Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (6/27/22 - 7/3/22)
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Well gang, did your fantasy team crush it this week?
Yes? Great, now read my article so that you can stay one step ahead of the competition!
No? Ugh, that stinks, but read my article so that you can get back in the race!
See what I did there??
Only one week left until we have the long 4th of July weekend and I’ve got some more waiver wire recommendations for you below so that you can cruise into the holiday weekend with a commanding lead in your league. As always, in addition to the guys below, always keep in mind any stars that may be on their way back from injury - two that jump to mind that should be back in the coming weeks are Mitch Haniger and Chris Sale (shallow leagues only, of course). Both of these guys are standouts at their position and could make a big difference on your team in the second half. Alright, let's jump in - as always, the recommendations are divided among guys likely available in shallow leagues and those for deeper leagues (15 team or Only leagues).
Good luck all and keep the questions on Twitter coming. I'll get back to you as fast as I can!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Javier Baez, SS, Detroit Tigers:
“Is this guy really recommending Javy Baez? Is he drunk?” Okay, maybe, but the truth is that the dumpster fire that was early 2022 season Javy Baez is gone and it is looking like he may be turning a corner. If you have owned Baez at any time recently, the one thing you should know is that he is a streaky player that runs very hot or very cold. And, for the 50 games (yes, that is a very long time) to start the season, Javy was Antarctica, flag pole in the winter cold, to the tune of: .188/.232/.288 with 3 HR, 13 R, 16 RBI, and 1 SB; just awful. But since June 15th, Baez has gotten hot—like Scarlett Johansson in a bikini on a Texas July day hot—hitting: .387/.424/.935 with 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 6 R, 9 RBI, and 2 SBs. And when Baez gets rolling, you want to be on that train – if he was dropped in your league, grab him now to reap the benefits because he could easily be one of the hottest hitters in baseball for the next few weeks.
Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers:
We were all robbed of two months of Riley Greene when he fractured his foot prior to the season, but the sweet-swinging lefty is now with the big club and was batting fifth in just his second major league game and then vaulted to the second spot in the order just a couple of games later. The hype around Greene has been tremendous but he has exceptional tools and it will be fun to watch his development. In his 2021 stint in AAA (40 games), Greene hit .308/.400/.553 with 8 HR, 36 R, 30 RBI, and 4 SBs. Great numbers and he is an absolute gem in dynasty. I will, however, note that there are some reasons for caution in redraft, even as great as Greene looks to be. First, his strikeout rate in AAA in 2021 was 27.6% -- while this isn’t awful, it also isn’t ideal for a guy making the jump to the majors. To put this into perspective, Josh Lowe’s strikeout rate at AAA was 26% and he has struck out at a 38% clip for the Rays this year. Not saying that will happen with Greene, but it is something to watch. In addition, Greene’s GB% has always been high (over 50%) and he will need to elevate the ball more to truly tap into his power. All in all, he is a top prospect and someone to be very excited about, but temper your expectations for 2022 – it may take time.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Like Riley Greene, Cruz is a rookie that jumped right over the deep league section (most likely not available any longer) to the point that he may already be gone in many shallow leagues. Cruz’s MLB debut was highly anticipated and he did not disappoint – in his first game as a Pirate, the 6’ 7” rookie recorded the hardest hit ball, hardest infield throw, and fastest sprint speed of any Pirate this year. He has also driven in 7 runs in just his first 4 games of 2022; he is the Dread Pirate Roberts! Oneil is a high-variance player that could be an immediate difference maker or he could struggle to hit MLB pitching. In AAA this year, he hit .232/.336/.422 with 9 HR, 40 R, 35 RBI, and 11 SBs in 55 games, although the low batting average was accompanied by a relatively low BABIP (.270) for a guy with elite sprint speed like Cruz. It is hard to predict how he will do this year, but he is truly exciting to watch and I would be willing to take a gamble with my MI position, even in a shallow league because Cruz has the potential to be a league winner with his tools.
Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Thomas appeared in the deep league section of this column when he was called up last month and he has continued to hit since that time, so much so that he has recently been hitting second in the order for the Diamondbacks. In the 41 games since being called up, Thomas has slashed .275/.338/.451 with 6 HR, 24 R, 15 RBI, and 4 SBs, a great 162 game pace for the rookie. And over the last 11 games, he has been even better, hitting .349. Thomas has an advanced hit tool (just a 17% K%) and a good hard hit rate (40%), although like many other good hitters, he hits too many ground balls to fully tap into his power. That may come with time and additional development, but for now, you are getting a very good OF that is giving across the board contributions in roto and points leagues. He’s an add.
Alex Cobb, SP, San Francisco Giants:
I’m going to guess that more fantasy tidbits have been written about Alex Cobb this year than any pitcher with an ERA over 5.00 in the history of fantasy baseball. But the truth is, the underlying metrics show that Alex Cobb is a top-tier pitcher that has been extremely unlucky this season, to the tune of a 5.48 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. If you review Cobb’s Statcast page, he ranks in the top 9% or better in 8 substantial categories, including Barrel%, xERA, Chase Rate, Hard Hit%, xSLG, and others. Cobb has put up a 10.5 K/9 this year and combined that with a 2.8 BB/9 (these are exceptional for a starter). But his .378 BABIP and horrendous 55.7% LOB rate have put an anchor around his ERA. Look behind those numbers at his 2.25 xERA, 3.21 FIP, and 2.69 xFIP and you’ll see there is a lot to like. Positive regression is due for Cobb and he could easily go on a run where he is a top 15 pitcher for a month. Grab him now.
Jon Gray, SP, Texas Rangers:
Hop back on the roller coaster ride that is 2022 Jon Gray. I was high on Gray coming into the season given that he was getting out of Colorado and into a new pitchers’ park in Texas with his skill set. But he was “meh” to start the season, then he was bad, but hey, now he’s looking good again! Gray, a former #3 overall draft pick, is a legitimately good pitcher with a solid K% (9.4 K/9), good BB% (3.2 BB/9) and above average GB rate (over 40%); he just needs to be more consistent. Over his last three starts, that may (fingers crossed) be happening: 18.2 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 21 Ks, 10.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 2 W. . . pretty strong, right?? Although Gray’s season ERA currently sits at 4.18, his underlying metrics say that he should be better, as indicated by his 3.53 xERA and 3.44 FIP. And out of their next six series leading up to the All Star break, the Rangers play the Royals, Orioles, A’s, and Mariners – a very good schedule for Gray to keep his momentum.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Luis Gonzalez, OF, San Francisco Giants:
In his first significant taste of the majors, the Giants Luis Gonzalez is making an impression. The 26 year-old lefty was promoted from AAA on May 20th and has relatively quickly moved from the bottom of the Giants order to regularly leading off against righties. In 49 MLB games in 2022, Gonzalez is hitting .302/.361/.447 with 3 HR, 20 R, 24 RBI, and 7 SBs (gotta love the SBs) and all of this with good plate discipline (20% K% and 8% BB%). Gonzalez does have a high BABIP, so some regression in the batting average department is to be expected, but he has some speed and pop and is getting the bat on the ball with consistency. If he is available in your deeper leagues, I would imagine there is someone you can cut to make room.
Isaac Paredes, 1B/2B, Tampa Bay Rays:
My goodness, is anyone hotter right now than Isaac Paredes? This surely cannot continue, but when a guy is swinging the stick like this, you have to roll with it. Paredes was a highly-touted prospect in the Detroit Tigers system that never got a chance to truly flourish at the major league level before he was dealt to the Rays following the 2021 season. But when the Rays take an interest in a player, so should you. Paredes seems to be taking a step forward this year and he has now hit 9 HR in just 32 games in 2022 and has a low K% (15.2%) and good BB% (7.1%). While his batting average is currently low at just .211, that is due in large part to an insanely depressed .149 BABIP that is sure to normalize and which will bring his batting average up into the .260 range. Paredes isn’t going to be a standout in any one category at the end of the season, but he has multi-position eligibility and can be a solid contributor at the MI or CI position in deep leagues. Give him a second look.
