The Schedule Advantage — Week of Sep 26, 2022

As we head toward the final week and a half of the season, we have one more full week for weekly transaction leaguers to ponder. While this current week included two teams with eight games and no teams with fewer than six, next week features teams playing between five and seven games. Let’s review which teams to more highly consider their players (seven gamers) and which teams you should consider alternatives (five gamers). Below are the teams in each group, plus a handful of players that should get a relative boost in value and aren’t heavily owned, along with borderline players who should see a relative reduction in value.

Bump Up (seven games)

Ramón Urías | 28% CBS Owned
Jorge Mateo | 59%

Surprisingly, the Orioles possess a slew of highly owned hitters in CBS leagues, which really just leaves Urías and Mateo as guys who may very well be available in your league. With Urías’ BABIP tanking this year, he hasn’t done a whole lot in fantasy leagues, so you probably shouldn’t be interested unless you’re in a deep mixed league. Since he doesn’t steal bases, you’re really just hoping for an extra homers and some RBI and runs scored.

I’m shocked Mateo is only owned in 59% of leagues. He’s tied for fourth in baseball in stolen bases! Do that many leagues not use steals as a category? He’s still an awful real life hitter, but the Orioles don’t seem to care.

Tommy Pham | 68%
Triston Casas | 35%
Enrique Hernández | 26%

Who would have guessed I would list more Red Sox hitters than Orioles?! How is the regular leadoff hitter for the team only owned in 68% of leagues? He’s nowhere near as exciting as during his excellent three-season fantasy run from 2017-2019, but he still contributes a bit of power and speed, while potentially scoring a boatload of runs on a solid offense.

Rookie Triston Casas was a top prospect and finally made his eagerly anticipated debut. He’s a must-add in OBP leagues, but as a lefty, it pays to check the team’s expected opposing pitchers. Even with the seven games, scheduled, he may start in far fewer, as he has been sitting against left-handers. If he doesn’t figure to start all seven games, his playing time boost is negated.

Enrique Hernández’ power has disappeared, which is surprising considering his maxEV is strong and remains well above 110 MPH. His Barrel% has declined, but is only marginally below his career average. He’s more of a deep league pickup, but I would have expected his results to improve if the season had extended longer.

Bryson Stott | 37%
Brandon Marsh | 22%

Stott has shown some speed and a touch of power, but the power has been disappointing given his minor league performances. He’s been playing every day though, so that power could manifest at any time and the extra game makes him more appealing.

Marsh has continued to be a strikeout machine, but his power has improved as I expected and he has chipped in double digit steals as well. However, he’s in the same boat as Casas above, as a left-hander who’s unlikely to start against any southpaws. So it’s important to check the probably starters for the week to count how many games Marsh is actually expected to start.

Lane Thomas | 29%
Luis García | 18%
Joey Meneses | 51%
Luke Voit | 47%
C.J. Abrams | 35%
Victor Robles | 8%

Man, the Nationals rebuilding efforts has made almost their entire lineup highly available in CBS leagues. Thomas has essentially been Pham this year, but with a weaker offense behind him. I’m still waiting for García’s minor league power to translate, and his 113.4 MPH maxEV this year provides optimism that it could come at anytime. However, he needs to both hit a higher rate of fly balls, and learn to take a walk, as he’s just not providing much offensive value right now.

Every year, there’s someone who comes out of nowhere to hit well over a small sample. This year, one of those hitters is Joey Meneses. The 30-year-old is enjoying his first taste of big league action, showing both power and serious BABIP ability driven by a high LD% and zero pop-ups. Speaking of small sample heroes, Luke Voit has now been disappointing since the beginning of 2021, but still has enough power to take advantage of the extra game.

Former top prospect C.J. Abrams hasn’t done anything at the plate during his MLB debut, but has speed and definitely more power than he has shown. Remember Victor Robles?! His skill set looks fairly similar to Abrams’ and isn’t a bad pickup if you need steals.

Push Down (five games)

Corbin Carroll
Jake McCarthy
Christian Walker
Ketel Marte

Carroll has already been awesome during his debut, but as a lefty who has been sitting against southpaws, he might only start a couple of games next week. Again, check the probable starters to determine how many games he might start. McCarthy is a lefty too, but hasn’t been benched as much against them. He’s been a surprise power/speed contributor, but with two less games than the names above, might be less valuable.

As a Walker owner, I’ll have to figure out what to do and if I have better alternatives. His increased home run output has actually been the result of a spike in FB%, combined with a reduction in strikeout rate. In fact, his HR/FB rate is lower than his 2019 mark, his only other full season. Marte’s power continues its roller coaster ride, despite consistently elite maxEV marks. I don’t really understand how his power has continued to fluctuate so dramatically from season to season! With only minor power/speed contributions, he’s probably not worth starting next week over someone with seven games.

Jeremy Peña
Yuli Gurriel
Trey Mancini

Peña has enjoyed a nice fantasy season during his rookie year, though it’s far more impressive than his actual performance at the plate. With just five games, he’s not as automatic a start as he has been. Gurriel and Mancini are both veterans enduring mediocre years and should be benched in most formats shallower than AL-Only leagues.

Brandon Nimmo
Jeff McNeil

Here’s another group of established veterans you may or may not have been starting in past weeks. They aren’t strong enough to start given the games scheduled handicap.

Albert Pujols

Pujols has been a great story this year, as he refuses to totally slowdown and has ascended the career home runs leaderboard, closing in on 700. But for just five games, he’s not worth starting.

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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