Fantasy Baseball Pickups: John Hicks and others to add

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/det" data-ylk="slk:Detroit Tigers">Detroit Tigers</a>’ <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/10059/" data-ylk="slk:John Hicks">John Hicks</a> highlights this week’s look at fantasy baseball pickups (AP Photo).
Detroit TigersJohn Hicks highlights this week’s look at fantasy baseball pickups (AP Photo).

John Hicks: He’s locked in as Detroit’s everyday first baseman now that Miguel Cabrera is out for the season with a torn biceps tendon (suffered during a swing and miss), even hitting in the middle of the lineup. Hicks entered Saturday batting .301 with six homers over 163 at bats, and it can’t be understated he’s catcher eligible. He held his own as a rookie last season and currently sports a 120 wRC+. Buster Posey leads all catchers with a 121 wRC+ this season, while Willson Contreras is second at 119. Hicks already ranks as a top-10 fantasy catcher this year in a modest 163 ABs. He’s increased his launch angle, and Comerica is an underrated hitter’s park. Now as a regular in a good spot and catcher eligible (while playing the much easier first base position), Hicks should be owned in more than 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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Eric Thames: He’s back from a torn thumb ligament that sidelined him six weeks that hopefully won’t have any residual effects. Jesus Aguilar has hit well this season, but Milwaukee will likely platoon at first base for now, with Thames seeing the majority of starts against righties, whom he posted a 147 wRC+ against last season (ideally they find a way to get both bats in the lineup). Thames was off to a great start in 2018 before suffering the injury, and he’s batting leadoff Saturday, so even if he’s not going to play against lefties and with last season’s second half slump in mind, he should still be added in every league in which he’s somehow still available. Since joining Milwaukee, Thames has 44 homers/steals over 539 at bats, is seemingly getting better and gets the benefit of a park that’s increased home runs for left-handers by 31 percent over the past three seasons, with only Yankee Stadium greater over that span.

Manuel Margot: He entered the season as a popular sleeper but was hitting just .217/.281/.320 as recently as June 10, and he’s been caught during each of his past three stolen base attempts. But Margot’s bat has picked up of late, as he has three multi-hit games over his last four contests, and he’s available in more than 70 percent of leagues thanks to the horrible start to the year that can partially be blamed on wrist/rib injuries. Margot had 30 homers/steals in fewer than 500 at bats as a rookie in 2017, stole 30 bases in fewer than 125 games in Triple-A the season before, plays strong defense that helps keep him in the lineup and is one of the fastest players in baseball, so he’s worth adding if you need SB help (and if you need HR help, add teammate Franchy Cordero, who’s due to come off the DL soon).

Joey Lucchesi: He’s ready to return from the disabled list (he tossed four hitless innings during a recent rehab start) and was impressing before going down with a non-arm injury (hip), posting a 3.23 ERA with a 48:15 K:BB ratio over 47.1 innings during his rookie campaign. Lucchesi’s 10.5 SwStr% would rank in the top-35 among starters if he qualified, and he’s available in 70 percent of leagues still.

Zach Eflin: He’s been a pleasant surprise through seven starts, posting a 3.63 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with a 40:10 K:BB ratio over 39.2 innings. Thanks in part to getting a knee issue fully fixed, Eflin is now throwing harder than ever and has greatly increased his K%, so don’t hold his past ugly numbers at the MLB level too much against him. Eflin is owned in just 20 percent of leagues, but that number should start increasing soon (depending on Saturday’s outing).

Seth Lugo: He gave up five runs during an outing in Arizona on Friday, but that came with a 7:1 K:BB ratio and possibly made it likelier you can grab him in your league. I wrote about Lugo earlier this week and still feel he’s well worth adding if he’s somehow available.

Freddy Peralta: It sounds like the rookie is going to get recalled and start Tuesday. For more on the young righty who struck out 13 batters in Coors Field during his MLB debut last month, Scott Pianowski has you covered.

Alen Hanson/Pablo Sandoval: If you’re searching for help in deeper leagues, both are looking at increased playing time with Evan Longoria sidelined indefinitely with a fractured hand. Hanson has been a revelation this season, hitting .320/.358/.653 with five homers and three steals. He’s not this good, but given his defensive flexibility and the general lack of options in San Francisco, Hanson, who routinely put up 30+ SB seasons in the minors, should once again resemble a regular like he did when Joe Panik was shelved. Sandoval, meanwhile, is remarkable to even be mentioning. He’s now hit 10 homers over 281 at bats since rejoining SF last year (in a much tougher hitter’s park) after totaling 14 long balls in 575 at bats with Boston and has suddenly become extremely patient.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy BehrensDalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

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