Bubba Starling and Jace Peterson: Deep League Wire

It’s hard to publish a deep league waiver wire post right before the trade deadline, because so much can change in mere hours. But here we go anyway. The theme here is new opportunities for hitters on bad teams.

Bubba Starling | OF KC | CBS 6% Owned

Yes, the man with a great baseball name is still around and after toiling in the minors since 2012, has finally made his MLB debut. It was the end of 2012 and Starling was ranked as the Royals fifth best prospect. Clearly, he took quite a bit more time to reach the Majors than the team hoped and expected. He alternated some mediocre offensive performances with some truly terrible results.

This season, during his fourth stint at Triple-A, he posted another forgettable performance, displaying limited power, showing a lack of interest in taking a walk, and hitting too few line drives and too many pop-ups. And yet, it was enough for the Royals to earn a promotion. Since he’s been up, he has mostly started over Billy Hamilton, who the Royals eventually figured out what we have known for years — that Hamilton can’t hit. For a team going nowhere, there’s no reason to let Starling finish the season as a starter so the team to find out once and for all if he’s part of their future.

So after pooping on his minor league results, what’s to like? Well, playing time for one. That’s sometimes all you need to chase in a deep league. Second is his speed. He’s no Hamilton, but he did swipe nine bases in half a minor league season and plays for a team that runs. Though his power hasn’t developed as hoped, he’s not a zero there, and a full season would likely yield low double digit dingers. So a full season might produce a baseline of 10 homers and 15 steals, which even has value in mixed leagues. It makes him an easy add in deep leagues.

Jace Peterson | 3B/OF BAL | 0% Owned

Man, I love uncovering those 0% owned guys. Don’t look now, but Peterson is actually the Orioles’ newest super utility guy, having appeared at second base, third base, and left field during his short time with the team this year. With the Orioles going nowhere, Rio Ruiz demoted to Triple-A, and no clear alternatives, look for Peterson to garner the lion’s share of those third base at-bats.

Like Starling, Peterson was a one time solid prospect. Also like Starling, he doesn’t stand out in any particular fantasy skill. On a full season basis, his career line translates to just missing 10 homers and 20 steals, which ain’t too shabby. It’s a skill set that’s more valuable than you think and typically severely undervalued. Besides the playing time outlook that I like here for the near-term, I’m also wondering if he’s in the midst of an offensive breakout.

Throughout his entire career, including minors and Majors, Peterson has posted a double digit HR/FB rate just once. That mark was barely above 10% and posted back in 2016 with the Braves. Lo and behold, this season at Triple-A, he boosted that mark to a career high 12%. That’s no so exciting, but it was paired with an excellent strikeout rate and a walk rate that almost matched that excellent strikeout rate. He also showed strong BABIP skills, hitting liners and avoiding pop-ups, en route to a .350 mark. He also showed double digit speed again, swiping 13 bags in a little over half a minor league season.

So we have a guy who owns strong plate discipline skills, enjoyed a mini power breakout that could lead to low teens homers, still possesses enough speed to steal bases in the teens, and may have improved his batted ball profile to raise his BABIP and be a positive batting average contributor. All this while qualifying at multiple positions. He’s a buy.

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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