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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Deep League Digging, Week 16

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to take a look at what the waiver wire has to offer in the deepest of leagues. If you’re in a 10-team league, or even a shallower 12-teamer, this column isn’t for you. This is for the owners in 14-team leagues or more.

All the players mentioned are owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues and should be added if your team needs what they offer.

(All stats and ownership percentages are through Wednesday’s games)

Khris Davis, OF, Brewers (8.9% owned)

It hasn’t been a great season for the “other” Khris Davis. While the Orioles version has mashed 19 home runs, the Brewers alternative has provided little for fantasy owners. As of Wednesday, Khris was hitting just .247 with seven home runs and 21 RBI.

Last year Davis smacked 22 homers, and it’s reasonable to think that with more playing time, he could reach 15 or so for the season. His ISO (isolated power) is identical to last year, and he’s walking at a higher clip. Again, the question is about playing time, which could be on the uptick quite soon. You see, Gerardo Parra has been playing lights out for the Brewers and has rightly earned more at-bats, but the Brewers will be in sell mode leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Parra’s name is one of the more popular in baseball as a possible trade asset. Davis is cheap ($519K this year) and under team control for next year, making Parra far more expendable. If Parra is indeed traded, it would open up a heap of playing time for Davis, and since the Brewers don’t really have any outfield prospects, they’d have no choice but to give him the lion’s share of starts in left field.

Davis tore the meniscus in his right knee in May, which forced him to miss 35 games, so his stats are a little deflated because of that. Owners may be shying away, but it’s a great time to buy. He has a track record of producing solid power numbers, even if they don’t come with anything else.

Robinson Chirinos, C, Rangers (2.1% owned)

If I asked you to list the top home run-hitting catchers in baseball, whose names would you shout out? Buster Posey, Brian McCann… sure, those guys are easy. Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt are All-Stars, so no one is gonna be surprised there. But there’s one catcher going unnoticed in fantasy leagues: the Rangers’ Robinson Chirinos.

Chirinos has very little major league experience. He began his career with the Cubs’ Single-A squad back in 2006 but didn’t reach The Show till 2011, when he played in 20 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. It wasn’t until last year that he was able to show off his hitting chops. In just 338 plate appearances, Chirinos was able to launch 13 long balls, and he’s at it again this year.

Remember the question I posed about homers from the catcher position? Of course you do, you only read it six sentences ago. Well, Chirinos’ nine homers puts him in a tie for fifth among all MLB catchers. Not too shabby for a guy with just 204 at-bats. Posey, in comparison, has five more homers, but has done so in 120 more at-bats. In fact, of the 23 catchers with at least 200 at-bats, Chirinos’ HR% of 22.6 is behind only McCann, Vogt, Martin, Salvador Perez, Yasmani Grandal and Miguel Montero. So it’s not like he has a fluky pace; he’s been hitting homers at a nice clip.

His batting average (.221) isn’t going to help you, but it’s easy to stomach that when you’re getting the power he’s provided. Robinson Chirinos makes for a fine add in 14-team and two-catcher leagues.

Tyler Saladino, SS/3B, White Sox (1.9% owned)

Saladino is by no means a big time prospect. According to Baseball America, he was ranked 19th in the White Sox organization prior to this season, and his numbers back that up. He is a .261/.351/.395 hitter across five and a half minor league seasons. His power is very limited, as well. His career high in homers was 16 back in 2011, and the most he’s had since was nine, which he did in Triple-A last year. Saladino does have speed, however, racking up 111 minor-league stolen bases, including 39 in 2012.

So what’s to get excited about from a fantasy perspective?

One thing Saladino has going for him is opportunity. This is a key component of prospect evaluation. Owners want to know, “Are they going to play?” In Saladino’s case, it’s an emphatic yes. Saladino has started all nine games since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte, posting a .314 batting average with two home runs and four RBI in that span. He’s not quite 3B-eligible yet, but he’ll be there before the week’s up.

Saladino doesn’t offer tremendous upside, but there’s good speed and a little power there, and the White Sox’ third basemen have been a black hole of production for the past two seasons. Saladino should be given everyday at-bats, and in fantasy, that alone puts you on the radar.

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