We all knew this “season” was going to go by quickly if it went at all, and now we’re living the reality of it, as just three weeks remain. I’ve had a few teams take quite the hit of late — the compacted season makes for some maddening volatility in the standings, and a few horrendous pitching performances plus some key missed games from my hitters have knocked me from near the catbird seat to the middle of the pack. As is the case for me even in normal times, my deep league teams feature waiver wires that have been picked clean, and there’s even less maneuvering to be done in terms of attempting to reconstruct my rosters. I’m not sure I’ll be able to regroup in time, but am fighting on, since one thing we’ve all learned is to expect the unexpected this year. So, the pickings may be slim, but let’s take a look at a handful of players (all under 15% owned in CBS leagues) that may be of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Adam Duvall. You may not have noticed, but Duvall is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, with 8 runs scored and 5 homers over the last week, as I write this. His ownership is slowly climbing, but it’s still just 13%, and I suspect if Duvall can keep up even a semblance of what he’s been doing lately he could help way more than 13% of fantasy teams out there. His big week was largely driven by a monster 3-homer game in Boston and Duvall has never exactly been known a contact hitter with a great eye, but there’s no reason to think he can’t pop a few more out of the park over the next three weeks. He should continue to see plenty of at bats for the Braves as long as he keeps hitting, and power is one thing that’s always been a relatively consistent part of his game.
Brandon Crawford. Shortstop looked like one of the deeper positions in fantasy coming into the year, so color me frustrated that I have a few leagues where I’ve been searching for a productive one lately, to no avail. Crawford hasn’t exactly had a huge season compared to the top four shortstops in the NL in terms of 5×5 fantasy value right now (Lindor, Machado, Trea Turner, and Story), but he actually comes in at number 9 on that list. He’s hitting .274 (.344 OBP) with 4 homers, a steal, and an eye-catching 17 RBI, which is pretty nice for a guy who’s still just 8% owned in CBS leagues and who (like several of the Giants infielders who are performing surprisingly well) wasn’t really even on the deepest league radar to begin the season. Like Duvall, his numbers are fueled by one giant game in Colorado where he had 6 RBI, but he’s certainly better than a hole in your lineup in a deep league.
Jose Martinez. My past relationship with Martinez consists of him being a lottery ticket that I’ve invested in a few times here and there, but that has never paid off. I’m probably going to take one more flier on him in 2020 though, since I have at least one deep NL-only league where I desperately need some power. Martinez came over to the north side of Chicago from the Rays at the deadline, which was completely under the radar as far as I was concerned, since I was somewhat surprised to see him in a Cubs uniform the other day. In 80 at bats so far, Martinez has 2 homers and 10 RBI (also 10 runs scored), so he’s been neither impressive nor completely useless. I should mention that he’s not in line for every day at bats, and he’s started his Cubs career with a clean 0 for 13, dropping his average from a really bad .229 to a really horrible .200. There’s a reason lottery tickets only cost a buck, though, and if Martinez can find even one of those power surges he’s known for, there’s still a slim chance he pays off over the next few weeks.
Lewis Brinson. One would have to think this is Brinson’s last chance to prove he belongs at the big league level, though it seems that’s been the case for about five years now. Also, his leash may be even shorter than we thought, and his playing time more sporadic, given that the Marlins find themselves in playoff contention this late in the game. Whatever the case, he’s put together one good week, anyway — in his last seven games (just 17 at bats), he’s hitting .353 with a homer and a stolen base. He hasn’t drawn a walk during that time, which is discouraging, but Brinson is what you’ll find when you’re looking at 2% owned guys while trying to fill out a roster in the deepest of leagues. It’s not inconceivable that he’ll stumble into a few more counting stats before the year is up.
Ty France. After France was traded to the Mariners from the Padres, Jerry DiPoto freely admitted that he’s been trying to pry France away for years now. We should expect to see him in the lineup regularly, and he’ll finally have his first real chance to show the baseball world what he can do with every day at bats. He was already having a nice season for the Padres in limited action (he’s now hitting .328 with 2 homers and 12 RBI in 61 at bats), and he qualifies at 1B, 2B, and 3B in many leagues.
Randy Arozarena. Arozarena went to the Rays from the Cardinals last year (along with the above-mentioned Jose Martinez) as part of a package that many found to be a light return for Matthew Liberatore. The Rays usually seem to win trades, though, and since they’ve already given up on Martinez, maybe it will be Arozarena that pays off for them this time. Arozarena may not play every day, but there’s a chance he’ll play enough to make a difference in the deep league world, and he showed enough speed (plus a little pop) in the minors — 289 AVG/.373 OBP in his minor league career, with 38 homers and 61 steals in 331 games — to give him a bit of deep-league intrigue.
Josh Naylor. I believe my friend Grey Albright recently sung Naylor’s praises, and I’ll add my voice to that chorus. He’s another player who is finally getting a chance after being buried under the seemingly endless pile of talented players the Padres stockpiled over the last several years. Now in Cleveland, he looks to have the opportunity to prove himself as their left fielder to close the season, and we’ll see if he’s able to do so. He’s a left handed batter who’s shown in the past that he can hit lefties and has the potential to hit for a solid average with a solid dose of power if he can take advantage of regular opportunities at the plate at the big league level.
Leody Taveras. I picked Taveras up a week ago in an AL-only league, and he’s been pretty brutal for my batting average as he tries to adjust to major league pitching now that he’s up and playing regularly for the Rangers. He had a couple of 0-4 games back to back where he looked beyond overmatched at the plate, but since then he’s picked up a couple of hits plus a couple of walks, so I’m hoping for greener pastures in the near future. I don’t have much choice, since there aren’t really any other options for me out there, and a 3% owned outfielder who is A) playing regularly, B) getting a chance to show if he can handle the leadoff spot for a rebuilding team, and C) could steal some bases while he’s at it, is as good as it’s gonna get for me right now. Taveras has swiped two already (he also has a homer in his 38 at bats for what it’s worth), and if he can steal a few more he could actually be a difference-maker for me in that league… fingers crossed.