Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 4
This is your friendly reminder to take a second and remember that it’s still April. I know these numbers are all we’ve got right now, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played. Don’t be the panicky owner that everyone picks on with lowball offers! Instead, be a genius on the waiver wire and build yourself an empire. As is tradition, we’ll look at players that are owned in 30% or less of leagues. I’m assuming most of you don’t have Teoscar Hernandez, Mallex Smith or Miguel Andujar and Jack Flaherty or Walker Buehler available to you.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through April 23.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
David Dahl (COL – OF): 28% owned
I fully expect this number to be above 30% by Tuesday’s publication, but everyone needs to be aware of a healthy Dahl’s presence in the Major Leagues. Not only is he present, but Bud Black had him hit cleanup in Monday night’s contest (he went 2-for-4)! Surely you can’t be serious?
I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley. With Carlos Gonzalez hurt and Gerardo Parra suspended, Dahl was called up this weekend to fill in. If he hits like he did in 2016, where he posted a .315/.359/.500 slash line with seven homers and five steals in 63 games, then this could be more than a “fill-in” situation. Only four Rockies have a wRC+ north of 80 entering Monday night (Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story are all over 100), with Parra (42) and Ian Desmond (36) the clear laggards.
I realize most are worried about him sticking around, but if you believe in him enough to really want to scoop him then I feel you must believe in him doing enough to plant his flag in the outfield. The upside at Coors is worth too much.
Franchy Cordero (SD – OF): 10% owned
We talked about him last week and despite hitting two homers and swiping a bag since then, his ownership actually went down. I don’t get it. I know he had a 0-for-5 and an off day mixed in there, but have you seen the guy hit? In case you missed it, he launched a 489-foot missile last Saturday — the longest homer of 2018 — before mashing a 456-footer on Monday. He even socked a 116.5 MPH rocket that went straight at Charlie Blackmon’s glove for an out. Talk about bad luck! I guess that’s karma for sort of ruining Tyson Ross’ no-hitter.
His power is Stantonian and his Sprint Speed is in the top-10 for all players at 29.4 ft/sec. His huge strikeout rate (33.3% so far, 44.4% last year in 99 PAs) is the counterweight, but if he can keep that from growing any bigger from its current state then his elite tools will shine in this game. He could “Keon Broxton” you, but it’s absolutely worth it to find out.
Sean Newcomb (ATL – SP): 24% owned
We’re getting to that time of the season where some touts are used up — those who will make the add have done so and the ownership rate reflects it. Newcomb is still way too low. The southpaw’s 28.4% strikeout rate is 21st out of the 97 qualified starters in the game, nestled right in between Luis Severino and Carlos Martinez. His Minor League range fell between 25-30%, so the 25-year-old is simply playing his game. Unfortunately, that also includes bursts of walks (11.6% BB rate), but his 3.39 FIP/xFIP and 3.67 SIERA support the talent. The 1.52 WHIP should dip a bit as his .364 BABIP stands down (.327 last year, usually around .300 in the Minors). Buy the Ks!
Yonder Alonso (CLE – 1B): 24% owned
I realize that Alonso is only batting .225 through his first 78 plate appearances, but the guy also has five homers, 10 runs scored and 13 RBI. He’s floating his value despite a horrid .220 BABIP (it was .302 last season, .299 on his career) because his barrels per plate appearance rate of 13.3 heading into Monday night was good for ninth out of all hitters with 20 batted-ball events. If we raise that minimum to 50 then he becomes sixth. He’s quietly still raking even though I wish his 37.7% fly-ball rate was a bit closer to his 43.2% mark from 2017. Even if he’s a .250-.260 hitter the rest of the way, he can definitely bash 30 homers while topping 80 in the R and RBI departments. Treat him accordingly.
Ervin Santana (MIN – SP): 25% owned
Santana is approaching the first bullpen session of his throwing program, which started two weeks ago. The 35-year-old has posted ERAs of 3.38 and 3.28 over the last two seasons, respectively, and his 22.3% soft-contact rate from 2017 had many buying into the BABIP dip of .245 compared to his .282 career mark. Once healthy, he’ll get to pick on divisional duds Detroit, Kansas City, and the Chicago White Sox. I know DL space is tight, but don’t lose his name.
Chris Stratton (SF – SP): 24% owned
Stratton twirled his third consecutive quality start of the season on Monday night, holding the Nationals to two runs over 6 2/3 innings while fanning five and allowing seven baserunners. He has yet to allow a homer through 31 innings (AT&T Park for the win!) and has a beautiful 2.67 FIP underneath the 2.32 ERA. That homer factoid does lead to a 4.20 xFIP, though. While we haven’t yet seen the 10-strikeout guy that toed the rubber last season, it’s hard to knock his current approach. He lines up to face the Dodgers at home next.
Brandon McCarthy (ATL – SP): 18% owned
The All-Star Twitter-er himself made headlines recently by suffering a subluxation of his non-throwing shoulder while reaching for the ball to make the out at first. He then got it popped back into place on the field. That’s the only outing that he hasn’t won out of four starts this season, as he sits at 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP through 21 2/3 IP. I don’t love his peripherals, but he’s held opponents’ hard-contact rate to a mere 25.8% so far and continues to limit the long ball. He also draws Cincinnati for his next start on Tuesday (today), making him a great quick add even if you don’t fully believe. If nothing else, his numbers should be tradeable afterward!
