With what feels like a ton of injuries happening in the MLB right now, we could all use a lucky Week 13. Let’s hope it is so. For the week ahead, three teams have eight games (CLE, TOR, MIN), and there are six games in Colorado (3 LAD, 3 ARZ). On the bottom end, four teams play just five games (DET, ARZ, NYM, SF). I will always aim for volume and talent when offering this article. This week, we have a lot of solid names and some hitters that I feel are sneaking into usefulness. Let’s get into it.
Alfaro is the most added backstop in all the land right now. Just 29 years old, he still has his top-notch exit velocity numbers and his vaunted sprint speed. Alfaro checks in at 28.8 ft/s and qualifies at catcher, which basically makes him a unicorn. The new thing recently, though? A mere 18.8% swinging-strike rate. And sure, that’s egregious compared to the common MLB player. But for Alfaro, it’s a significant departure from repeated years of anywhere between 21% to 24%. That 18% swinging-strike rate is downright tolerable. And don’t sweat the .390 BABIP. With Alfaro, it’s not all smoke and mirrors, not for a guy who has consistently posted high BABIPs throughout his career. His career mark is a whopping .375 for reference. I’m all in on Alfaro as a viable play in two-catcher formats right now.
Okay, it’s time to ride Trevino from here onward. I’ve touted him before, right before he got injured. Ugh. Anyway, he’s the clear bat to own at backstop for the Yankees, even as the All-Star drumbeats begin to sound in his name. Just 29 years old, Trevino has morphed into one of the best catchers in the American League now that he’s finally seeing consistent playing time. He has a career-high walk rate (7.0%) and has tied the best (read: lowest) strikeout rate of his career, at just 12.5%. His .281 BABIP is in line with his career mark of .286, and his .272 xBA is pretty much in line with that and the best mark of his career. I don’t see many changes in his quality of contact metrics, but I do see that Trevino is elevating the ball more as a Yankee–his 11.4-degree average launch angle is a career mark. And if you check his home/away splits, those also point to maybe Trevino is being boosted by playing his home games in Yankee Stadium, where the ball can fly. He’s at .338 with four homers at home, compared to just a .204 BA and two homers on the road. The only caveat is that he’s been worse on the road throughout his career, but I imagine that’s relatively common. Still, there’s been a big difference in the batting average thus far, so you’ll like him better over the first half of this week as the Yankees host the Athletics at home. It’s a full seven-game week for New York, so get Trevino into those lineups as a solid C2 option.
Paredes has been my stash in one dynasty league for a while now, a league where I am thin at middle infield. Needless to say, I’m super excited about recent events. He is quietly up to 10 homers now after swatting five dingers in his last three games, including a three-homer game on Tuesday of this week. Paredes has 10 home runs in just 33 games this year, an unsustainable pace. He’s more of a contact hitter and not a runner. I view him as more of a 20-homer middle infield bat with no speed. That’s not exciting, but you can get him into your lineups while the man is streaking. The Rays have a full seven games this week, including two lefties on the first half of the week–so the right-handed Paredes will have the platoon advantage, despite not showing up big against lefties yet in 2022 (.194 BA, 4 HR). I attribute that more to the small sample, though. For his career, he’s at a .275 BA in the split.
I know. He’s batting towards the bottom of the order on a bad team. However, he’s getting plenty of at-bats and doing something with them. Over the last week, he’s 10-for-24 (.417) with a home run. That doesn’t sound exciting, but he’s quietly (in my opinion) batting .291 with four home runs, and six steals already. So, we have a near .300 hitter with a bit of pop and speed to burn? By season’s end, the overall picture of Hoerner could be something like a 10/15 player with a high batting average. He’ll need everything to break right to crest 10 homers, as the quality of contact numbers doesn’t support him being a guy we look to for power. However, having the ability to hit for contact can breed good things, and the batting average (.318 xBA) and the wheels are legitimate (92nd percentile). Lastly, he’s only been caught once so far this year, a good sign after going 5-for-8 last year. For reference, he has a 70% success rate at the MLB level, but this year he’s at 85%. There’s a decent floor here if you need an average boost and some speed.
I keep touting Burger, but the CI landscape looks pretty barren right now. And of all the things wrong with the White Sox, it ain’t Burger. He’s still not getting the love he deserves across the fantasy baseball airwaves, at just 23% rostered in Yahoo circles. He had a .26.8% strikeout rate at Triple-A last year but slugged 18 homers and slashed .274/.332/.513. This year in the majors, his strikeout rate has ticked up to 30.9%, something we expect to see when a guy moves up to this level. However, he’s slashing .258/.311/.472, with eight homers. He’s a free swinger, but he’s covering up some of those whiff sins with great hard contact. He’s in the top 5% of the league in max EV and in the top 7% in barrel rate. He has 64th percentile sprint speed, so he’s not a bad athlete. Don’t expect any chip-in speed, as he’s only attempted one steal as a professional and was unsuccessful. But I just like knowing a guy can move. Add that decent amount of wheels to the quality of contact, and I’m inclined to trust the .337 BABIP a bit more. I think he can be a .250 bat with power, playing in your corner outfield spot.
