Greetings, deep-league friends! Welcome to the small but comfy little corner of Razzball where we talk about baseball players who may be relevant to those playing in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues. Last week we concentrated mostly on the 1-2% owned types that are likely only on the radar of those involved in the deepest NL or AL-only leagues. This week, we’ll open it up a bit and consider players as long as they fall under the 20% owned threshold, while still dipping all the way down to the 1% types. (All % owned stats are from CBS sports leagues.  This, in my opinion, tends to be the best happy medium of ownership thresholds, between the sometimes wacky shallowness of Yahoo/ESPN leagues, and the oft-crazy percentages you’ll see on a site like Fantrax with all of their daily-change leagues). Since we have more players to cover than usual, let’s get right to it:

AL

JaCoby Jones. 10% owned.  Jones is seeing regular playing time in Detroit, and rightfully so, as he is off to a .293, 2 homer, 3 steal start to 2018. The ZIPS and Steamer types project Jones to be about a .220 hitter, so one would expect to see some regression here. But in watching him play, I’ve noticed that he has an awful lot of spunk. Last time I checked, there was no “spunk” column on any Fangraphs chart, and spunk can sometimes play a bigger factor than you’d think in a ballplayer’s success.

Derek Fisher. 8% owned. There may be some wishful thinking involved in this one, as I own Fisher in a dynasty league and would really, really like to see him not suck as baseball this season. Fisher has had a fairly disastrous start to the year, and I waited until the last possible moment to set my lineup this week because I was so sure there would be news that he’d been demoted. Instead, he was in the Astros’ starting lineup on Tuesday and got a couple of hits, including his first home run. That demotion could still come at any time, but it’s also possible that Fisher keeps getting chances and puts a little hot streak together.

Joey Wendle. 5% owned. Wendle may not be lighting the world on fire, but who would expect that out of a 5% owned player? What he has been doing lately is playing second base for Tampa Bay, hitting well over .400 with 7 runs scored and two stolen bases over his last six games.

Adeiny Hechavarria. 3% owned. Don’t look now, but Hechavarria is batting .462 (.529 OBP) with a homer and 6 RBI over the last week. Actually, you should look now, since this pace is unlikely to continue much longer for a career .256 hitter (was actually surprised to see a number that high; I would have guessed .240). If you need a middle infielder in a deep league and can plug him into your lineup before this magic little run ends, go for it.

Mark Canha. 3% owned. Another guy with a hot start that can’t be sustained, but why not try to ride the wave in a deep league while you can? He’s batting .342 with 3 homers since he was called up to Oakland, and has an 8-game hitting streak to boot. Not exactly a lot of upside here as he’s a 29-year old, career .240 hitter, but he hit 12 homers in 81 games for the A’s last year, so if nothing else we should continue to see some power out of his bat.

Leury Garcia. 2% owned. He’s a one category player, but if the one category you need some serious help in in a deep league is stolen bases, Garcia may be worth a look-see. He may pick up a few extra starts, what with Avisail Garcia’s recent trip to the DL, and the fact that Garcia is outperforming Adam Engel at the plate so far this year. Keep in mind that “outperforming at the plate” means that Garcia is hitting .184 to Engel’s .157. Like I said, it’s the seemingly-harder-than-ever to find steals that we’re looking for here, and Garcia has 4 of them, which puts him on pace for 32 on the year.

Daniel Palka. <1% owned. Called up to the White Sox due to the Avisail Garcia injury (see 5 or 6 lines above). When he gets in a game it’ll be his major league debut. He’s 26 years old and not owned in my deepest AL-only keeper league where it seems like everyone who has ever played baseball at any level ever is owned, so that makes me wary. But he was off to a solid start at AAA this year and has shown impressive power in the last few years, so that makes me at least a little tiny bit intrigued.

