New Everyday Players — Sep 13, 2022

Today’s group of new everyday players are no strangers to starting lineups. So this is a group that has been there before and is now returning to a starting role.

Josh H. Smith | 3B TEX

Smith ranked as the Rangers’ sixth best prospect and 78th overall prospect heading into this season. He made his MLB debut back at the end of May, but was ultimately demoted to Triple-A in mid-August after posting a .280 wOBA.

The 24-year-old has a broad array of decent skills, which typically doesn’t excite fantasy owners, but combined could deliver some positive fantasy value. His power has generally been about league average in the minors, with several HR/FB rate marks just into double digits. He has mostly been a fly ball hitter, which makes the most of his average power, but not be ideal for the type of hitter he is.

He owns some speed too and has actually stolen more bases than home runs he has hit over the majority of his professional career. His Triple-A season extrapolated over a full year would result a 10+ homers and 20+ steals. That little of everything is intriguing, even if it doesn’t convince fantasy owners to rush to their free agent pool to pick him up.

His plate discipline might be his strongest skill. He has walked at a double digit clip everywhere he’s played, and kept his SwStk% in the mid-to-high single digits. That means his value gets a nice boost in OBP leagues and gives him a longer leash in the lineup if his balls in play aren’t falling for hits. I’d pick him up in deep leagues, particularly in those that use OBP.

Yonathan Daza | OF COL

After spending about three weeks on the IL due to a shoulder injury, Daza has returned and has started five straight games since being activated. The 27-year-old has limited power, as his career HR/FB rate stands at just 3.0% and ISO at .072. That’s actually kinda hard to do when you call Coors Field home! The good thing is he knows what kind of hitter he is, as his career FB% sits at just 23%. Why hit fly balls when they are likely to die before the wall and find outfielders’ gloves?

So he doesn’t have power, but perhaps he makes up for it with speed? Nope. He has just three steals during his career, which is actually one less than the number of home runs he has hit! It’s surprising, because he does own above average speed based on his Sprint Speed. But he clearly just isn’t a great basestealer, as he’s been caught on all three attempts this year and has now been caught more often than he’s succeeded over his short career.

So does he actually offer prospective fantasy owners? Batting average and runs scored potential. His strikeout rate has improved each season as his SwStk% has declined, while his BABIP has been elite the last two years. Combine a Coors Field home that inflates BABIP with a strong batted ball profile heavy on line drives and grounders, and light on fly balls and pop-ups, and a strong batting average is nearly guaranteed.

He has also been hitting second in the lineup, so while he won’t score many runs by knocking himself in from a home run, he could still score a good number of runs, especially during this current homestand and another one coming in two weeks.

Kyle Garlick | OF MIN

With the majority of the Twins’ expected starting offense on the IL, Garlick as an every day player. He has started seven of the last eight games, rotating between left and right fields. While he’s already 30 years old, he’s only recorded 336 plate appearances at the MLB level. So he’s not exactly a prospect, but also not a veteran.

In the minors, Garlick has shown plenty of power, regularly posting HR/FB rates from the mid-teens to the high-20% range. His ISO has reached as high as .362 during his last time at Triple-A over a reasonable sample in 2019. In the Majors, that power has translated, as his career HR/FB rate stands at 19.3%, while his ISO sits at .216. He has also hit an above average rate of fly balls, so he takes full of advantage of his home run power.

There are two flaws here that have likely kept him from holding a starting job. First, his plate discipline is poor, as he has posted a low walk rate, combined with a high strikeout rate. That has led to a sub-.300 OBP for his career, and he hasn’t shown enough power to offset the inability to get on base. The second issue is a low BABIP, which is due to a combination of above average FB%, plus a penchant for popping up.

So he’s essentially a one-dimensional slugger, which means he’s worth speculating on if desperate for home runs, but that’s about it.

Miguel Andújar | OF NYY

He’s back again! Since his first full season in 2018, Andújar has battled injuries and has been up and down with the Yankees. It’s crazy to see that since his first full year, he hasn’t recorded more than 162 PAs in a season!

With the Yankees dealing with a flurry of injuries as usual, Andújar has made four straight starts between left field and DH, and has started five games out of six since his recall. At Triple-A this year, he reminded us why he was a prospect many years ago. He both hit for power and also struck out quite infrequently. It’s not every day you find a hitter with a .200 ISO strike out at just an 11.8% rate. A low strikeout rate is good for his batting and also his home run total as he puts more balls into play. The power hasn’t translated to the Majors yet this year, as his HR/FB rate is just 4.2% and ISO at a microscopic .058. But the sample size remains small.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet learned to take a walk, so he’s that rare hitter who actually loses value in OBP leagues and is worth more in leagues that count batting average. For now, as long as he’s playing every day in the heart of the Yankees lineup, he’s worth scooping up in most leagues, but only in deeper formats if you’re in an OBP league.

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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