Dietrich, Ramirez, Miller, Hill likely available in most leagues
By Scott Strandberg
Special to MLB.com |
For deep-league fantasy owners, searching for middle-infield solutions could seem like a dire exercise. But the following players, who are widely available in the fantasy domain, may be able to change that.
Derek Dietrich, Marlins: With Dee Gordon suspended through July, Dietrich has a stranglehold on the second-base job in Miami for the next two months. He's been batting leadoff for the most part, although he's moved to the No. 3 spot with Christian Yelich out the past few days. Regardless, he's hitting in the top third of the lineup and carrying a .282/.387/.466 slash line.
The 26-year-old hasn't displayed his home run power yet this year, but fantasy owners shouldn't be fooled by that paltry "2" in the home run column. Dietrich has plenty of pop to get the ball over the fence, and he's contributed seven doubles and three triples to account for his lack of round-trippers thus far.
While his .355 BABIP suggests likely regression in his average, Dietrich should continue to help in OBP leagues thanks to his near-10 percent walk rate -- and the fact that he's strangely adept at being hit by pitches. He's currently tied for the Major League lead in HBP with seven, despite having 40-50 fewer plate appearances than the three players with whom he's tied (Starling Marte, Alex Gordon, Danny Espinosa). This is nothing new for Dietrich, who collected a whopping 28 HBP in 513 plate appearances between Triple-A and the Majors last year. The only full-time Major Leaguer hit by more pitches last year was Anthony Rizzo (30), who received nearly 200 more plate appearances than Dietrich.
Jose Ramirez, Indians: Ramirez made his Major League debut back in 2013, but he's still just 23 years old. The past two seasons told the exact same story for the youngster, as he was shuffled back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors and produced much better numbers at the former level.
This year began with Ramirez bouncing around primarily between left field and third base -- with appearances at second base and shortstop -- and hitting in every spot in the order except third and cleanup. But despite his varying role, Ramirez has provided offensive production that looks an awful lot like his Triple-A stats.
His role has seemingly solidified lately, as he's spent the majority of the past week-and-a-half batting fifth and playing left field. While he's not a big home-run threat -- despite going deep in both games of Monday's doubleheader -- Ramirez is hitting a healthy amount of doubles. Also, the fact that he very rarely strikes out should give him plenty of RBI opportunities batting behind Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli. And while Ramirez is just 2-for-4 on stolen-base attempts this season, his track record suggests a likely uptick in that category, too.
Brad Miller, Rays: Miller started the season in a terrible slump, hitting .185/.254/.354 in April. But May has been a different story entirely, as the 26-year-old owns a .262/.318/.508 slash line this month. Furthermore, he's now entrenched in the No. 2 spot in the Rays' lineup after batting anywhere between sixth and eighth for much of April.
Miller hit 11 homers and swiped 13 bags last year with the Mariners, and he's recorded four round-trippers and two steals since moving to the two-hole on April 26. The 26-year-old still strikes out way too much to maintain a solid batting average, but his respectable combination of power and speed -- paired with his favorable position in the Rays' batting order -- makes him a more intriguing fantasy commodity than his season-to-date .222/.285/.429 slash line suggests.
Aaron Hill, Brewers: Coming off two poor seasons (.289 wOBA in '14, .281 wOBA in '15), the 34-year-old is showing signs of life. Hill is quietly locked in right now, hitting .294/.364/.494 since April 20. He's doing a little bit of everything, recording four homers, two steals, 15 RBI and 13 runs scored in that span. Considering his recent track record -- and his age -- he probably won't keep up this level of production. But riding him while he's hot isn't a bad idea.