Another year, another baseball season with me addressing various categories for your fantasy squad and helping lift your team in certain statistical categories. The Category Impact will do just that. I will recommend a few guys for a particular category that can give you an impact, whether it’s for a few weeks or a long-term solution. Each week, be sure to check out my Twitter @colbyrconway and vote on which category should be featured in the week’s Category Impact.
For this first week, we’ll identify a player or two across a few categories that can give your team a lift. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Hunter Pence , OF TEX – Pence’s offseason must have been filled with frequent visits to the metaphorical fountain of youth! In 19 spring games, Pence stole seven bases, tied for the lead in spring training! Pence was never caught stealing in these preseason contests. The last time Pence stole more than seven bases in a season was 2014, and in that season, he stole 13 bags in a full 162 game season. While this sort of production over the course of the entire season is unsustainable, he could be a glimmer of hope in terms of waiver wire speed production in the early weeks of the season. He’s played more than 130 games just once since the start of the 2015 season, so an injury is likely coming, but with a lot of uncertainties in terms of stolen base production, Pence could be an early season steal.
Tim Beckham , SS SEA – You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a hotter hitter on the planet than Seattle’s Beckham. He has three straight multi-hit contests to open up the 2019 season, most recently going deep off Chris Sale not once, but twice! He’s typically a slow starter, with August being his best month per batting average over the last three seasons. Sure, it’s still March, but Beckham doesn’t have a large enough sample size that month, so we’ll go to April, where over the last three years, he’s hit just .223 in April with four home runs. Beckham is a streaky hitter and it seems to be that he’s starting the year with one, rather than waiting for it to get warm outside. Enjoy the production now, and his dual-eligibility surely plays in all fantasy formats.
Honorable Mention: Rowdy Tellez
Marcus Stroman , SP TOR – Even though it was the Detroit Tigers and their rather uninspiring lineup, it’s hard not to get excited about Stroman. Over seven magnificent innings, Stroman allowed just two hits, while striking out seven. Sure, the four walks aren’t great, but Stroman built off a great spring training to start his 2019 on a high note. Remember, it was just two years ago that Stroman won 13 games and posted a 3.09 ERA across 201 innings. Last year, was a year to forget, and while his ERA was north of 5.50, his FIP (3.91) and xFIP (3.84) indicate he was a much better pitcher. Luck was on his side in 2017, but not as much in 2018. His 2019 is off to a high note and if all goes well, he’ll put up a 1.25 WHIP across 170+ innings of work.
Julio Urías , SP LAD – Urias might be owned in your league, but if he’s not, scoop him up immediately. Of all the players in this week’s Category Impact, he just might be my favorite addition of the week. The young lefty was magnificent this spring, posting a 1.72 ERA with a 15:3 K/BB ratio across 15.2 innings of work. Opponents hit under .100 against Urias and the southpaw posted a miniscule 0.51 WHIP. Due to his spring performance, as well as injuries to fellow lefties Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw , Urias is going to open the season in a starting role, which is excellent for fantasy owners. If Urias continues to build upon his spring numbers, he’s in line for his best season as a professional. Lastly, even if he is bumped out of the rotation upon the return of Hill and Kershaw, there are plenty of health concerns with members of the Dodgers’ rotation that it might not be long until Urias is back in the rotation. If he’s not starting, he still has fantasy value as a middle or long reliever.
Taylor Rogers , MIN – Trevor May got a lot of love, but it was the lanky southpaw Rogers that got the team’s first save opportunity in 2019. Replacing José Berríos , Rogers struck out Greg Allen to end the eighth, and the team sent Rogers back out there for the ninth. In a 1-2-3 inning, he punched out Leonys Martin , forced a flyout from All-Star José Ramírez and struck out Jordan Luplow to notch his first save of the season. Facing multiple lefties aided his case to get the first save opportunity of the year for the Twins, but Rogers was impressive nonetheless. He may not be the guy in the pen, as the closing situation might remain fluid for the majority of the season, but it was a strong statement from Rogers to begin the year.