Does anyone remember the sitcom That ’70s Show? It was a harmless enough little show, despite the fact that it unleashed Ashton Kutcher upon the world and led to several high profile movie roles for lead actor Topher Grace (why?). Perhaps most notably, it also introduced the public to a young actress named Mila Kunis, who portrayed a character named Jackie Burkhart. Jackie was young, cute, and full of potential, but man was she annoying. Her whiny, shrilly voice was like nails on a chalkboard. It was enough to make you want to hit the mute button or just change the channel entirely. Until recently, this week’s most added player, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (84.2% owned; +54.5% over the past week), was just like the early version of that Jackie. A young player with solid upside who possessed a few annoying tendencies. Sure he could take a walk, but what good is that in fantasy (outside of OBP leagues) if there’s no stolen base or counting stats resulting from it? Think of the fantasy ramifications, dammit! Fortunately, JBJ has been more aggressive at the plate this season (48.3% Swing% – up from 43.7% in 2015), and it has paid dividends for him. His K% is down to a career low 21.1%, and his .962 OPS (14th in MLB) and .257 ISO (18th in MLB) are currently among the league leaders. Over the last two weeks, he’s produced a .423/.444/.769 slash line with 5 homers and 17 RBI. This version of JBJ is like That ’70s Jackie muted and wearing a coconut bikini (sorta NSFW). Expect the RBI pace to drop off a bit (30 RBI – 7th most in MLB), but he looks like a viable OF3 for the immediate future.
Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:
Derek Dietrich: 17.2% owned; +10.3%
If you were wondering who the prime beneficiary of Dee Gordon’s 80 game suspension was in terms of playing time, look no further. Entering Monday, Dietrich has started 14 games at second base, 13 of which have come since Gordon began serving his lengthy suspension. The good news for fantasy owners is that Dietrich’s bat isn’t what’s kept him in a reserve role for the majority of his MLB career. Dietrich has hit 26 homers in 228 MLB games, and among players with a minimum of 300 plate appearances since the beginning of the 2015 season, his .207 ISO is higher than elite sluggers such as Andrew McCutchen, Jose Abreu, and Miguel Cabrera. His .359 OBP over that same period is the main reason that he’s been hitting out of the leadoff spot for the majority of the past two weeks. He doesn’t run (2 career SBs) and he struggles against left-handed pitching (.637 career OPS against), but his power and on-base skills are above average, and he should qualify at 2B/3B/OF in most formats. Think of him as Brock Holt with more power and less speed. Dietrich is a terrific bench bat and/or injury replacement with plenty of positional versatility. Grab him if you have the roster space. TREASURE.
Tyler Duffey: 11.1% owned; +7.1%
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, only three MLB starting pitchers have thrown at least 80 innings and produced a K/9 over 8, an ERA under 3, and a ground ball percentage of at least 48%: Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, and Duffey. Fantasy-wise, he’s basically an under-the-radar version of Aaron Nola (with a slightly less dominant curveball). Start him in all but the toughest road matchups and enjoy the SP4 numbers. TREASURE.