We are into mid-June and entering a time when fantasy baseball rosters are becoming more settled. For instance, I am acutely aware of my roster’s deficiencies. Thankfully, there’s typically help to be found if we are willing to dig enough to find it.
My goal is that at least one of the following names can aid anyone reading this. Maybe you are plugging a hole due to an injury, or you are searching for a guy who can give you some volume in your high-stakes NFBC formats. No matter the case, there should be something for everyone here today.
Please note: I drew most of these statistics before Saturday’s games, so any Saturday heroics might not be included.
Did a 2019 stint in the KBO might have put Bethancourt on the track to MLB success. As a member of the NC Dinos, Bethancourt slashed .246/.308/.404 with a 95 wRC+. He had eight homers in 53 games (224 PA). Modest output, to be sure. But still far better than anything he had offered in the major leagues up to that point. So far in 2022–Bethancourt’s first MLB showing since his time in the KBO–he is slashing .254/.291/.418, with similar power output (4 HR in 142 PA) and a 106 wRC+. He has already given us four steals, putting his 70th percentile sprint speed to good use. He’s versatile and athletic, having played in both corner outfield spots and second base in the majors, as well as a catcher and first base. He’s the ideal player for Oakland if he can continue to hit at a decent clip, and he’s a potentially great catcher in fantasy baseball due to receiving at-bats at positions other than a backstop.
Bethancourt is a free-swinger, but he’s pasting the ball. He ranks 86th percentile or better in average EV, max EV, hard-hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and barrel rate. His quality of contact numbers is fantastic, and Oakland is also one of the most run-happy teams in the majors. Bethancourt could wind up with double-digit home runs AND double-digit steals…what’s that worth to you?! The hot streak might cool at some point, given his free-swinging ways, as I think his 23.9% strikeout rate will rise. But for now, I’m riding the streak, and there’s a chance Bethancourt sticks around on rosters all season. There’s top 10 catcher upside here.
Higashioka seems to be enjoying some course correction of late. He has a putrid .168/.218/.297 slash with three homers for the season, but he’s done so with a .187 BABIP and an expected batting average of .249. The three homers have all come over the last week of action, and honestly, he has just four hits in total over that time frame (4-for-13, .308 BA). However, Higashioka has a superb 57.5% hard-hit rate on the year and a modest 22.3% strikeout rate. He also has a double-digit barrel rate and calls Yankee Stadium home. This is still a timeshare with Jose Trevino, but I think Higashioka can do enough from a power perspective to justify occupying a C2 spot for those who are desperate for power.
A two-game absence due to a hand contusion might offer a buy-low window, as it may take a few more at-bats for Burger to recapture his recent form. The former first-round pick (No. 11 overall in 2017) is finally healthy after a couple of years of injuries and is now showcasing his power at the highest level. He’s inside the top 5% of the league in barrel rate and max EV, and his other quality of contact numbers are very good. He’s even got above-average speed, checking in at 27.7 ft/s or inside the 65th percentile. Burger hasn’t stolen a base as a pro, not even at the minor league levels. But I like knowing guys can move. Couple that with hitting the ball hard, and maybe this year’s .333 BABIP is pretty believable. You’ll have to watch the whiffs with Burger–anything under a 30% strikeout rate you’ll take–, but the power should be there. He’s hitting in the heart of the White Sox order, and there are seven games on tap for the week ahead, including a four-game set with the lowly Orioles pitching staff to end the week. The time is now!
Like Burger, Cooper was recently in excellent form, only to have it derailed. In Cooper’s case, it was a brief stint on the Covid-19 IL. At any rate, now he’s back, and the multi-hit efforts with the occasional home run should start again soon. Cooper is probably most helpful in the batting average category. Still, he should be good for counting stats as well, given that he is batting second in this makeshift Marlins lineup–one currently lacking the services of Jesus Aguilar, Jesus Sanchez, Brian Anderson, and Joey Wendle. Miami gets a full seven games in Week 12, and four opposing starters are projected to be southpaws. Cooper’s career .199 ISO against lefty pitching far exceeds his .154 mark against right-handers…though he is a very good hitter in both splits. Here’s hoping the DH slot can keep him healthy for an entire week.
Does anyone remember the scene from Troy when Achilles kills the huge warrior Boagrius and then shouts in a taunting manner to the remainder of the opposing army…is there no one else?! Is there no one else?!
