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Impact Report: Week 3

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

 

Kevin Jepsen, RP, Twins

 

Jepsen is an obvious addition this week with Twins regular closer Glen Perkins on the DL with a strained shoulder. Perkins is hoping to only miss the minimum, but how much time he actually misses is anyone’s guess. His first appearance was discouraging, averaging 91 mph on his fastball, nearly three mph below his average velocity from last season. Jepsen has handled the closer role before with 20 career saves coming into this season, including 15 last year. He’s had a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons and got on track after joining Minnesota in 2015, posting a 3.57 K/BB ratio. So the Twins are confident he can handle the role, and at this point we’re just betting on Perkins’ health.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, unless you already know the results of Perkins’ MRI

 

 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Tigers

 

Salty is Detroit’s starting catcher for at least the next couple weeks after regular catcher James McCann suffered a Grade 2 sprained ankle that will keep him out for 2-4 weeks. While inconsistent recently, Saltalamacchia already has three home runs on the year and has a career at-bat per home run pace of 25.9 that was even lower last season in his 200 at-bats. In other words, he’s a relatively safe 15-20 home run player over the full season. Anything can happen over a small sample size over the next 2-4 weeks, but Saltalamacchia’s power is certainly worth a short-term look in most two catcher mixed leagues.

Helpful for: Two catcher mixed leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? McCann will be back within one month, so don’t break the bank yet

 

 

Mallex Smith, OF, Braves

 

Smith was called up last Sunday to replace the injured Ender Inciarte on the roster. He’s often been compared to Michael Bourn (the young version), and is one of the better base stealing prospects in the game. Last season Smith hit .303 with 56 steals in 125 games between Double- and Triple-A. He’s already started five games, hitting leadoff in four of them. While Inciarte’s hamstring injury isn’t serious, Hector Olivera was put on administrative leave this week due to an alleged domestic altercation. Even after Inciarte returns, Smith could stick around and play left field in Olivera’s stead if he starts to hit.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Yes, if you need stolen bases. Even if Smith doesn’t stick around when Inciarte returns, he’ll be up for good soon.

 

 

AL-only Players

 

Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins

 

Arcia’s stock has fallen like an anvil after hitting 34 home runs over his first 723 career at-bats. He couldn’t get out of his slump last season, and didn’t have a great spring but is out of options. To this point, Arcia has been nesting on the Twins bench, but he got two starts this weekend with Byron Buxton injured. Arcia went 2-for-4 with a home run on Saturday, an exciting development for Twins fans and fantasy owners. The Twins are sounding desperate for help (see below) and would likely let Arcia – or Garth Brooks, for that matter – stay in the lineup if they’re on a hot streak. The power upside he’s shown in the past is certainly worth a free agency flier on this team.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

David Murphy, OF, Twins

 

Speaking of Twins desperation, the team signed Murphy to a minor league deal this week. He was cut by the Red Sox following spring training, but based on last year’s performance (.283-10-50), there’s no reason to think he’s finished quite yet. The Twins, in essence, are putting Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, and even Byung Ho Park on notice with this signing, as each is somehow hitting below the Mendoza Line. Another week of struggles for any of the above could be all Murphy needs to find a job as a semi-regular.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Christian Vazquez, C, Red Sox

 

The Red Sox commented during spring training about starting Vazquez over Blake Swihart, and they apparently weren’t kidding around. This week they called up Vazquez, completed with his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and sent Swihart down to work on his defense at catcher and the outfield. Vazquez’s addition could be a boost for Boston’s pitchers, as the pitching framing stats show, and anything offensively would be a bonus. Vazquez hit only .240-1-20 in 175 at-bats during his major league debut in 2014, and is a career .267 minor league hitter. But AL-only owners in two catcher leagues need at-bats, especially those owners who lost Swihart or McCann this week.

Helpful for: All two catcher AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, his offensive upside is very limited

 

 

NL-only Players

 

Gordon Beckham, 3B, Braves

 

Pending the hamstring injury Beckham suffered on Saturday being worse than expected, he’s looking usable in NL-only leagues. Beckham has started three consecutive games at second base for the Braves, as it looks like Jace Peterson has finally fallen out of favor in Atlanta. Of course, we’ve seen this song and dance for Beckham before over nearly 2,900 at-bats. The former top prospect is just a .242 career hitter and maxed out at 16 home runs in 2012. Still, the Braves look like they’re giving Beckham a go to see what he can do. If Beckham doesn’t answer the test, Kelly Johnson is probably the next in line for second base at-bats.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Zach Davies, SP, Brewers

 

Davies lost out on the starting rotation competition this spring, but it sure didn’t take him long to find his way. He will take over as the fifth starter today, replacing Matt Garza. We saw what Davies could do in six starts for the Brewers late last season, posting a 3.71 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 34 innings. His peripherals weren’t pretty, but Davies’ calling card is his sinker that provokes a fair share of grounders. He had an outstanding 2.30 GO/FO ratio in the majors, up from 1.64 in the minors last season. He’s consistently shown above average control in the minors, with a career 2.9 BB/9 rate, and should be able to keep a rotation spot if he pitches well in a Milwaukee rotation that has started off poorly.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Dustin Garneau, C, Colorado Rockies

 

Rockies starting catcher Nick Hundley was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion on Saturday, allowing Garneau an opportunity. Colorado was blown away by Tony Wolters’ defense in spring training, but there’s no debating that Garneau is the superior offensive threat. He hit double-digit home runs three times in the minors, including 15 homers in 81 games at hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque last season. Rockies catching prospect Tom Murphy is considered the organization’s catcher of the future (and possibly later this season), but he’s yet to play a minor league game this year due to an oblique injury.

Helpful for: Two catcher NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, he will likely only see playing time for a short period