Last week we took a look at a few NL players who’d been mentioned in one of my posts this year, all of whom had gone from 0 or 1%-owned types to viable fantasy options in shallower leagues. (Note that I’m only mentioning players I’ve already talked about this year, which excludes a lot of the deep-league studs and surprises, as so many of them zoomed up the ownership charts so quickly in a week that they didn’t qualify as deep-leaguers by the time I was posting for the week). Now we’ll do the same for a few American League players, once again thinking about whether or not they’ll be able to continue making a fantasy impact in the second half of 2019.
Dwight Smith Jr. I grabbed Smith in the free round of an AL-only auction this year figuring that, if nothing else, Smith would likely be handed regular playing time with the Orioles, and I also featured him in my first post of the season. Heading into the All Star break, he’s now a 46%-owned player in CBS leagues. While his numbers may not be off-the-charts amazing, he has certainly proved to be a solid 4th or 5th AL-only outfielder (.243 in 71 games, with 37 runs scored, 11 homers, 44 RBI and 4 steals). I am hoping for similar production in the second half, but am tempering my expectations, as Smith’s stats have fallen off a bit of a cliff of late. He had a horrible collision with the outfield wall the first week of June that left him beat up and sent him to the IL with a concussion… whether that’s the culprit, or it’s just regression/the league catching up to him, Smith doesn’t have a homer (and just 3 RBI) in the 12 games he’s played since he’s been back from the IL. I hope he can find a way to turn things around for the sake of my AL-only league, but I’m going to have to look elsewhere in shallower leagues for the time being.
Danny Santana. Santana, in my opinion, has been the perfect example of a player who has been invaluable in very deep leagues, but basically not worth rostering in standard mixed-league formats. He’s been playing all over the field and qualifies at up to 4 different positions in many leagues, finding a way to keep his bat in the lineup regularly even when it’s looked on paper like there was nowhere for the Rangers to play him. He’s now hitting .297 in 195 at bats (which seems likely to go down in the second half, given that his career average stands at .262), with 9 homers and 9 steals. He’s now 36% owned in CBS leagues, which feels about right to me. I feel like that percentage is more likely to go down than up over the next three months, but I am holding Santana in one 15-team mixed league where I desperately need steals, as I feel that’s the one category that he has at least a chance to help out in, at least compared to what’s available to me on the waiver wire.
Brandon Workman. In the ever-shifting and often disappointing Red Sox bullpen, Workman has been a solid real-life and even fantasy presence, despite never having been given a regular chance at closing. He is now up to 31% owned in CBS leagues, so he’s doing something right, and one can’t complain about his overall numbers: 1.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and an impressive 53 Ks in 37 innings. Much of his fantasy value comes from the 7 wins he’s picked up along the way, and while one obviously can’t count on wins from a middle reliever, they are a clear sign (along with his 3 saves) that he’s being used in high-leverage, close-game situations. Workman’s stock doesn’t feel particularly high at the moment, given that the Red Sox have (somewhat oddly?) announced that Nate Eovaldi will be closing for them once he’s healthy, coupled with the possibility that they could add relief help before the trade deadline. But I’m buying rather than selling shares of Workman for now, as I think he could continue to be a solid contributor in the second half, and may find a way to pile up not only more wins but possibly some saves as well.
Luis Arraez. I mentioned Arraez back in May, and he’s still under-the-radar enough to be owned in just 5% of CBS leagues. He’s been optioned back to triple A and recalled again since then. I won’t bore you with all of the injuries I’ve been dealing with in my AL-only league, but let’s just say that Arraez has been a godsend filling in (he qualifies at 2B and OF in most leagues now) and keeping me from having a completely empty active roster spot. Arraez profiles as a utility guy without a ton of power or speed, and has been hitting a bit over his (or anyone’s) head, as his AVG/OBP/OPS now stands at .431/.507/1.038 over his 65 at bats on the season. Yet, even with all of these caveats, anyone who’s been in the middle of a first-place MLB lineup lately — and Arraez hit 6th for the Twins on Tuesday, batted 5th on Wednesday, and found himself in the cleanup spot on Thursday — is on my deep-league radar in the second half.
Who do you like today Bieber @cincy or fried at home vs Miami?
A hot day in Cincy is definitely scary, but If I owned Bieber — still don’t know how I didn’t end up with him anywhere — I don’t think I’d bench him no matter what the matchup. He may have a few more clunkers in him before the season’s over but he’s been piling up the Ks and generally looking great. So I guess I’d take Bieber, but I’d happily start Fried vs. the Marlins as well if I owned him.