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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Category Targets: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Reese Olson, Sawyer Gibson-Long

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Category Targets: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Reese Olson, Sawyer Gibson-Long

All good things must come to an end. The 2023 MLB regular season is finally wrapping up, and what a fine one it was. Between three players born after the turn of the millennium finishing as top-10 fantasy players and a couple of MVPs reestablishing themselves among the league’s best, this year has been a doozy. Ronald Acuna had one of the best fantasy seasons ever. And Shohei Ohtani showed once again why he is thought of as one of, if not, the greatest player of all time. I enjoyed every minute of it, and hopefully you did too.

It’s laughable to think players like Justin Steele, Yandy Diaz, Lane Thomas, Marcell Ozuna and Mitch Keller were all once rostered in just a handful of leagues. And let’s not forget about all the prospects called up that started around 5% rostered just to finish somewhere in the high 80s. These are the type of players that, if you get a hold of early on, they make an enormous impact on your season. So, hopefully, you followed along and made a few of these keen moves!

Well, enough reflecting. Let’s move on to our final week of top waiver-wire pickups! While many have turned their attention to football, you advanced few are still in it, searching for any type of advantage. Well, you’re in luck because this being my last article of the season, I made sure to find multiple options for all offensive categories. This way, hopefully, there is someone for everyone because one big game this week could be the difference between winning a championship and finding your plaque in the ladies’ room (Just a Top Gun reference. Don’t @ me!).

One other quick note to keep in mind about this week: Traditionally, the last week of the MLB season is highly unpredictable when it comes to playing time. Plenty of clubs will rest their regulars, not wanting to risk an injury for the playoffs. Others will let their youngsters earn more playing time with their team no longer in contention. Starting pitchers who usually pitch deep into games could be pulled in the fourth or fifth, so it all takes a bit more planning and replanning before setting your lineup. Those in daily leagues have it a little easier, but they will have the extra burden of having to stay on top of every last-minute managerial decision to help maximize their production.

Thank you again for a wonderful season! Hopefully, my weekly advice helped you out along the way. Enjoy the playoffs, and good luck over the final few days!

Without further ado, here are this season’s final waiver wire pickups by category.

(All players are rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo Leagues)

MLB Daily Lineups

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Category Targets

Batting Average

Luis Campusano (C – SDP): 21%

I love it when a catcher plays well enough to be included on this list. Backstops with a high batting average are tough to come by but don’t tell that to Luis Campusano. The 25-year-old righty has been raking in September, registering a .345 batting average to go along with a whopping 16 RBIs. The former prospect has hit well all summer, maintaining a .323 average since the All-Star break. The Padres season is likely over, but they’ve now won nine in a row, so anything is possible. Either way, expect one of their hottest hitters to continue to garner playing time.

Junior Caminero (3B – TBR): 13%

Junior Caminero made his debut on Saturday, batting fifth in the order for the playoff-bound Rays. The sixth-ranked prospect in all of baseball collected a hit, and a walk, plus scored a run in a pivotal matchup against the Blue Jays. Caminero destroyed Minor League pitching this year and earned his late-season call-up as Tampa attempts to pass Baltimore for the division title. In other words, this team has a lot to play for, and if he wasn’t good, he wouldn’t be here.

Kevin Cash loves to mix and match, so there is a chance Caminero could sit versus a few righties in the coming days. But the 20-year-old is too talented to ignore with your season on the line. He’s worth adding in all leagues.

Home Runs

Brent Rooker (OF – OAK): 20%

The free agent to be is looking to go out on a high note. After a mid-summer lull, the first-time All-Star has been on a tear at the plate. Oakland’s cleanup hitter has seven home runs over his last 50 at-bats. He’s knocked in 11 over his last 15 games and now has 29 jacks on the season. The 28-year-old will likely earn a hefty contract this winter, and right now, he’s doing all he can to maximize that amount. Brent Rooker is worth starting in all leagues.

Mark Vientos (1B, 3B – NYM): 5%

The Mets season is over, and so is Daniel Vogelbach‘s playing time in New York. Buck Showalter handed over the reins at DH earlier this month, and the young rookie has done well with it. The Mets drafted Mark Vientos in the second round at just 17-year-old back in 2017. They always had high hopes for the lanky right-hander despite some alarming strikeout numbers in the high Minors. Now, with a bit more experience under his belt, Vientos has picked up his production at the Major League level, blasting six home runs over his last 19 games. He’s hit three taters since Wednesday and slugged over .600 this season in Triple-A. Vientos should be active on rosters in deeper leagues looking to boost their home runs.


Evan Carter (OF – TEX): 17%

I highlighted Evan Carter a few weeks ago when he was called up, but with the amount of scoring he’s doing and the fact that he’s still available in 83% of leagues, he deserves mentioning again. As I pointed out at the beginning of the month, Carter bats ninth in the Rangers’ lineup – not exactly a premier spot to score runs. But when you’re hitting in front of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager on a nightly basis, there is a good chance to score.

