The Universally Available Derek Dietrich

Every year, there are players who — for whatever reason — go completely overlooked in fantasy leagues, despite providing solid value. This year is no different. For today’s example, take Derek Dietrich.

The 26-year-old has been highly productive since his call-up in mid-June, hitting a robust .261/.368/.504 with seven homers in 136 plate appearances. However, his ownership rates remain miniscule (1% Yahoo, 1.9% ESPN, 4% CBS).

Dietrich’s power is for real, as he launched 15 bombs in 403 PA in Double-A, before teeing off 14 times in 316 PA in Triple-A. At the major-league level, he now has 21 homers through 552 PA. His ability to maintain a solid batting average is definitely a question, but he’s a serious asset in OBP leagues.

Dietrich will take some walks — he’s got 12 in 136 PA in the majors this season — but the big reason he maintains such a high OBP is because he’s turned the hit by pitch into an art. He’s already been plunked eight times with the Marlins this year, and he piled up 15 HBP in just 224 PA in Triple-A before being called up.

The big knock on Dietrich has always been his poor defense at second base, and the Marlins decided to move him off the position at the major-league level this year. He covered third base while Martin Prado was out — and continued to do so when Prado came back and played second until Dee Gordon returned — and has become the club’s everyday left fielder with Prado and Gordon both healthy.

Being moved off second base has resulted in a big boost to Dietrich’s fantasy value for the remainder of 2015. He still retains his 2B eligibility from last year, and now has 3B and OF eligibility as well. Another factor that’s driving his value up is the fact that Miami moved him up from the six-hole in the lineup.

Over the last week, he’s played three games batting second, two games at cleanup, and a game each slotted in fifth and sixth. If he continues batting higher in the order, his run and RBI potential gets a shot in the arm.

Giancarlo Stanton still has no timetable for his return following hamate surgery, so Dietrich is practically guaranteed regular playing time for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, when Stanton finally does come back, it probably makes more sense to bump the nearly 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki from the lineup than Dietrich.

Considering his solid pop, three-position eligibility and consistent playing time, it’s odd that Dietrich isn’t even owned in the vast majority of NL-only leagues. I own him in a 14-team mixed league with 14 starting hitter slots, and he’s been a nice commodity, seeing as I can slot him in at six different positions (2B/3B/CI/MI/OF/Util).

For a quick comparison, I would drop Brock Holt for Dietrich in a heartbeat. Actually, I made that exact transaction in one of my leagues, so my money and my mouth are certainly occupying a shared space. Holt is still pretty widely owned (30% Yahoo, 29.6% ESPN, 45% CBS), but has provided zero value to fantasy owners since June.

Holt last stole a base on July 2, and hasn’t gone yard since June 16. Since that last homer, Holt’s AVG has tumbled all the way from .319 down to .274. Meanwhile, Dietrich has blasted six homers since Holt last hit one. He’s also hit for a higher average in that span, and gets on base constantly.

Let’s show Dietrich some love and boost those ridiculously low ownership rates a bit.

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Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.

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Dave Andersen
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Dave Andersen

Great call. I’ve liked him for a long time, and finally, i don’t think i’m alone–the dude gets very little respect. Good piece. Thanks.