2015 Fantasy Baseball: Deep League Digging, Week 8
Because of the Memorial Day holiday, Major League Baseball has a week packed full of games, with Thursday being the only day where there isn’t a full slate. With this abundance of games, swapping hitters out of your lineups who are faced with bad matchups could be crucial to winning your head-to-head battles and preserving ratios in roto leagues.
Today, I’ll be focusing on hitters, and on Thursday I’ll be running down my list of lesser-owned pitchers to roster for this coming weekend’s games.
As always, I’ll be suggesting players whom are available in less than 10 percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues.
(Stats and ownership percentages are through Sunday’s games)
Billy Burns, OF, Athletics (6.0% owned)
Got the need for speed? Then Burns is the man for you. The A’s new leadoff man has performed admirably in his new role, hitting .333/.371./.485 with five stolen bases in eight games since officially taking Coco Crisp‘s spot at the top of Oakland’s lineup. Burns even managed to hit smash his first homer of the season on Sunday, just the third long ball he’s hit in 1,598 career MLB/MiLB at-bats. Of course, power isn’t why you should grab him — that could be the only home run he hits all year — you’re adding him for stolen bases (and runs). In 2013, Burns totaled 74 stolen bases, and last year he swiped 60. It looks like Crisp’s stay on the DL could be a long one and Burns will benefit for the foreseeable future.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Rangers (8.3% owned)
The Rangers’ 1B/DH has done nothing but rake since returning from an elbow injury on May 13, hitting .318/.362/.975 with three home runs and six RBI while making 11 consecutive starts. The Rangers are rolling right now, having won five straight and six of seven, and Moreland has been a key cog in their run. Josh Hamilton returned on Monday, and Moreland was moved down one spot in the lineup, but this shouldn’t affect his production too much at all.
It’s very difficult to find power on the wire at this point in the season, which makes Mitch Moreland a must-add player in deep leagues.
Chris Iannetta, C, Angels (2.5% owned)
After Iannetta helped the Angels’ team and pitching staff to a Major League-best 98 wins in 2014, the club was fully ready to give him the keys to the car. The club traded Hank Conger to the Astros this off-season, which basically thrust Iannetta into a full-time role. But Iannetta’s April was about as bad as someone could possibly have, with the nine-year veteran hitting a disgusting .093 with just one RBI and one extra-base hit.
On May 5, the Angels called up 24-year-old Carlos Perez to share some of the catching duties. This could have have spelled doom for Iannetta, but he is now back to starting five days a week. And that’s not a bad thing. The added rest seems to have helped him at the plate, as he’s slowly started to get his numbers back to respectability. In 35 May at-bats, the 32-year-old backstop is hitting .286 with two home runs and eight RBI. If he can maintain that pace for the remainder of the season, he’ll be a highly viable second catcher in two-catcher leagues and a decent starter in AL-only formats.
Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins (0.9% owned)
The Marlins went out and spent a lot of money this winter, most notably handing Giancarlo Stanton $325 million to keep him in Miami for the next 13 years. While retaining Stanton was critical to the franchise, signing Michael Morse was not.
Morse, who had only played in 66 percent of a possible 486 games over the past three seasons, was given a two-year, $16 million deal to man first base in South Beach. It didn’t take long for Morse to fall out of favor with the club, though. After all, a .557 OPS with only two homers through the first seven weeks of the season will do that.
Through Sunday, Morse had sat out four straight games, and Justin Bour has been given a shot at proving his season-long success hasn’t been a fluke. On the year, the former Cubs’ farmhand has slashed an excellent .375/.434/.563 with two homers and five RBI. Quite remarkably, the 26-year-old has struck out just eight times in 53 plate appearances, an excellent feat for someone with only 122 at-bats in his MLB career.
Morse will undoubtedly get another shot to reclaim his job (because the Marlins aren’t gonna flush money down the toilet without putting up a fight), but Bour is showing great promise and should be a solid CI in NL-only leagues the rest of the way.