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8 Under-the-Radar Waiver Pickups (Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 19, 2019
Ryan McMahon

Ryan McMahon returned from the IL with a bang and should be owned in all league formats

It feels like yesterday that it was opening day, but time has passed quickly as we all soak in each game only itching for the next. There’s no doubt that for the majority, our fantasy teams need some turnover as guys slump and others just aren’t who we thought they were. In the big picture, it’s okay right now still as there is still a ridiculous number of games left and the waiver wire is still a treasure trove.

That treasure trove can be deep so to help sort through it to find some gems, we asked our featured experts below to identify which one’s are worth adding now that should be readily-available in your leagues as well. The following list of hitters and pitchers all have less than 20% consensus ownership.

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Q1. What one hitter should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in 20% of leagues or less?

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL): 19% Owned
“McMahon came back from the IL on Thursday night, and immediately showed why he’s worth owning across all formats. He’s a power hitter that plays in Coors. His position flexibility means you should have plenty of opportunity to fit him into your lineups.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

Ryan McMahon won’t be under 20% owned for long so I’d jump on that immediately. Yes, he struggled before being placed on the IL, but likely because he was playing virtually every game away from Coors. Now that he will be in Coors and batting near the middle of that Rockies order every day, he needs to be owned even in 8-team leagues, let alone 12 teamers. Think Corey Dickerson (while in Coors) but at second base, third base and first base.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Dwight Smith Jr. (OF – BAL): 17% Owned
“Smith Jr. is playing every day for the Orioles and still available in many leagues. He’s often hitting third in the lineup and offers some power and speed. Smith has three home runs and three stolen bases and plays in a great home ballpark for hitters.”
– Adam Ronis (ScoutFantasySports)

Dwight Smith Jr. still sits just below the 20% ownership threshold in standard leagues and he deserves a bit more attention than he’s getting. He’s not a particularly flashy prospect, but with solid the underlying contact skills and a nice mix of power and speed, Smith has turned in a .276-14-3-11-3 line over his first 19 games this season. He’s worked his way into the top third of the O’s lineup and given their lack of depth, there is little reason to think Smith will move so long as he produces. That volume will help Smith flirt with top-30 status in the outfield this season and become a useful piece in the majority of leagues.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Delino DeShields (OF – TEX): 6% Owned
“DeShields is hitting .200 with just two extra-base hits in 16 games, but he also sports a stellar 17.5% BB rate that has led to a .357 OBP and six steals. Only Dee Gordon (eight) and Tim Anderson (seven) have swiped more bags. The Rangers outfielder is chasing fewer pitches outside of the strike zone, which had led to fewer whiffs (5.4%) and strikeouts (17.5%) with a bump in contact rate (84.5%). Even if those gains merely guide him to a .240-.250 average, DeShields would become a major asset worth rostering in most mixed leagues.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Q2. What one starting pitcher should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in 20% of leagues or less?

Wade Miley (SP – HOU): 8% Owned
“Over Miley’s last 102 innings (all of last season plus this season) he has an ERA of 2.57. His low K-rate keeps his ceiling relatively low, but his switch from 4-seamer to cutter has produced tremendous results. The cutter is hard for hitters to pick up, and he no longer has problems with the long ball. It also helps that the Astros and Brewers employ switches as well as anybody. That’s not going to change any time soon, and it will keep his ERA rolling significantly below his FIP.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

Mike Soroka (SP – ATL): 16% Owned
“Soroka is off the IL for the Braves and ready to roll. He looked great in his season debut, striking out 6 with 1 run allowed in 5 innings and that is the type of production we can expect most evenings that he takes the mound. Think of him as Kyle Hendricks but with better stuff. It may take a while for him to get to that level but that is the mold of pitcher we are looking at so he shouldn’t sit on the waivers much longer.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Erik Swanson (SP – SEA): 1% Owned
“Swanson is getting a chance to start for the Mariners with the Wade LeBlanc injury. While his first start came against a weak Indians offense, he allowed two hits, one run, walked none and struck out five in a win. He had good numbers in the minors and could stick in the rotation if he pitches well.”
– Adam Ronis (ScoutFantasySports)

Pablo Lopez (SP/RP – MIA): 4% Owned
“Four starts into his season, Pablo Lopez boasts the same strikeout rate (26.4%) as Tyler Glasnow while issuing just two unintentional walks. He has a lower xwOBA (.292) and FIP (2.85) than Trevor Bauer, so don’t read too much into a bloated 5.85 ERA. The 23-year-old righty will get his easiest assignment so far this season when going to Cleveland on Thursday, and those in deeper leagues with weekly-lineup changes can roll the dice with a second turn at Philadelphia. He’s one or two strong outings away from bumping his ownership rate from 4% into the 20-30% range alongside Marlins teammates Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL): 10% Owned
“As Nelson continues to show solid progress during his rehab from shoulder and elbow issues, the time is now to scoop him off of waivers and stash him on your fantasy bench. Nelson impressed with a career-best 3.49 ERA the last year he played and pitched over 175 innings to go along with an elite 10.21 K/9 and a significantly improved walk rate. His health issue surely made him a player to avoid on draft day, but three weeks into the season, he is again worthy of your attention. Nelson can be had for free in over 80% of standard scoring leagues and while you may still need to wait a week or two to get Nelson into your lineup, it’s time to beat the rush and make the add.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Thank you to the experts for naming their under-the-radar pickups. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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