Every fantasy sport and season features incredible performances from the most unlikely of players. It’s difficult to imagine a more surprising or better performance in baseball than that of Scooter Gennett on Tuesday night.
Gennett was designated for assignment by the Brewers in March, and has hit double-digit home runs only once in his major league career. Yet, he went 5-for-5 with four home runs and 10 RBI in one of the best offensive performances in MLB history, and now features numbers worthy of regular playing time and fantasy value just based on that one fine evening in early June.
It should be noted that Gennett still doesn’t have a regular spot in Cincinnati’s lineup, and his status before the performance (.270-3-20) didn’t exactly warrant consideration. Unless you believe his 14 home runs as a Brewer last year were just a stepping stone, and that the Brewers didn’t know what they were doing when they effectively cut Gennett late in spring, it’s probably best not to contribute to his 10 percent ownership, at least in mixed formats.
Yoan Moncada, 3B/2B, White Sox (Yahoo: 45 percent owned)
Yes, Moncada remains at Triple-A Charlotte and has struggled since returning from a thumb injury, but he also had a 3-for-4 performance on Tuesday and is likely just a hot streak away from being promoted. The White Sox have likely circled June 9 as the cutoff to save money in arbitration in future years. Moncada is still fanning too often (57 strikeouts in 183 at-bats), but he’s also hitting .295-6-18 with 12 steals. If the call-up is imminent, there’s no reason to leave a player with star potential like Moncada on the waiver wire.
Felipe Rivero, RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 39 percent owned)
Two blown saves in as many nights from Tony Watson has the fantasy baseball world holding its breath, expecting a change at closer in Pittsburgh. While it didn’t happen, a move is inevitable if Watson continues to allow home runs at his current rate. Rivero, acquired from the Nationals for Mark Melancon last year, has been incredible this season with a 0.60 ERA, 5.33 K/BB ratio, and league-leading 30 appearances.
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Tim Beckham SS, Rays (Yahoo: 28 percent owned)
At the risk of sounding callous, another setback in Matt Duffy’s Achilles rehab is great news for Beckham. He sticks around as the Rays starting shortstop for the foreseeable future and has continued to show the numbers worthy of ownership despite an awful contact rate (66.5 percent). Beckham is hitting .265-9-27 with three stolen bases, and he also adds second base and first base eligibility in Yahoo leagues, for some reason.
Lucas Duda, 1B, Mets (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
Back issues made 2016 a lost season for Duda, and he’s also spent time on the DL this year with an elbow injury. In other words, the risks are apparent, but he’s played quite well this season when healthy. Duda had 10 home runs in only 145 plate appearances going into Wednesday’s game, with a career-high .968 OPS. Remember, Duda hit a combined 57 home runs in 2014-15, and he’s easily exceeding that pace to this point while also being promoted to fifth in the Mets lineup.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
The athletic Zimmer was absent from some traditional top 100 prospect lists coming into the season, but he certainly deserved mention on fantasy lists because of his combination of power and speed. It’s shown up in the majors, with four home runs and three stolen bases through his first 18 games. The steals, in particular, have been hard to come by this season with only 17 players in baseball with double-digits thus far. With a combined 82 stolen bases over the last two minor league seasons, there’s too much upside from Zimmer to overlook.
Wilson Ramos, C, Rays (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
It’s always worth taking notice of the rehab circuit. Ramos is coming off a torn ACL suffered near the end of last season, but he’s finally begun a rehab assignment at High-A Charlotte. Ramos could return as a contributor at DH as early as next week, with time at catcher not too far behind. He’s coming off a career year in Washington, hitting .307-22-80, and deserves to be owned in all leagues with his pending return.
Howie Kendrick, 2B/OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
Kendrick had an awful 2016 season with the Dodgers while he was used as a utilityman for the first time. Back as a regular in Philadelphia, the .290 career hitter got off to a nice start before an oblique injury and has picked up where he left off since returning last week. His .348-2-8 line with nine runs and three steals, albeit in only 71 plate appearances, does make Kendrick intriguing once again for fantasy owners. Prior to last season, consistency was the name of Kendrick’s game, having never hit worse than .279 in the majors.