NL

Mac Williamson. 17%. 24% owned. OK, I’m cheating on this one, because Williamson’s ownership has gone up 7% just in the 24 hours since I wrote this, and will probably continue to if he keeps showing off his power by hitting homers, as he did both Monday and Tuesday. I was so busy trying to get over my frustration that I couldn’t make Steven Duggar happen to start the year, that I wasn’t paying attention to Williamson’s call-up and didn’t grab him in any of my NL-only leagues where he was available. May regret that. Once you get past Andrew McCutchen, the Giants outfield is a black hole right now, so it sure seems like Williamson could be up for a while after what has been an impressive 2018 debut.

Albert Almora. 18% owned. I was pretty darn surprised to see that Almora still gets under my 20% ownership threshold for the week, given that he seems to be getting a legitimate shot to lead off for the Cubs and is hitting .409 with a homer and 8 runs scored over his last 5 games as I write this on Tuesday. He may be hitting over his head right now, but even part-time duty at the top of that lineup screams potential value to me – and Joe Maddon sure seems to be crushing on Almora a lot more than he has been on Ian Happ lately. (Note: Happ seems to have noticed this as well, since he is clearly doing whatever he can to prove he belongs in the lineup every day, including a 3-hit game with a home run on Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out as the season progresses…)

Jason Heyward. 18% owned. Speaking of seeing how the Cubs outfield plays out as the season progresses, I would feel remiss to not mention Heyward, also a 18% owned player. If we polled fantasy baseball owners and asked which player they have felt the most burned by owned the last ten years, I feel like Heyward would do very, very well in that contest. But if Heyward can regain even a smidge of his former success, he could be valuable in the right league. Small sample size, but the thing I find most interesting about his numbers so far this season is the fact that he has as many walks as strikeouts (8).

Jedd Gyorko. 17% owned. Don’t completely forget about Gyorko, who is off the DL after dealing with a hamstring injury. Gyorko never has a place to play, and Gyorko always hits a bunch of home runs anyway. No reason to think it will be different this year.

Tyler Flowers. 10% owned. On a AAA rehab assignment, and apparently almost ready to return from an oblique injury. I still think Flowers .281 average last year was one of fantasy’s bigger anomalies, but he did hit .271 the year before, so maybe he really has figured some things out and it’s not all BABIP luck. Either way, the Flowers/Kurt Suzuki platoon worked out very nicely for all involved last year, and if you need a catcher in a deep league and Flowers is available, I can’t think of a reason not to grab him and see if things work out similarly in 2018.

Tommy Hunter. 4% owned. I’m realizing that there is a “Forgotten Men of the DL” theme developing here, but sometimes the DL is an incredibly good place to look for deep-league value. Hunter comes off the DL this week to finally start his season as a member of the Phillies’ bullpen. Their pen has actually looked pretty great lately — Hector Neris has five scoreless appearances (with four saves) in a row after a couple early blips, and guys like Edubray Ramos (0.96 ERA) and Victor Arano (10 innings without an earned run) have done a remarkable job stepping up. Plus, the Phils still have Pat Neshek waiting in the wings recovering from a shoulder injury. Why is this blurb about Tommy Hunter then? Well, I’m not really sure now that I think about it, but probably because the baseball season is a long one, and Hunter feels like a guy who could have value down the road when the rest of the Phillies’ pen comes back down to earth.

Sean Rodriguez. 1% owned.  Rodriguez is one of those utility guys who doesn’t seem worth even a $1 desperation bid to fill a hole at the end of your NL-only auction, then at the end of September you realize he hit .270 with 18 home runs on the season (which he did in 2016) and wish you’d just drafted him and left him in your lineup all year, instead of unsuccessfully trying to cobble together some value out of your utility spot. Rodriguez seems to have finally fully recovered from his scary car accident a year or two ago, and is back in Pittsburgh where he looks most comfortable. He’s only batting .194, a number that is likely to go up, and he has 3 homers (on pace for 23… probably not going to happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up with at least 15).

  1. J-FOH says:
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    I drafted Almora in my NL dynasty as my 4th OF (we only play 3). Offensively there isnt jack squat in the free agent pool. My best add with a bat was Jordy Mercer (its OBP instead of AVG). We went sv+hld so as not to over value closers which has really worked out nicely. Do you play that in yours…because you should.

