It’s time once again to dive into the free agent pool to uncover some hidden gems.
Ryan Rua | 1B/OF TEX | CBS 2% Owned
Weeeeee, that’s how one must feel following the Rangers left field carousel. Remember when it looked as if Delino DeShields would open the year as the starter after a strong spring training, pushing presumable starter Jurickson Profar into utility duty? Yeah, that must have been just a joke, as DeShields has recorded all of 19 plate appearances so far. Since Profar has done nothing with his opportunities, the last man standing now is Rua.
The funny thing is, Rua hasn’t done anything to warrant a starting job himself! His walk and strikeout rates are just as bad as DeShields’, and he’s sporting a pathetic .143 wOBA. That said, he does offer a mix of skills appealing to deep mixed and AL-Only owners. He possesses both power and speed…not a whole lot of either, but enough to contribute some in homers and steals. And of course, he calls one of the best hitters parks in baseball home.
It’s doubtful that Rua lasts as the starting left fielder for very long, however. Adrian Beltre will be back eventually, and once he does, he’ll take over third base duties, leaving Joey Gallo without a position. Obviously, they can’t take his bat out of the lineup, which means they will probably stick hi in left, where he played 120.2 innings back in 2015. For now though, Rua has an opportunity, could hit a homer and steal a base, and that’s not always available on your deep league wire.
Cory Spangenberg | 2B SD | 2% Owned
Funny, just two days ago on Monday, I took an early look at Ryan Schimpf’s crazy season 2.0. It’s basically last year’s extremeness, with some additional extremeness. This year, his combination of fly balls, walks, and strikeouts hasn’t been working because his power has disappeared. I noted that he’s going to be at serious risk of a playing time reduction, so what happened? The Padres called up Spangenberg, and his days as a starter might officially be over.
Obviously, this all depends on Spangenberg as the opportunity is his now and he could keep it if he hits. If not, Schimpf could get another chance. Spangenberg doesn’t posses much power — he’s hit just seven homers over his relatively short career and he doesn’t pop a whole lot of fly balls. But then, seven homers isn’t nothing, and it hasn’t come in a full season’s worth of at-bats. A full season could yield around 10, which is respectable. More importantly is his speed. He’s swiped 14 bases through his short career and we all know the Padres love to run, or at least did, as they rank tied for 18th in baseball with just eight steals.
Aside from the speed, he also owns an inflated BABIP, boosted by a strong line drive rate and an all-fields approach. Further adding to his intrigue is that he has played third base and outfield before, so there are several paths for at-bats here.
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.