Most add/drop questions I get on Twitter ask from the perspective of which player has the highest overall value. My response generally requests additional information, usually about what the team’s categorical needs are. The lack of this information in the original query could sometimes be due to the fact that it’s hard to ask a question and provide background info in 140 characters, but it seems that more often the categorical needs of an owner’s team are not a major consideration.
I’m tasked with writing about shortstops on Mondays, so I wanted to look at the shortstops owned in less than half of ESPN.com leagues who can best help you address categorical needs. I’ll only be addressing home runs, steals and batting average as there would be some overlap were I to discuss runs and RBI separately. I’ll try to list a player owned in less than 50 percent of leagues and one owned in less than 10 percent of leagues to try and help out deeper league players.
Wilmer Flores (21.5 percent owned) is a one-trick pony, but that’s sort of the point of this exercise. He has 10 home runs to date and is projected to hit nine more according to Steamer. His GB/FB ratio is almost even this year, so he elevates plenty. He doesn’t hit his fly balls out of the park at a crazy rate, but his HR/FB rate of 10.9 percent is almost exactly league average, so another 9-10 home runs in the second half sounds exactly right.
Along with the home runs will come another 35-40 RBI and a decent run total, but you can forget about average and speed. Flores has yet to attempt a steal this season, and his lack of speed also doesn’t help his BABIP. He makes contact at a good rate with just a 12.8 percent strikeout rate, so his batting average is at least average in 12-team leagues, but there’s little upside or downside in that category. For OBP leaguers, his 3.4 percent walk rate is obviously a bad sign. Flores just isn’t going to help in the ratio categories.
There should be plenty of options for steals if you need them. In the interest of trying to protect batting average, the best names to consider in shallow leagues are Alexei Ramirez (40.1 percent owned), Jose Iglesias (37.8 percent owned) and Erick Aybar (32 percent owned). Ramirez and Aybar are projected to help out more in the other counting categories, so Iglesias is probably the lesser of the three options.
In deeper leagues, Chris Owings (3.6 percent owned) may be the best option. Someone like Odubel Herrera might might swipe a few more bags than Owings, but Owings is projected to better Herrera in the other counting categories, while their batting averages are projected to be similar. Other guys like Danny Santana and Andrew Romine could potentially steal quite a few more bases than the 6-7 Owings is projected for if they were projected to see regular playing time from here on out. Romine would need an injury to Iglesias to see that much playing time, and Santana was only recently brought back to the big league club after a demotion to the minors.
The three best options for shallow leagues are three names that have been mentioned above, Ramirez, Aybar and Flores. If you’re looking for batting average help, take a secondary look at whether you have a greater need for power or speed and add one of the three accordingly.
In deeper leagues, Owings’ name once again comes up as one of the better projected players in this category among lightly owned shortstops. He hit .261 last year, which isn’t great, but it is definitely above average in deep formats. The average batting average for players owned in a shallow mixed league is in the .255-.260 range, so .261 would certainly play in a deep league. The question is whether he can get back to .261. Last year his strikeout rate 20.2 percent, but this season it has spiked to 26.9 percent. After a bad April in that respect, Owings got his K% back down to about 20 percent in May. But in June it was right back up in the high 30’s. Given that Owings can help in other categories, I might gamble on him if you’re looking for average help. But don’t hold your breath.