Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fantasy Baseball: Hitters to Stream in Week 16 (7/26/-8/1)

This is the fifth 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 under 20% in 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: Luis Torrens

So far this year Torrens has a .323 wOBA, 109 wRC+, and .323 wOBA, which is good for a catcher but not overly impressive for fantasy production. More convincing is the timeline of his production. He was an awful hitter with a 44 wRC+ before getting sent down to AAA on May 20th and returning a much better hitter. He also benefits more than most from the crackdown on pine tar since he struggles with high spin pitcher more than most. What makes him especially valuable in fantasy is that he is usually the Mariners DH, so he will get a lot more at-bats and should get more points than most catchers who need to take days off. This week the Mariners have three games against the Astros and three games against the Rangers which is unintimidating enough to warrant starting Torrens despite having to face some better pitching in Houston.

First Base: John Nogowski

There aren’t a lot of first basemen with guaranteed playing time who are rostered infrequently enough for me to use, but Nogowski is one of the better ones. In just 90 plate appearances so far, he has hit well with a .350 wOBA and a 120 wRC+. He has managed to walk at a 10% while striking out only 15.6% of the time because of an excellent whiff and chase rate. I’m not confident that Nogowski is a good hitter since he is overperforming his .315 xwOBA by a large margin, doesn’t have a single barrel yet, and because his success has come in a very small sample. However, the Pirates will avoid the Brewers’ big three (Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta) in their three games against Milwaukee and will avoid Wheeler when they face the Phillies, so he is worth a shot for those who are desperate.

Second Base: Nico Hoerner

Nico Hoerner really only makes sense if you want someone who can minimize your team’s strikeouts. Hoerner has an excellent whiff rate of 18.7%, helping keep his strikeout rate as low as 13.6%. Hoerner started out hot offensively but has struggled and regressed to about a league-average bat with a 99 wRC+ and a .318 wOBA in 140 plate appearances this year. A .309 xwOBA and a high opposite-field percentage on groundballs coupled with 92nd percentile sprint speed suggest that there’s some more potential for a higher disparity between his actual and xwOBA as well as the potential for some more stolen bases. This week, the Cubs have four games against the Reds and three games in Washington, where they will avoid Scherzer. Hoerner isn’t a great option, but his guaranteed starting job and a full week of games make him a good option.

Shortstop: Miguel Rojas

Long gone are the days when I could use Brewers Willy Adames here, as he is now rostered over 70% in both Yahoo and ESPN. The next-best best option is now Miguel Rojas despite the fact that he only has five games this week. I usually like to avoid five-game schedules, but two games against the Orioles and three against the Yankees isn’t awful for a leadoff-man who plays every day. Rojas is an above-average hitter and a valuable fantasy asset because of his favorable spray chart on groundballs and flyballs, and because of his high-contact and low strikeout rates. Despite below-average sprint speed, Rojas has eight steals this year, meaning there’s some potential for an extra few points in that category. 

Third Base: Luis Guillorme

Originally touted as a glove-first infielder, Guillorme has had something of an offensive breakout recently, posting a .361 wOBA and a 131 wRC+ since the start of 2020. The contact-first hitter rarely strikes out or whiffs and his 15.6% BB% and 12.5% K% make him valuable in both on-base leagues and leagues that penalize strikeouts. Guillorme is well overperforming his .313 xwOBA this year, but such is the life of a spray hitter who seldomly gets shifted against and puts up better numbers while shifted. With Lindor sidelined with an oblique injury, Guillorme will compete for playing time at short with Jonathon Villar and at third with J.D. Davis. However, the Mets have eight games this week so I am confident he will get a lot of at-bats. 

Outfield: Harrison Bader

I am going to have to go with a player who only plays five games again this week because good streamers are incredibly scarce. After posting a 113 wRC+ last year, Bader has only gotten better this year as he has posted a 129 wRC+ with a .360 wOBA. Bader has accomplished this by nearly halving his strikeout rate, keeping his walk rate high, and by pulling a lot more of his flyballs, allowing him to overperform his .326 xwOBA. Bader’s five games come against the weak Cleveland and Minnesota rotations and should allow him to get a lot of fantasy points despite the low volume.

Patrick Bowe

I am a Mets fan who takes an analytical approach to baseball and evaluating players. I prefer to focus on small details instead of broad generalizations.