It’s been an interesting month in my life. I recently moved across Canada from Toronto to Calgary (roughly from Buffalo to Billings). My girlfriend quit her job to study for med school and I’m doing mine from our apartment. Along the way I saw Bret tweet that he was looking for writers for the blog, and thought, “why not?” To my surprise I got an email from him welcoming me to the team and suddenly the month got a bit more interesting. I want to thank Bret for the chance and thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.
It’s that time of year – the dog days of August – when you pretty much know where you stand in your league. You are in the fight for the prize(s) or you are out of it. In dynasty and keeper leagues, if you are not competitive this year, it’s still too early to tune out and think about who your RB2 is going to be. Some leagues have deadlines for acquiring new players that can be keepers for the following season and if you snooze someone else will pick up an under the radar guy who might haunt you next year. This is the time to pick up an asset to keep or to move in the off-season to gain an advantage. To butcher a pop culture reference in the first paragraph, dynasty and keeper leagues never sleep.
Here are three deep, deeper, deepest NL guys to keep an eye on for the rest of the season and, if they come cheap or free, consider as a speculative play(s) for 2014, if opportunity swings their way:
(Ownership percentages as of August 19)
Corey Dickerson (8% owned in CBS leagues, 2.1% in ESPN leagues)
Here are the dominos that need to fall in the off-season or in 2014 for Dickerson, 24, to become quite a bit more interesting: Todd Helton retires or is not re-signed; Michael Cuddyer moves to 1B or is traded; Carlos Gonzalez gets hurt (again). That’s it. All of those are non-zero probabilities given the state of the Rockies and their needs. In the meantime Dickerson seems to be pretty good at making himself useful.
Drafted twice by Colorado, who clearly saw something in him taking him in the 29th round in 2009 and then in the 8th in 2010, scouting reports on Dickerson are not overwhelming. Jason Parks described him as having a “massive gamer profile that is considered one of the toughest outs in the system.” Throughout his rise through the Rockies minor league system Dickerson has shown a bit of a wide range of skills. In four minor league season across 1647 plate appearances, Dickerson slashed .321/.379/.601. Through his first 100 major league plate appearances he’s at .315/.370/.5179 and an OPS+ of 129. He has also manned all three outfield positions in the majors.
Now, to be clear, Dickerson is certainly benefitting from a BABIP (.397) that is due for some regression and he has never had a huge homer profile, outside of his season at low-A Asheville in 2011. Still, his most consistent ability is to get on base and he has always knocked extra-base hits all over the park (career ISO of better than .229 at every level above A-ball). He’s been making appearances in the two-spot in the Rockies’ line-up lately, which combined with the lack of other serious options in the system could lead to a nice pay off down the road. There is nothing wrong with having an option on a guy who plays half his games at Coors and might bat in front of Cargo and Tulo.
Devin Mesoraco (20% CBS, 2.5% ESPN)
In June, Paul Swydan wrote a piece at Fangraphs called, “The Burying of Devin Mesoraco.” You should read it. It makes a big part of my argument, which I’ll summarize as, “Ryan Hanigan, age 32, is not good at hitting, especially this year, and the Reds need to see what they have in Mesoraco, age 25.”
Well, they kind of got to see what they had after Hanigan got hurt in July. Mesoraco played more games and got more at-bats than he had in any previous month in his short major league career and had his best month slashing .294/.329/.441 posting both his best OBP and SLG of any month. This is certainly a case of staring at small samples in hopes of seeing something that might not actually be there. Naturally, since Hanigan returned on August 9 he and Mesoraco have split games 6:6 and Mesoraco is 4 for 22.
Mesoraco may or may not be a high an upside play. The truth is that we don’t really know at this point, but there is a nag in my head about his pedigree that makes me think he’s worth $1 in a deep, NL league to see what might happen. Hanigan has been worse at the stick this year and is finishing up a contract that paid him $2-million. Not a ton, but his price will presumably go up regardless of the chances that his performance does. It doesn’t seem likely that the Reds’ will invest significantly in upgrading at catcher, so if Hanigan costs more than is reasonable the gig might be Mesoraco’s full-time and we might finally see an unburied man show what he can do.
Khris Davis (11% CBS, 8.2% ESPN)
Man, the Brewers are having a tough year. This team never really had a shot between dealing away Zack Greinke last July, losing Mat Gamel and Cory Hart to injury before they took a regular season at-bat, and…something happened to their best player too. What was that? The plus side of a lost season is that Brewers fans and fantasy players have gotten to see Khris Davis audition for a gig in 2014.
Davis actually started the season in Milwaukee, but he didn’t have a role at first and his first exposure didn’t go so well. He was sent back to Nashville after hitting just .188 with no homeruns. He was okay back at AAA hitting .255/.349/.473 over 281 plate appearances, but the power was there as he hit 13 long balls. All of which makes the run he’s been on since he was recalled in late July astounding. His season line in the majors now sits at .305/.373/.678 with an OPS+ of 181 and he has cranked 6 dingers while 10 of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases.
There is no doubt that Davis has some luck on his side. His BABIP is high (.333), although not off the charts, but he is striking out in more than a quarter of his at-bats, which leads to a poor contact rate. When the balls stop dropping in his average will plummet. But, the pop is legit (with one exception, he has never posted an ISO lower than .212 in pro ball), and the Brewers are a mess. Beyond Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and the certainty that the Ryan Braun three-ring circus will be firing up it’s engines again in March, very little is settled up and down their line-up for 2014. Khris Davis is certainly taking advantage of an opportunity to leverage his assets, so should fantasy owners.
Noel Baldwin is Canadian and currently lives in Calgary. His day job is quite a distraction from fantasy.