Trevor Cahill (OAK – SP): 12% owned
Cahill’s second start of 2018 saw him give up three earned on four hits (one homer) and two walks while striking out six. That wasn’t as lovely as his debut’s seven innings of shutout ball, but he still racked up 16 whiffs on 98 pitches and sequenced well outside of one mistake that Robinson Chirinos punished. With 14 punchouts in 12 frames and his usual grounders (60.7%) in tow, I’m buying the way-too-early 2.91 FIP/2.71 xFIP profile behind the 2.25 ERA now and seeing where it leads.
Jeimer Candelario (DET – 3B): 13% owned
Candelario opened 2018 by going 7-for-39 (.179) with two extra-base hits, a double and triple while striking out 11 times. It wasn’t pretty and didn’t bode well for a guy whose contact tool was the backbone of his offensive value. Of course, he then rapped out three doubles on April 10 to kick off a 16-for-44 (.364) tear where he’s accumulated eight XBH courtesy of four doubles, a triple and three homers. His 89.6 MPH average exit velocity is 131st out of 322 hitters with at least 20 batted-ball events, which sounds about right for his 45-50 grade power. I’d be pleased if he hits in the .280s with 20 homers overall, but his good eye can lead to more useful spikes such as this.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Mac Williamson (SF – OF): 3% owned
We need to kick off this section with Williamson, who I strongly debated putting above the “Deep League” line anyhow. I watched him smash a 464-foot rocket for his second homer in three games since joining the big-league club (thanks to Hunter Pence hitting the DL), which only continues his hitting onslaught from Triple-A. The 27-year-old had already slugged six homers with a .487 average in 11 games on the farm thanks in large part to a swing change. Yup, Williamson worked with Doug Latta this offseason, aka the guy who helped Justin Turner break out. Mac still hits too many grounders to really be a superstar slugger in my eyes, but this should not be ignored by fantasy owners.
C.J. Cron (TB – 1B): 7% owned
I think someone left-handed said something rude to Cron recently because he has been scorching southpaws to kick off 2018. He’s gone 11-for-26 (.423) with three homers against them thus far, all while hitting a poor 10-for-51 (.196) with two dingers against righties. He won’t continue to be this lucky against lefties nor this unlucky versus righties, but I find this notable given his career .247/.287/.427 slash line vs. LHP entering ’18. Shoring up against portsiders makes him a real 25-30 homer threat with an average that won’t hinder your operation.
Joe Jimenez (DET – RP): 3% owned
Jimenez has been tabbed as Detroit’s “close of the future” for a few years now, and after a rather ugly cup of coffee in 2017 (12.32 ERA/2.11 WHIP in 19 IP), he appears up to the task. The 23-year-old hasn’t allowed a run through 9 2/3 innings of work and two-thirds of the balls put in play off of him have been fly balls. This has helped him jump out to an early .214 BABIP, though many would like to see his dominant strikeout numbers from the Minors (we’re talking over 40% K rates) instead. Let him do his thing as the Tigers rebuild and (likely) look to sell Shane Greene at the Trade Deadline, making Jimenez a solid ratio add for now with strong hopes of being a second-half closer.
Daniel Mengden (OAK – SP): 4% owned
Not only does Mengden have an incredible old-timey mustache, but he’s begun mowing down opponents in a fantasy-viable fashion. The righty followed up Sean Manaea’s no-hitter with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball against Boston, though Oakland couldn’t take the lead early enough to notch Mengden’s third consecutive victory. I won’t blame anyone for trying to dodge his upcoming start in Houston, but he’s now looked solid against the Dodgers, White Sox and Red Sox over his last three trips to the hill. If he continues that against Houston then I’m not sure what else one could wait for.
Jorge Soler (KC – OF): 2% owned
While Whit Merrifield is heating up and Mike Moustakas is raking, Soler’s modest start to 2018 is easy to miss thanks to an unimpressive Royals’ roster that isn’t going to do one’s counting stats any favors. So while the 26-year-old slugger has a crisp .288/.415/.423 slash line through 65 PAs, he only has seven R+RBI in 16 games. His swinging-strike rate is down nearly a full percentage point from his 110 MLB PAs last year and roughly two percentage points from his Triple-A numbers. He also has a 17% walk rate, 50% hard-hit rate, 83% zone-contact rate and 19% chase rate. These things can still swing rather easily, but his discipline out of the gate may be enough to get him over the hump. The homers should start coming, though his 50% ground-ball rate will need to rise.
Caleb Smith (MIA – SP/RP): 2% owned
It’s safe to say that Smith’s career MLB ERA of 6.69 is not going to inspire fantasy owners. He was a solid Minor League arm for the Yankees, posting a 2.39 ERA/1.05 WHIP in 98 Triple-A frames last season, but it didn’t translate to big-league success (7.71 ERA in 18 2/3 IP). Now a Marlin, the 26-year-old has 32 strikeouts in 21 2/3 IP, due in large part to his 10-K outing against Milwaukee on Sunday. We like arms that can generate their own outs, and his 15.4% pop-up rate on top has resulted in a 3.95 SIERA behind the 5.82 ERA. He does have 15 walks already so his putaway stuff isn’t totally refined, but the pop-up rate supports his attacking with heat higher in the zone to good results. He’s last here for a reason, but still here. For the record, I’m not buying his teammate Jarlin Garcia at all.