10 Under-the-Radar Waiver Wire Pickups (Fantasy Baseball)

May 19, 2017
David Phelps

David Phelps will move into the rotation soon and should be picked up now before his ownership rises

Oh Freddie, why did you have to get hurt? In case you missed it, the early MVP candidate is out for a couple months after getting tagged by a pitch that broke his wrist. The truth is, you’re not “replacing” Freddie Freeman’s production unless you own Ryan Zimmerman as well. In that case, I sure hope you’re in first place. For the rest of the unlucky ones who are left scrambling to fill the massive hole he leaves, we’re going to have to scrounge through the waiver wire (or hope we can swing a trade) and make things happen. Of course, Freeman isn’t the only one who has been shelved this season so we’re going to need to do some work.

The waiver wire, unfortunately, is not some list filled with ideal replacements. Things are not always clear cut. In some cases, you may be deciding between one or two guys. In other cases, you have no clue who to pick up. Regardless which bucket you fall into, we’ve asked our featured pundits below to lend a hand by naming their top under-the-radar pickups that should be available in most leagues.

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Q1. What one hitter should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 25% of Leagues?

Domingo Santana (RF – MIL): 21% Owned
“I was a Santana fan coming into the season, and I’m surprised to see him only 21 percent owned considering his solid numbers to date. With a .278/.366/.452 batting line as well as five homers and four steals, he can help fantasy owners in virtually any format. He has a decent shot at posting a 20/15 season with a decent average before all is said and done, even if he’s not a .270 hitter all season.”
R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Justin Smoak (1B – TOR): 15% Owned
“I think it’s time we give Smoak a little credit. Sure, he’s burned us all before – over and over for me – but his K rate is way down and there doesn’t seem to be much flukiness involved in his early-season power. He’s got an everyday job. How long are we going to hold his failed prospectdom against him?”
John Halpin (Fox Sports)

Justin Bour (1B – MIA): 14% Owned
“It was a tough day for Freddie Freeman owners yesterday, as they learned that their first baseman will be on the shelf for the next 10 weeks. While this is a huge loss, I believe I have a solution. My solution is to pick up Justin Bour. In his last 47 plate appearances, he’s boasting a .529 wOBA and 59.4 hard%. He’s on fire and is in the Marlins’ lineup every day.”
Nick Rodriguez (Fantasy Guru)

Tommy Joseph (1B – PHI): 17% Owned
“A number of hot-hitting players who are under the 25% ownership threshold catch my eye including a quietly improving Byron Buxton and a power-binging Josh Bell, but today’s focus will be on a resurgent Tommy Joseph who’s owned in just 17% of standard leagues. Joseph struggled miserably out of the gates, looking like a long shot to even sniff the solid .263-21-47 line he put up in just 107 games in 2016. Since the calendar flipped to May, however, Joseph has found his stroke, batting .383/.473/.830 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 11 RBIs in his past 15 games. Joseph is averaging a strikeout per game through the season’s first month and a half but he’s coupled that with an increased walk rate and has shown improvements versus right-handed pitching after spending most of last season in a platoon with Ryan Howard. Joseph’s turnaround was much needed as Rhys Hoskins applies pressure with a strong performance at Triple-A, but as long as Tommy keeps hitting, he’ll see plenty of at-bats.”
Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Trey Mancini (LF/DH – BAL): 15% Owned
“Mancini is somehow still sitting out there in 85% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues despite being the fastest player in MLB history to 10 career homers. While he may never end up leading the league in homers, his plus power is legitimate and 30 isn’t out of the question. Typically with these type of power hitters, you’ll take a hit in batting average, but not with Mancini. Rather, the polished 25-year-old rookie was a career .300 hitter in the minors so fantasy owners should expect him to hit at least .270.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. What pitcher should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 30% of Leagues?

David Phelps (SP/RP – MIA): 5% Owned
“I’m going deep on you guys here, but only because I actually think he is the best player available in this range of ownership. David Phelps is owned in less than 10% of leagues (up from 1% last week) but that number may soar to 50% within the next two weeks. Since the start of last season, Phelps has 136 Ks in just 106 IPs to go with a 2.62 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Even if he takes a 25% hit on all those numbers when he moves to the rotation this weekend, that is still a strong fantasy performer.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Junior Guerra (SP – MIL): 13% Owned
“Guerra is nearing a return, and while I wouldn’t be interested in throwing him right into my rotation when he’s activated, he was excellent last season and is worth a spot on the bench to see if he can replicate that success over his first month back. I wouldn’t expect another season with a 2.87 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, but even with some regression he should be worth starting most weeks, and at the very least when facing good matchups in the National League.”
R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Luis Perdomo (SP/RP – SD): 5% Owned
“If you’re in a real deep league looking for a starter, I love the idea of picking up Perdomo. This season, the 24-year-old is sporting an impressive 2.86 SIERA, 70.5 GB% and 23.2 Hard%. I’m honestly not sure which number I’m most fascinated by, but just know they all made my jaw drop. This kid’s numbers are impressive this season and I also like the fact that he has delivered a quality start in each of his last four outings.”
Nick Rodriguez (Fantasy Guru)

Felipe Rivero (RP – PIT): 13% Owned
“I don’t like most of the low-owned starters – to be honest, I’d rather stream them. So, we look to relief pitchers. Tommy Kahnle and Felipe Rivero, but I’m going to go with Rivero as a strong ERA/WHIP/K reliever who could become a closer not too far down the road. Tony Watson’s control issues suggest that problems could be ahead, and Rivero will be ready to step in.”
John Halpin (Fox Sports)

Archie Bradley (SP/RP – ARI): 14% Owned
“Let’s put things simply here: pitching has been a wasteland in 2017. If your pitching hasn’t been flat out bad, it’s probably banged up (unless of course, you are a happy Chris Sale owner). While I would love to point you to the fantasy ace sitting on your waiver wire, today, I will encourage you to get a little creative in filling the gaps and give former top-prospect Archie Bradley a look. Bradley has thrived in a relief role so far this season, racking up a 1.37 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 27 strikeouts over 19.2 innings pitched. Though he’s not getting saves (yet?), Bradley is providing a nice little boost in the ratios and with an excellent K-rate. Couple Bradley with one or two other high-K relief arms like Joe Smith, Tommy Kahnle or Brad Hand, and you can provide some serious (and cheap) help to an ailing, ineffective pitching staff.”
Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Thank you to the experts for taking the time to name their under-the-radar pickups for owners out there. Got thoughts on the picks? Feel free to leave a comment below and be sure to listen to our latest episode below.

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