In the case of the Pirates, after Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, there is no one else. Chavis is third in plate appearances behind those two, and he’s been the everyday first baseman since the struggling Yoshi Tsutsugo hit the injured list. Tsutsugo (back) resumed light baseball activities about a week ago and is not slated to begin rehab games for another week or so. So we get at least one more week for Chavis to make his mark, and within that week, the Pirates are projected to see three southpaws, which is Chavis’ bread and butter (.323 BA, .246 ISO, 152 wRC+). Don’t overthink it. Take the volume for your MI slot if you need a chance at a little bit of power this week.
Duran got a day off on Saturday, but don’t let it fool you–he’s an everyday guy for the Rangers right now, given their gaping hole at the hot corner. Duran’s calling card(s) are his powerful arm and blazing speed (97th percentile). He profiles as a guy who will swing and miss plenty but also hit plenty of home runs, given his ability to reach max EV and pull the ball. So far, we’ve got a pair of homers and steals, respectively, and we’ve already seen the high strikeout rate (28.3%). The whiffs are one downside, and another is that there are only five games on tap for Texas in the week ahead. However, that may be numbed a bit by finishing off the week with a woeful Washington Nationals staff–the team with a 5.44 ERA, the worst mark in the majors. I say trust the tools if you need some help in your MI slot in 15-team leagues.
Soon enough, Garcia and his .343 batting average will move up in the Washington order. You can’t keep batting this guy at the bottom, Washington. Anyway, .404 BABIP will normalize, but he’s still a safe bet for batting average help. Since his first cup of coffee in 2020, Garcia has shown incremental growth in some critical areas, including barrel rate, max EV, launch angle, sweet spot %, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, XWOBACON, and hard-hit rate. Don’t let the low walk rate turn you off–drawing walks isn’t his game. He’s going to swing a bunch and put a lot of balls in play. Like Duran and the Rangers, Garcia’s Nationals only catch five games this week. However, those five games come against two pitching staffs that can be had in Baltimore and Texas. And sure, maybe Texas’ numbers look decent. But those guys are pitching over their collective heads. You’ll want Garcia to move up in the order, but he’s good enough now to justify as a MI bat.
Harris has a pair of homers and a pair of steals in his first 19 MLB games while only striking out 21.9% of the time thus far. And while his contact numbers are completely acceptable for a 21-year-old making his MLB debut, he’s swinging and chasing a bit more out of the zone than we’d like. However, since the fear of too much swinging and chasing is weak contact, I’m encouraged by the 44.4% hard-hit rate (56th percentile) and the expected batting average (.276). The blazing 95th percentile sprint speed is the proverbial cherry on top. That’s a speedy middle infielder type of wheels, except Harris has a couple of inches and about 10 pounds on many of those middle infield types. He’s the clear-but best option in center field for Atlanta, and if you are lucky enough to roster him, you should be riding the wave.
Thomas just keeps hitting, and it appears he’ll remain entrenched in center field while Daulton Varsho mans right field and Carson Kelly resumes catching duties. Pavin Smith is the odd man out, which is a bummer for some of the depth on a few of my draft-and-hold teams…but a boon to Thomas’ chances moving forward. I have been a low-key fan of some Arizona pieces for this season, and I’m not changing course now. Thomas’ power has waned a bit after five early home runs, but he’s up to three steals, and it’s that 95th percentile sprint speed that is his calling card, as well as his ability to just plain hit the baseball. The D-backs catch a tough San Diego pitching trio at the beginning of the week, but finishing off the week by hosting the hapless Detroit Tigers should be an excellent way to end things.
Arcia has taken over for Ozzie Albies in Atlanta, and he’s already over halfway to second base eligibility at the NFBC. The Atlanta bench is suddenly paper-thin, with only Phil Gosselin around to cover the infield spots. Arcia is still just 27 years old and was a four-year starter for the Brewers before coming over to Atlanta in last year’s trade. In two of those Milwaukee seasons that were not marred by injury–both times he played over 150 games–Arcia gave us a 15/14 season and a 15/8 season. With Albies on the shelf for a couple of months, Arcia will get a chance to reestablish his big league value, whether as a Brave or as trade bait to a team that will once again view him as a starter. He only has 47 batted balls in 2022, but he’s sitting on a 55.3% hard-hit rate. That’s a nice place to start. Again, his sample is small this year, but a double-digit walk rate and barrel rate are also encouraging. And while the .432 BABIP is sure to normalize, his .333 xBA isn’t far away from his .367 reality. I’m happy to take a shot on a young guy rebuilding his value. The Braves have seven games at home this week, too. Throw a dart here if you need to.
That’s it for me! Let me know who I missed, folks. Find me on Twitter @HeathCapps, and let’s haggle.
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