Fantasy owners who have been playing the game for a few years know how valuable a player with eligibility at multiple positions can be. In leagues with short benches, this is obvious, but even in leagues where there are deeper benches or no benches at all, rostering a multieligible player gives an owner some flexibility in the event of an injury or a surprisingly poor performance by another player.
I own Ben Zobrist in a dynasty league, and while before the season I figured he was locked into my lineup at shortstop, he’s spent most of his time since returning from the DL at second base, taking the place of the highly disappointing Robinson Cano. Brandon Crawford has taken over at SS on my team, but as he may finally be hitting a wall, it might be time to realign my starting lineup to reflect my preseason plans.
The top two most-added players in CBSSports.com leagues also allow for increased roster flexibility: Brock Holt (+41 percent owned) and Justin Turner (+34 percent).
Holt doesn’t provide a whole lot in terms of power and speed, as he has just two homers and four steals in 180 at-bats, but he’s been able to ride a high BABIP and excellent walk rate to a .306/.399/.467 line. The concern early in the season was whether Holt would get enough playing time, but he’s been able to take advantage of myriad injuries in the Red Sox lineup to carve out a spot atop the lineup while picking up eligibility at nearly every possible in fantasy leagues. Not only is he eligible at first base, second base, third base, shortstop and outfield, but he’s drawn a start at each of those positions in each of his last five games. It’s impossible to embody further the jack-of-all-trades mentality.
While it’s likely his batting average drops some as his BABIP regresses, Holt still has value in points leagues, even if he doesn’t homer or steal enough to do so in category-based formats. I imagine most owners will use him as shortstop, like I am in the league in which I added him. I only have two bench spots afforded to hitters in that league, so Holt’s position versatility is certainly hugely valuable to my team, to battle day-to-day injuries and poor weekly matchups around the diamond.
Turner doesn’t have quite the same versatility as Holt, but as a player eligible at first base, third base and shortstop, he also embodies the idea that having a multieligible bench bat to stick into different starting spots can be useful. It’s also worth noting that he’s played four games at second base after appearing at the position 14 times last season, so we can nearly add the final infield position to his bag of tricks.
The thing that sets Turner apart from Holt is that he appears to have a much higher ceiling offensively. He already has racked up 10 homers while hitting .323/.392/.575 in 167 at-bats; that plays at any position as long as he’s seeing regular playing time. Considering he’s basically served as the team’s regular third baseman, playing time isn’t really an issue.
With Turner hitting as well as he has, I’d take him over Holt in any leagues where both still happen to be available. While the possible reduction of playing time both looms over the addition of either – Holt could eventually see his role reduced if his BABIP regresses and the Red Sox have better health, while Turner could eventually cede third base to Hector Olivera – fantasy owners should feel perfectly fine grabbing one or both to move around their starting lineups.
Tommy Milone, SP, MIN (+23 percent). He’s 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA but also owns a 5.06 FIP, a low K/9 rate and a high HR/9 rate. Hard pass.
Randal Grichuk, OF, STL (+23 percent). His .273 batting average and six HRs in 128 at-bats seem fine, but a 41:6 K:BB rate suggests big batting-average downside. Playing time should be there with Matt Holliday out for a while, but I still don’t trust Grichuk enough to add him.
Marco Estrada, RP/SP, TOR (+22 percent). Where did this come from? He chased a no-hitter two starts ago and was perfect through 7 1/3 innings in his most recent start, which ended with 8 2/3 scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts. I don’t think this is necessarily real progress, but I’ll certainly add him over other waiver fodder at SP like Milone, Mike Montgomery and Matt Wisler just in case.
Vincent Velasquez, SP, HOU (-17 percent). I lauded Velasquez’s upside in an earlier Riding the Waive and added him myself in my dynasty league. He’s flashed excellent strikeout upside but the team seems reluctant to let his pitch count build. He’s worth moving on from if necessary in redrafts, though I’m sticking with him in dynasty formats.
Tanner Roark, RP/SP, WAS (-14 percent). Roark is back in a long-relief role for the Nationals, severely curbing his fantasy potential. A fine drop in most leagues.
Rusney Castillo, OF, BOS (-13 percent). Castillo has been shipped off to the minors, and anyone holding him in redraft formats should part ways with the talented prospect.
Deeper Add Recommendations
Cody Anderson, SP, CLE (10 percent owned). Anderson seemed to take a step forward in Triple-A this year, bumping his K/9 rate to 8.4 in his three starts at the level. It wasn’t very high in his 10 Double-A starts this year (6.2 per nine), but he did show strides with his control, walking just 1.6 batters per nine innings. His debut Sunday went as well as could be expected, as the prospect went 7 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and one walk. While he may struggle with strikeout totals, the improved Cleveland infield defense should help the groundball pitcher. He’s certainly worth a flier.
Dioner Navarro, C, TOR (7 percent). Navarro has shown that he can be useful to fantasy players over the last few years, hitting .300 with 13 homers in 240 at-bats in 2013 and then managing a .274 average with 12 homers in 481 at-bats last season. He missed time recently with a hamstring injury but could be rounding into form, as he’s 6 for 13 with two homers in his last three games. He should see enough playing time to be useful as a second catcher; he’s started five of his team’s last six games in some fashion, seeing time at catcher and DH.