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Fantasy baseball: Examining Chase Headley’s hot start

New York Yankees' Chase Headley hits a solo

New York Yankees' Chase Headley hits a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the seventh inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, April 10, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Chase Headley had a dreadful start last season, and both Yankees fans and his fantasy owners felt the pain.

It took until May 12 for him to record an extra base hit — a home run off the Royals’ Ian Kennedy — and his average hovered at or below the Mendoza Line well into May.

Yes, it’s only seven games into this season, but Headley’s been singing a much different tune so far. Through Monday’s home opener, he has a .375/.483/.667 slash line with two home runs, three RBIs and seven runs.

Beating the shift has been the key so far this season for Headley, who started strong with a 3-for-4 game in an Opening Day loss to the Rays. The switch hitter, batting lefthanded, beat the Rays’ shift for all three hits, including a bunt single.

In his first five seasons, Headley only faced a shift in 155 plate appearances, according to FanGraphs. Since 2015, opposing defenses have used the shift on him in 391 plate appearances. He’s a .308 career hitter against the shift, and so far this season he’s 6-for-12. If opponents continue to shift on him as a lefthander, and Headley continues to take hits as they come, it could be the spark he needs.

But Headley’s a long way from his 2012 season when he finished fifth in NL MVP voting after hitting .286 with 31 home runs, 95 runs and a league-high 115 RBIs with the Padres. That season’s an outlier for Headley, who will turn 33 on May 9. He’s a career .264 hitter who’s averaged 15 home runs, 68 RBIs and 72 runs per season.

Headley’s average draft position in 2017 was 471.53, according to RotoWire’s ADP, making him mostly undrafted. As of Monday evening, he was available in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 83.4 percent of ESPN leagues.

The Yankees are averaging 4.71 runs per game, which helps Headley’s value even though he has mostly hit out of the No. 7 spot. Headley has at least 500 plate appearances in his two full seasons with the Yankees, and he doesn’t have much competition at third, so as long as he’s healthy, he’ll get plenty of playing time.

So, is Headley worth adding? It depends on the league. In standard 12-team leagues, he’s maybe worth adding to your watch list. In deeper leagues, he could be a serviceable addition.


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