Happy Saturday to all! Short week this week with July 4th on Wednesday, and any short week is a good week. We’re only a couple weeks from the All-Star game in Washington, D.C. and about a month and a half from the MLB trade deadline.
The Nationals already made one move acquiring reliever Kelvin Herrera, albeit in a setup role initially but could pitch himself into the closer’s role. The Manny Machado sweepstakes is heating up with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers the loudest in their pursuit of the Baltimore Orioles prize 3B/SS.
The theme this week is fantasy baseball utility players – players with multi-position eligibility. They can help your team get over the hump and into the money of your fantasy league.
As a Twins fan, Escobar is everything you would want in a player: charismatic, leader, team player and productive. He originally took the place of Jorge Polanco at shortstop, who violated MLB’s PED policy, but since Miguel Sano’s injury and then demotion, Escobar excelled in his role not only on the defensive side but more importantly for fantasy owners, in the batter’s box. Escobar has 33 doubles which are two away from his career high set in 2014. He’s also second on the team in runs batted in and home runs.
Manager Paul Molitor, mixing and matching with all of the Twins’ injuries, is taking a quasi-sabermetric view with regards to his lineup. As long as Eddie Rosario hits second, and stays hot, Escobar should continue to hit third in the lineup and has plenty of RBI opportunity as a result.
Another factor boosting Escobar is where Brian Dozier is hitting. Over the past couple of weeks, Dozier is hitting fourth through sixth, in a position to drive in runs. This sweetens the Escobar pick up because not only will he be driving in Rosario, but Dozier will be driving Esky in.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
I love Escobar’s position eligibility at third and short, and that he’s hitting third in the Twins lineup. The Twins are well off expectations from back in the spring so maybe the team can turn things around in the second half making Escobar a good trade target.
Peraza is hardly a household name but he is somebody who can help your fantasy team. He is second on the team in runs (43), stolen bases (14) and fifth in average (.274). He leads the team in at-bats and is only 24 years old.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge pick up but take the opportunity to add stolen bases and runs to boost those categories. Having Joey Votto (who still hasn’t hit this season), Scooter Gennett (.331 average) and Eugenio Suarez in the lineup gives Peraza the opportunity to not only score runs, but also steal bags.
Let’s face it, who is going to pump fastballs to Votto pitch after pitch to keep Peraza in check at first? Yeah, that is a recipe for disaster, so Peraza should have plenty of advantageous opportunities to run on off-speed pitches.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
The Reds won 9 out of their last 10, are still in last place, but are starting to hit the ball and score runs. They came off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs and took a series from the Atlanta Braves. Like Escobar, Peraza gives a fantasy player multi-position eligibility and contributes stolen bases and runs. Hopefully you have some power to trade for this guy. I think he’s going to keep putting up numbers and at his current value is a steal (pun intended).
Descalso is a true utility player and he’s generally available. Descalso is owned in only 26% of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.
He’s not going to give you huge numbers but given the other free agent options in most leagues, his 41 runs driven in are fourth behind some big hitters Joey Gallo and Adam Duvall. The number that makes Descalso a better bet is the fact he’s struck out 60 times. Gallo by contrast has struck out 118 times.
Descalso should get consistent at-bats thanks to his versatility in the field. He’s not going to be a guy you’d want to run out there every day but he isn’t a horrible fill in either.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
I appreciate guys who are versatile and with Descalso able to do pretty much everything, he’s a guy that can help, or at least spot start, in your lineup a couple times a week. And, he is available in most leagues for nothing.
This time of year around here, in Omaha, Nebraska, is College World Series time. Eight of the best Division I college teams descend on Omaha for a chance at a National Championship. It’s always great to see the fans not only from different schools, but also different parts of the country bring their passion for their team into the heartland.
What’s better is the atmosphere. Often times, we get caught up in football traditions like Camp Randall’s, “Jump Around” and the, “Tunnel Walk” at Nebraska, but baseball has their own as well. Seeing older fans chant and the players in the dugout having fun is what the College World Series and baseball is all about.
It’s sad that we as a society sometimes feel it necessary to take the fun out of the game, suppressing these traditions in the name of, “good sportsmanship”. Very rarely is it kids doing these things. I’m 44, purposely heckling an opponent. Fans are keeping themselves mentally in the game and supporting their team at the same time.
We tell kids to play the game for the fun of it but then take the fun away because a small group is offended by traditions they don’t really understand. The College World Series is what is good about college and baseball and I’m proud to say it’s in my neck of the woods.