You’re in luck. It’s East Coast Bias week at the Deep League Report, which means an all-Yankee lineup in the AL-only position player section. Let’s dive in.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He’s really big and he hits baseballs a long way. Aaron Judge isn’t a one-trick pony with the bat, though. He doesn’t strike out as often as tall hitters with his power profile usually do, and he has demonstrated the ability to take a walk throughout his minor league career. He has homered in each of his first two games as a major leaguer, giving him a superhuman .429/.500/1.286 line in his eight-PA MLB career. He earned the opportunity to take the spot in right field vacated by Carlos Beltran by hitting .270/.366/.489 with nineteen home runs and five stolen bases in Triple-A, and the Yankees will give him every opportunity to hold down that spot in right field for the rest of the year. Bid aggressively.
The Yankees are giving Gary Sanchez enough plate appearances to see if he can live up to his prospect pedigree. It seems like the 23-year-old has been featured on top prospect lists for nearly a decade without getting a clean shot at playing time. While he’s not starting everyday in the Bronx, it looks like he’ll be getting close to a starter’s share of plate appearances between catcher and the DH spot in the wake of the release of Alex Rodriguez. His combination of contact ability, power, youth, and eligibility at a premium position make him a prime target in keeper leagues, but he should have plenty of value in deep AL-only redraft leagues, too. Catchers who can hit are gold in AL-only and NL-only leagues with two catcher slots, and catchers who rack up extra plate appearances on days when they’re not squatting behind the plate only increase that value.
Making his major league debut on the same day as Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin went two for four with a home run and a stolen base, providing the well-rounded fantasy numbers he had been posting all year in Triple-A. The 24-year-old certainly earned the promotion, hitting .323/.415/.637 with thirteen homers and five steals at Scranton. His path to playing time is less clear than Aaron Judge’s, as he’ll likely be competing with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury for starts in the outfield while competing with Gary Sanchez for starts at DH. Given his stellar performance in the minors and the lengthy injury history of the two incumbent outfielders, it’s not hard to envision Austin playing regularly and producing in the near future. Don’t bid as aggressively on Austin as you do on Sanchez or Judge due to the playing time concerns, but don’t be afraid to pump your bid my a buck or two if you like him, especially if you need help in the outfield.
He might never be more than a fungible reliever in even the deepest of AL-only leagues. Still, Michael Ynoa is in the majors, and that’s something that looked like it wouldn’t happen for the last few years. A July 2 signee in 2008 with Oakland, the 6’7” Dominican righty received a $4.25 million bonus thanks to his easy velocity, athleticism, and projectable body. Repeated injuries kept him off the mound and prevented him from getting anywhere near the ceiling he showed as a teenager. He kept pitching, though, joining the White Sox organization prior to the 2015 season as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. He started this season by making his Double-A and quickly moved up to Triple-A where he posted a 4.56 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP with twenty strikeouts and twelve walks in 23.7 innings out of the bullpen.
In June, nearly eight years after he first signed with the A’s, the 24-year-old was called up by the White Sox and made his major league debut. He’s the last man out of the bullpen for the White Sox, pitching infrequently and exclusively in low-leverage situations. His numbers are mediocre at best: a 3.18 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP with sixteen strikeouts and eleven walks in seventeen innings. His repertoire features four pitches: a four-seam fastball averaging 94.7 MPH, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. He won’t help your team this year and he’ll probably never make the leap that it would take to make him rosterable even in deep AL-only leagues. I just love that he’s still pitching.
He won’t be picking up any saves unless Sam Dyson stumbles, but Jeremy Jeffress still packs a lot of value in deep leagues. The import from the NL has a 2.53 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with 36 strikeouts and 16 walks in 53 2/3 innings on the season, and that plays in just about any league. The strikeouts are a little low considering his mid-90s velocity, but he’ll help your rate stats while acting as the first option for saves behind Dyson.
