Fantasy Baseball Category Impact: Deadline Impacts
Each week, Colby Conway provides in-depth analysis on specific category contributors who may be lingering on your waiver wire.
Let’s continue with the Major League Baseball trade deadline theme here and stray slightly from the typical Category Impact piece, but don’t worry, not too far. I have identified four players that just might have gained the most fantasy appeal down the stretch that very well could be available in your fantasy baseball league. By way of trading other players on the team, these players gained notoriety for potential future impact at a particular category or two. Next week, we’ll get back to one category in particular, but this week, we’ll touch on a few, because, well, you know, TRADE DEADLINE!
Without further ado….
Justin Shafer , RP TOR – Shafer is owned in less than one percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues. Let’s open with that, shall we? The door is wide open for Shafer to rack up some saves as the season draws closer and closer to the end. Why is that? Well, everyone else in the bullpen from just a few weeks ago is either injured or no longer there.
Ken Giles is still recovering from injury, and David Phelps , Daniel Hudson , Joe Biagini , and Aaron Sanchez were all traded. Since the trading of these players, the Blue Jays promptly presented the bullpen with a save opportunity and what do ya know…. Shafer got the save opportunity, and he earned the save. His WHIP of 1.63 on the season is inflated due to his absurd walk rate, but it hasn’t affected him too much, considering he has just a 2.37 ERA on the year. Toronto’s offense could be quite enticing down the stretch with the three kids (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. , Bo Bichette , Cavan Biggio ) and Co., which could actually give Shafer an opportunity for more saves.
Category Impact: Saves
Trent Grisham, OF MIL – Grisham got the call yesterday and hit ninth in his debut. The team traded Jesús Aguilar , and Ryan Bruan should get some time at first base, opening the door for a sizable role for Grisham in a stacked Milwaukee lineup. Hitting ninth for this team may not seem ideal, however, if Grisham can get on at a respectable clip, he’ll be on base when guys like Yasmani Grandal , Christian Yelich, and Keston Hiura come up to bat. Ummmmm, yes, please! Even at 22 years young, Grisham has a chance to come up and be a multi-category producer for the Brewers. Before getting called up, he swatted 26 home runs, stole 12 bases and posted a solid strikeout to walk ratio across 370 at-bats. He got better at the Triple-A level, which could be a product of the balls, but he has a good enough swing and enough speed that it will translate to all levels. There could be some growing pains, but he has great discipline at the dish, and the key again for him will be to get on base frequently. When he does make contact with the baseball, however, especially in that park, the home runs could also come in bunches.
Category Impact: Home Runs and Runs Scored
Josh VanMeter , 2B/OF CIN – The trades of Yasiel Puig and Scooter Gennett – the latter was traded for nothing may I add – signify one thing. It’s VanMeter time in Cincy. Before we continue here, if he’s not owned in your league, it’s time to add him. His ownership is a little higher than someone I would typically consider for this piece, but he’s simply too good to not write about. Over the last week, he’s hitting nearly .500, and he’s slashing .312/.418/.532 for the season as a whole.
Courtesy of Baseball Savant, we can see that VanMeter’s average launch angle rebounded after a down June month, and elevating the ball at his home ballpark is going to be key. Even if he slumps a bit down the stretch in any capacity, the thing is that the Reds don’t have a better option than him, since they traded Puig and Gennett. The two aforementioned trades are a big resounding endorsement of VanMeter’s abilities and role with this team, and not only for 2019 but potentially years to come.
Category Impact: Batting Average
Elieser Hernandez , SP MIA – The trade of Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks all but guarantees Hernandez’s spot in the starting rotation for the constantly rebuilding Miami Marlins. He had a brief stint back in the pen, but he pitched well in his last outing, despite appearing for just four innings of work. What Hernandez brings is a heavy dose of his fastball, and a slider and changeup to play off his heater. He’s been the product of some bad luck lately, but that will turn itself around. How unlucky? Well, his expected batting average against his fastball last month was .204, yet opponents hit .314. Similarly, the expected batting average against his changeup last month was .275, yet opponents hit a whopping .333. Sure, there’s more to it, but if those metrics even out, and he can keep the exit velocity down, we could see Hernandez thrive. He won’t get you many wins due to the nature of the Miami lineup, but Hernandez brings some of the best strikeout potential you’ll find in free agency at this point of the season.
Category Impact: Strikeouts