This is the fourth edition of a weekly series where I will suggest one hitter at each position who I think can help your fantasy team for that week. I will only use hitters rostered in under 20% of leagues, which means there are a lot of good, under-the-radar hitters who I won’t be able to use. You can read last week’s edition here.
Catcher: Jacob Stallings
Stallings is having a good year at the plate so far with a .325 wOBA and a 104 wRC+. As is expected, there aren’t a lot of good hitting catchers owned in under 20% of leagues, so pickings are a bit slim. Despite a worse than average whiff rate, Stallings has a strikeout and walk rate better than the average player. He also has an above-average barrel rate of 6.9% and a great pop-up rate of 4.6%. Stallings has a good schedule this week with three games against the Diamondbacks and three games against the Giants. In Daily Leagues, I would bench Stallings when he faces Gausman, but I would feel comfortable starting him in all of the other five games. Despite having reverse splits this year, Stallings has better career numbers against lefties and he faces 3 of those this week which should give you added confidence for this week.
First Base: Ji Man Choi
The Rays have a lot of good hitters who are hard to commit to in weekly leagues due to the uncertainty surrounding their playing time, but the Rays have seven games this week which should guarantee all their players get some at-bats. Choi has flown under the radar and is only owned in 3% of leagues despite putting up an above-average wRC+ every year since 2017. He now has a career .339 wOBA and a 117 wRC+ and has a 125 wRC+ and a .347 wOBA in 144 plate appearances this season. The combination of Choi’s 12.3% barrel rate and .360 xwOBA pair well with the Rays’ three-game matchup against the Orioles and a four-game set against a Cleveland pitching staff ravaged by injuries.
Second Base: Josh Harrison
After a bounceback 2019 season where Harrison posted a 107 wRC+, he’s continued to hit just enough to stay on a major league roster with a 109 wRC+ so far this season. He is still striking out at a low rate (90th percentile K%) which will help in leagues that penalize strikeouts. He won’t walk a lot and he doesn’t have a lot of power, but his batting average and ability to avoid strikeouts make him a solid pickup. He starts the week with a three-game series against the Marlins where he will face Trevor Rogers and Sandy Alcantara who are both good pitchers. However, his schedule will improve when he heads to Baltimore to face Jorge Lopez, Matt Harvey, and Spenser Watkins.
Shortstop: Miguel Rojas
Rojas has come back to earth after posting a 142 wRC+ last year, but he is still an above-average hitter this year with a .320 wOBA and a 105 wRC+. He is overperforming his xwOBA by thirty points, but that is less a product of good luck and more a product of pulling a lot of flyballs and going to the opposite field when hitting it on the ground. Like Josh Harrison, Rojas leaves a lot to be desired in terms of power and walks, but his batting average and ability to avoid strikeouts should provide a decent amount of value. He opens his week with three games against the Nationals but will avoid facing Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin. After the Nationals, he has four games against the Padres where he faces Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Ryan Weathers. Rojas has better numbers against lefties and he will face three of them this week. It isn’t an ideal schedule, but it’s good enough to make Rojas the best shortstop option (owned <20%) for the week.
Third Base: Jeimer Candelario
Candelario had a great 2020 with a 136 wRC+ and while he has regressed in 202,1 he is still an above hitter as his .326 wOBA and 105 wRC+ suggest. Candelario has good underlying numbers with an above-average BB/K, barrel rate, and xwOBA. He is hitting flyballs and line drives at an above-average rate which is also good to see. This week Candelario has a great schedule with four games against the Rangers and three against the Royals, making it likely for him to have a productive week.
Outfield: Kole Calhoun
Calhoun has missed a lot of time in 2021 due to injury but, over the past three years, he has a .336 wOBA and a 109 wRC+. In that time he has maintained an above-average BB/K rate with a 10.6% barrel rate and a 40.7% hard-hit rate. While he only has six games this week, he will be facing the weak pitching staffs of the Pirates and Cubs. In five of those games, he will get to face a righty, which he hits slightly better against.