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).
As always, we’re looking at players who have gained value within the last seven days.
Also, this week there’s an added section for keeper fliers as a result of September call-ups.
Mixed League Players
Jose De Leon, SP, Dodgers
Top prospect Jose De Leon is set to make his major league debut on Sunday, and has recently been dominating Triple-A Pacific Coast League hitters. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 11.6 K/9 in 86.1 innings this season. He’s a flyball pitcher who has said some home run issues in the past, working off an elite changeup and fastball that works up to the mid-90’s. His career 12.1 K/9 shows true dominance, which first started to flash in 2014 when he upped his velocity. There are major questions as to whether De Leon can keep a rotation spot, but with the team trying to limit Julio Urias’ innings, it seems likely that De Leon will remain in the rotation if he pitches well in his first start.
Valuable for: All leagues
Worth Breaking the Bank? Not yet without a definite rotation spot, but De Leon has the upside to be a difference maker if he does remain in the rotation.
Yoan Moncada, 3B, Red Sox
The long awaited arrival of Moncada came this week, and the Red Sox wasted no time getting him at-bats. He’s become the team’s primary third baseman against right-handed pitching, and batted eighth in his first career start. The Cuban combined to hit .294-15-62 with 45 steals in 106 games between High-A and Double-A at age 21. It’s clear that his power is really starting to develop, which along with his speed, makes him a potentially elite fantasy commodity down the stretch and into 2017. Moncada is a natural second baseman, so the hot corner isn’t necessarily his long-term position, but that’s where Boston has decided he best fits for now.
Valuable for: All leagues
Worth Breaking the Bank? Yes, there’s not a better offensive prospect in baseball, and Moncada will be playing regularly the rest of the way.
Ben Gamel, OF, Mariners
Seattle has gone through quite a few corner outfielders this season, trying to find a regular after Nori Aoki began to disappoint. They hope Gamel is their answer for now and the future after acquiring him from the Yankees this week. The 24-year-old was hitting .308-6-51 with 19 steals in 116 games at Triple-A prior to his call up, and those numbers are very similar to what he showed at Triple-A last year and in the lower minors. Perhaps the most significant development is that Seattle is giving Gamel at-bats in the leadoff spot right now.
Valuable for: 10-team AL-only leagues
Worth Breaking the Bank? Given his spot in the batting order, Gamel is worthy of a very healthy bid if you need batting average, runs, or steals in AL-only.
Eric Young Jr., OF, Yankees
A blast from the past, Young is getting his first major league time of the year in September. The Yankees acquired him last week to add speed off the bench. The skillset is obvious, and Young is unlikely to get many at-bats this month. He is a desperation speed play, however, swiping 23 bases at Triple-A in the Brewers farm system this season.
Valuable for: 12-team AL-only leagues
Worth Breaking the Bank? No, Young is just a desperation play for steals.
Tom Murphy, C, Rockies
Murphy was expected to be Colorado’s backup catcher coming into the year, but was beat out in spring training by Tony Wolters as the Rockies opted for defense over offense. He’s been called up in September, and could still be the team’s catcher of the future. Murphy hit .327-19-59 at hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque after hitting .256-20-63 in the minors last season. While he’s unlikely to play regularly over the last month of the year, Murphy should get enough playing time for his offense to help in two-catcher leagues.
Valuable for: Two-catcher NL-only leagues
Worth Breaking the Bank? No, but Murphy does have significant upside if he can find a few starts per week.
Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers
Barnes would have been on the roster all year for almost any team other than the Dodgers. He has seen short stints with the Dodgers this season, and is a particularly attractive utilityman with the ability to also play second base. Barnes has terrific offensive ability as an on-base machine, hitting .299/.388/.439 for his minor league career. The Dodgers seem likely to bring back Yasmani Grandal next season, but even a spot as a backup in the majors would make him worthy as a second catcher in single leagues.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals
Goodwin has rebounded following an awful 2015 season at Double-A, hitting just .226. Known for his speed and pop, Goodwin hit .280 with 14 homers and 15 stolen bases in 119 games at Triple-A Syracuse. His ability to play center field could give him at-bats in another organization if the Nats move him this offseason.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies
Any Coors Field hitter is worth your attention, and Tapia has plenty of talent. He hit .328-8-48 with 23 steals, mostly at Double-A Hartford, this season. Tapia’s defense is actually even better than his offense, as I witnessed firsthand last year at the Arizona Fall League. Comparing the 22-year-old to Gerardo Parra isn’t far off, and that includes major inefficiency as a base stealer, getting caught 17 times in 40 tries this year. He probably won’t play much in a crowded Rockies outfield in September, but offseason moves could open the door for him to help at least in NL-only next season.