(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are taken from the evening of Wednesday, July 6
Zach Plesac, SP, Guardians (Yahoo: 49 percent rostered)
Plesac’s run of quality starts continued Monday against the Tigers. He gave up two runs over six innings with three strikeouts for his seventh straight quality start. Over 42 innings during that span, he’s posted a 2.14 ERA while giving up one or zero runs in four of those sevenstarts. Plesac carries a 3.80 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 60/22 K/BB ratio across 85 1/3 innings this season. The lack of strikeouts limits his upside. But as long as Plesac continues to limit baserunners with a 6.1 percent walk rate and keeps the ball in the yard with a 1.16 HR/9, he can be a viable streamer kept on mixed-league rosters. And he’s got a decent chance of keeping his quality start run going with matchups against the Royals and Tigers ahead.
Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered)
Duran has been featured in various columns throughout the last week, and he’s still widely available in plenty of 10-12 team mixed leagues. It’s time to fix that. The 25-year-old outfielder is thriving in his second chance in the majors after producing just a .578 OPS with Boston last season. This year, he appears to have changed his approach to be more contact-oriented instead of swinging for the fences. It’s led to a much better .316/.373/.500 triple slash with one homer and five steals across 83 plate appearances while lowing his strikeout rate from 35.7 percent last season to 19.3 percent. And despite hitting for more contact, he’s producing an 8.6 percent barrel rate, and sign that more power can come. Hitting leadoff for the Red Sox, he’s in a position to provide plenty of fantasy value across all mixed leagues through the rest of the season. Even when Enrique Hernandez returns from the injured list, Duran’s playing time shouldn’t be in jeopardy, considering how little production the team has gotten from Jackie Bradley Jr.
Ramón Laureano, OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)
Laureano has been a bright spot in the Oakland lineup of late, going 9-for-29 with four homers and a steal over his last eight games. Since returning from suspension on May 8, he’s batting .246/.341/.406 with six homers and eight steals across 214 plate appearances. That’s good for a 16-homer and 22-steal pace over 600 plate appearances, about as good as we could hope for with Laureano. He’s striking out a career-low 22.9 percent and maintaining a 39.7 percent hard-hit rate, so his batting average doesn’t appear to be in danger of crashing. And he’s even been a bit unlucky in the power department, as his .463 expected slugging percentage indicates. Oakland’s ballpark has a lot to do with that. But Laureano is eligible for arbitration this winter, making him a trade candidate leading up to the deadline. Should he move to a better ballpark and in a better lineup, it’ll only add to his fantasy value down the stretch.
Luke Voit, 1B, Padres (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered)
On the surface, Voit’s season doesn’t look so great with a .229/.318/.424 slash line, ten homers, and 35 RBI across 264 plate appearances. But, since returning from the injured list on May 10, he’s batting .249 with all ten of his home runs. The one red flag in Voit’s profile is his 33.7 percent strikeout rate. Yes, he’s swinging and missing quite a bit. But much of that is masked by his 96th percentile barrel rate of 16.7 percent and 43.8 percent hard-hit rate. And those numbers have actually been better since his stint on the injured list, at 18.6 and 47.5 percent, respectively. Voit likely won’t be any help in batting average, but his power is legit. And with a four-game series in Colorado coming up, now is the perfect time to add Voit to your rosters.
Harold Ramirez, OF, Rays (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered)
Looking for a fourth or fifth outfielder with a safe floor? Ramirez could be that player, hitting .314/.361/.430 with four homers and three steals across 227 plate appearances. He’s been excellent over the last two weeks, going 18-for-48 with a pair of homers while consistently hitting in the top third of the Rays’ order. Ramirez is aggressive at the dish but makes plenty of hard contact. His 14.5 percent strikeout and 42.4 percent hard-hit rate make a perfect combination of skills to maintain a high batting average. A 52 percent ground ball rate will cap the power upside. He’d be much more interesting with a higher launch angle, given his 113.7 max exit velocity. Still, he’s a quality option for outfield depth in mixed leagues.
Aaron Ashby, SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 25 percent rostered)
There is a lot to like when looking into Ashby. A popular draft season sleeper, he’s underperformed so far, posting a 4.60 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts across 58 2/3 innings. Ashby’s profile has a second-half breakout written all over, as long as he stays healthy. Starting with his underlying numbers. His 3.88 FIP and 3.00 xFIP suggest he’s pitched much better than the surface stats indicate. When it comes to the skills, he’s generated an impressive 61.5 percent ground ball rate while allowing a 32.9 percent hard-hit rate, giving him a 3.23 xERA. And Ashby’s 13.2 percent swinging-strike rate supports his 28.1 percent strikeout rate. The one area he needs to work on is his control, with a 10.4 percent walk rate. That could lead to volatility, but he has the components to overcome that issue and provide much better value down the stretch.
