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Deep Pickups 7/13: Hitters

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

Lucas Duda - 1B, NYM

Owned in 9% of Yahoo leagues

In 2014 and 2015, before back issues wrecked his 2016 campaign, Duda was an estimable power hitter, smashing a combined 57 home runs with 165 RBI. Sure, he was pretty much a one-trick pony, offering no speed and mediocre batting averages, but as sluggers go the Mets had a good one.

So we were all curious to see whether he'd rebound this year. Major back injuries can be tough for guys on the wrong side of 30, after all. It turns out Duda is mostly back to his normal self. He's slashing a very solid .238/.351/.524, and on track for 25 home runs despite losing three weeks to an elbow injury.

Unfortunately, since most of his damage has been done with the bases empty, Duda isn't yielding the kind of production one would like to see. Only three of his 14 homers, and seven of his 17 doubles, have come with men on. As a result, he has only 30 RBI, and with the hitters behind him failing to accomplish much he has only scored 24 runs in 62 games.

Will these trends continue in the second half? I would posit that it's unlikely.

If Duda continues to hit the way he has for most the season, he'll eventually start coming through in some big spots. And while the Mets lineup is far from guaranteed to get better around him, they will get some guys back from injuries, and the emergence of T.J. Rivera is intriguing.

As a regular power threat playing daily, Duda has plenty to offer on fantasy rosters. His numbers have been suppressed by circumstances, but those can change quickly.

Jorge Soler - OF, KC

Owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues

The Royals had sky-high hopes for Soler when they traded their three-time All Star closer Wade Davis to the Cubs for him in September. The outfielder took a step forward last year in Chicago, and appeared to be on the verge of fulfilling his potential as a power-hitting star. That's an asset KC could've sorely used, but sadly, Soler has stalled out in his age-25 season.

After opening on the disabled list with an oblique injury, he joined the Royals in early May but came out of the gates sluggishly, hitting .164/.292/.273 with just one home run and three RBI in 18 games before a demotion to Triple-A.

In Omaha, Soler quickly turned back into the dominating slugger we all hoped to see from the get-go, bashing eight homers with a 1.214 OPS over 20 contests. He drew 18 walks against 23 strikeouts, seemingly getting a handle on his plate discipline. At the end of June, the Royals recalled him to the big leagues.

So far in his second go, it's been more of the same for Soler. Over 34 plate appearances since his return, he's batting .152 with a .480 OPS. After showing strong zone control at Triple-A, his discipline issues have mushroomed with 14 strikeouts and only one walk. The All Star break may have come at a perfect time for Soler, who needs a reset to get himself back on track.

Eventually, he's bound to turn it around. The prodigious production during his Omaha stint was no mirage; the Cuban import has a .933 lifetime OPS in the minors and put up a .769 OPS with 12 homers in just 86 games with the Cubs last year. The ability is clearly there, and once it starts to show through, Soler could become a force to be reckoned with. Deep-league owners who wait for that to start happening might already be too late to the party.

Nick Nelson

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