Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12
Welcome back to the weekly piece that looks to shine a light on some under-owned names who are worth an add given their recent performances. Whether you feel like the season has just started or that it’s been dragging on for eons now, the truth is that the halfway pole is roughly 10 days away. That means every single one of you needs to take a hard look in the mirror about how risky you need to be and how patient you can afford to be with your struggling stars. No matter where you stand, these names should be able to offer some assistance in your quest for a fantasy title moving forward in 2017.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through June 20.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Yangervis Solarte (2B/3B – SD): 29% owned
Solarte has slugged six homers with 13 RBIs and a .340 average over the past two weeks, and his seven June taters are a huge leap from hitting just three homers combined between April and May. He’s breathed life into his power metrics by increasing his pull rate by over 20 percent and his hard-hit rate by 16 percent compared to May. While he’s more of a 15 percent HR/FB rate guy compared to this 30 percent form, the power surge is more than deserved given his swings.
Carlos Gomez (OF – TEX): 27% owned
Gomez may have been dropped in many shallower formats when he was on the shelf in this, the year of running out of DL slots. However, he’s logged a hit in each of his first four games back with at least one run scored in each (five total) with two homers and eight RBIs from the middle-third of the order. With power and speed to his game, he should be owned in far more leagues when seeing the ball well.
Wilson Ramos (C – TB): 22% owned
The catcher position hasn’t yielded a single top-100 bat in Yahoo’s 5×5 scoring format and boasts just five bats within the top 250. Enter, Ramos. The 29-year-old, who has missed all of the season thus far while recovering from ACL surgery, has looked solid at Triple-A in his rehab assignment (.294/.368/.529) and could return this week. Even if he doesn’t quite live up to his 2016 numbers (.307/.354/.496,) fantasy owners should find a top-10 option worth rolling out in most leagues.
Jason Hammel (SP – KC): 14% owned
When May ended, Hammel had a poor 1-6 record with a 6.18 ERA to his name through 10 starts. All appeared lost for the ex-Cubbie, but June has been another story. In four trips to the hill, he’s posted a crisp 2.30 ERA with 19 strikeouts against just one walk over 27 1/3 innings, as his K-BB percent has doubled from May. The 34-year-old has been more than serviceable before, and it wasn’t just because he was on the Cubs. With the Royals hitting much better of late as well, fantasy owners should give him a whirl and see what happens.
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 22% owned
While Lugo’s second start didn’t go as well as his first, he’s now posted quality starts in each of his two 2017 starts with a 2.63 ERA in his sails. The 27-year-old won’t light the world afire with his strikeouts (11 in 13 2/3 IP), but that rate is more than enough to make him interesting if he can keep his ratios rather low. Pitching the NL East isn’t exactly what it used to be, but after posting a 2.67 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last season, his is an arm that should be scooped up in more leagues as he finds his groove after a late start to the year.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF – TEX): 18% owned
I know outfield usually presents the highest bar to meet, but Choo checks off so many boxes that I can’t see how he’s still so under-owned. He’s hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and has tagged six homers with three steals and a .284 average over his last 20 games. He hits either leadoff or second in a solid Texas lineup and has a track record of performing well when healthy — which he is — and yet here we are. I realize 34-year-old’s with rather established ceilings don’t move the needle as much, but this should be a layup.
Alex Meyer (SP – LAA): 11% owned
Meyer has always possessed strikeout upside, but it’s always come with shaky control that has limited his ability to work deeply and effectively into games. So, what does he do? He goes and strikes out nine Royals while walking just one alongside two hits over six scoreless frames in his most recent outing. Even with a poor 5.87 BB/9 on the season, his 10.76 K/9 and healthy 47.4 percent ground ball rate have helped him allow more than three earned in an outing just once out of nine appearances. He’s also gone six innings in three of his last four times toeing the rubber, meaning fantasy owners looking for some Ks should make the add.
Matt Davidson (3B – CWS): 15% owned
Davidson already has 15 homers through just 196 plate appearances this season thanks to a few hot streaks seeing him go absolutely nuts. The 26-year-old most recently cracked five homers in a six-game span starting on June 12, but that followed a 10-game homer-less stretch in which he went just 5-for-36 (.139) with 21(!) strikeouts. Know that you’re chasing lighting in a bottle, but his power pedigree is certainly there.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Ben Gamel (OF, SEA): 8% owned
Gamel first really put things together at Triple-A in 2015 (for the Yankees) but flopped in a small 57 plate-appearance sample in the big leagues in 2016. Things have changed in ’17, as the lefty has turned in an overall .344/.408/.462 slash line and is currently on an 11-game hitting streak. He’s regularly hitting leadoff for the Mariners and is helping offset his lack of real pop or speed (he has two of each on the year) by making such phenomenal contact. Being reliant on one tool can lead to a loss of fantasy value rather quickly so do keep an eye on his swing, but this is a wave worth riding.
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF – CLE): 5% owned
Chisenhall has gone 9-for-22 with three homers and 13 RBIs over just his last five games and his overall .328 ISO on the season is easily a career-high mark. He doesn’t seem to be showing any ill effects from the recent concussion and his .962 OPS is absolutely worth a look in deeper formats. An apparent disciple of the “swing up and hard” group, his fly ball and hard-hit rates are both up roughly 10 percent from last season with tremendous results. This is one of those approach changes that can hold up over the course of a year.
Brandon Finnegan (SP – CIN): 7% owned | Homer Bailey (SP – CIN): 2% owned
Both of these rehabbing Reds are set to come back shortly, as Bailey made what should be his final rehab start on Monday night — spinning 5 2/3 solid frames with two earned and six strikeouts. Meanwhile, Finnegan scattered just one hit and one walk over three scoreless innings on Sunday for Double-A Pensacola. Both pitchers are worth stashing in 12-team leagues, though I can see the hesitation on Bailey given his recent inability to stay healthy. That said, his rehab outings have passed the eye test and if he shines in his big-league debut then you know that ownership rate is spiking as everyone wonders whether his 2012-14 form has returned.
Steve Pearce (1B/2B – OF): 4% owned
Pearce has gone 5-for-10 with two doubles, a homer, three runs scored and five RBIs in his first three games off of the DL thus far and may finally be putting a slow start to 2017 behind him. That is an incredibly small sample, but with Toronto’s offense finally making some noise lately, getting a piece of that in deeper formats — let alone one with eligibility at three positions — might do a fantasy owner good.
Gregor Blanco (OF – ARI): 1% owned
Blanco has hit safely in five straight games and is .324 since missing a few games in early June, logging two doubles, a triple, a homer, 13 runs scored, three RBIs and four steals in just 41 plate appearances in the 10 games since. With A.J. Pollock leaving his most recent rehab game with quad tightness, it seems Blanco will likely have a job hitting leadoff for at least the rest of June. Considering the potent lineup — highlighted by the 13 runs scored — and his own speed, the 33-year-old should be of use in plenty of deeper formats.
Hector Velazquez (SP – BOS): 1% owned
Velazquez has allowed just two runs in his 8 2/3 innings in relief of the injured Brian Johnson, with the latest effort being a start on Monday against the Royals in which he walked none and struck out three over 5 1/3 frames. It isn’t much and he may not make more than one additional start, but the 28-year-old has posted a 1.29 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 49 Triple-A innings and could be worth a spot start to those in deeper leagues.