(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Miguel Vargas, 3B, Dodgers (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)
It might be a good idea to stash Vargas if you’ve got space on your roster. The 22-year-old third base prospect is tearing up Triple-A, hitting .294/.382/.503 with 13 homers and nine steals over 359 plate appearances. His best skill has been his hit tool, with a 15.3 percent strikeout rate. But Vargas broke out with some power last season, hitting 23 homers across High-A and Double-A while keeping a low strikeout rate. And he’s maintained the power and contact skills while hitting the ball in the air, with only a 34.9 percent ground ball rate. The Dodgers have recently had him playing in the outfield to give him more versatility and an easier path to the majors. With Chris Taylor out with a fractured left foot, Vargas could be the closest he’s been to a promotion. So we have a talented prospect that can hit for average, power, and steal bases with third base eligibility and a path to hitting in one of the best lineups in baseball. Sign me up.
Luis Gonzalez, OF, Giants (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)
Gonzalez began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday. He’s been out since June 21 with a lower back strain. Before the injury, he hit .302/.361/.447 with three homers and seven steals across 180 plate appearances. His success earned him the leadoff spot in the batting order against right-handed pitching. Like many of the Giants’ hitters, he’s a risk of being platooned. But he can provide some production across the board in deeper leagues if he returns to play most days atop the order.
Ha-Seong Kim, 2B/3B/SS, Padres (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)
While an improvement over last season, Kim has mostly underachieved against this season, hitting .233/.322/.356 with five homers and four steals across 289 plate appearances. He has shown better contact and plate discipline, with a 19 percent strikeout and ten percent walk rate. The problem has been the quality of contact, putting up just a 27 percent hard-hit rate. With Kim, we’re looking short-term with the Padres’ four-game series against the Rockies to start next week. Eligible at third, second, and short, teams in deeper leagues could look to plug Kim into lineups for the extended series in Coors Field.
José Quintana vs. Brewers (Yahoo: 15 percent rostered)
Quintana has enjoyed a resurgence as a starter with the Pirates this season, posting a 3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts across 81 innings. A 3.37 FIP and 3.65 xFIP indicate what he’s done so far is legit. He’s coming off an excellent start against the Yankees with seven strikeouts and one run allowed over five innings to earn the win. Quintana gets a decent matchup against a Brewers team on Sunday that has generally struggled against left-handed pitchers this season with a .684 OPS and 93 WRC+.
Jake Odorizzi vs. Athletics (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)
We’ll give Odorizzi a pass for his first outing off the injured list. He gave up five runs over four innings against the Royals after returning from a lower leg tendon strain. Odorizzi was solid in his seven starts before, posting a 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts across 31 2/3 innings. He gets an excellent matchup against the A’s on Sunday. Oakland has been bad enough offensively. They’ve been even worse against right-handed pitching, posting a .593 OPS and .263 wOBA against righties, both worst in baseball.
Ramón Urías, 2B/3B/SS, Orioles (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)
Urias returned from the injured list on Monday after missing a month with an oblique strain. He’s only hitting .232/.284/.387 with six homers over 198 plate appearances. But he had been doing some good things at the plate that could signal better days ahead for the Orioles’ everyday third baseman. Urias had recorded a 50 percent hard-hit and nine percent barrel rate, giving him a .269 expected batting average and .457 expected slugging. With encouraging metrics and eligibility all over the infield, Urias is certainly worth rostering in deep formats.
Franchy Cordero, OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)
Cordero has gotten consistent playing time of late, shuffling between right field and first base. He’s hitting a solid .255/.332/.400 on the year with three homers and three steals across 187 plate appearances. While his strikeout rate of 27.3 percent is high, it’s an improvement over the 37.5 percent he posted last season. And that strikeout rate is a bit more forgivable when he has an 11.4 percent barrel and 48.2 percent hard-hit rate. Only three home runs on 13 barreled balls is a bit unlucky, as shown by his .512 expected slugging percentage. As long as he continues to get an opportunity to play, Cordero could be in for a power uptick going forward.
Joey Bart, C, Giants (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)
Bart rejoined the Giants after Curt Casali was placed on the injured list with an oblique strain. Casali is likely out for an extended time, giving Bart another opportunity to show what he can do. The 25-year-old backstop hit .156/.296/.300 with four homers and a 45.4 percent strikeout rate across 108 plate appearances before he was optioned to Triple-A. Making hard contact was never a problem for Bart, who has posted a 46.3 percent hard-hit rate. It’s the swing-and-miss in his game that needs correction. He fared better in his short time in Triple-A, going 8-for-28 with six strikeouts across 36 plate appearances. There’s power potential here, and it might be worth taking a chance on in the deepest of formats, given Bart’s playing time outlook in the short term.
Tyler Naquin, OF, Reds (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)
Naquin was activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday after missing a month with a left quad strain. The 31-year-old outfielder is slashing .255/.318/.454 with five homers and three steals across 155 plate appearances. That’s not terrible production across the board in a small sample. Naquin should take over in right field in a strong-side platoon against right-handed starters. He sat against a southpaw on Wednesday. As long as he’s in the lineup most days, there’s some interesting power and speed potential for teams in deep leagues.