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Deep Pickups 5/12: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Derek Dietrich - 2B, MIA

Owned in 11% of Yahoo leagues

Despite putting up an 800 OPS with 10 homers in 90 games last year – very strong production from a guy with middle infield eligibility – Derek Dietrich opened this season as a bench player for the Marlins. His power has again been on display in the early part of the new campaign, with 10 extra-base hits and a .556 slugging percentage, but he didn't have a path to daily playing time.

That is, not until Dee Gordon got hit with an 80-game PED suspension.

Suddenly Dietrich, who had been starting sporadically at second and third but mostly pinch-hitting, becomes a very relevant fantasy asset. Now that he'll be starting almost every day in Gordon's stead for at least the first half of the season, the pop in his bat is tantalizing. Last year, no qualified second baseman in the National League finished with a higher slugging percentage than Dietrich's .456 mark.

Hitting for power has always been a noteworthy strength for the 26-year-old. In the minors, he hit .278/.352/.483 while launching 65 home runs and 104 doubles over parts of six seasons. He hasn't had much trouble translating that productivity to the majors even though he hasn't really been able to settle into an extended regular gig.

Now he will get that chance everything is shaping up favorably for him to be a quality contributor. Dietrich has been red-hot in May with a .361 average and 938 OPS in 10 games. His strong play has moved him up to the leadoff spot in Miami's lineup.

Dietrich is not without his flaws – he doesn't hit all that well against lefties and offers minimal speed (just two steals in 224 big-league games) – but he offers offensive firepower that is pretty rare for his position and he's got a nice opportunity to really emerge over the next couple of months. Grab him while he's still available in most leagues.

Mike Napoli - 1B, CLE

Owned in 13% of Yahoo leagues

Looking to infuse an offense that last year scored only 669 runs, the Indians went out and signed veteran Mike Napoli to a one-year, $7 million during the offseason. Even though Napoli was coming off his worst overall year as a big-leaguer, his improved play down the stretch proved that the 33-year-old wasn't out of gas just yet.

Over the first four-plus months of 2015, spent with Boston, Napoli hit just .207/.307/.386. The sub-700 OPS was striking for a consistently solid player who had never finished below 784. The Red Sox dealt him to Texas in late August and Napoli was rejuvenated, putting up a 906 OPS in 35 games over the remainder of the season.

His performance here in 2016 with the Indians has been a mixed bag. The traditionally strikeout-prone slugger has been whiffing as much as ever, with a 35 percent K-rate that ranks as the third-highest in baseball. His walks are down too, resulting in an underwhelming .309 OBP.

But, as you'd hope, the power has been making up for his shortcomings. In 29 games with Cleveland, Napoli has launched seven homers and driven in 22 runs. His regular placaement in the cleanup spot has given him plenty of chances to produce, putting him on pace to finish with 115 RBI.

He only has eligibility at first base and DH, and at this point of his career Napoli's profile doesn't exactly scream upside, but his ownership rate suggests he's a bit of an underrated commodity. He is a good bet to keep putting up numbers in the HR and RBI columns and his track record of durability has thus far remained intact (he has played in 29 of Cleveland's 31 games).

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.