Week 15 is about to be underway, and with it comes another crop of my favorite waiver wire targets. This is the part of the season where this list starts to get a little interesting. It starts to get thinner and thinner the deeper you get into the season. Guys are really rounding into form, and projecting who will give the highest return on investment can be tough.
This week, though, I have my eye on a few guys in particular who should have valuable fantasy weeks. Teams like the Cincinnati Reds play seven home games. How can you not get excited about that? Great American Ballpark is a hitter’s dream, and it’s the type of advantage fantasy managers need to be paying attention to.
This is also the time of the year when keying in on prospects can become very important. You’re likely not going to find an incredibly dominant fantasy baseball asset just hanging out on your waiver wire. But highly touted prospects can be game changers. We’ve already seen it with guys like Elly De La Cruz and Francisco Alvarez. Top-tier prospects who’ve come in and showed out. There are still plenty of those types of guys floating out there, so make sure you’re staying on top of the latest prospect news when you can.
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Waiver Wire Priority Additions
He was one of my favorite guys for this week on my weekly planner, and that isn’t changing when it comes to my waiver wire article. Benson has gone from “Who the fook is that guy?” to under-the-radar stud in a matter of two months. Since taking over as a full-timer (against right-handers) at the end of May, Benson has four doubles, triples, and home runs. We love symmetry around here. He’s also flashed his wheels with seven stolen bases. He’s making excellent quality of contact with an 11% barrel rate and 91.6 MPH average exit velocity, but also just making good contact in general. He’s got an 87% zone contact rate in that timeframe, and his 17.7% chase rate is well below the league average. Cincy faces just one lefty this week, so there’s plenty of opportunity for Benson to succeed.
First of all, a shoutout to Moniak for going from a potential bust to becoming Mike Trout‘s more than capable replacement. Rostered in just 21% of Yahoo and 8% of ESPN leagues, Moniak has been far too productive for his roster percentage to be that low. He’s been productive all year, but in the month of July, he’s kicked it up another notch. He’s hit .364 with two home runs, a double, and eight RBI. He also sports a 15.6% barrel rate which is by far the highest of his career. Strikeouts always have been and likely always will be an issue for Moniak, but he’s still finding ways to be a valuable fantasy asset.
One of two Oakland top prospects to get the call coming out of the All-Star break, Gelof has done nothing but impress me thus far. His call-up partner Tyler Soderstrom (who you’ll be reading about in a bit), was the one who got all the hype, but Gelof brings production to a very weak middle infield spot. In the minors, he flashed major league-level power-hitting 40 XBH in his 78 games at the Triple-A level. He flashed above-average speed as well, stealing 20 bases already this season. He’s now scored two runs, driven in one, and stole two bases in the big leagues while striking out just once in eight plate appearances since his call-up. Should he keep this up, there’s plenty of production to be had from him this second half.
Zack Gelof puts an exclamation point on his first MLB hit!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 15, 2023
Sticking with my three hitters and a pitcher theme, I figured it was time to let you know one of my favorite pitching options for the week. While he’s only slated to make one start, France squares up against Oakland on Thursday. The same Oakland A’s team that’s arguably one of the worst teams of all time. He’s a five-pitch guy who throws everything at least 10% of the time. His fastball and cutter aren’t great as his top two most used pitches, but everything else has been dominant. His changeup (.186 xBA, 31.8% whiff rate), slider (.230, 32.8%), and curveball (.077, 55.3%) are all incredibly effective out pitches. Oakland is a pretty free-swinging team who struggles to make a ton of contact, which means France is lined up to win this war.
Deep League Options
Initially, the guy I was more confident in, Soderstrom, has found himself down in my deep league options section while Gelof gets the main section. It’s not to be taken as a knock against Soderstrom. His game just profiles as one with a much lower floor. The ceiling, of course, is infinitely higher. He has massive power, evident by his 20 home runs in just 69 games this season. Fangraphs has him graded out as a 70-grade power guy, which fits. He’s just quite the free swinger as well. Striking out about 27% of the time in the minors, Soderstrom strikes me as someone very similar to his new teammate Seth Brown. The power and quality of contact will be there, but the average will suffer. If you can deal with the lack of average, he could realistically hit 14 home runs in the second half of the season.
I’m honestly surprised Carpenter is still as widely available as he is. He’s certainly not out here putting up ungodly numbers, but he’s been a solid contributor. That all came to a head Saturday when he went deep two more times, bringing his season total to 11. Much of his improved numbers have come from the improvements he had against offspeed pitches this season. After hitting just .200 off them last year with a .214 xSLG, he’s now hitting them to the tune of a .262 batting average and .526 xSLG. One of Carpenter’s biggest weaknesses has now become one of his strengths. Carpenter has been very streaky, so add him now at the beginning of his hot streak and enjoy the counting stats he adds to your roster this week.
Kerry Carpenter's first career multi-home run game! pic.twitter.com/7v4dDiKZxU
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 16, 2023