This summer, FantasyAces.com is turning up the heat with its $250,000 World Baseball Championship. 20 qualifiers will enjoy a 3-night oceanfront vacation in Southern California for the live final at Angel Stadium. So, enter the next FAWBC qualifier and take a swing at this once-in-a-lifetime DFS experience and the $100,000 grand prize!
You might want to take a closer look at Randal Grichuk before the rest of your power-starved opponents begin to glance toward the Cardinals outfielder. Granted, we dedicated a few words to him a couple of weeks ago, shortly after Matt Holliday’s hamstring chose to take much of the summer off, and while Grichuk was more of a play for deeper mixed league owners, his recent surge has now made him an option for standard leagues.
Grichuk has slugged .571 with a .870 OPS this month, as nine of his 17 hits have been of the extra base variety (three doubles, two triples and four homers) while increasing his batting average to .278. Currently owned in 17 percent of polled leagues, Grichuk has become a fixture in the Cardinals lineup and looks to be on the outer edge of breaking out.
The power numbers are legit, as Grichuk swatted 47 homers in the minors from 2012-14. There is also a speed element to his game, evidenced by the 33 stolen bases Grichuk recorded in the same three-year span. He has two swipes thus far, and while no one should expect Grichuk to lead the revival of the Runnin’ Redbirds (my God, what a fun team that was to watch. Chicks may have dug the long ball, but women would swoon for the return of the stolen base in its 1980s form), but there’s a reasonable shot at 8-10 steals if he stays in the lineup.
Grichuk is a pull hitter (54 percent of his batted balls are intimate with the left field line) whose game is putting the ball up in the air and let come what may. While four out of five doctors suggest this doesn’t work well in Busch Stadium, again, keep in mind that Grichuk should be able to defy the odds with his speed (his four triples are Exhibit A, your Honor). While he strikes out at an uneasy clip of 30.1 percent, Fantasy owners can take solace in acquiring Grichuk in that even as his .286 isolated power average dips a bit, it won’t fall too far to neuter the pop in his bat. One can also expect Grichuk’s .377 BABIP is going to fall faster than the price of pogs on E-Bay, yet, again, his power numbers will hold up.
Daily Fantasy leaguers have to love that Grichuk has been a bargain, as he was valued at just $4,250 on Fantasyaces.com on Wednesday. I’d expect that his price will continue to take a slow climb upward as Grichuk continues to adjust to becoming an everyday player. He’s averaging 2.64 points per game at Fantasy Aces, yet had an 18.25 point outing against the Phillies on Father’s Day less than 24 hours after hitting Philly pitching for 9.75 points. He’s going to be streaky, yet could be a stealth play, especially at home, where Grichuk sports a slash line of .327/.346/.571 with an OPS of .917.
Grichuk may not be the player you want to wheel out on your team daily, yet he’s shown enough to merit consideration as a bench player with upside. He’s what I’d like to call a Monday/Thursday player in that if the Cards are playing on an otherwise light schedule on either of those days, Grichuk would make a good plug-in whenever Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen has the day off. As we inch toward July it’s players like Grichuk who come out of waiver wire purgatory and deliver. He’s a low-risk play that could result in a much higher reward.
We built this column on overlooked and unappreciated players, so as we move forward, let’s celebrate the 30th anniversary of this (yipes: I was about to become a high school freshman in a new city and had just developed what could only be described as my first “I think I kinda like this girl” moment when this came out). Don’t call us irresponsible or write us off the page, at least not until we focus on a few more bargains:
Rajai Davis, OF, Tigers: Consider him the opposite of Grichuk in the power department, yet Davis gets on base (.349 OBP) and can still run at age 34, as his 14 stolen bases will attest. With Anthony Gose failing to bring his bat to the month of June (.161 batting average), Davis is starting to see his name atop the Tigers’ lineup more frequently. With the amount of firepower behind him in the order, you know Davis, owned in 15 percent of polled leagues, will score runs. He looks like a sure bet to eclipse at least 20 steals for a seventh straight season, which means Davis is a sound play for those lacking in the stolen base department.
Matt Wisler, P, Braves: Living up to his status as the organization’s second-ranked farmhand, Wisler debuted last Friday with a gem of an outing, scattering six hits and allowing just one run in a win over the Mets. Already at 12 percent ownership in polled leagues, Wisler isn’t a strikeout artist, yet knows how paint inside the lines. With Julio Tehran, Shelby Miller, Mike Foltynewicz and Williams Perez already in fold, the addition of Wisler has Braves fans wistful about the potential of this rotation and wondering whether it can develop similar to the great Atlanta rotation of the 90s. Wisler is a definite must-grab in all formats and should be an intriguing carrot to dangle in keeper/dynasty league trades.
Chris Parmalee, 1B/OF, Orioles: The one-time first round pick of the Twins made a lasting first impression on his new organization when he accounted for five hits — including three homers — in his first 11 ABs with the big club. He has cooled off since, but the Orioles have continued to put him in the lineup against right-handers. Owned in 13 percent of polled leagues, you have to like Parmalee’s chances to remain a viable Fantasy option, more so considering how the O’s have gotten mileage out of the likes of Steve Pearce, Travis Snider and Nolan Reimold the past couple of seasons. Parmalee is just under the radar for now, yet is probably another hot stretch away from more serious consideration in standard leagues.
Derek Dietrich, 2B/3B, Marlins: I’ve always been intrigued by Dietrich, who is only 25 despite making me feel like he’s been on my radar since 2005. The injury to Martin Prado opened another opportunity for Dietrich, currently owned in three percent of polled leagues. Six of his first eight hits were for extra bases (three homers), which explains the 1.128 OPS the former Georgia Tech star has amassed in 33 ABs. Dietrich’s power is real, as he is capable of hitting 18-20 homers a season if given the opportunity, but the problem is that he’s a .225 career hitter in 400 big-league trips to the plate. The Marlins appear to be heading nowhere (again) this summer, so it wouldn’t hurt them to give Dietrich an extended look. At best, you could be looking at an NL version of Luis Valbuena, which should scare off any owners in need of average while offering an interesting play for daily Fantasy players in all formats.
Roberto Osuna, P, Blue Jays: The regime change in the Jays’ bullpen occurred on Monday, as Osuna fanned five of the seven Rays he faced en route to recording his first career save. If you’re not on the Osuna bandwagon, there’s still room considering he’s owned in just under 14 percent of polled leagues. He’s still too young to buy a belt of booze, but the 20-year-old comes strapped with a fastball he can dial up to 98 mph along with a potentially devastating 87 mph changeup. Osuna entered Wednesday with a 2.10 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP while striking out 40 batters in 34.1 innings of work, numbers which indicate that at the very least, he deserves a chance to close shop up north.
Nathan Karns, P, Rays: Endurance isn’t his game, as Karns has failed to go beyond the seventh inning in nine of his first ten starts. However, he has done a good job in his last three starts, allowing just two earned runs in 17.1 innings of work. Owned in 19 percent of polled leagues, Karns has a 3.53 ERA and a respectable 1.24 WHIP this season while striking out just under a batter per inning (8.2 K/9). He’s more effective on the road (2.25 ERA, compared to 4.24 at the Trop), a neat little thing to remember for daily Fantasy players.