Brown is QUIETLY up to nine home runs and seven steals. Seven steals! Who knew? Yes, there’s some 66th percentile sprint speed to somewhat back that production. What can Brown do for you? Well, he has a pair of 30-homer MiLB seasons under his belt, and he swatted 20 homers (with four steals) over 111 games as a pro last season. He’ll end up as a 20-homer, 10+ steal bat. That certainly has some deep league appeal. There could be good news on his .221 batting average, too. He has an expected batting average of .269, a mark that jives with all his hard contact and ability to run at a decent clip. The Athletics have seven games for Week 13, including an away stint in Yankee Stadium. Sure, that pitching will be stout. But it’s a park boost nonetheless, and Oakland should avoid Gerrit Cole. Brown is your guy this week if you’re digging deep at your corner infield slot.
The 24-year-old Gonzalez plays every day for Cleveland, batting fourth or fifth in the order. He’s a top 20 outfielder in 5×5 leagues over the last week. The Guardians have eight games on tap for Week 13. Sure, they’ll finish up with the vaunted Yankees, but a whopping five games over the first half of the week at home against Minnesota is something you don’t want to miss. There’s a lot to like with Gonzalez, namely that he’s toolsy. His 113.1 max EV is inside the top 9% of the league, and his 29.0 ft/s sprint speed is inside the top 8% of the league. Known as a plus power prospect with contact concerns, Gonzalez is striking out just 20.9% thus far over his first 110 big league plate appearances. He’s a free-swinger, but his 73.3% contact rate isn’t ghastly (the MLB average is 76.6%). If he can continue hitting the ball hard, that will make up for some of the whiffs. His .290 xBA and 45.7% hard-hit rate are also encouraging. In the long term, we’ll want him to elevate the ball more, and that 15.8% swinging strike rate will hopefully improve. But for just the one week ahead of us, Gonzalez makes plenty of sense as a way to round out your five-man outfields.
Toronto has eight games on tap this week, including what looks like three straight Boston righties to begin the week. Thursday takes a negative turn with Tampa and perhaps the left arm of Jeffrey Springs, but Tapia has batted .273 against southpaws this year and has a .286 BA in that split throughout his career. For reference, he has a career .274 mark against RHP. He’s not a big power guy to either-handedness, so the lefties aren’t a major concern to me. You’re hoping for a batting average boost, some runs, and some steals. That said, Tapia is up about 8% on his hard-hit rate this year, from 31.5% to 39.8% (48th percentile). He is also elevating the ball more, up from last year’s -4.4 launch angle to at least a positive 5.1 angle this year. The result of elevating more and hitting the ball harder is a respectable 6.6% barrel rate (the league average is 6.7%). I like this shift in his batted ball profile for fantasy baseball purposes. He’s essentially traded out ground balls for fly balls while keeping a robust line drive rate. He may bat for a bit lower than a batting average, but he has ground to give. He’s batting .256 right now, but with a .276 xBA and on a .302 BABIP–Tapia has a career .331 BABIP. The arrow points upward, so long as he can hit enough to stay in the lineup. The Jays catch a full eight games this week.
I dubbed him one of my favorite injury stashes a couple of weeks ago. He was heating up before getting injured and even leading off for the Royals for a few games ahead of his IL stint. He’ll need to work his way back up in the batting order, but as this team is starved for offense and just lost Salvador Perez for two months, Olivares will have a real shot at fantasy viability. Olivares is no secret in the fantasy baseball community, a guy we have all longed the Royals would unleash for some time now. He’s still just 26 years old and has that intriguing power/speed combination we are all searching for. In 2019, he hit 18 homers at Double-A with 35 steals…then had a big-league cup of coffee in the pandemic-shortened 2020. In 2021 at Triple-A, he made all the growth anyone would want. He had a healthy 9.9% walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate to 15.8%, hit for batting average (.313) and power (15 HR), and stole 12 bases. At the big league level in 2021, he hit five homers and stole two bases in 39 games (111 PA). So far this year, he’s at two homers and two swipes in just 16 MLB games. That’s a long and convoluted way of saying that the fantasy stats will come so long as he remains healthy and in the lineup. The Royals have just six games this week, but the matchups are swiss cheese against the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. Get him into those lineups, folks. And spend those FAAB dollars.
What say you, gamers? Who did I miss? Who is trending upward in your 15-team leagues? Find me on Twitter @HeathCapps to hash out any questions or topics of interest. Good luck in the week ahead!
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