Brian Anderson & Chase Utley: Deep League Wire

With just over a week to go before the end of the season, it’s past time to use the schedule to help identify smart pickups. The Rockies end the season with a six game homestand, welcoming the Marlins and Dodgers for three game sets. The two hitters highlighted here stand to benefit from the friendly environment.

Brian Anderson | 3B MIA | CBS 2% Owned

Anderson was recalled on September 1st when rosters expanded and has been earning most of the starts at the hot corner with incumbent Martin Prado out for the season. The Marlins’ second best prospect heading into the season, he was described by Eric Longenhagen as a hitter with “good bat speed, above-average raw power, and can drive pitches in the top of the strike zone”, along with above-average speed. That sounds like a rather intriguing fantasy prospect.

What’s exciting is this all came after he posted sub-.150 ISO marks at two levels in 2016, before enjoying a power surge at Double-A and then another one in Triple-A this year. First, his HR/FB rate more than doubled, finishing in the mid-teens at Double-A, while his ISO nearly hit .200. Then, he was promoted to Triple-A where his HR/FB rate spiked again, nearly doubling to almost 30%. His ISO rocketed to .263, and he did all this without even striking out more frequently. When I see a power spike with plate discipline metrics intact, I take notice.

Unfortunately, the above average speed hasn’t actually translated into any stolen bases, as he’s swiped just seven throughout his entire minor league career. He has struck out more often with the Marlins, but it hasn’t been driven by a high SwStk%. In fact, his plate discipline metrics are all close enough to the league average that you have to believe the strikeout rate is going to decline.

But enough about his longer-term outlook. Aside from the fact he’ll start most days at third base, he’s going to get three games at Coors Field next week, and that’s enough to justify picking him up now if you’re in need of a corner man.

Chase Utley | LAD | 2% Owned

Sheesh, when was the last time Utley was a recommended fantasy option?! Logan Forsythe opened the season as the Dodgers starting second baseman, but between injuries and a disappointing .310 wOBA, he hasn’t exactly held down the job. So the ageless Utley has stolen starts and has actually started more games over this last week than Forsythe has. And he’s actually been fairly respectable, displaying the type of power and speed blend that reminds us of his peak seasons.

He doesn’t strike out often, hits fly balls, has some pop and a bit of speed still. His batting average isn’t pretty, but that .260 BABIP is the second lowest of his career, so it’s not like this is now what he is.

The best part, of course, is what was alluded to in the intro — the Dodgers end their season with three games at Coors Field. If Utley earns the starts there, he makes a sneaky pickup. Without realizing the schedule, I’d probably laugh at the owner who scoops him up too! Middle infield is typically one of the shallower positions, so there’s a real chance you have a hole there and Utley could provide that plug, with some Coors Field magic potentially aiding his production.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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