Time waits for no one, and fantasy baseball is just one example. There are five short weeks left in the season, and I don’t know anyone else, but I’m locked in some battles in my leagues. Every detail of the minutiae will (hopefully) help me end the season on a high note.
As usual, I’ll be discussing relevant hitters for highly competitive 15-team or 12-team leagues. You don’t need to play NFBC to find something useful here.
Connor Wong (C–BOS)
Boston Red Sox receiver-eligible players could fill out the entire receivers section for this week. Reese McGuire becomes at bat and Kevin Plawecki rakes part-time. It’s Wong, however, who could also see bats in the infield — and possibly even bump both starters the majority of the time behind the plate. Wong raked in Triple-A, slashing .289/.349/.489 with 15 home runs and seven interceptions in just 81 games. He also had just 80 strikeouts in that span, while playing second base in order to increase his versatility for the big league club. So far he has four starts behind the plate and a pair at the keystone. I’m salivating thinking about Wong’s ability to play somewhere besides the catcher and his ability to get in quickly. He was 7 out of 10 on Triple-A bases, which was actually one of his worst performances, in terms of success, as a professional. He could easily finish the year in the top 20, if not better.
Shea Langeliers (C – OAK)
Langeliers has a horrible 29 strikeouts against ONE meager walk in his 16 MLB games. It’s awful, alarming and doesn’t bode well. That said, he also has a .219 BA, .250 ISO, .292 wOBA, and 95 wRC+ so far. It’s really not shabby for a receiver, especially for a second receiver. Ask yourself this question – who else is Oakland going to trot in their DH slot every day? It’s not a fearsome MLB formation. What you should get here is solid volume from a guy who’s probably very cheap in most places. There’s enough pop here to play as a C2 option. Langeliers has five barrels on 36 batted ball events so far, good for a 7.6% barrel rate. He also ranks in the 84th percentile for maximum exit speed and showed an 83rd percentile sprint speed. He’s athletic enough to make a dent, and as long as he doesn’t really crater at home plate, Oakland would benefit from allowing him to gain valuable major league experience in a losing season.
Pieces from the past week: Shea Langeliers, Kyle Higashioka
Emmanuel Rivera (3B – ARI)
Rivera has been raking since joining Arizona. He is also a regular at bat at the heart of the order. What gives him a bump this week is a road trip to Coors Field. You can use this bat, especially in the second half of the coming week. Rivera has been a top overall hitter against lefties this year (.306 BA, 14.0 percent strikeout rate, 151 wRC+). However, eight of his 11 home runs have come against right-handers, which he’s still pretty solid against for our purposes (.223 BA, 24.6% K-rate, 93 wRC+). However, these figures do not take into account the hot stretch recently. Rivera raked in July and August after an overall cold start to the season. It is worthy of consideration for the coming week.
Keston Hiura (1B, 2B – MIL)
Hiura may not play every day, but the Brewers have eight games on the schedule for the coming week, with five games in the first game of NFBC week. He could very well draw at least two starts at Coors against Ryan Feltner and Chad Kuhl, then get at least one more start against a right-hander in Thursday’s doubleheader – either against Jakob Junis or Sean Hjelle. This matters as Hiura has shown significant reverse splits throughout his big league career, and 2022 is no different. Overall, he has 43 of his 50 home runs in this division, with a .263 BA against right-handers and a meager .194 BA against left-handers. For reference, over his career he has a 129 wRC+ against RHP, compared to a 58 wRC+ against southpaws. 2022 is no different. Check the slash lines:
Against right-handers, Hiura has a better walk rate, lower strikeout rate and 11 of his 14 homers. You know when he’s going to do his damage, and the first half of Week 23 (five games) protects you from his days off. The weekend half of the week NFBC also has two rights projected, so it could also be useful for the whole week – just be sure to check the probables before locking it up.
