This is the weekly Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld Baseball in on a quick staff discussion. It’s water cooler talk … that we’ve decided to publish. Look for it every Tuesday.
Drew Silva: We covered some first-half surprises last week. This week give me a player who was somewhat off the radar in the first half but should carry major fantasy value down the stretch. Could be a prospect, somebody who battled injuries, or somebody who simply got off to a slow start.
Jesse Pantuosco: The one that leaps out at me is Michael Brantley. Shoulder and biceps injuries limited Brantley to just 11 games in the first half but he’s been rehabbing at Double-A Akron and should be cleared to return as soon as he’s able to play in back-to-back games. Brantley’s numbers since the beginning of 2014 are staggering to say the least. During that span he’s hit .316 with 35 homers, 188 RBI and a .487 slugging percentage over 304 appearances. His contact rate is simply incredible as he’s struck out only 113 times over that stretch (9.6 percent of his at-bats). No one would ever confuse Brantley for Billy Hamilton but he’s an efficient base stealer with 39 thefts on 41 attempts over his last three seasons. Brantley isn’t dominant in any one area but he contributes in almost every category and he’ll be hitting in the middle of a Cleveland lineup that’s had no trouble putting up runs this season (sixth in MLB in runs scored).
I understand the skepticism. Brantley has already had a number of setbacks and the next one could end his season. But if Brantley stays healthy and performs at anywhere near the level he’s been at over the last few seasons, he could be a huge difference maker in the second half. Somehow Brantley is still available in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues. If you’re in one of the leagues where he’s still sitting on the waiver wire, stop reading this and go grab him right now.
Ryan Boyer: The Reds are going to be sellers at the trade deadline, and a guy that seems likely to pick up extra playing time as a result of the team’s moves is Jose Peraza. Peraza has already started games at four different positions for the Reds and could easily slide into a regular role here in a couple weeks whether it’s at one position or a handful of them. The 22-year-old has batted only .224/.269/.255 over his first 105 plate appearances in the majors, but he’s managed to steal 13 bases while being caught just once. He has the potential to be a difference-maker with his speed down the stretch and his history in the minors suggests that he’s not going to be a zero at the plate over the long haul. Peraza is barely owned in any Yahoo leagues right now but is a sneaky stash.
Nate Grimm: Before the season, there was a radar, and Randal Grichuk was squarely on it. Then he struggled in the first week, lost playing time to someone named Jeremy Hazelbaker and was eventually sent to Triple-A in mid-June. At the time of his demotion, Grichuk was hitting .206/.276/.392 and was striking out in 24 percent of his plate appearances. The struggles weren’t a complete shock — teams don’t often virtually give away former first-round picks, as the Angels did with Grichuk in the trade for David Freese, if they think they have a high chance of success — but after a promising 2015 campaign, they were a disappointment.
Grichuk used his time in the minors to get his swing right, and the effects have shown in recent results. Since being recalled on July 5, the 24-year-old is hitting .342 with a 1.096 OPS and four home runs in 10 games. He’s still striking out plenty — old dog, new tricks, etc. — but that was always part of the package when buying on Grichuk’s offensive upside. He’s a guy who was on pace to hit 30 home runs a year ago and his exit velocity has always been among the best in baseball, so that upside still exists if he’s in the lineup on a regular basis. Assuming he will be, Grichuk should provide in the second half what was promised in February.
Gordon was batting just .266/.289/.340 through 21 games prior to the suspension, but he won the National League batting crown last year and led the majors with 122 steals from 2014-2015. In case you haven’t noticed, speed is down around the game this year. Sure, there might be some questions about him coming off the suspension and he might need some time to shake the rust after such a lengthy absence, but he’s capable of making a major impact in fantasy leagues over the final two months of the season.