making Isbel worth a flier in the deepest leagues.
Donovan has been a run-scoring and on-base machine since becoming the everyday shortstop for the Cards. The German-born lefty-hitting infielder has a knack for making contact when he swings (83.1 contact %) and rarely chases pitches out of the zone (25.7 O-Swing %). He leads the team (albeit in a short sample) with a ridiculous .463 on-base percentage and has more walks than strikeouts.
Getting on base at such a high clip has already led to nine runs scored despite only accumulating 41 at-bats. It’s early, but when adjusted to a 162-game season, Donovan is on pace for well over 100 runs. Batting second in the Cardinals’ order, he’s in a prime position to continue his fantastic production. Add Donovan in all leagues.
Yastrzemski’s been getting on base and, similar to Donovan, it’s leading to a healthy amount of runs. Over just 98 at-bats, Yaz has scored 17 times, including nine over his last nine games. The Giants outfielder is doing a bit of everything (besides stealing) and should be added in the majority of leagues.
Has Chavis finally done enough to earn regular playing time? He’s been a beast against LHP but has been sitting for Josh VanMeter and his .162 batting average to get into the lineup against righties. It seems as though management has finally seen the light with Chavis starting every game last week.
Arguably their best hitter of late, the former first-rounder has knocked in 15 runs in just 95 at-bats. He has also produced 10 extra-base hits including four home runs. He’s probably not a great add in standard leagues, but with regular playing time, he makes for a solid corner infielder in deep leagues.
Over a full season of at-bats last season, Brown would have come close to 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. Yes, they’d all have to come against right-handed pitching because Brown takes a nap versus southpaws, but lined up with the right schedule, Brown can be an excellent run producer. He’s already knocked in 21 runs on the year after driving in nearly 50 in just half a season in 2021. He also drove in 104 while launching 37 dingers in just 112 games for Oakland’s Triple-A club in 2019.
After starting the year off hot with a couple of long balls, Brown went cold as he’s been known to do for long stretches. Well, it looks as though the Oakland slugger has emerged from his funk, as he’s seven for his last 16 including a 97-mile-per-hour fastball he turned on and planted into the right-field seats.
He’s got extremely quick hands and a strong foundation, which should lead to a decent amount of RBIs all season long. Just try to catch him during his hot streaks and look ahead for a majority of right-handed starters.
Villar is up to his old tricks, hitting for considerable power and stealing bases. He’s been playing every day with the Cubs’ regulars on the shelf and has taken advantage of some favorable weather conditions at Wrigley. While the power outburst may not last, you have to believe the steals will. It’s always been a major part of his game and after going 2-for-2 in stolen bags over the last three games, you know more are on the horizon. Villar is feeling it right now and with a near-permanent green light on the bases, expect Villar to start running more often as the weather warms up.
Villar’s never short on style and he seems to have gotten his legs back of late. He’s going to run when given the chance, so add Villar now if you need a boost in steals.
I wanted to include Rojas in last week’s edition, but I felt he wasn’t a big enough difference-maker in shallow leagues to highlight. But anyone who has a three-home run game (regardless of wind) is probably worth your attention. He’s always been someone to consider in deeper leagues, but coming off the monster game on Friday and three steals to his credit already, Rojas becomes an intriguing add in all leagues. Plus, he qualifies at nearly every position.
Quintana was not good yesterday and while it’s tough to pick up a pitcher coming off a loss, it wasn’t entirely his fault. The defense was atrocious in this one and Quintana had been lights out in six of his previous seven starts.
Similar to Martin Perez, Quintana has been enjoying a resurgence of sorts looking like the pitcher the Cubs traded away half their team for. He’s only given up two long balls on the season while also keeping his walks in check. Pitching for the Pirates, he won’t win a ton of games, but he can help lower your ERA and probably your WHIP as well. Plus, if he keeps up the solid production, he’ll likely be traded to a contender at the deadline.
The Brewers and Dodgers couldn’t touch him and he’s got a date later this week with the Padres, who only have two players hitting above .230 (three if you count Jorge Alfaro — .250 off the bench). Add Quintana in deeper leagues.
Yay, more Pirates pitchers! Zach Thompson was a breath of fresh air last year in Miami, as he turned in a fine 3.24 ERA over 26 games including 14 starts. This year after moving to Pittsburgh, he had trouble finding his rhythm while dealing with a bit of a shoulder issue (caused by a come-backer). Since he was given a break and taken out of the rotation to start the month, Thompson has returned with a vengeance allowing one run over his last three starts (16 IP). He didn’t allow a single home run and only surrendered eight hits and four walks.
Thompson was someone I watched closely throughout the beginning of the season after showing so much promise last year in Florida. You could tell he was off in his first few starts but now looks closer to the man who dominated at times for the Marlins. He doesn’t have the best matchups coming up, but the Rockies outside of Colorado are beatable, so he is someone to monitor in deeper leagues.
With the entire Tigers’ starting staff on the mend, Detroit has looked to another one of their former first-round selections in Alex Faedo. Similar to Cincinnati’s Connor Overton (mentioned last week), he’s a relatively unknown arm who has just been going about his business and getting the job done.
Flying under the radar in most fantasy leagues, Faedo features a three-pitch mix that won’t blow you away but does keep hitters off-balance enough to create favorable outcomes. He possesses a strong mound presence at 6-5, 230 pounds, and has an excellent changeup to pair with his high-velocity slider. Take a chance on Faedo, as he’s averaged a WHIP below 1.20 throughout his professional career.
Poteet is someone else to consider if he stays in the starting rotation. Although his peripherals are ghastly (.192 BABIP, 94.4 LOB%), there’s no denying what he’s been able to accomplish (0.43 ERA, 0.86 WHIP). If he’s able to keep the ball in the yard (unlike last season), Poteet could be a valuable asset in all league types.
I was going to name Matthew Liberatore here, but after a poor showing against Pittsburgh, I decided to go with Chase Silseth instead. Silseth has very little track record to go on, including only a few starts across the Minor Leagues, but I watched the young flame thrower on Friday night and the Arizona alum looked filthy until he tired out in the fifth inning.
Despite facing Oakland for the second time in five days, Silseth was able to strike out six hitters in 4.1 innings. His stuff will definitely play at the Major League level and he should be able to take advantage of teams having little scouting report to go on. The Angels are dead-set on rolling out a six-man rotation for the near future, so Silseth has a good chance to stick around for a while. Add the intriguing young righty now in deeper leagues.
Miley won’t excite fantasy managers, but he does produce stretches of prolonged brilliance and did so as recently as last year. Miley’s a soft-tossing lefty, who is known to eat up innings and somewhat surprisingly win games. In the first half of last season, Miley held opposing offenses to just 2.79 earned runs per nine and earned seven victories. He’s coming off a near-perfect performance of seven one-hit-no-walk innings and shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s able to reach 10+ wins again this season. He’ll have a few clunkers now and then, but long term, Miley’s a fine investment if your team is lacking wins.
I don’t like the Boston guys and I’m not thrilled with the Washington situation either, but I am buying Alexis Diaz as the Reds’ future closer. I know he didn’t earn the team’s latest save, but his stuff is far superior to his teammates’ and he should have a firm grasp on the job before long. He reminds me a bit of Diego Castillo with his wildness, which leads to a lot of walks, but he does make opposing hitters uncomfortable, which can work to his advantage. Take a flier on Diaz in deeper leagues if you’re desperate for saves. And while you’re at it, if you’re truly desperate, grab Tanner Rainey as well.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.