There, there, poor Giancarlo Stanton owner. Calmly walk to your bathroom, locate your tissue box and wipe those tears away. I did that before sitting down and typing this. Feel free to do the same and then return to continue reading this here article. So, naturally, Stanton has done his annual injury thing and this time it’s a severe groin strain that is expected to knock him out for the remainder of the season. Awesome.
In six full seasons, he has only cleared 600 plate appearances twice. And what’s odd is that he still doesn’t seem particularly injury prone, as most of his issues have been of the freak nature or one-time occurrences. Sadly, he landed on the disabled list after enduring the worst offensive performance of his career. It figures the first year I ever own him, this is what happens. Sorry everyone for jinxing him.
So what’s an owner to do? Here are four potential replacements that offer real power potential and are owned in fewer than 50% of CBS leagues.
Alex Dickerson | OF SD | CBS 33% Owned
Dickerson has gotten some love from the RotoGraphs crew recently as I recommended him as a free agent pickup about three weeks ago and then Josh Shepardson praised his skills last Friday. While it’s hard to believe he could keep it up, his current combination of contact and power is quite exciting. In fact, it’s been quite similar to Daniel Murphy’s combo, and his results have been elite. Actually, the commonality even extends to their walk rates, as both have been aggressive at the plate, leading to walk rates in the mid-5% range. Aside from Murphy, only Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts have posted .200+ ISOs along with sub-13% strikeout rates.
Brandon Moss | 1B/OF STL | 46% Owned
With both Matt Adams and Matt Holliday landing on the DL, Brandon Moss now has no obstacles on his path to every day playing time. He has taken over the every day left field job where Holliday had been playing and even started against a lefty this past week. While his ISO and HR/FB rate had been in free fall, declining every season since his breakout half-season in 2012, his power has rebounded this year. His ISO sits at exactly the same mark as in 2012 at a lofty .306, and his HR/FB rate has jumped back above 20% for the first time since that season. He also continues to hit a ton of fly balls, which further helps boost his home run total. He obviously will always have swing and miss to his game, as he owns an inflated SwStk% and 30%+ strikeout rate, but with that power, no one’s complaining.
Randal Grichuk | OF STL | 30% Owned
He’s baaaaaaack…again. Grichuk was recently recalled from Triple-A and has gotten three straight starts in center field. He hasn’t exactly been good defensively there this year, though, as he sports a negative UZR, so he’ll need to be better than a .307 wOBA to keep getting penciled into the starting lineup. After a breakout half-season in 2015 that brought strikeouts and power, things got a bit tougher for Grichuk this year. His HR/FB and ISO has fallen, but not precipitously, and his strikeout rate has actually improved.
The big difference is his BABIP — it has slipped from a hefty .365 to just .258 this year, quite a dramatic fall indeed. An extreme fly ball rate is an issue, but the bigger problem is a sudden inability to hit line drives. His LD% sits at just 12.8%, which is easily the lowest among batters with at least 300 plate appearances. There’s obviously some flukiness/bad luck involved, but his current BABIP is probably deserved. It should get better though as he’s probably not this bad at hitting liners. At the very least, he’ll do a good Giancarlo impression by striking out and hitting home runs, just not as frequently.
Tyler Austin | 1B (depending on league rules)/OF NYY | 14% Owned
That’s one way to make a debut — Austin was recalled on Saturday and thanked the Yankees for their decision by homering in his first plate appearance. While the Yankees seemingly have a roster crunch now, Austin figures to play nearly every day, if not every game. Heading into the 2015 season, Austin was ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Yankees organization, with Kiley McDaniel concluding that “…[he] could be small adjustments away from being a low-end everyday guy, but more likely ends up as a corner utility guy or platoon bat”, which isn’t great praise.
He then dropped off the prospect list, getting just a small blurb as one of the “Quick Hits” in the 2016 prospect rankings after a poor showing at Triple-A that saw him post a weak .294 wOBA. But then something must have clicked, because in 2016, he regained his former prospect appeal and posted a .461 wOBA in his second try at Triple-A. His walk rate remained strong at 13.7%, while his ISO soared to .313. That’s the highest he has posted at any minor league stop.
He’s probably going to strike out a lot, but certainly no more than the pair of Cardinals discussed above. But he’ll also take a walk like Moss does. Austin is still just 24 and while we don’t like to put too much faith in what sometimes could be little more than a hot streak, this could have been legitimate power growth. Given such a low ownership rate and potentially identical positional flexibility to Moss, he’s a worthy gamble.
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.