2015 Fantasy Baseball: Deep League Digging, Week 11
Last week, I touched on all the important injuries across fantasy baseball, but today I’ll shift my focus to my other role here at The Fantasy Fix — and that’s scouring the waiver wire for players that can help you in the deepest of leagues.
We’re getting to that point in the season where everyone wants to add the hot new prospect. Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor have all been called up in the past couple of weeks, and believe me, I’ve seen quite the billfold spent on some of these guys. But because your league mates are blowing their virtual strip club money on these youngsters, many quality veterans are often overlooked on the waiver wire.
In deep leagues, it’s a big benefit to roster players with multi-position eligibility. Doing so gives you additional flexibility and allows you to rack up the counting stats when your studs sit games out.
The following players all qualify for at least two positions — some even more — and are owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues.
(All stats and ownership percentages are through Sunday’s games)
Brock Holt, 3B/OF, Red Sox (9.8% owned)
After an eye-opening 2014 campaign (.281, 32 XBH, 12 SB), Brock Holt started just 19 of the Red Sox’ first 37 games, though he did make the most of it, batting .292 with a homer and nine RBI. Recently, however, a string of injuries to Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts has forced manager John Farrell to play Holt all over the diamond, and that’s resulted in nine straight starts for the former Rice Owl. The 27-year-old has made the best of his new opportunity, batting .333 with four runs scored in those nine contests, and he’s done so hitting exclusively from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Hitting second for the Sox gives Holt a lot of value, and he’s clearly a pet player for Farrell right now. It remains to be seen how long Farrell actually keeps his job, but until then, Holt is a player worth adding while he’s got the confidence of his skipper.
Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals (9.6% owned)
Espinosa has had quite an up-and-down career up to this point. The former Long Beach State star made his presence felt in 2011, hitting 21 HR and stealing 17 bases in his first full season in the majors. He followed that up with an equally productive 17 HR and 20 SB in 2012. But injuries affected him in 2013, limiting him to just 44 games. In those games, he hit an abominable .158/.193/.272 with only three homers and one stolen base. Last year wasn’t much better either, as he couldn’t hit for average (.219) and had more strikeouts (44) than hits (43).
Now 28, Espinosa was merely supposed to be a bit player on a hyped-up Washington team, but an injury to Anthony Rendon freed up a spot for the utility man in the Nats’ lineup. And he’s really made the best of it, smashing eight big flies in just 191 plate appearances. Last year, he hit eight homers in 364 plate appearances over the course of the entire season. Not only is he hitting for power, but he’s getting on base at a nice rate, too. His .347 on-base percentage represents a career best, and when you look at his plate discipline, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful — his 11.0 percent walk rate is a career high and his 21.5 percent strikeout rate is the lowest he’s ever had. These numbers come after posting BB and K percentages of 6.8% and 28.3% over his previous five seasons.
Despite his great start, once Rendon came back, it was assumed Espinosa would return to the bench, rendering his fantasy value useless. But the Nats have been terrorized by injuries this year, and sure enough, Ryan Zimmerman landed on the DL this week. Guess who replaced him? Yep, it was Espinosa, who has started at first base the past two games.
Espinosa already has 2B eligibility, he’s just one game away from garnering 3B eligibility, and there’s a good chance he gains 1B designation as well. Zimmerman has plantar fasciitis, which can severely affect a player’s ability to stay on the field. If the Nats’ want to make a World Series run, they’ll need Zimmerman, and that means keeping him rested until doctors are positive he’s 100 percent healthy. Just this week, we saw the Rockies’ Corey Dickerson return to the lineup after a bout with plantar fasciitis, only to have a flare up in his third game back. He had missed 24 games, which is a testament to how tricky this injury can be.
Espinosa may not be a fantasy star, but he can supply power from a few positions that aren’t known for their home run clout, and he gives you the ability to plug him into spots all over your lineup.