Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 10
We’re still reeling from the loss of Mike Trout to the injury gods, but true champions can put their head down and continue grinding in the face of all adversity. Or, they just become bitter curmudgeons who remind everyone that their top player is hurt and that every other poor decision they’ve made since is simply a reflection of their terrible luck. Be the former, please. Then you’d have scooped Whit Merrifield and already be in first place!
With over one-third of the season in the books, let’s see what the waiver wire has on the menu.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through June 6.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Lucas Duda (1B – NYM): 23% owned
Duda has 10 homers already, which is great, but that’s about it. He’s only scored 15 runs with 21 RBIs despite 10 long balls in his back pocket thanks to an ailing Mets offense, but the talent and current clean bill of health need to be respected by fantasy owners. With six homers over his last 11 games and a robust .975 OPS that ranks as the 16th best in MLB out of all hitters with at least 140 plate appearances, he deserves to not be eligible for this column.
Want some sprinkles on your waiver-wire sundae? His 45.5 percent hard-hit rate is also the 11th best in the bigs. I know the team around him isn’t helping, but if things fall in line at all then he could skyrocket. Even if that never happens, what’s wrong with a 30-homer season with a top OPS alongside mediocre counting stats?
Kevin Kiermaier (OF – TB): 26% owned
Kiermaier has already played 59 games and admittedly struggled in a big way to open 2017, but even if we incorporate that early slump into things then he’s still on pace for 20 homers and 25 steals! Okay, but how about we go a little deeper and just check in on his last 25 games. Well, in that case he’s batting .313 with six homers, 14 runs scored, 13 RBIs and is 4-for-6 on steal attempts. This is a guy who can contribute in all five traditional fantasy categories housed within a top-five offense per the wRC+ metric (106), and that means you want to get him on your squad.
Jeff Hoffman (SP – COL): 24% owned
Hoffman may not be long for the Rox rotation thanks to the bevy of young talent that they suddenly boast, but his current 2.61 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 26 Ks through just 20 2/3 MLB innings thus far means you need to pay attention. His is an arm that earned top prospect status for a reason or five, and it’s finally coming to fruition in the bigs right now alongside fellow youngsters Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, and German Marquez.
With Tyler Anderson on the DL (but likely to just miss the minimum) and Jon Gray returning from a stress fracture in his foot in a couple of weeks, Hoffman is going to need to make a big statement in a road start against the defending champs at Wrigley Field on June 10 if he’s to oust someone else from the rotation.
Ty Blach (SP/RP – SF): 24% owned
Blach may not strike many people out, but he’s taken advantage of some good matchups recently to lower his ratios to a healthy 3.24 ERA/1.11 WHIP over 58 1/3 innings this season. His 23 strikeouts over that span aren’t going to win any leagues, but when you pitch a complete-game shutout (as he did on June 2 against the Phillies) then fantasy owners need to perk up. Yes, it was against the Phillies, but still. A very low 2.01 BB/9 and stellar 50.8 percent ground-ball rate illustrate his ability to locate well in lieu of a true “out pitch” to lean on. He’ll take on the Brewers in Milwaukee on June 7.
Danny Valencia (1B/3B/OF – SEA): 21% owned
Valencia recently tiptoed toward history by getting a hit in nine consecutive plate appearances, but he’s been worth adding in some deeper mixed leagues even before that. Since hitting his first homer of 2017 on April 25, the 32-year-old has turned in a wild .352/.407/.541 triple slash with five homers, 20 runs scored, and 22 RBIs. To be fair, his .409 BABIP over that span will surely hit a wall, but a healthy 37.8 percent hard-hit rate behind it validates much of the good fortune. The greatest luck tends to be manufactured, after all.
Matt Adams (1B/OF – ATL): 12% owned
Adams has now been a Brave for a little over two weeks, and all he’s done for them is bash 10 extra-base hits (four doubles, a triple and five homers) with 12 RBIs in 62 PAs. It’s worth noting that he’s still much better against righties than southpaws, hitting .297 against RHP while going just 2-for-13 against LHP thus far. At least one of those two was a homer! Seriously though, fantasy owners looking for a heavy dose of pop in their CI slot that miss out on Duda should look to Adams. Ideally, one would platoon him away from lefties but even if that can’t be done then you should have a 20-homer bat that gets to hit in the heart of Atlanta’s order.
Jordan Montgomery (SP – NYY): 15% owned
Montgomery’s most recent start marked the first time he’s spun a scoreless outing in the Majors, hanging the Blue Jays out to dry over six strong frames to lower his ERA to 3.67 through 10 starts. With a 3.55 FIP and a stellar 12.6 percent swinging-strike rate in tow, he appears of use to AL-only and 14-team owners. The caveat here is that he calls a hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium home and his most frequent batted ball allowed is a fly ball, which likely helps explain why his home ERA of 4.13 is nearly a full run higher than his road mark of 3.21. He’ll face a homer-happy Orioles team at home next on June 9 if you really want to gamble, but the underlying talent for more with a strikeout per inning is present.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Jorge Bonifacio (OF – KC): 6% owned
Bonifacio socked his eighth homer of the season on Monday night and has really been crushing it since the middle of May. Beginning on May 16, the age-24 rookie has gotten a hit in 15 of his 18 games for a .328 average with six round-trippers. Basically, he’s providing Kansas City with what they had hoped to get in Jorge Soler. Treat him as you would Soler and make the add.
Brian Johnson (SP – BOS): 1% owned
Remember that “complete-game shutout” rule?Well, it was only two weeks ago that Johnson was called up and spun a CGSO of his own in a spot start against the Mariners. With Eduardo Rodriguez on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Johnson could carve out a spot with the big-league ball club if he replicates any bit of that effort against the Tigers at Fenway on June 10 (if he’s fully recovered from his hamstring cramp, which all signs seem to point to.)
Jordy Mercer (SS – PIT): 5% owned
Mercer’s slash line through May 20: .203/.317/.268. With two homers and three failed steal attempts, it’s safe to say there was nothing for fantasy owners to see here.
Mercer’s slash line since May 20: .418/.448/.709. With three homers and just one failed steal attempt, he’s really in a groove here. This is not to say that he’s reinvented himself in the middle of the season at age-30, but sometimes we all just need a hot bat in our lives and Mercer fits the bill.
Jose Iglesias (SS – DET): 2% owned
Recently, ESPN’s Tristan Cockroft tweeted this trivia question:
“Among active players w/250+ PAs, Mike Trout’s .349 career AVG in June leads the way. Who is second, w/.341 AVG in 293 PAs?”
Being the natural genius that I am, I swiftly pointed out that it was indeed Mr. Iglesias.
I’m all for ignoring fluky things and banking on science, but Iglesias then went on to open June with back-to-back three-hit games. I recovered from my existential crisis by noting that the 27-year-old had actually been playing well in May’s final week as well, so it wasn’t just some magical calendar flip. With a .471 BABIP in his sails since May 24 (11 games), Iglesias and his .415 average, five doubles, 11 runs scored and eight RBIs can be of use to fantasy owners looking for a wave to ride.
Trevor Williams (SP/RP – PIT): 2% owned
Williams’ overall 4.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP aren’t going to make anyone consider adding him, but when you look at the 2.83 ERA over his last four starts then you begin to wonder. Apparently, Pittsburgh might be wondering as well. There’s buzz that Williams’ recent surge could be enough to earn him a permanent spot in this rotation even when Jameson Taillon returns, but for now we’ll just worry about his short-term future with a home start against the Marlins on June 10 on tap.