Pieces of the past week: Franchy Cordero, Yandy Diaz
Nick Gordon (2B, SS, DE–MIN)
With Jorge Polanco on the shelf until what feels like mid-September, Gordon has an even easier path to bats (although he was already playing every day). The Twins also get a full week of seven games, including four in the first half against the shocked New York Yankees. Gordon can play any of the infield midpoints, as well as multiple outfield points. He has six homers and six interceptions in his 109 games, and his Statcast page is littered with red — meaning his contact quality has been very good this year. A higher average launch angle also contributed to more barrels. His barrel rate of 11.0% is nearly double his previous MLB high of 6.8%. Sprint speed is just the icing on the cake. Remember, he’s a former top-five pick and he’s only 26 years old. There is still room for growth.
Gunnar Henderson (SS-BAL)
The Orioles draw seven games for Week 23, and Henderson is probably Baltimore’s most widely available plot hitter. This week’s uptick in volume, compared to the plethora of teams playing only six games, makes Henderson a viable option. The 21-year-old top prospect began his league career with hits in four straight games, including a pair of multi-hit games. The Orioles (71-61) are just 1.5 games from last place in the AL Wild Card, and youth movement could play a big role in how they make noise over time.
Brendan Donovan (1B, 2B, 3B, DE – STL)
Donovan and the Cardinals get seven games this week, and Donovan’s elite .290 BA and .396 OBP should be in the lineup against a host of right-handers (especially in the first half of NFBC week). He should occupy one of the first two places of the order alongside the boiling Lars Nootbar. No, there’s not a lot of power or speed to be had; but the ability to get base points and score runs makes it viable as an in-field midfield option.
Pieces of the past week: Enrique Hernandez, Ha-Seong Kim
Jose Siri (OF – TB)
The Rays, happy with the pack, seem content to let Jose Siri play in center field every day, and the youngster has as many as five home runs and 11 interceptions on the season as a result. The overall BA of .217 is abysmal, but Siri has been much better lately. Over the past two weeks, he’s averaging .382 with two homers, two interceptions and 14 runs scored. In all of baseball, only Mookie Betts (16) has scored more runs than Siri in the past 14 days. Siri is also doing better against right-handed pitchers, and right now there’s only one left-hander projected against Tampa Bay for the coming week, and that’s Rich Hill (not scary). It’s a great game for racing and speed to complement the bottom of your five-a-side outfields.
Bubba Thompson (OF-LAD)
Did someone mention the speed? Thompson is making a Jon Berti impression, with one homer and 10 interceptions in just 26 MLB games. His sprint speed is also in the 100th percentile. That’s right, gamers. Of all the major league players, only Corbin Carroll (9 sq.m.) and Bobby Witt Jr. (9 sq.m.) ran faster than Thompson (9 sq.m.). Thompson is tied with Trea Turner and the aforementioned Jose Siri. So you’re probably catching a theme here…
Corbin Carroll (OF – ARI)
As of this writing Saturday night, Carroll has started three straight games for Arizona. There’s also a three-game set at Coors Field in the second half of the coming week. Carroll may not play every day for Arizona, but we’re talking about ways to round out those five-man outfields, folks. You could do far worse than a prospect of Carroll’s caliber. He’s smashed 16 homers and stolen 20 sacks at Double-A this year, in just 58 games. Carroll then batted at the Triple-A level for 33 games, adding seven more home runs and 11 more interceptions. That’s 23 dingers and 31 interceptions in just 91 games. Arizona’s lineup might be in flux at the moment, with contributors like Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas still lurking. There is also Daulton Varsho to face. That said, there’s still a DH spot to fill, and Carroll is the kind of talent that can supplant anyone in the everyday roster. And a little tweak or injury to an outfielder or a catcher, and then we don’t worry about playing time at all. There are several avenues for Carroll to punch up your fantasy baseball teams this season.
Pieces from the past week: Riley Greene, Mark Canha, Jake McCarthy
That’s it for me this morning, as the coffee is out and I couldn’t find any other fast flyers to note. Who will you start in the coming week? Find me on Twitter @HeathCaps and let me know!
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