by Will Overton
The Tampa Bay Rays have been better than expected, hovering right around the .500 mark for the season. That doesn’t speak to their fantasy appeal, as you can find many of the Rays sitting on the waiver wire. Currently only two hitters are owned in over 50% of leagues, Wilson Ramos and C.J. Cron, with everyone else available in at least three-quarters of leagues.
The question is, are we missing out on anyone? Specifically, is there any value to be found in the infield? We’re going to break them down separately, but one thing to note is three of these four guys are eligible at multiple positions and eligible for both middle infield and corner infield spots (which can be a big boost for your bench).
Let’s now look at each of them specifically and their potential fantasy value:
Daniel Robertson – 2B, 3B, SS: Robertson is the highest owned player we’ll be breaking down, sitting at 22% owned on ESPN. He is also the guy who has rightly earned the multi-position eligibility, having started 10+ games at each of his three positions. More recently Robertson is settling in at 2B, but still covers others positions based on injury needs.
His ownership percentages are most likely buoyed by his hot start where he hit .355 for the month. May has been a bit of an evening out period, as he is hitting just .217. Robertson does have a little bit of power with 5 HR, good for a HR every 25 AB, which is pretty solid for a middle infielder.
I don’t think he is the best of the bunch and I do believe his upside is somewhat limited, but he’s solid enough and does enough things that with his position flexibility he has value in deep 12 team leagues, and 14 team and deeper as well.
Matt Duffy – 3B, SS: I wrote about Duffy recently when we were talking about guys to grab for stolen bases, but then he got hurt and missed some time, but he is back to being the regular third baseman for the Rays. He is off to a solid start with a .313 average and .354 OBP, but the counting stats don’t jump off the page the way they should for someone hitting in upper half of the lineup.
Duffy has always been a guy considered to be promising since his rookie season in San Francisco in 2015 when he hit 12 HR and had 12 SB while hitting .295. Injuries have kept him from coming close to replicating these numbers, but the upside is still there (with even more upside in the stolen base department). I don’t think it’s far fetched that he could steal 20–25 bases, and even though he has just two this season I anticipate that number going up (especially if the Rays start using him in one of the top two spots in the order).
I like Duffy for his consistency and speed upside that we haven’t seen tapped into. I would say he deserves a spot in 12 team and deeper leagues.
Brad Miller – 1B, 2B: The Rays find a way to get Brad Miller’s bat into their lineup, even when he isn’t starting at first base (which has become his regular position), seeing time at both 2B and DH. It’s Miller’s 2B eligibility that saves him in fantasy leagues as his numbers wouldn’t be as appealing if he was just a 1B.
He showed off the power two years ago when he hit 30 HR, a very surprising development. Miller regressed last season, as expected, and only had 9 HR in an injury shortened season. So far the has 5 HR and is on pace for between 15–20 long balls, which definitely has value considering the position, but he isn’t bringing much else to the table. It is worth noting that he is getting a trial run at leadoff, but despite his ability to get walks I don’t think the experiment will last too long.
Miller’s value to fantasy owners is dependent on an owners need. If you specifically need a middle infielder and want one with power he is someone you’ll want to consider. On a whole his value is somewhat limited.
Joey Wendle – 2B: This is an interesting one as I always was a bit keen on Wendle in the minors as a nice power/speed option. At 28 this is his first real crack in the big leagues and he’s holding his own with a .288 average, but the power isn’t there just yet with 1 HR. He has shown a little bit of speed with three steals.
There is some concern about playing time as when Adeny Hecchavarria comes back from the DL someone has to be the odd man out. My first guess would be Wendle, but the Rays seem to like what they’re seeing considering they used him at leadoff yesterday.
Wendle holds some allure as I do still think there is some power in there to go with speed and he could be a 15/15 producer. Right now I think he’s best left for deep leagues, 14 teams and deeper, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes the best of this bunch at some point this season.
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