MLB Fantasy: Post all-star break By Luke Garrison (Tuesday July 24th, 2018)
Photo by www.secaucustkd.com
TORONTO—It’s been one hell of a year for fantasy baseball; however, that could be said about most if not all seasons in recent fantasy history. We haven’t seen a waiver-wire-gone-MVP scenario like Aaron Judge was last season, but there’s still been a multitude of amazing pickups throughout the year that have given teams a major boost.
Now they’re most likely already all gone (unless you’re in a terrible league). So this article isn’t about them. Rather, who’s still owned in less than 50% of leagues with the ability to add value to your team?
Let’s take a look at three pitchers and three position players who are probably available and ready to help you. The owned percentage and position eligibility for each player are from Yahoo fantasy sports.
Hyun-Jin Ryu—Los Angeles Dodgers (47% Owned) Pos. Eligibility: SP
Ryu’s been a bit of a band-aid over the last three seasons; however, he’s incredibly good when healthy and he’s set to rejoin the Dodgers’ rotation. If that alone doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to grab him, it should be noted that he was also in the midst of a career year before he injured his groin.
Before going down, he was 3-0 with an earned run average of 2.12 and a 0.87 WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) through his first six starts (29.2 IP). He also has a K/9 of 10.9 which is much higher than his career average of 8.
If nothing else, he seems like a consistent source of wins and strikeouts. Although he could be a candidate to return to the bullpen once other pitchers come back from injury, as was the case last year. As always with Ryu, tread with caution.
Kirby Yates—San Diego Padres (47% Owned) Pos. Eligibility: RP
Now that all-star closer Brad Hand has been traded, Yates is set to take over ninth inning duties. He’s in the midst of a career year himself sporting a 3-0 record to go with a 1.40 earned run average and 50 strikeouts over 40 relief appearances (38.2 IP).
One risk that comes with picking him up is he may also be traded over the next week. But even if he goes to a better team and loses his closing job, his K/9 rate has always been fantastic. Depending on what kind of pool you’re in, he could definitely be reliably deployed with your tertiary tier of relievers going forward.
The other thing to look out for is where he might end up, should he be dealt. He had a 5.38 earned run average before coming over to the NL (although he did come from the AL East), so a move back to the American League could also hinder his effectiveness.
The Twins may be having an abysmal season; however, Gibson is not. He won’t help your team much in terms of pitching wins, but his earned run average of 3.57 is almost a point lower than his career average (4.54). His K/9 rate of 8.9 is also far higher than his career average (6.6) so it seems as though he’s truly taken a step forward this year.
His HR/9 rate of 1 is also encouraging for the AL; however, it’s no secret that the AL Central is weaker than ever. That could be a contributing factor to his breakout season, but luckily fantasy doesn’t care about that. In a world where starting pitching is fickle, those kinds of numbers should be flying off of the waiver-wire shelves.
Albert Pujols—Los Angeles Angels (39% Owned) Pos. Eligibility: 1B
It’s a little strange that Pujols is only owned at a 39% clip. He’s certainly not the league MVP-type he was during his prime; however, he’s only two seasons removed from a season where he amassed 31 homers and 119 runs batted in. Even last season, he racked up 23 homers and 101 runs batted in. It’s weird to see a guy who’s capable of producing 100+ RBIs on the wire.
He also hits fourth or fifth on a regular basis and is sandwiched between offensive dynamos such as Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Shohei Ohtani. Still, first base continues to be one of the most potent hitting positions in the game. If there’s a surplus of players at any fantasy position, it’s at the one-bag.
But for deeper leagues, he may be a good bat to grab down the line. You never know when injuries might hit your team and even his .251 batting average is somewhat respectable. As most of us know, he can get hot at anytime. Once he starts hitting homers and gets a streak going, the rest is history.
Healy is another player who strikes me as a surprise on the wire. Not only is he playing for the second place Mariners but he has both first and third base eligibility. He also has 20 home runs in 311 at-bats. That’s some serious pop, especially for someone playing in Seattle.
His average has taken a slight hit this year (currently at .244) but he’s still only 26 years old and the sky’s the limit for him down the stretch. Trading down a few points of batting average in order to gain a few extra homers is logical fantasy math that anyone can do. He’s like Chris Carter except that he can hit for a decent average. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him finish the year with 33-36 home runs.
Jason Heyward—Chicago Cubs (28% Owned) Pos. Eligibility: OF
Although Heyward is talented, there’s a reason he’s owned so little. Ever since his 2012 season, (where he hit 27 homers, 82 RBIs, and had a .269 batting average to go with 21 stolen bases), people have been waiting for him to catch fire in the same way. In reality he’ll most likely never be that player again but suddenly, he’s become somewhat fantasy relevant.
He’s been hitting well lately as shown by his .286/.352/.422 slash line. He only has 16 doubles and six home runs; however, he’s frequently been penciled into the order as the #2 or #3 hitter amongst the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. If his bat stays hot, there should definitely be many RBI opportunities for him going forward.