Well, here we are gentlemen and five girl readers. Hmm, if I’m one of the five girl readers and I’m writing this [Jay’s Note: You forgot my mother.], does that mean I should only be addressing 4 girl readers? Or should I just stick with 5, since I’m certainly vain enough that I’ll be reading my own work once it’s published? Hold on, is “published” the wrong word since we’re talking about the internet, and does my use of it make me sound out of touch? Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, here we are: week 7! Most MLB teams have played around 40 games now, so we’re about a quarter of the way through the season. Have any owners just flat-out quit in your leagues? In one of my keeper leagues (which of course are a different animal than re-drafts when it comes to punting a season), there were several blockbuster trades over the past weekend… those “in the hunt” have definitely distinguished themselves from those who are “playing for the future”. Meanwhile, I have a few re-draft leagues where some owners are barely setting valid lineups. Does this happen in your league? And if so, do you care?
It’s tricky, since one owner’s apathy can basically mean free points for other owners… are people bothered when this happens? Or do you just accept it as part of the game, and hope that you are the one who benefits by gaining a couple points in Ks or steals or RBI from a team that isn’t bothering to do things like replace DL’d players in their lineup. Do owners have an obligation to keep monitoring their teams closely, or is it understood that once a team is clearly out of it, no one expects its owner to continue checking in? And what if it’s a head to head league?
So many questions… if you have answers to any of them, feel free to leave in the comments. Also, if you have a question of your own about your NL or AL-only team (or just need to brag/commiserate about it), leave that too… always love to hear from others of the deep-league persuasion. Speaking of which, let’s go ahead and look at some names of baseball players who might be available to help your NL or AL-only team.
Jesús Aguilar. Believe it or not, Aguilar started 5 of the first 8 Brewers games at first. With the emergence (slight understatement!) of Eric Thames, Aguilar would probably be back in AAA now if it weren’t for a handful of Brewers being injured/banged-up. Ryan Braun’s trip to the DL has moved Thames to the outfield on occasion, giving Aguilar more time at first base. He is aquitting himself nicely, hitting .273 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. There may be no room for him on a healthy Brewers squad, but it’s worth monitoring the situation in case more playing time opens up. (Adding to this to note that he had a great game Monday, in San Diego no less, with 3 hits and his third homer… and he’s in the lineup batting cleanup on Tuesday. Yum!)
Pat Valaika. I read somewhere that the Rockies want to see if he can settle in to a long term super-utility type role (Valaika has already appeared at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and OF). Obviously he is more tempting at home in even the deepest leagues, but if Trevor Story is actually hurt and misses extended time, Valaika should see a nice little smattering of at bats in the days/weeks to come. I actually picked him up before Story got hurt and had him in my active lineup last week in my deepest NL-only league – I was feeling pretty idiotic as he didn’t have a hit through Saturday last week, but then he went deep twice on Sunday and all was well with the world.
Wandy Peralta. Just out of curiosity, I decided to rank all NL pitchers in order of standard 5×5 value this year to see which reliever who didn’t have any saves was listed as being worth the most. The answer was Peralta, and his numbers are stellar: 1.12 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 22K/4BB in 18 innings, and 2 wins. He regularly uses three pitches: a mid-90’s fastball, a change up, and a slider, and he gets strikes with all of them. I made a vow this year to avoid Reds pitchers at all costs, but I’ve already grabbed Peralta in a couple of deep NL-onlys. Until he shows signs of slowing down, Peralta may a better use of an active roster spot (assuming your league doesn’t distinguish between starters and relievers) than the Clayton Richards of the world that us deep-leaguers are forced to consider when setting our lineups.
Jose Urena. If it’s a starter you really need and your NL-only league recently had a flurry of FAAB activity surrounding Zack Godley and Eddie Butler, as mine did, perhaps Urena is still available. He’s a guy who’s been labeled as having the proverbial “great stuff,” but has never been able to successfully turn it into impressive pitching, as he just doesn’t throw enough strikes and tends to allow way too many baserunners. His 2017 numbers are pretty darn good, though: 1.98 ERA/1.17 WHIP (7 walks, 14 strikeouts) in 27 innings, and if nothing else he should continue to have a spot in the Marlins rotation since it looks like Wei-Yin Chen may be down for the count.
Miguel Montero. Up until this point in the season, Montero is the 20th most valuable catcher in standard 5×5 leagues, which means you could make a case for him starting in a 2-catcher mixed league. If nothing else he should be owned in most any NL-only format right now, but is currently owned in just 2% of Yahoo leagues, 3% in ESPN, and 7% in CBS. His average is at .327, he has 3 home runs, and he’s even stolen a base. When you crunch the numbers (again, talking about a standard 5×5), this production puts him ahead of both 99% CBS owned Jonathan Lucroy, and Montero’s teammate, the catcher-eligible-in-some-formats, 98% CBS owned Kyle Schwarber. I’m certainly not saying he’s going to outperform either of these guys from here on out, but Montero should be on more fantasy owners’ radar.
Ezequiel Carrera. He started 5 games in a row for the Blue Jays while Kendrys Morales was nursing a bad hammy, and is hitting .327 with 3 home runs, 11 RBI, and 2 steals. Just when it looked like Carrera would be banished to the bench with Morlales’ return, Steve Pearce hit the DL with a calf issue. Carrera should continue to get playing time and could be a decent source of production if he can stay hot.
Erasmo Ramirez. Officially moving into the Rays rotation after the demotion on Blake Snell. He’s never had impressive strikeout numbers; his 6.57 K/9 this year is right in line with his career average of 6.9. He’ll need to continue getting lucky with balls on the ground not finding holes – in the last couple of years he’s focused more on his sinker in an attempt to induce more grounders, and it’s worked: his ground ball% was 37.7% in 2014, 47.6% in 2015, 52.5% in 2016, and stands at 55.2% so far in 2017. His 2017 BABIP will get worse; it’s currently .200 (career average .277), leading to an unsustainable 0.81 WHIP. He’s got a great K/BB ratio though (4/18 in 24 innings), so it’s certainly not out of the question that he’d find some success as a starter.
Leury Garcia. I thought Garcia’s ownership numbers might have jumped since the last time I checked, but he’s still just 5% owned in ESPN/3% in Yahoo. Even in CBS he’s just 16% owned, which confuses me a bit since he’s been about the hottest hitter in baseball over the last week. He’s now at .308 for the season, with 15 runs scored, 4 homers, 14 RBI, and 3 steals. He’s a switch hitter — all 4 homers off righties, but he has a lovely .406 OBP against lefties. Most importantly, he seems to be ensconced at the top of the White Sox lineup for the time being; not sure why more owners don’t want to take a flier and see if he can keep producing there.
Alex Wilson. If you’re in a league deep enough that every closer handcuff is owned, then Wilson should be on a team, as he seems to have moved up a notch in the pecking order after K-Rod’s demotion. Justin Wilson has been pretty much flawless so far and looks every bit a top-notch closer, but if nothing else Alex looks like he’s claimed the 8th inning (and since Justin is left-handed, it’s not completely insane to think Alex could vulture a save or two at some point based on matchups).
Brandon Moss. It’s hard to even mention a guy who’s hitting .174, but if you’re desperate for power, Moss already has 6 bombs and once again is on pace for a respectable number (26, he hit 28 last year and his 3-year average is 24). He qualifies at 1B and OF, and there could be worse options if he’s facing a string of righties… plus his career batting average is .239, so that .174 number has no where to go but up, right?!