This week’s most added fantasy player, Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin (51.5% owned; +33.1% over the past week), isn’t like the majority of the most popular fantasy players to be plucked off of the waiver wire throughout the course of the MLB regular season. Despite being a mid-first round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2012 MLB draft, he was never really considered to be a top prospect. His skillset and minor league statistics suggested that he was likely to have a Gerardo Parra type of career in the majors, meaning that he fit the high floor, low ceiling mold rather than that of a true difference maker. Despite the blistering offensive start to his MLB career (.321/.380/.626 slash line), Naquin has been buried in the bottom third of the lineup for 193 of his 207 plate appearances this season. It seems as though his own team has been as slow to embrace him as the fantasy community. For those of you who are familiar with the X-Men franchise, he kind of reminds me of the Bobby Drake character, who’s also known as “Iceman.” Iceman isn’t one of the leaders of the group, nor is the most powerful mutant in the bunch. He’s one of the younger, newer members who just does his job without much fanfare. When in pressure situations, Naquin has proven to be one cool customer as well (1.094 OPS with men on base; .984 OPS in “high leverage” situations). Plus, since the Iceman had a bit of a romantic dalliance with the Rogue in the early X-Men films, there’s the obvious Naquin/Paquin connection to be made. I already discussed Naquin a couple of weeks ago here, so be sure to add him if he’s still hanging around on your waiver wire.
Here are a few other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:
Blake Snell: 31.6% owned; +15.2%
It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for the talented young Snell during his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Rays. In his four starts from June 16th through July 2nd, Snell had all kinds of control issues, walking 14 batters in just 20.2 innings of work (6.10 BB/9). His 1.98 WHIP over that span isn’t exactly what his fantasy owners envisioned for the top prospect entering this season, and his 5.8% SwStr% and .361 BABIP indicate that he wasn’t fooling anyone early on. Over his last three starts, however, Snell has turned things around in a big way. He’s walked just 7 batters in 18.2 IP (3.38 BB/9) while striking out over hitter an inning (9.64 K/9) and generating tons of swings and misses (12.5% SwStr%). His 1.93 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over this span are more in line with his immense talent. It’s worth noting that the 23-year-old Snell is rapidly approaching the number of innings that he threw last season in the minor leagues, and the Rays have no reason to push him too hard down the stretch since they’re out of contention this year. Forty of the Rays remaining sixty-three games are against their treacherous AL East opponents as well. A half dozen more starts in mostly poor matchups means that it might not be wise to count on Snell down the stretch this year. TRASH.
The rookie nookie continues featuring the recent call-ups of two of the game’s best prospects. The 22-year-old Bregman has been tabbed to man the hot corner for the Astros after destroying Double A pitching to the tune of .297/.415/.559 in 62 games followed by a .333/.373/.641 line in 18 games at Triple A. Dahl managed to fill up the stat sheet in 76 games at Double A this season (53/13/45/16/.278) before putting up video game numbers in 16 Triple A games (.484/.529/.887). The 22-year-old Dahl might need the Rockies to move one of Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez in order to see regular playing time down the stretch, but all signs point to that being the case. If still available, add these players now. They have the potential to be huge difference makers over the next couple of months. TREASURES.