Ah, injuries! If you have a single fantasy baseball team that hasn’t been hit hard by them already this year, consider yourself lucky. I’m not sure how I forget every off-season just how brutal it feels to finally have baseball up and rolling, only to see players inevitably drop like flies, destroying six months worth of planning, hoping, and dreaming of fantasy glory. I’m not sure which is worse, when a key player that was firing on all cylinders suddenly and unexpectedly officially hits the IL (Lance Lynn, um, what?!) or having to navigate vague reports about top studs without knowing whether they’ll miss a game or two, or be down for a huge chunk of the season. I’m getting absolutely crushed with injuries in a few leagues as I’m sure many of you are — and, as we deep leaguers know all too well, an injury that’s a big bummer in a standard league or an RCL-type format, can be an absolutely crippling tummy punch in NL or AL-only, or other ultra deep formats. I already know I’m going to have to play this week seriously short-handed in a few leagues because the weekly waiver deadline has come and gone, and/or there is almost literally no one available in the free agent pool who’ll get more than a handful of bats over the course of the week. I’m still going to fight for every counting stat I can, though, because these are the same leagues that often somehow manage to come down to a single steal or a couple RBI making a difference in the final standings come late September. This week, we’ll stay true to the RITD spirit by focusing on players that were recently added to teams in some of my deepest leagues or made CBS’s “most added” list while still being only a few percent owned — guys who are off the radar to most of the fantasy baseball world, but might just be able to help fill out a banged-up deep league lineup.
Charlie Culberson (2% owned in CBS leagues). Is it just me, or does it seem like Culberson has a few big games every once in a while, then disappears for months on end, sometimes even longer, until he re-emerges with a new team and throws together another random splash of stats? Well, to further expound on my lede, I’m sorry if you are in bad enough shape in any of your leagues that you need to pick up Culberson. But… I don’t feel as sorry for you as I do for myself, seeing as I could have really used him in one of my AL-only leagues this week but actually got outbid on him. He’s on the Rangers now, and playing quite a bit, having appeared in nine games at 3B, one at 2B, and one at SS (he comes into the year qualifying at 1B and 3B in most leagues). He’s already producing at least a small stream of counting stats, with 2 homers, 5 RBI, and a steal in 31 at bats. That’s not only better than nothing, at the moment it’s also better than Joey Gallo and D.J. LeMahieu, who both have the same number of RBI but one fewer home run and no steals. Just saying.
Renato Nuñez (7% owned). To understand how deep the above-referenced AL-only keeper league of mine is, all you really need to know is that there was a legitimate FAAB bidding war — like, six or seven teams offering 10 or 15% of their yearly FAAB budget — for Nuñez’s first base services over the weekend. Yes, that seems ridiculous for a player hitting .148 in 27 at bats this year (while striking out about a third of time no less). The one thing he does provide, though, is a chance for an occasional power display (he has two homers so far), for a team (that would be the Orioles) that doesn’t have tons of great options. If you’re as desperate as the owners in my league, take note.
Christian Arroyo (4% owned). Well, this blurb already isn’t aging well as Arroyo missed Monday’s game due to a sore foot. But, up until that little hiccup, Arroyo had been playing fairly regularly for the Red Sox, having started 11 games at second base (plus one at short). He isn’t going to hit many homers and has one steal on the year, but he’s gotten off to a nice start at the plate in terms of average at least (.316 so far). The epitome of a player who isn’t ever going to be a big contributor to your fantasy team but won’t hurt you as a fill-in.
Adolis Garcia (4% owned). The fact that Garcia has been getting more chances in the Rangers’ outfield lately even though he’s only hitting .200 tells you more about how poorly the rest of the Rangers (especially the .098-hitting Leody Taveras) are doing than how well Garcia is faring. Don’t hold your breath for big numbers, but Garcia does have one homer already and is a warm body who may be in the right place at the right time to continue to get looks in the lineup.
Luke Raley (1% owned). Unlike the AL names on this list, Raley and a couple of his peers below may actually have a smidge of upside, even if they lack the path to playing time that some of the (much) less interesting veterans on this list have. Raley is the latest unheralded but evidently MLB ready prospect (he’s 26 for what it’s worth) to randomly pop out of the Dodgers’ ridiculously full clown car of talent. Raley’s an outfielder who made an almost-immediate impact by hitting his first major league homer in his second major league game, and may continue to find his way into the lineup against right-handers in a banged-up Dodgers’ lineup that’s missing Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux.
Magneuris Sierra (1% owned). Sierra really hasn’t done a thing to prove he can hit major league pitching yet, and after making the Marlins opening day roster this year he’s a mere 1 for 7. He does have one steal, and if there is even a shred of value to be had here it would definitely be from Sierra’s speed. Let’s see if he gets any playing time with Starling Marte (whose broken rib has also broken my spirit in my NL-only keeper league that had gotten off to such a good start, sigh) out of the picture for what could be quite a while.
Billy McKinney (2% owned). Here begins this week’s two-blurb, post-hype prospect section. McKinney is a Brewers outfielder who once upon a time (well, 2013) was a first-round pick of the A’s. He’s 26 now and already on his fifth team, having made stops with the Cubs, the Yankees, and the Blue Jays. As you may or may not recall, his best shot at major league playing time was in 2019 with Toronto, when he appeared in 84 games. Those games did not go particularly well, as he had a horrid .215/.274 average/OBP. He did, however, hit 12 homers, after hitting 6 in 38 games in 2018. McKinney actually made the Brewers out of camp as a left-handed pinch hitter, and I don’t know about you, but I’m keeping one squinty eye on him to see how he fares should he continue to get starts while Christian Yelich is hurt.
Mickey Moniak (6% owned). I was a little surprised to see that Moniak is only 22, since it seems like ages ago that he was the next big thing. Out of curiosity, I searched for Moniak right here at Razzball wondering if anyone else had mentioned him recently, and it appears our most recent post about him was something Ralph wrote almost four years ago. Anyhow, after a few years of rather pedestrian minor league numbers, Moniak’s star may not be shining as brightly as it once was, but he finds himself in the show in 2021 nonetheless. With Adam Haseley out indefinitely for undisclosed personal reasons and Roman Quinn performing atrociously even by his light-hitting standards (he’s 1 for 23, or a cool .043 on the year), one would think Moniak has a shot to grab some playing time and run with it. I’m not expecting him to suddenly turn into the star many thought he was when he was a teenager, but I wouldn’t mind having him floating around on at least one team in case he not only plays but manages to do some hitting while he’s at it. (This concludes our two-blurb post-hype prospect section: have a great week everyone!)