Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 11
Yordan Alvarez came way closer to this waiver wire column’s eligibility requirements than I thought.
As of Monday, Houston’s incoming star prospect surpassed the cutoff point by the narrowest of margins with a 35% consensus ownership rate. Assuming that would rise hastily by the time most readers had a chance to act, he’s still not included in the Priority Pickups section. If still available, however, the 21-year-old slugger indeed takes the utmost priority. Prior to going yard in Sunday’s MLB debut, the outfielder batted a sensational .343/.443/.742 with 23 home runs and 71 RBIs in 56 Triple-A games. The immense upside makes him a top-100 hitter from the getgo.
Along those same lines, Nick Pivetta (48%), Mitch Garver (47%), Didi Gregorius (46%), Brian Dozier (46%), and Jeff McNeil (45%) are all excellent additions rostered in under half of ESPN and Yahoo contests. Most managers will find that it’s too late to grab any of them, so let’s circle the majors for other pickups more likely to remain available in the typical mixed league.
Priority Pickups – <35% Owned
Yandy Diaz (1B/3B – TB): 32% Owned
While the opportunity to claim some of those other recently returning hitters may have expired, there’s still time to snag Diaz in a surprising number of leagues. Fueled by a 4-for-5 Sunday with his career-high 10th homer of 2019, the muscular corner infielder has 12 knocks in nine games since returning from a left-hand contusion. Although far from a launch-angle disciple, the 27-year-old has already plastered 20 barrels in 49 games for the Rays. Don’t count on Diaz sustaining such a prolific power pace, but perhaps the tradeoff comes with a rise in his .269 batting average. After all, he has a .288 xBA as of Monday and a .282 BABIP that’s 41 points below his career norm.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF – BOS): 27% Owned
It takes a lot of fortitude to forgive Bradley. More than two months into the season, he’s still flailing below the Mendoza line (.197) while carrying a putrid .277 wOBA. The Red Sox exuded far more patience than nearly every fantasy investor who had no choice but to bail. Over the last calendar month, however, he’s batting .265/.365/.530 with five home runs and 13 runs and RBIs apiece. If he can pair this power with double-digit steals — he notched 17 SBs last season — Bradley will once again contribute in five-outfielder leagues. There’s actually a higher probability of him being available in an active league, as no hands-on manager would have kept someone who didn’t muster his first home run until May 20.
Trevor Richards (SP – MIA): 22% Owned
Richards will likely keep see-sawing from mainstream relevancy to waiver-wire obscurity, but it’s worth dipping into the waters when the waves strike just right. The 26-year-old righty has relinquished just 13 hits and three runs over his last four starts, massaging his ERA and WHIP to 3.31 and 1.19, respectively. His 4.62 FIP and 4.88 SIERA are less flattering due to his 10.8% walk rate and .202 BABIP. On the bright side, he’s leaning more on an elite changeup that has flummoxed hitters to a .224 wOBA (identical to last year’s mark) and 32.4% whiff rate. At least let him ride for this week’s start at the cavernous Marlins Park against a subpar Pirates offense.
Kyle Seager (3B – SEA): 22% Owned
Seager had amassed at least 25 homers and a .450 slugging percentage in four consecutive seasons before a mediocre 2018. A left wrist injury delayed his path to redemption, but the 31-year-old third baseman has returned to bat .230/.338/.459 with four long balls in 16 games for Seattle. While it’s too early to draw any definitive results, he’s chasing far fewer pitches off the plate and making more contact within the strike zone. Sustaining those trends can steer him closer to his career .257 average while showing off his hallmark power in another unheralded season. There’s limited upside, but Seager is a solid corner infielder in meatier mixed leagues.
Framber Valdez (SP/RP – HOU): 16% Owned
Replacing Corbin Martin in Houston’s rotation, Valdez stymied the Orioles to one run over seven innings while compiling seven strikeouts and one walk. Let’s not anoint him an ace just yet. Martin also dazzled in his first career big league start before crumbling, and Valdez faced a feeble offense in a pitcher-friendly home park. Then again, he’ll also make his next start at Minute Maid Park against the Blue Jays, who possess the AL’s worst wOBA (.284) as of Monday night. The 25-year-old drew seven swinging strikes with his sweeping curveball against Baltimore, so there’s a lot more strikeout upside than shown by his 21 punchouts in 26 innings from the bullpen. Let’s see if Valdez has more lasting power than Martin.
Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS): 16% Owned
Sanchez remains scorching hot since returning from a hamstring injury. Coming off the IL with a 5.10 ERA, the 35-year-old righty has permitted just nine hits and two runs in three starts. Although he offered just one strikeout in Monday night’s win against the White Sox, he tallied seven punchouts in each of the previous two outings. He also tossed an economical 80 pitches in both of those turns before needing only 69 pitches to navigate through six innings Monday.
Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA): 14% Owned
Look who made his way to the big kids’ table. A deep-league target throughout the season, Lopez has cultivated a double-digit rostered rate following a phenomenal two-start week. He passed a major test by tossing six scoreless innings at Miller Park for just his second quality start on the road all season. Brandishing a 1.88 ERA in four outings since a 10-run calamity against the Mets, the 23-year-old righty should stay hot at home — where he holds a 1.78 ERA — against the Pirates. A 3.61 FIP makes Lopez a better long-term play than Richards and every other pitcher highlighted.
Deep League Targets – <10% Owned
Roberto Perez (C – CLE): 6% Owned
This marks the beginning of a rare deep-league catcher celebration. After touching them all in four consecutive contests last week, Perez has crushed eight of his 11 home runs since May 11. Although batting just .233 with a 26.7% strikeout rate, a 13.3% walk rate essentially makes him who we wish Mike Zunino would become. With 17 barrels and a .539 xSLG, his power might not evaporate any time soon.
Cesar Puello (OF – LAA): 3% Owned
Puello bounced around six organizations over the last decade. In his only major league opportunity, he hit .206 without a home run in 39 plate appearances in 2017. Getting another chance with the Angels, he’s batting .452 (14-for-31) with two doubles and three homers (and four hit by pitches) in 37 plate appearances. The only possible explanation is that he’s drinking from a water bottle labeled “Mike’s Secret Stuff” given to him by Trout. Maybe it’s just a random hot streak, but Puello is sizzling too much to ignore in deep leagues.
Mark Canha (1B/OF – OAK): 3% Owned
A platoon player for most of his career, Canha has hit seven of his 10 home runs against righties while recording a .389 wOBA. Before crediting luck incurred in a small sample size, he’s hitting .235 with a .214 BABIP in those 86 plate appearances. This success appears to have finally earned the 30-year-old a regular role in Oakland. While his 21.2-degree launch angle — matching that of Joey Gallo without the exit velocity — is too extreme to support a solid batting average, he’s poised to shatter last year’s career high of 17 taters.
Jon Duplantier (SP – ARI): 3% Owned
A prospect of Duplantier’s caliber would typically be scooped up in way more leagues after posting a 3.27 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22 innings. Making this low ownership rate even stranger, he’s lined up for a two-start week. Perhaps the road matchups at Philadelphia and Washington are too dangerous to trust a rookie, but he’s coming off a strong showing (5 IP, 2 ER, 7 K) against the rambunctious Dodgers. That should at least earn him a trial run in 15-team mixed leagues.
Ryne Harper (RP – MIN): 1% Owned
Blake Parker has yielded seven runs in his last four outings. While he remains in a closer’s committee with Taylor Rogers, that won’t last long if he continues to regress to his 5.88 FIP. Trevor May has struggled to locate the plate, so Harper has been Minnesota’s best right-handed reliever. (Maybe trading Ryan Pressly last summer was a bad idea.) The 30-year-old has a 1.75 ERA with 26 strikeouts and five walks in 25.2 innings, so perhaps he steals a few save opportunities until the Twins add a more marquee option near the trade deadline.
Carson Kelly (C – ARI): 2% Owned
Kelly is hitting .299/.405/.627 with seven home runs, 12 walks, and 11 strikeouts since the start of May. Not bad for a 24-year-old catcher getting his first chance at a starting gig. A far cry from the meager neophyte who mustered four hits in 19 games last season, he has upped his line-drive and hard-hit rates from 7.1% and 29.0% to 21.3% and 44.7%, respectively. Kelly has never shown such power promise in the minors, but even hitting .250 with some pop would make him a valuable resource in NL-only and two-catcher leagues. Given his age and prospect pedigree, there’s a feasible chance he rides this wave to mainstream relevance.
Pedro Severino (C – BAL): 2% Owned
Mostly fueled by last Thursday’s three-homer outburst, Severino is batting .277/.359/.536 with eight homers for the Orioles, who batted him cleanup twice over the weekend. He’s only one year older than struggling teammate Chance Sisco, so the Orioles and deep gamers might as well keep rolling with him for a bit longer.