Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

The National League Could Use a DH Right About Now


Ken Rosenthal, followed by Jeff Passan, Joel Sherman, and Jayson Stark, recently reported on negotiations between MLB and the Player's Association, especially regarding the rulebook. One of the most provocative pieces in the overarching story has been the possibility of the designated hitter coming to the National League as soon as this coming season. *cue sad trombone

Rob Manfred squashed that idea, saying it won't happen until 2022 at the earliest when the CBA is negotiated, but this story is a reminder that the DH is coming to the NL eventually. That could lead to a massive domino effect on rosters all over the league and change the landscape of free agency as well.

Now, this is a fantasy baseball article, I promise. We're going to look at three different elements of how a DH would benefit players in the NL this year, for current free agents, players on existing rosters, and the teams in the best shape to benefit.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Free Agent Market

Several hitters whose best defensive days are behind them (or were never in front of them) would love to see a DH rule instituted right now: Evan Gattis, Lucas Duda, Adam Jones, and Carlos Gonzalez. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado then become more palatable to NL teams with the sudden need for an extra hitter.

Yes, presumably people would lose jobs too. The good news--for you, not for them--is those are relief pitchers who weren't fantasy relevant anyway.

Gonzalez, Duda, Jones, and Gattis were neatly almost-average hitters in 2018: their wRC+ were 96, 97, 98, and 99, respectively. Gattis is entering his age-32 season and the others 33. Gattis also hit 25 home runs last year in just 451 PA which also featured a .232 BABIP that is 34 points below his career mark. Given that performance plus his age, as well as the fact that he did it as a full-time DH for the Astros, make Gattis likely to be the biggest beneficiary were the DH to come to the NL. What would that do for his 609 ADP? Could it bring him all the way up to Adam Jones range (304)? Carlos Gonzalez is between them at 484, and Duda is a complete afterthought at 739.

Gattis seems like the only one of the four free agents who would become fantasy relevant, even though he'd be hurt by likely utility-only eligibility.

As for Harper and Machado, they'll be fantasy relevant no matter what. Doubling the DH just expands their potential market.

 

Players Who Would Gain

Even though 15 full-time hitting spots would need to be filled, there probably aren't 15 free agents out who would be signed to take those roles. Some teams would be able to use currently-rostered players in a way they otherwise would not.

The first player profile that comes to mind is Ryan Zimmerman. Not only has Zimmerman been a defensive liability for years, but even when healthy in 2017 he got several days off in order to preserve that health. The DH would provide a way to keep a player like Zimmerman in the lineup instead of giving him an entire day off. As a player, Zimmerman sort of fits the same profile as the free agents looking for jobs.

Would anyone benefit as a full-time DH that is already on a roster? Given the evidence that hitting without fielding makes the job harder (for example, see Jeff Sullivan here in February 2018), perhaps not. Zimmerman is one type who might do it. But part of Zimmerman's deal is injury proneness that forces the team to start him less often.

So what about plain bad fielders?

Nine NL fielders last year posted -10 or worse by Fangraphs Def. They were: Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Derek Dietrich, Josh Bell, Eric Hosmer, Jose Martinez, Paul Goldschmidt, Ian Desmond, and Charlie Blackmon. Not all would necessarily be more valuable as a full-time DH, but even small benefits could accrue, such as an extra PA late because they wouldn't need to be pulled for defense in those games in which they did DH.

 

Teams Who Would Gain

A third type of player who would gain from extra DH positions is those on teams with a glut of players that are either possible starters or young guys who need an extra look. There is an obvious overlap between the teams who would benefit and players who would benefit: there are just more plate appearances to go around with a DH, so the players who get those PA benefit. That said, a few teams pop to mind with several hitters and possibly not enough lineup space to go around unless they got an extra hitting spot.

Sticking with the Nationals, if Bryce Harper were actually to return there, then Victor Robles also benefits, because the Nats would no longer necessarily have to trade Adam Eaton to make room for Harper.

Other teams with position player logjams include the Padres and the Mets. Between Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Travis Jankowski, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and their apparent interest in Bryce Harper, the Padres have a lot to work with, and a DH could really help give some of the younger players a larger at-bat sample to prove themselves with. On the other hand, there is also defensive development to worry about. Just because Cordero was their worst defender in a tiny 323-inning sample by DRS and UZR doesn't mean you want to consign him to mostly only hitting by age 25. The Mets, meanwhile, only gave Brandon Nimmo, for example, 115 starts. Jay Bruce may be gone, but Robinson Cano has arrived and Todd Frazier is getting older too. They also still have Yoenis Cespedes.

The Phillies, after the J.T. Realmuto trade, still have room to get Harper or Machado, and a DH would only make them more enticing.

 

Conclusion

It's actually arguable that every team would benefit from a universal DH, and several players as well. The latter is probably why the union wants it. There are several more hitters that, if given the chance with a DH, could prove themselves more valuable than a fringe or specialty reliever.

For fantasy purposes, the first year with a universal DH would be one to keep a particularly close eye on the waiver wire for. As April turns to May, actionable patterns would develop that would not necessarily be apparent in draft season. It's impossible to predict in advance who exactly would get those extra PA and how many, or who would fit in the role and who would be taken out of the right state of mind when not taking the field between plate appearances. Even if there is no DH in 2019, some of the above names and teams will still be important to look at once the DH does arrive. Or perhaps this article will at least help you look at the proper factors if you do try to predict who would do well for themselves given a DH. It does seem like only a matter of time before the DH arrives in the NL, so it's not too early to try and get ready.

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

FAAB Bidding - Week 15 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Week 15 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 15 is here and for those of you that won the first week of your fantasy playoffs, congratulations. If you had a bye week, good luck to you this week. Kicker lives still matter, and three different kickers had 15 or more points last week. Three different kickers outscored Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick... Read More


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Jared Cook has been ruled out of the game after... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 14 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 14 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 14 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss Week 14. Adam Thielen (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Le'Veon Bell... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 14

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More