Zach Davies, SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)
Don’t look now, but Davies is finally coming around. Davies started the season poorly after posting a 3.97 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 28 starts last year, but he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his last eight outings, including six scoreless innings against the Dodgers over the weekend. He has a 3.49 ERA since the start of May, which makes him worthwhile if you need a fill-in arm in mixed leagues.
Tom Murphy, C, Rockies (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)
Like fellow catcher Wilson Ramos, Murphy is on the comeback trail and not far away. After suffering a fractured forearm in spring training, Murphy started a rehab assignment at Triple-A over the weekend and should be just days away. Any Rockies hitter is worth noting, and a catcher who has hit at least 20 home runs three times in the minors is especially noteworthy.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, Nationals (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
Taylor is really the definition of a player who is more viable in fantasy than real life, given his impressive power-speed combination with poor on-base skills. Filling in regularly for the injured Adam Eaton, Taylor has six home runs and three stolen bases for the top offensive team in the NL, and has somehow also maintained a .257 batting average despite fanning more than 33 percent of the time. The batting average is unlikely to hold if he continues to fan so often, and his history suggests that he will keep swinging and missing, but the counting stats should be helpful enough in deeper mixed leagues.
Mike Fiers, SP, Astros (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)
Fiers has allowed a comical 18 home runs in only 57.2 innings, and he was set to be removed from the rotation before the Astros suffered recent injuries. So why the recommendation? Fiers is finally starting to keep the ball down, avoiding home runs in each of his last two starts and also earning a pair of wins during those outings. His velocity, albeit mediocre at 89 mph on his fastball, has held from last year, and his 7.8 K/9 is fair. If the matchups continue to favor Fiers, he could be a streaming option.
Luke Weaver SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
The second prospect mentioned, Weaver is almost forcing his way to St. Louis. After missing time with a finger issue, Weaver has a 1.84 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 7.00 K/BB ratio at Triple-A Memphis. While Weaver did struggle during his major league debut late last season, he also had an 11.1 K/9 and 3.75 K/BB ratio. The Cardinals have the fourth best rotation ERA in baseball, but Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha have still been inconsistent. Weaver is worthy of 100 percent ownership when he eventually gets his shot, so now is the time to pounce.
Buck Farmer, SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
It was 6.2 more scoreless innings for Farmer on Wednesday night after throwing 6.1 scoreless in his season debut on May 27. He’s replaced Matt Boyd in the Tigers starting rotation, and is about to see his ownership percentage shoot up. The difference has been Farmer’s vastly improved control, which also showed at Triple-A Toledo with a 1.8 BB/9 in 60.2 innings this season. It should be noted that Farmer has a career Triple-A ERA above 4.00, so we should temper expectations, but he can be effective for AL-only leagues if he continues to throw strikes.
Reynaldo Lopez, SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
The White Sox are loaded at Triple-A, and Lopez is likely the next in line for a permanent rotation spot in the majors given his experience and success. Acquired from the Nationals for Adam Eaton in the offseason, Lopez had a 4.91 ERA and nearly one strikeout per inning in 44 innings with Washington last year. This year he’s turned around some early struggles to post a 3.82 ERA in 66 innings at Triple-A Charlotte. While both Carlos Rodon and James Shields are on rehab assignments, Chicago has struggled to find reliable starting pitching this year across the board. A potential rotation spot before the All-Star break should make Lopez worth stashing.
Chad Bettis, SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Returning from cancer, Bettis is throwing and has set a return goal of the All-Star break. Colorado’s rotation has performed admirably this season due in large part to a youth infusion, but Bettis will be a candidate to join the rotation when he returns. With a 4.57 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over the last two seasons, Bettis isn’t a game changer but is certainly an arm worth stashing in deeper leagues looking for usable pitching.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Gerardo Parra’s quad injury gives Tapia an opportunity for playing time in Colorado. That sentence alone makes him valuable in fantasy leagues with the help of Coors Field, but Tapia has also shown impressive ability in the minors. He’s a career .320 minor league hitter who has hit .359 with 11 steals in 34 games at hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque this season. Just a few starts per week would be fine for NL-only leagues.