Ross Detwiler performed well out of the bullpen for the A’s after he was acquired form Cleveland. Oakland’s injury-depleted rotation left an opening for the 30-year-old lefty and he made the most of it, shutting out the Orioles over eight innings last week in his first start of the year. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters and hasn’t been much more than mediocre throughout his career, but if he has a bit of a hot streak, he could help your team’s rotation at a point in the season where the pickings in the free agent pool are slim. Don’t bid much more than a buck or two on him, only use him in favorable matchups, and be ready to release him or bench him at the first sign of trouble.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
The Jay Bruce trade gave Scott Schebler a clear shot at the full-time gig in right field for the Reds. He hasn’t done much with the opportunity so far, putting up a disappointing .167/.248/.304 with two home runs and two stolen bases in 113 plate appearances so far this year. Luckily for the 25-year-old, Cincinnati doesn’t exactly have the deepest roster in the league, giving him a fairly long leash. He was productive in Triple-A this season, hitting .311/.370/.564 with thirteen homers and two steals in 319 plate appearances. If you’re thin in the outfield in a deep NL-only league, bid a buck or two and hope that he starts hitting before the Reds decide to give someone else a shot in right field.
He isn’t much of a prospect, but Rob Segedin’s .319/.392/.598 line with 21 home runs in Triple-A was just too good for the Dodgers to ignore. The big league club brought him up to make spot starts as a corner outfielder against lefties, but on Friday, Justin Turner was hit on the hand by a pitch, keeping him off the field for a few days. It doesn’t look like Turner will land on the DL, so the window might not be open for long, but for the time being, Segedin has been getting starts at third base. It isn’t hard to see the 27-year-old playing the role of lefty-mashing platoon outfielder for the Dodgers, a role in which Scott Van Slyke has struggled the last two years after a productive 2014 season. Bid a buck if you have a dead spot at a corner and hope for the best.
He’s not young at 32, but he’s seven years younger than the guy ahead of him on the depth chart for Atlanta, A.J. Pierzynski. Since his callup from Triple-A in mid-July, Recker has been hot to the tune of a .326/.418/.500 line while Pierzynski’s season-long struggles at the plate continued. The Braves have noticed, playing Recker more frequently over the last few weeks while playing Pierzynski less. Nobody thinks that the journeyman backstop will keep hitting like this for the rest of the season, but given his defensive chops and the starter’s anemic bat, Recker isn’t a bad bet to get at least half of the starts behind the plate in Atlanta over the course of the rest of the season. If you’re thin at catcher, a $2 – $3 bid makes sense. It’s a bet against Pierzynski as much as it’s a bet on Recker.
Last year, Adam Ottavino earned the closer’s role in Colorado but only managed to rack up three saves before going on the disabled list and undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 30-year-old returned to the Rockies’ bullpen in early July and has already reclaimed the closing gig by throwing thirteen scoreless innings with fifteen strikeouts, three walks, and nine hits allowed. He’s worth owning even without the saves due to his strikeout rates combined with his rate stats. As a closer, he’s worth bidding at least half of your remaining FAAB in deep NL-only leagues, especially if you’re in a tight battle in saves.
He hasn’t been very good so far in the majors, posting a 7.31 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP. His biggest problem so far has been the long ball—he has allowed four homers in only sixteen innings. There are things to like here, though: he has seventeen strikeouts against only five walks across those same sixteen innings. If he can keep the ball in the park, his ability to strike out more than a batter per inning while not issuing many walks could provide some sneaky value in deep leagues over the last six weeks of the season. Bid a buck or two but be ready to release him if his gopherball problems persist.
After a stellar 2015 season as an integral part of the Cubs’ bullpen, Justin Grimm struggled mightily in the first half this year, putting up a pedestrian 4.38 ERA in May and a woeful 10.38 ERA in June. He was moved to the back of the bullpen and ended up being shuttled between Triple-A and the major league roster a few times. Quietly, though, Grimm has turned his season around, holding his opponents scoreless over his last fourteen appearances while striking out fourteen and walking only four across 11 1/3 innings. That’s more like the Grimm that provided a ton of value out of the bullpen in deep NL-only leagues via his strikeouts and rate stats. Don’t bid more than $1 or $2, but don’t steer clear because you’re still traumatized by his disastrous June.