The 2017 baseball season is into its second month, still early enough that fantasy owners should remain vigilant on the waiver wire. The Yahoo fantasy baseball crew is here to help identify the players to go after:
Q: Which outfielder, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: JAYSON WERTH. He’s carrying a .900 OPS through his first 30 games, and he’s typically hitting second or sixth in the lineup, which keeps him close to the significant action created by Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. If he can remain healthy, there’s a lot of production to be had in MLB’s top offense.
Behrens: I’ll give a shout out to COLBY RASMUS, because he’s binging lately. As we’ve seen in the past, his hot streaks can help carry a fantasy roster for a week or two. Over the past week, he’s going deep every other day, putting together a modest hitting streak.
Pianowski: JAYSON WERTH is a reasonable add, because any path to the Washington lineup is a good one. Also, riddle me this: how can SHIN-SOO CHOO be at a mere 13-percent owned? Clueless manager Jeff Banister is finally giving Choo run in the first and second slots in the order, where an OBP-overlord belongs. Better days are ahead in Texas, in spite of the man in charge.
Del Don: MANUEL MARGOT. I’m repeating myself, but this is a leadoff hitter on pace to finish with a line of .266-70-14-51-19. He’s attempted eight stolen bases on the year and should be owned in more than 35 percent of leagues.
Predict the line: Aaron Altherr, at age 26, is finally enjoying breakout success thanks to a new (shortened) swing. How far will this new approach take him – predict his final ’17 line in Home runs, Stolen Bases and Batting Average?
Funston: He certainly looks the part. And the new, compact swing is clearly paying dividends. I’m mostly buying, though, you’d have to expect that lofty BABIP (.413) to come down to earth a bit. I’ll put him down for .284, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 80 R, 18 SB
Behrens: This breakout was supposed to happen last year, but it was pushed back by injury. I think he’s mostly for real. Even his outs have been loud. I’ll go 85-27-88-15-.299.
Pianowski: On board. Jayson Werth 2.0. Dial up .285-90-28-84-13. I’d buy high on him, actually.
Del Don: I’ll put Altherr’s final line at .275-20-12.
Q: Which infielder, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Brandon Funston: DANNY VALENCIA. Valencia got off to a rough start, but he’s been on a nice roll of late – he’s a top 25 fantasy bat since April 25, hitting .375 with 5 HR in that 13-game span. He entered ’17 ranked top 40 among all hitters in OPS combined for the previous two seasons. He occupies a nice spot in the M’s lineup behind the likes of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. And he offers three-position utility in Y! leagues. He’s a nice gap-filler to have on your bench.
Andy Behrens: I’m gonna cheat here just a bit and say HERNAN PEREZ, who sits at exactly 40 percent ownership as of this writing. He’s eligible at a zillion roster spots (OK, four: 2B-SS-3B-OF), he’s hitting well lately and we know he has plenty of speed. You need to own guys like this if you hope to reach those games-played maximums.
Scott Pianowski: If you missed out on Yonder Alonso, LOGAN MORRISON could be Alonso-lite. He’s especially useful in OBP leagues, and seems locked into the cleanup spot in Tampa.
Dalton Del Don: RYAN SCHMIPF is up to nine homers over 104 at bats. That puts him on an amazing pace to finish with 41 home runs with a .173 batting average. That kind of power from the middle infield position is worth owning in all leagues.
OVER/UNDER: With a new fly ball-focused approach, Yonder Alonso is tapping into power like we’ve never seen previously from the 30-year-old veteran. How high will his re-tooled swing take him when the dust settles on the ’17 season – Over/Under 26.5 HRs?
Funston: UNDER. Alonso is currently hitting about two fly balls per every grounder, which is a major shift in his batted ball profile, and this has been a conscious effort by Alonso. He’s sacrificing some contact to in this new approach, but he was always good at making contact, so he can afford to make this trade off. That said, he’s seen his fair share of DL time in his career, in including 60-day DL stints in ’14 and ’15. That leads to the UNDER bet here, though if he manages to stay healthy I think he’s likely to finish right at this number.
Behrens: I’m a sucker for these changed-his-approach stories, I guess. I’ll take the OVER on Alonso. Credit to Eno Sarris for jumping all over this story back in March. Alonso’s swing tweaks are apparent, and the results to this point have been terrific. I fully believe he can clear the fence another 16 times over the next four and a half months.
Pianowski: OVER. I have zero shares of Alonso, which breaks my heart. Here’s another case of why it’s important to be aggressive in April, and to ask “why not?” when others ask “why bother?” The Wait for Proofers get crushed, again.
Del Don: OVER. I’m all in on Alonso. 27 homers sounds about right. He’s hitting more fly balls than ever and should be owned in all leagues. Alonso’s 194 wRC+ ranks No. 7 among all hitters in baseball.
Q: Which starting pitcher, owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: JOSE BERRIOS. The Twins’ top farm arm is getting recalled to start over the weekend, and I’d I’m still interested despite his woeful ’16 MLB debut. Berrios has a live arm, and he’s killed it in his 39.2 IP at Triple A this season (1.13 ERA). He’s a worth a second look.
Behrens: You guys, I make the worst pitching choices. Do not listen to me. I’m mostly a believer in PATRICK CORBIN, but you should not trust me on this one. All of my pitchers are doomed.
Pianowski: I still believe in PATRICK CORBIN; don’t hold the Colorado start against him. And when an ERA and WHIP disagree, trust the WHIP — in this case, it will steer you to DANIEL STRAILY. With all the pitchers on the DL, it’s harder to shop in this neighborhood than usual.
Del Don: HECTOR SANTIAGO. He has a 2.76 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP, so I’m not going to question the results. His peripherals aren’t exactly dominant, but his 8.8 SwStr% is a career high.
PICK ‘EM: Rank these low-K, low-BB early-season stalwarts in order of expected rest-of-season roto value, and indicate which of them you’d be willing to roster (if any) in a standard, 12-team Yahoo mixer – Ivan Nova, Mike Leake, Andrew Triggs, Dylan Bundy, Jeremy Hellickson?
Funston: Bundy has recorded a Quality Start in all seven of his outings, which is tops in the league. But he pitches in a tougher division/league/home park than Nova, and Nova has only issued three free passes all season. I’ll give Nova the edge over Bundy. Then I’ll consider Leake, because he’s a fairly proven commodity with a handful of 12-win, mid-to-upper 3 ERA type seasons under his belt. Triggs would come next, with Hellickson playing the caboose.
Behrens: Gimme BUNDY and NOVA, in that order. You can have the rest.
Pianowski: Nova is in the right league, the right park, with the right pitching coach. This has gone on too long for me to distrust it. I traded #HarveyDay for Mike Leake a few weeks ago, so I’m a little biased on Leake. Bundy and Hellickson are passable in deeper formats, though Bundy as a nasty division to deal with, and Hellickson doesn’t miss many bats.
Del Don: Oh I’m all in on Nova. He’s the real deal. I will then say Bundy and then Triggs (that cutter). The other two I’d ignore for the most part.