Five Under 50%

With about a week of 2017 baseball data in the books, there are already thousands of innings, plate appearances, and batted balls to parse through. We’ve seen a perfect game bid, a cycle, multi-home run performances, and a huge lead blown in the ninth. Unfortunately, something else we’ve seen are injuries to key players. Like the crack of the bat and pop of the glove, injuries are a part of the spot. They’re bad for the player, the team, the fans — and fantasy owners.

When a key player on your fantasy roster gets injured, it often leaves you scrambling to fill the unexpected hole. The following exercise is designed to help you survive such situations. We’re going to look at viable players who are readily available in most fantasy leagues. To qualify for this list, a player must be owned in less than 50% of all Ottoneu fantasy leagues, based on the Ottoneu Average Salaries page. He also must be able to help your team right now (i.e., no prospects).

Getting right to the list, here are of five players worth a shot in an emergency who are owned in less than 50% of Ottoneu leagues, along with their positional eligibility, average salary, and owned percentage:

1. Scott Schebler (OF; $1.96; 46.0%)

Need an outfielder? Schebler can fill in for you nicely, especially against right-handed pitchers, and especially against right-handed pitchers at home. Schebler has just a .302 wOBA in his career against lefties, but he has a strong .344 wOBA against righties. What’s more, against right-handed pitching at the Great American Ballpark, Schebler has a slash line of .317/.393/.483 with a .378 wOBA. Since most pitchers are (obviously) right handed, Schebler should consistently find his way into your starting lineup, and he is a borderline must-start player against righties at home.

2. Nick Franklin (1B, 2B, SS, OF; $2.35; 31.4%)

Admittedly, Franklin is not the most attractive option out there. This is, after all, a list of players owned in less than 50% of leagues, and there’s usually a reason for that. Franklin, however, does have a few things going for him. He’s a more attractive option than comparable utilityman Marwin Gonzalez. Like Franklin, Gonzalez has platoon splits. Unlike Franklin, however, Gonzalez does better against lefties, who don’t pitch as often. Franklin does his “damage” against righties (against whom he has a .304 lifetime wOBA), but he does particularly well at home in his career. At home against right-handed pitchers, Franklin has a lifetime .333 wOBA and 116 wRC+. Of course, he just changed teams, but he’s moving from the offensively neutral Tropicana Field to the hitter-friendly Miller Park. It remains to be seen how often Franklin will play, but he could regularly find his way into Milwaukee’s lineup as a super-utilityman. For just pennies on the dollar and positional eligibility at a key position like shortstop, Franklin is someone to consider if an emergency in the middle infield arises.

3. Dan Altavilla (RP; $1.69; 26.0%)

Grab him while you still can (especially in points leagues). In Ottoneu, Altavilla is now owned in 12.6% more leagues than he was seven days ago. He’s been one of the Mariners’ lone bright spots in an otherwise disastrous start to the season. Sunday’s ninth-inning meltdown aside, Altavilla shouldn’t challenge Edwin Diaz for save opportunities, but he may hold onto his newfound spot in the late innings for the M’s. He’s been dominant so far, striking out eight batters, walking one, and allowing zero home runs in four innings of work. Altavilla throws a blazing fastball that averages 96.4 mph and has touched 99.4 mph this season, and a hard slider that has averaged 89.1 mph. Just 24 years old, Altavilla could join Diaz as a fixture at the back end of the Mariners bullpen for years to come.

4. Mark Reynolds (1B; $1.41; 24.3%)

Reynolds is someone worth owning in the short-term. He’s a player with established big league power who plays for the Rockies. That’s pretty much enough of an argument, but we’ll dive a little deeper. There’s no clear estimated return date for Ian Desmond, so Reynolds will continue to get starts at first base, where he has been on a tear to open the season. Reynolds already has three doubles and three homers in just 28 plate appearances, and much of the damage came away from Coors Field. Last season, as a member of the Rockies, Reynolds batted .310/.383/.497 with a .379 wOBA at home. He has a lifetime .339 wOBA overall. Grab him up while he’s playing every day and lick your lips when he’s facing a mediocre pitcher at Coors.

5. Ryan Zimmerman (1B; $3.05; 23.0%)

Once considered one of the bright young stars in the game, Zimmerman has fallen a long way to being owned in just 23% leagues at an average of about $3. Health is a major reason why. The last time Zimmerman had a full, healthy season was 2013, when he had a .353 wOBA in 633 plate appearances. Since then, Zimmerman has moved to first base, which saps his value dramatically, but he hopes to regain his old offensive form this season for the Nationals. Things have started off well: Zimmerman already has three home runs in just a handful of games, and his wOBA on the young season is hovering around .500. We don’t expect those trends to continue, of course, but they’re good signs for a player who has demonstrated plus offensive ability in the past. If you’re desperate for help at first base, Zimmerman is a worthwhile speculative add who could pay dividends if his 2017 performance can approach his career averages.





Ben Kaspick is the host Locked On Giants, a daily podcast focused on the San Francisco Giants. He began writing for FanGraphs' RotoGraphs in 2016, and also contributes for SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter @BenKaspick.

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Nelson S.
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Nelson S.

What do you think about J. Aguilar?

feslenraster
Member
feslenraster

(not Ben), but I like Aguilar a lot, he’ll probably end up somewhat like Chris Carter when he grabs the full time role for good.