Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Or maybe I mean it’s better to be desperate than good. Either way, when you don’t have a lot of choices to make, sometimes what seems like a bad decision actually works out. In the RCL-style leagues, where daily changes are allowed and there is always a plethora of legit options to choose from on the waiver wire, you’re never going to have a guy like Mark Reynolds in your lineup when he does something like collect 10 RBI in one game, as he did back in July. But you might have had him active in a deep NL-only league, even though you would have never chosen to if you’d had just about any other option. I drafted Kevin Plawecki this year in 12-team NL-only, 2-catcher league, and here we are more than halfway through August, and he still sits in my active lineup. I’m sure that sounds rather pitiful to anyone in a “normal” fantasy league, but there is nothing that even remotely resembles a productive major league catcher available in the free agent pool. Turns out that’s just as well, since if there was, I would have missed out on a couple of big games from Plawecki last week: 5 hits, 5 runs scored, and 7 RBI in two games is some pretty sweet fantasy production in any fantasy league, from any position. So if you are in a deep league where you’re playing bottom of the barrel-type guys because you have no other options, maybe it’ll work out in your favor every once in a while, and you’ll get an unexpected gift of some much-needed fantasy production from the unlikeliest of sources.
For now, we move on to do what we like do here each and every week: take a look at some names of players who may be of interest to those in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Rafael Ortega. Ortega has quietly been in the Marlins’ starting lineup regularly over the last week, usually in the leadoff spot no less. He offers little in the way of power, but he’s already stolen four bases and is hitting .304 (that’s likely to go down, but he does have a .293 career average in the minors). Ortega could be the sneaky source of speed for the rest of the season that we thought we might get in Magneuris Sierra, who seems to be lost at the major league level and may have officially squandered his chance to make an impact in Florida this year.
Phillip Ervin. I know we’ve chatted about Ervin fairly recently, but I feel the need to do it again seeing as he is still owned in just 6% of CBS leagues. Ervin has been spending an awful lot of time in the Reds’ outfield, and over the last three weeks the dude is hitting .320 with 4 homers, 10 runs scored, 12 RBI, and 2 steals. Just in case you were wondering, those numbers translate to more 5×5 value over that time than provided by a bunch of guys in the 99 to 100% owned club, like Andrew Benintendi, Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Marcell Ozuna.
Austin Dean. I’m now realizing that the entire NL section of this post will be a quintessential example of mining really bad real-life teams for nuggets of fantasy production, as we return to the Miami outfield. Dean has started five games at outfield in the last week after the 24-year-old’s under-the-radar callup by the Marlins. He isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire yet with his .191 average, but he does have two homers. More importantly, it looks like he’ll continue to get regular playing time over the season’s final weeks which makes him worth keeping an eye on in the deep-league world, especially since he hit .345 (.410 OBP) in triple A this year. (Note: Dean started again Wednesday after I wrote this little blurb, and had 3 hits plus a run scored and an RBI in the Marlins’ surprise 9-run attack against the Yankees).
Freddy Galvis. Galvis is no-doubt owned in the deepest of NL-only leagues, but has been making a case for greater ownership lately (even though his overall numbers this season are horrible). Over the last three weeks, Galvis has 5 homers and 2 steals. His average and OBP have been pretty uniformly bad throughout his career and his big games are few and far between… but he’s one of those guys who could randomly give you a home run and a stolen base in the same game, if you’re in a deep league where you’re desperate for some production across the board.
Greg Allen. I actually picked Allen up for the week in a shallow mixed league because I was so convinced he was the guy to provide a few stolen bases that I could really, really use. Of course the first thing he did in my lineup was go and hit a home run, which I feel a bit bad complaining about, but Greg didn’t seem to understand that I’m already all set in the power department… so if you’re reading this, Greg, maybe next time you could just lean into that sweet pitch a little bit so that you can just trot down to first base, and then run to second and then third when the pitcher isn’t paying attention? Anyway, Allen was 2% owned when I picked him up and is now 6% owned, so a few others evidently have designs on the young man as well. I’m not sure how many more times he’ll go deep, but I do think we’ll get a few more steals out of him this year; he has 11 now in 59 games and is playing pretty regularly in Cleveland.
Melky Cabrera. I keep not picking him up in a deepish mixed league where I basically have a hole in my outfield because I expect he’ll collapse at any moment, and then he keeps hitting and making me wish I’d just grabbed him a month ago, put him in my lineup, and moved on with my life. Now that I’m publicly discussing how well he’s been playing, I’m sure the collapse is imminent, but we’ll see. Over the last two weeks, Melky is hitting .341 with 5 homers and 14 RBI for the Indians, which are numbers my team really could have used – I guess I’ll buy in now and just hope his hot streak can continue a little longer.
Ryan O’Hearn. O’Hearn is a guy I know nothing about really, but whose name I keep seeing as he’s been playing a little first base for your Kansas City Royals lately. His MLB experiment doesn’t appear to be going all that well so far as he’s hitting just .182 (and he was hitting .232 at AAA this year)… but he does have 11 RBI in 14 games so I’m putting a tiny pin in him from afar in my deep AL-only league, just in case. (And now O’Hearn has pulled an Austin Dean and gotten 3 hits in Wednesday’s game… just saying).
Adam Plutko. Plutko’s gonna get a shout out from me even though I’m too tired to think of a clever way to incorporate his name into a lede. I’m writing this on Wednesday and he’s due to pitch in Fenway Thursday afternoon, so he may or may not be getting obliterated by the Red Sox as you read this. Either way, he’s been pitching very well lately and should continue to get the chance to, what with the sad early demise of 2018 fantasy hero Trevor Bauer. Plutko’s ERA is a scary-looking 4.62, due in part to the fact that he’s not really into striking guys out… but his WHIP is a pretty 1.15, and he has a very nice almost 3 to 1 K/BB ratio (35 K/12 BB in 48 2/3 innings going into Thursday). He’s only 10% owned, and a definite stream option if nothing else when the timing is right.