Labor Day is officially behind us, and that means the fantasy season is beginning to wind down. This week, we’ll take a look at two Mets — one a defensive standout who’s been contributing with the bat lately, the other a newcomer to The Show — who could offer assistance to owners in NL-only leagues.
Juan Lagares / OF / New York Mets
3% Yahoo / 3.2% ESPN / 11% CBS ownership
Lagares finds his way into the lineup every day, though highlight reel viewers know it owes more to the center fielder’s golden glove than it does his career 86 wRC+. The good news, however, is that the 25-year-old has been stinging the ball for more than a month now, compiling a .331 wOBA since July 28, and there’s more to substantiate this hot streak than his first half, in which some BABIP luck fueled a .293 batting average.
Like teammates Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud, Lagares has benefited from a more aggressive approach at the plate, swinging more often and making better contact on balls both inside and outside the strike zone. Jumping on his pitch has helped Lagares significantly increase his line drive rate, which, coupled with a cutback in his fly balls, legitimizes the .330 BABIP he’s produced over that stretch. He’s also contributed five steals during the last month, a good sign for a guy who swiped 21 bags as recently as two years ago in Double-A.
Lagares is by no means a complete hitter, offering little power and a low walk rate, but lately he’s been batting atop the Mets’ order as the team desperately searches for a leadoff hitter. That opportunity alone would make Lagares an interesting option in fantasy, but the improved results at the plate make him a viable NL-only outfield candidate.
Dilson Herrera / 2B / New York Mets
1% Yahoo / 0% ESPN / 6% CBS ownership
Who says there aren’t advantages to being 10 games under .500? Daniel Murphy’s calf injury, which could spell the end of his 2014 season, gives the Mets an opportunity to give the raw but talented Herrera an extended look at second base, as the team has promoted the 20-year-old all the way from Double-A. Acquired from the Pirates last year in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh, Herrera is off to a good start, producing four hits in his first 15 plate appearances, including his first big league homer on Monday.
Plenty has been written about Herrera’s power potential despite his small frame, but even if the home runs don’t pour in this month for a guy making the majors well ahead of schedule, he might be able to provide some speed for fantasy owners after stealing 23 bases across two minor league levels this year. His plate discipline also improved significantly in 2014, and the speed that translated to high BABIPs in the minors should do the same for him in New York, even considering major league fielding.
Raw is definitely the word here, and hitting at the bottom of the Mets’ order with the likes of Wilmer Flores protecting him won’t do Herrera’s fantasy value any favors. But unless he shows that he’s thoroughly overmatched, Herrera, who also has shortstop eligibility in a host of CBS and Yahoo formats, should see his name penciled into the lineup card every day for at least the next two weeks. Given his upside, he has immediate value in many NL-only leagues.
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