Yesterday, I shared the names of four speedsters who are available in the vast majority of leagues played on CBS. Naturally today, I shift my focus onto the power guys. Unlike the speed demons, it’s more difficult to find strong sources of power available for free. But they might be there if you dig deep enough. Here are three names for your consideration.
Vargas looks to be a prime beneficiary of the Kendrys Morales trade. Making his debut last Friday, he has started all three games, playing first base, followed by DH in the next two games. Our own Scott Strandberg shares his scouting thoughts on Vargas, speculating that his fantasy ceiling is much higher than his potential real life value. While that might cloud his long-term outlook, it’s a positive when all we care about is the rest of this season.
Vargas is a large human being. He’s listed at 6’5 and 275 pounds and his calling card is obviously his power. However, it’s a bit surprising that he’s only mustered ISO marks of around .200 in High-A and Double-A last year and this year. That said, he’s made a nice improvement in his strikeout rate, which paired with his above average walk rate, means he’s pretty well disciplined at the plate. While the Twins have a variety of players they could shuffle into the DH hole, there is no standout candidate to steal at-bats from Vargas. Of course, with no track Major League record and nary a plate appearance at the Triple-A level, there is a very real chance he flops and is demoted within a couple of weeks or relegated to the bench.
The minor league standout never really got an extended opportunity as a full-timer at the Major League level. He’s had some success before though, as he has posted a .345 wOBA in 2011 with the Mariners and then was fantastic for the Red Sox last year when he posted a .382 mark. But it’s tough to continue producing when playing time is so sporadic. And this time around, he failed to hit even one homer or reach the Mendoza Line, which predictably got him DFA’d by the Sox. Desperate for offensive help given the team’s crazy spate of injuries, the Rangers immediately grabbed him and he’s now set to garner near full-time at-bats, splitting time between first base and the outfield.
Rangers Ballpark ranked in a tie as the fifth best home run park for left-handers and sported the second highest run scoring park factor last year. There aren’t many landing spots better for Carp than where he ended up. And while of course the lack of power is a bit of concern, the good news is that his walk and strikeout rates were good — actually better than his career averages. It was mostly just a BABIP thing, though the pop-up rate was a bit too high. There’s a good chance he rebounds with more consistent playing time and a favorable home park to hit in.
With the news that Andrew McCutchen may have a serious oblique injury that would knock him out for up to a month, Travis Snider figures to receive the lion’s share of the playing time to replace the former. Snider is a one-time top prospect who scouts believed had massive power potential. But that power has never materialized at the Major League level, as he owns just a .155 ISO in over 1,400 at-bats.
That said, he’s cut down on his swings and misses, and resulting strikeout rate, and still hitting homers with a HR/FB rate in the mid-teens. That power is backed by an average batted ball distance of 300 feet. He’s still hitting too many ground balls and given his history, that’s unlikely to change. PNC Park is tough on left-handed home run power as well. But given all the flaws, he’s worth a look with increased playing time likely to come.
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.