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Impact Report

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

They say fantasy baseball leagues are won in-season. If you actually believe that’s the case and your league uses free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) for weekly pickups, then this weekly article is for you.

 

Even if your league uses another free agent system like waivers or first-come, first-served, hopefully you can use the tips and analysis for guidance to help win your fantasy baseball league this season.

 

The difficulty in writing this article is catering to as many types of leagues as possible. Rotoworld Season Pass readers play in everything from 8-team mixed leagues to 20-team AL- and NL-only leagues. With that being the case, I’ve included headings and notes that will hopefully help you browse quickly to the players that are most pertinent to your league.

 

The two notes are “Helpful for” and “Worth Breaking the Bank?” Definitions:

 

Helpful For: The minimum league size where the player is better than a typical replacement-level player. For example, “12-team leagues” in the Mixed League Players section indicates the player can help in a 12-team mixed league or larger.

 

Worth Breaking the Bank?  Is this player worth a significant portion of your FAAB budget or a high waiver priority? Since I don’t know what positions and categories you need or your FAAB budget after this week, it’s difficult to be more specific. However, I will try to provide some guidance, if possible.

 

Overall, keep in mind these recommendations are for 5x5 leagues with standard rosters (14 hitters and 9 pitchers).

 

Just remember, I’m here to help you. If you have a suggestion about the format early this season, please don’t hesitate to email me or Tweet @sethroto.

 

This week we’re looking at players who have gained value within the last seven days.

 

 

Mixed League Players

 

Chris Carter, 1B, Yankees

 

There isn’t much of an introduction needed for Carter, who led the NL with 41 home runs last season before settling on a one-year, $3 million contract with the Yankees in the offseason. His extremely high strikeout rate, low batting average, and mediocre on-base skills limited his market, but Carter has been playing regularly since Greg Bird went down with an ankle injury. The results haven’t been there, but like many all-or-nothing hitters, Carter has been extremely streaky during his career. Bird is likely to get his job back when he returns, but he will need a rehab assignment that could be prolonged after hitting only .100-1-3 with 60 at-bats to start the season. If Carter is able to get on a hot streak before Bird’s return, he could be playing for a while.

Helpful for: 12-team mixed leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, but there is definite power upside in the short term.

 

 

Dustin Garneau, C, Rockies

 

The injuries continue to mount for the Rockies, who lost catcher Tony Wolters to a concussion this week and have seen supposed starting catcher Tom Murphy’s recovery from a fractured forearm go slower than expected. Garneau hasn’t hit much in 18 games this season and 193 career at-bats, but the minor league numbers still show that he’s capable. He’s a career .266-35-118 hitter in 636 at-bats at Triple-A, and also showed pop at lower levels. At worst, the at-bats are worthwhile in Coors Field until either Wolters or Murphy return.

Helpful for: All two-catcher leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, Garneau has never hit in the majors, and he won’t play for more than a couple weeks. Still, there is some short-term upside with games at Coors Field this week.

 

 

Luis Valbuena, 3B, Angels

 

Finally off the DL following a hamstring injury that kept him out for all of April, Valbuena has taken over at first base for the injured C.J. Cron. Given Cron’s early-season struggles, Valbuena should be able to hold onto the regular job if he hits. Valbuena is coming off one of his best seasons, albeit in only 90 games, with an .816 OPS and 13 home runs in only 90 games last year. The Angels are hoping that his performance from Houston carries over to Anaheim, where he averaged .238-19-48 over 363 at-bats in two seasons.

Helpful for: 12-team mixed leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, though Valbuena should be plenty use if you need power.

 

 

AL-only Players

 

Tommy Kahnle, RP, White Sox

 

Kahnle has quietly been one of the AL’s best relievers early this season, correcting his past control issues to post a 0.82 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 11 innings. He has an incredible 21/2 K/BB, and while the sample size is still small, he seems to have turned a corner at age 27. The improvement isn’t all on his control, as Kahnle’s average fastball is up to 98 mph, almost two mph above last season, and his swinging strike percentage is above 17 percent after being sub-11 percent last season. The significance of his success is even greater on a rebuilding team that could trade their closer (David Robertson) at some point this season.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues and even some mixed leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, but only because it’s probably unnecessary. Kahnle has shown elite ability in the early going, and there’s no reason he should be available in any AL-only leagues.

 

 

Brad Peacock, RP, Astros

 

Speaking of useful relievers, Peacock is having his own resurgence. The former Nationals prospect has struggled to stay healthy and carve out a role in a major league career that started in 2011, but the early results with Houston this year have been great. He’s still struggled with walks, but Peacock has 20 strikeouts in only 13.1 innings and has finished five games for the Astros as a mop-up man. Peacock has shown a solid one mph increase in his fastball velocity after spending much of last season at Triple-A, with a 4.23 ERA in 117 innings. Along with the strikeout increase, Peacock also has two wins already.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank: No. Peacock is useful if you’re desperate for a pitcher, but there’s limited upside at the bottom of the Astros pen.

 

 

Josh Rutledge. 3B, Red Sox

 

Boston is playing musical chairs at third base, with Rutledge the newest participant. He’s starting after Marco Hernandez was sent to the DL with a shoulder injury. Hernandez was already replacing Pablo Sandoval (knee) and Brock Holt (vertigo). Holt is finally on a rehab assignment, but Rutledge will at least get some playing time this week. Like Hernandez, there’s very limited upside, but Rutledge is a career .263 hitter with 23 steals in 338 games.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Rutledge’s regular at-bats will be short-lived, but he could be useful for the next week.

 

 

NL-only Players

 

Eddie Butler, SP, Cubs

 

Brett Anderson is likely headed to the DL with back trouble, opening up a rotation spot in Chicago. The Cubs have yet to announce if Mike Montgomery or Butler will get the nod, but it’s bound to be one or the other. Given the fact that Butler is already stretched out, has been nearly flawless at Triple-A Iowa, and is on the same schedule as Anderson, he’s the more likely choice. The former Rockies starter has a 1.17 ERA through five starts, and has been throwing strikes consistently. A former groundball pitcher, Butler hasn’t provoked many grounders this year, though he will still certainly benefit from Chicago’s all-world defense if he does get the call.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Aside from the fact that Butler isn’t even the sure replacement, he doesn’t miss many bats. Even at Triple-A, Butler has only 17 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.

 

 

Tommy Pham, OF, Cardinals

 

It surprised some when Pham failed to make the Cardinals out of spring training, but he’s back as a regular in the short term due to injuries to Stephen Piscotty, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Martinez. The oft-injured Pham already has one home run in two games, giving him 15 in 321 career major league at-bats. Pham has also shown speed in the minors, with 45 career steals in 240 games at Triple-A.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Pham could get a couple weeks of at-bats to help with home runs and stolen bases, but he’s not a long-term regular for the Cardinals.

 

 

Rene Rivera, C, Mets

 

As has been normal during his career, Mets starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud went on the DL this week with a wrist injury. The Mets said he will go on a rehab assignment before returning, so the pairing of Rivera and Kevin Plawecki could see playing time for at least a couple weeks. Rivera is getting more work, and has hit well in 46 at-bats this season. His offensive game isn’t a mystery with significant playing time in San Diego and Tampa Bay over the last few years. He’s hit .221-23-103 in 823 at-bats since 2014, showing decent pop but not much else.

Helpful for: Two-catcher NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Rivera’s upside is limited to power, and d’Arnaud is likely to return before the end of May.