Carter not only has great speed on the base paths (which helps his run total), but he’s also hitting extremely well. The rookie has produced an outstanding .324 average and a 1.123 OPS over his first 14 games. He’s scored 12 times in two weeks and even has three homers and three steals to his credit. Carter was a five-tool player in the Minor Leagues and should be starting in all fantasy formats.



Christian Encarnacion-Strand (1B – CIN): 31%

Christian Encarnacion-Strand had a mediocre start to his Major League career but has come on strong lately. Over the last week, with the Reds season on the line, the corner infielder mashed four homers and drove in nine runs. He’s hit fourth in the lineup the last two days and is coming off a three-hit, four-RBI performance.

Encarnacion-Strand was a monster in the Minor Leagues and is now producing like many believed he would. The Reds are in a close race for the final Wild Card spot, and as long as they’re relying on CES to drive in runs, you should, too. Add him everywhere now that he’s hot and batting cleanup.

Yoan Moncada (3B – CHW): 18%

Yoan Moncada is also someone to consider now that he’s hitting well and fully healthy. The White Sox third baseman was locked in to begin the year but was derailed by a back injury early on. It flared up multiple times throughout the season, which resulted in below-average cumulative numbers.

Finally, beyond the nagging pain, Moncada is now producing like a top-100 player again, generating a .303 average and .873 OPS, with four homers, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored in September. If you remember, Moncada was a one-man show back in the World Baseball Classic before the season started, and if it wasn’t for the injury bug, he may have gone on to have a career year (although that juiced-ball year back in 2019 would be hard to top). He has a favorable schedule coming up, so he’s someone to consider in most leagues.

Stolen Bases

Johan Rojas (OF – PHI): 9%

Over 54 games, Johan Rojas has registered a .300 average and 14 stolen bases. He’s been especially spry on the base paths lately, swiping six bags over the last two weeks. He’s also scored a run in six of the last eight games. If you require an outfielder who hits for average, steals bases and scores runs, look no further than the Phillies’ Rojas.

Mark Canha (1B, OF – MIL): 49%

Mark Canha for steals? I admit, he’s not your typical base stealer, but he has the greenlight in Milwaukee, swiping three bags over the last week. He’s up to 11 stolen bases on the season (on 12 attempts), and considering he’s hot at the dish as well, you could do a lot worse than the Canha right now.


Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN): 49%

Kenta Maeda is scheduled to face the lowly A’s on Tuesday. The 35-year-old veteran has been steady lately, winning three in a row while producing a 0.75 WHIP. Maeda has had a bit of an up-and-down season, but his 1.18 WHIP is solid, and he strikes out better than a batter per inning. He probably won’t pitch deep into the game, considering the Twins playoff seeding is already set, but you couldn’t ask for a better matchup going into the final week of the season.


Sawyer Gipson-Long (SP – DET): 36%

Sawyer Gibson-Long joined the Tigers at last year’s trade deadline, coming over in exchange for Michael Fulmer. He’s a 6-foot-4, 225-pound righty that features five different pitches, but it’s his off-speed stuff that does the dirty work. The former Mercer Bear throws his changeup and slider more often than any of his fastballs, which has racked up some pretty gaudy strikeout totals.

In Triple-A this season, the 25-year-old recorded an impressive 32.7 K%, and in the Big Leagues, he’s been even better. Over three starts in the Show, Gibson-Long has miraculously struck out one-third of the batters he has faced. Over those 15 innings of work, the impressive rookie allowed just 10 hits and one home run. He can get into a little trouble walking batters, but with the Royals on tap, Gibson-Long is a strong candidate to earn you 7+ K’s this week.


Reese Olson (SP – DET): 26%

Trying to predict a two-start pitcher this week is a difficult task with the season coming to a close. However, the Tigers have little to play for, and getting two more full looks out of a possible rotation piece for next year seems plausible. Olson has yet to eclipse 100 Major League innings and only threw 36 in the Minors this year, so he should be allowed to go.

The slender right-hander has been incredible lately, allowing just five total runs over his last five starts. He won in three of his last four outings, including his latest and perhaps most impressive coming at Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers. Olson lasted six innings in Los Angeles, holding the boys in blue to just two hits, two walks and one run scored. He’s gone six innings or more in four straight starts, and considering he’s one of the few arms rostered in less than 50% of leagues lined up for two starts (KC and CLE), he’s one of my top adds for this week.


James McArthur (SP, RP – KC): 3%

The Royals aren’t very good, but James McArthur suddenly is. The ground ball specialist (59.3 GB%) hasn’t allowed a single run in September. The 6-foot-7 reliever has thrown 12.1 innings this month and only allowed two base runners to reach. He also struck out 11 batters. The Royals may not win many games the final week, but if they do, McArthur is an excellent candidate to add a save or two to your total.


Ranger Suarez (SP – PHI): 40%

Ranger Suarez had a decent season. He didn’t win many games (just four out of 21 starts), but he has maintained an ERA below 4.00 for most of the year. He also saved his best stuff for the second half – his ERA since Aug. 1 is 3.27. The good news is he faces Pittsburgh this week, who struggle mightily against southpaw sinkerballers. With this matchup in mind, Suarez is as good as anyone from the waiver wire regarding projected ERA. Start him with confidence this week in deeper leagues.

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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.

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