Last week, the Deep League Report was on hiatus due to the positional re-rankings that my Baseball Prospectus fantasy team colleagues and I completed. It makes its triumphant return this week, satisfying your cravings for platoon outfielders and non-closing relievers. I’m sure you missed it terribly. I missed you, too.
AL-only position players
Eric Young Jr.
He’s 32 years old now, but Young is still fast as hell. In 44 games in Triple A, Young had 15 stolen bases along with a surprisingly good .354/.419/.528 line. The injury to Mike Trout has given the veteran speedster a shot at playing time in the Angels’ outfield and he’s making a strong case for himself since his call-up a week ago, hitting .348/.444/.565 with a homer and two steals across 27 plate appearances. If he can sustain 75 percent of that production going forward, he’ll have a spot in the offensively challenged Anaheim lineup, and if he has a spot in the lineup, he’ll steal some bases.
He’s a one-category player, but that category is speed—which is in short supply—especially in the American League. The White Sox called up Engel during the last week of May to act as a backup at all three outfield spots. He stole 45 bases across three minor-league levels last season after stealing 65 bases in the low minors in 2015. His .221/.312/.463 line in Triple-A this year prior to his call-up doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for what he’ll do in the bigs, although his walk rate there was encouraging and the eight home runs he hit there already represent a career high for the 25-year-old in a full season. The biggest issue for Engel is playing time, though, since Leury Garcia, Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera are all playing well for the South Siders. If you need steals, Engel is definitely worth a buck or two of FAAB, and maybe a buck more than that in OBP leagues in case he figures out how to translate the plate discipline he showed in Triple A to the majors.
Burns rounds out our trio of speedy one-category AL outfielders. The former Athletic was called up by the Royals in the wake of the Jorge Soler demotion. The 27-year-old will be backing up Alex Gordon in left, Lorenzo Cain in center and Jorge Bonifacio in right while Soler figures things out and Paulo Orlando remains on the 60-day DL. That .294 average Burns posted in 125 games in Oakland in 2015 is looking more and more like a fluke, but even with a .220 average, he can steal a bunch of bases with a ton of plate appearances. That’s worth a $1-$3 bid in deep AL-only leagues, especially with how scarce steals have become.
Called up in response to injuries to Danny Duffy and Nate Karns, Skoglund has performed well in his first two starts with the Royals, posting a 4.32 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with seven strikeouts and three walks over 8 1/3 innings. That’s better than the 4.53 ERA and the 1.25 WHIP he posted in eight starts at Triple A so far this season. The tall lefty hasn’t struck out a batter per inning since rookie ball, but he should get regular starts for Kansas City for the time being. That makes him worth a modest bid in deep AL-only leagues if you’re light on innings.
He hasn’t taken a regular turn in the rotation since 2014 and was a fairly fungible reliever in 2015 and 2016, making a few spot starts and posting mediocre ERAs and WHIPs. 2017 has been a different story for McAllister, as he’s currently sporting a 2.31 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 1/3 innings as part of an excellent bullpen in Cleveland. With Cody Allen and Andrew Miller ahead of him, the 29-year-old won’t see many conventional save opportunities, but his rate stats and strikeouts are worth a minimal bid in deep AL-only leagues.
He flamed out as a starter, but Greene has been an integral part of the Detroit bullpen this season. Over 27 innings, he has a 1.67 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks. That will definitely play in deep AL-only leagues. If you need bullpen help, Greene is worth a dollar bid.
NL-only position players
The San Francisco outfield has been in a shambles this season, with injuries to most of the key players. Hunter Pence and Denard Span are back from their DL stints in right and center respectively, but left field is still an open competition after Jarrett Parker landed on the DL and Mac Williamson hit his way back to Triple A. The players battling for playing time in left are Orlando Calixte and Slater. Both hit right-handed, so a platoon arrangement is not an option. I prefer Slater because he has outhit Calixte in the high minors, posting a .298/.381/.508 line in 68 games in Triple A in 2016 and a .322/.381/.460 line in Triple A in 46 games this season prior to his call-up. In addition to decent contact skills and good plate discipline, the 24-year-old has modest power and a tiny bit of speed. He’s worth a couple of bucks of FAAB as an upside bet, especially in OBP leagues, but be aware that Jarrett Parker is due back from the DL by the end of the month, creating a logjam in left field.
Phillips was called up to fill a roster spot while Ryan Braun is on the DL and Travis Shaw is on the paternity list. He probably won’t have long to make an impact in his first stint in the majors, but as a legitimate prospect in Triple A, he should be back for a more extended opportunity as some point this season or next. The 23-year-old can play all three outfield spots and posted a .297/.369/.589 in Triple A this year, so he’s probably ready for an extended big league tryout. He just needs an opening in the Brewers’ outfield that will last more than a week. Bid $2-$3 in deep NL-only leagues, maybe a little more in OBP leagues and/or keeper leagues. And check out Wilson Karaman’s more extensive feature on Phillips from earlier this week.
The injury to Jayson Werth opened up a roster spot in Washington for Raburn. The veteran outfielder is a classic lefty masher, mostly limited to the bad side of a platoon but offering enough power against lefties to make him useful in deep NL-only leagues. The 36-year-old didn’t hit all that well last year despite playing his home games in Colorado, so there’s a chance he could be done. However, as the guys from Effectively Wild have noted multiple times, Raburn has alternated good and bad years over the past several seasons, so maybe he’s due for a good one. Bid a dollar for two starts a week against lefties for as long as Werth remains out of action, maybe a dollar more in OBP leagues.
Shoulder problems kept Locke on the DL for the first two months of the season. He made his first start June 1, throwing 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts, no walks, three hits and one earned run. The 29-year-old hasn’t put up good numbers for the past few seasons, but the Miami rotation is thin, so Locke should have a pretty long leash. There aren’t many starters available in deep NL-only leagues, so if you need to FAAB one, you can’t be too picky. Locke should provide innings for the foreseeable future. Bid $1-$2, but if you get him, keep an eye on his performance from week to week and be ready to ditch him if he consistently destroys your rate stats.
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He doesn’t throw very hard and he doesn’t strike many guys out, but Lively is a legitimate prospect due to his command. Injuries to Vince Velasquez and Clay Buchholz opened a spot in the rotation for him and he made the most of it, throwing seven innings and allowing only one earned run on four hits and three walks on his way to earning his first big league win. He didn’t strike anyone out, though, underlining concerns about how his stuff will play in the majors. He’s worth a dollar or two of your FAAB in deep NL-only leagues, but he won’t help too much with strikeouts and has some blowup potential.
He has posted ERAs north of 4.00 in each of the past two seasons, but Duensing has been significantly better this season. Through 23 2/3 innings, the veteran lefty has a 3.04 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP with 29 strikeouts and six walks for the reigning world champs. If you’re in the market for a non-closing reliever in a deep NL-only league, Duensing is a safe choice with regard to your rate stats who can rack up strikeouts at a decent clip. Just don’t bid more than $1 since there are probably a few other guys in your league’s free agent pool who you could get with a $1 contingent bid.