Greetings, friends! We’re finally past the real halfway point of the baseball season, and almost to the fake halfway point of the baseball season… either way you look at it, a good time to take stock of your team(s) and remember that there is lots of baseball left in 2018, of both the real and pretend variety. Whether you’re sitting comfortably at the top of your league standings trying to maintain your position, or buried towards the bottom hoping to scratch and claw your way to a money finish in the second half, you probably have something to play for (even if it’s just pride/not looking like a jerk for quitting). We’ve had some pretty amazing out-of-nowhere hitting seasons so far this year, but since the Max Muncys and Jesus Aguilars of the world are no longer super-deep-league names, we’ll need to dig a little deeper. (Also, I’m only looking at players currently on MLB rosters, so no Willie Calhoun-types on this list). Many of these guys we’ve talked about before, and all of them are 15% owned or less in CBS leagues — this group may not be a cavalcade of all-stars, but you never know who will end up being a difference-maker, especially in the deep-league world. And who knows — someone from this list might even be a legitimate option in shallower leagues by the time August and September roll around.
Less than 15% owned:
Harrison Bader. Or as I like to call him, my new Brandon Nimmo. (Nimmo, by the way, helped me out quite a bit in a couple leagues in May and June, but I’m worried that we’ve seen the best of him: based on absolutely no actual data, I’m just feeling like the league has caught up to him). Things are messy in the St. Louis outfield to say the least, and Dexter Fowler hitting a grand slam the other day, after what was basically a month-long benching/public falling out with management, just complicates matters. Bader’s playing time may dry up completely, but I am eyeing him closely in case it doesn’t — his potential power/speed combo is just too tempting for me to ignore right now.
Dexter Fowler. Well, since Fowler is also about 15% owned, and we’re talking about some long shots here, no reason not to include him as well. As you may have read about 8 seconds ago, he hit a grand slam the other day, and I can’t imagine anyone in baseball who is more motivated to have a strong second half, and Fowler has been dropped in most of my leagues, including NL-only. I’ve grabbed him in a couple places… again, just in case.
Nick Williams. I am throwing Williams on this list at the last minute, as I was surprised to see that he’s still only 15% owned. Who doesn’t want a piece of the surprisingly good Phillies offense right now? Williams had a tough start to the season, but Aaron Altherr‘s was even tougher, and the Phillies have shown patience and given Williams plenty of time to come around at the plate. After spending June with a batting average in the .220s and .230s, Williams has gotten his average over .250, and in the last week he’s hitting .417 with 2 (of his 11) homers.
Adaberto Mondesi. The Royals have no reason not to see what they’ve got with Mondesi at the major league level these days, and he’s looked pretty impressive lately. The batting average is never going to be a selling point, but he’s been on a tear lately (.304 average, 1 homer, 6 RBIs, 2 SBs over his last 5 games) and is certainly a name to keep in mind for anyone looking for some second-half speed.
Less than 10% owned:
Franmil Reyes. Reyes didn’t quite look major-league-ready after the Padres surprisingly called him up earlier this season, but after a demotion, he’s once again back with the big club. The Padres outfield is a little murky, but if Reyes stay up and gets some playing time, power-hungry deep-league teams may want to take note.
Ronald Guzman. I don’t know if Guzman is ultimately the Rangers’ first baseman of the future, but I know he’s the corner infielder of the present in one of my deep leagues. He’s hitting .260 on the year, which isn’t great, but interestingly, he is a left-handed batter who is hitting .326 against lefties. He has 8 homers on the year now, which also isn’t great for 66 games played, but it’s an understatement to say he’s been hot lately, as he’s batting .526 over the last week.
Mark Canha. I mentioned Canha several weeks ago, and he’s continued to hit enough to remain deep-league relevant. His average is at .262, so things could get worse there before they get better (that’s about 20 points above his career average), but he’s up to 11 homers now, and he’s not a crazy flier if you need power.
Steve Pearce. He’s not flashy, he’s 35 years old, and he doesn’t exactly excel at any of the standard fantasy categories. He’s been hitting lately though (his batting average is currently at a robust .330, with a .381 OBP), he’s on a super-good team, he qualifies at 1B and OF in most leagues, and he’s getting a halfway-decent amount of playing time. In ultra deep league venues, that’s sometimes enough!
Less than 5% owned:
Andrew Toles. Toles will need some help in terms of other players’ injuries to stay on the big-league roster in the second half, let alone contribute in fantasy, but he could end up being of some use with the right combination of Dodgers outfielders getting hurt or just not producing. He’s come through in the past when given the chance, and he had two hits, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored in his first game of 2018 on Monday.
Tyler Saladino. The Brewers have both a crowded outfield and infield when they’re healthy, but Saladino has some deep-league appeal even when fighting for at bats with Brad Miller, Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez, and the rest of the Brew Crew. He fits the profile of the Craig Counsell-type player than Craig Counsell himself seems to love, and Saladino is hitting .279 with 4 homers and a steal in very limited (61) at bats.
Jake Cave. Cave has almost a 30% strikeout rate this year, but is still managing a .286 average for the Twins. He has 3 homers and 9 RBI in just 63 at bats, and that was before Wednesday, when he had 2 more hits including a triple, scored 2 runs, and had another RBI. Not bad for a 2%-owned fellow!