    So are we going to grab Mr. Holt and Grey and catch the Reds when they come into town next month?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @J-FOH: We have toyed with the idea of SV+HLD but no one ever goes for it. I have also tried to build interest in Wins + QS but that’s never picked up any steam either. Very resistance to change, many of these folks are. Will keep the game on the radar and see if we can make it happen… How’s your dynasty team doing overall? BTW I’ve become kind of addicted to the RCL format playing in the writers’ league… so liberating being able to add/drop guys who actually play major league baseball every day, w/o worrying about FAAB budgets and such…

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Laura Holt: I really want them to change the definition of a QS to a sliding scale because A) the rule now sucks ass and B) so many teams are going bullpen happy and are watching pitch count. I say they start at 5 and it should be based on ERA. If a starter goes 5 and give up no runs then that should be a QS.

        RCL can be fun. You must study your schedules. As the season goes on you will need to plan a few days ahead…if people are still playing. And please dont over stream before June and keep a ton of starters on your squad. three is enough with lots of pen

        I will keep bugging you about the game. Mr. Holt will totally love me

        • Laura Holt

          Laura Holt says:
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          @J-FOH: And now I guess there’s a thing called ultra quality start or something? I’m sure it’s flawed too, though nothing could annoy me as much as the Win statistic. Knowing what I know now, I would have done things a little differently in RCL, but would have kept a similar pitching strategy (just one that didn’t involved Jose Quintana, at least not April Jose Quintana). I only have 4 starters but haven’t been doing much streaming, basically just leaving it to Josh Hader, who has been in my lineup from day one, to do the heavy lifting ha ha.

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Laura Holt: 3-4 starters and lots of MR. I offered my help but you HAD to do it on your own.

    • Miketron says:
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      @J-FOH: I’ve been waiting for someone come with an offer for my offensive riches, but I guess no one wants to trade with the first place team.

  2. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    nice work,thanks

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: Hey Al, thanks for reading!

  3. Shawnuel says:
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    Laura, what are your thoughts on Daniel Robertson of the Rays? worth a bid if I need a back up at 2B?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Shawnuel: Was actually going to mention Robertson, but just ran out of time/room… maybe next week! He’s been on fire lately as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and even when he’s not scorching hot he is the kind of guy who can be a solid asset in a deep league — qualifies at multiple positions and does just enough to help you out a little bit across the board. I think he’s literally batting more than 100 points above his career average right now, so things could take an quick and ugly turn at some point, but I think he’s definitely worth having on the radar/as a backup in the right league.

  4. Miketron says:
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    What are your thoughts on Max Stassi as a deep league catcher? Has looked decent and is in good lineup. McCann is old, Gattis can’t catch.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Miketron: I almost picked up Stassi in one of my leagues a few weeks ago and probably should have — haven’t really been nailing it yet with the deep league catchers this year! He may been hitting over his head a bit right now in terms of average and I have to think playing time will be an issue all season, but that’s not necessarily a problem in a deep league. Like you said, hard to argue against anyone in that lineup, and they really haven’t even gotten it going yet this year — as long as Stassi continues getting enough at bats to help you a bit with counting stats, I definitely think he’s worth a look in the right league.

  5. OaktownSteve says:
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    I just posted about Wendle in the morning briefing. I like him. I’ve seen him some here in Iak. I think he can play a little. Good athlete. Might hit a little.

    Good list of players. Some interesting names. I’m in an 18 team mix with 40 man rosters so it’s like a shallow only. I picked Matt Koch in that league before his first start. I basically pick up anybody in that league who gets a start just in case. I’ve seen his numbers but haven’t seen him throw. Any deep league thoughts on him?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @OaktownSteve: As good as Koch has looked this year, I have to think it will come crashing down. Sometimes I can overlook numbers, but his are just too scary for me — 27 years old with a career 1.36 WHIP in the minors… just don’t see how he can possibly keep it up at the major league level. I’ve never played in a league with more than 15 teams, but 18-team, 40-man rosters sounds like a great set-up!

  6. batflix says:
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    should I drop Trout for Acuna?
    I play with myself

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