Jonah Bride, 2B/3B, Oakland A’s:
Bride was promoted from AAA and inserted into the A’s lineup without much fanfare, but it took him only four games to move from the bottom of the order to batting 2nd for the A’s. The nine-game sample we have for Bride is too small to draw any conclusions, but looking at his minor league stats, Bride profiles as a high contact, high walk rate guy that could have 10-15 HR power. In OBP leagues, I would definitely take a shot as Bride consistently posted walk rates in excess of 12% in the minors and had an over .400 OBP during his minor league stints as AA and AAA in 2021 and 2022. From what we’ve seen so far, he doesn’t look as though he will crush the baseball and he isn’t going to steal a ton of bases, but if he remains at the top of that A’s lineup, he could give you plenty of ABs, a good average/OBP, and score you some runs, and that has a lot of value in deeper leagues, especially AL only.
Lenyn Sosa, 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox:
Yet another player that is ripping up the minor leagues is receiving a promotion. This time it is the White Sox’s 22 year-old middle infielder, Lenyn Sosa. Following the injury to Danny Mendick, Sosa received the call and he certainly looks ready for the show. So far in AAA this year, Sosa has slashed .331/.384/.549 with 14 HR, 47 R, and 48 RBI in 62 games; fantastic. In addition, he did all of that with a fantastic 13% strikeout rate, which bodes well for his ability to make contact at the major league level. Sosa also has the kind of batted ball profile you like to see – he has a less than 40% ground ball rate and hits a lot of fly balls and line drives, perfect for a guy that impacts the ball with authority. It is difficult to know how much Sosa will be used by the White Sox, but although he did not start, Sosa got two plate appearances in his first game (one walk and one strikeout) on Thursday; a good sign. Prospects are always a crap shoot but Sosa looked to be having a legitimate breakout at AAA this year and if you need a MI in a deep league, he is definitely worth a gamble.
Tyler Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles:
I admit that I was a Tyler Wells skeptic earlier this season, but he keeps producing somehow and that cannot be overlooked in deep leagues like AL only where starting pitching is at a premium. Wells is not a fireballer, but he throws four pitches more than 15% of the time each and keeps hitters off balance with movement and by changing speeds. His high spin fastball also creates the illusion of “rising” and all of these weapons have combined to help Wells induce weak contact and utilize his newly spacious home ballpark. Wells has pitched well this year on a bad team – he has 5 wins and a line of: 64.2 IP, 55 H, 24 ER, 16 BB, 40 K, 3.34 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. Yes, I typically do NOT recommend pitchers that strikeout as few as 5.57 K/9, but Wells is doing an excellent job of mixing his pitches and inducing weak contact and he is beneficial for your ratios in deep roto leagues. Be careful, however, because Wells is likely due for some regression as his 3.34 ERA diverges rather wildly from his 4.29 FIP and 4.78 xFIP. Ride him while he’s hot but be prepared to move on if he has a couple of bad outings in a row.
John Schreiber, RP, Boston Red Sox:
As any very deep league owner will tell you, a top tier relief pitcher that can get you Ks, vulture a few wins and a few saves, and have amazing ratios is gold.And the Red Sox’s setup man John Schreiber checks all of those boxes.Schreiber has been amazing this year – 21.1 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 25 Ks, 0.84 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 2W, 2 SV, and 11 Holds.In a saves plus holds league, he should absolutely be owned, but even in a saves only league where the wire is thin, Schreiber is a great add in a deep league.That Boston pen has been Chernobyl unstable this year and, while Houck has been good so far, he has no track record as a closer and could easily falter.If that were to happen, it is likely that Schreiber would be the next man up.But even if Houck is fantastic, Schreiber is going to continue to get some save opportunities and will help keep your ratios low.If you’ve lost a pitcher to injury and the wire is thin, consider Schreiber rather than an unpredictable starter that could implode and hurt you in multiple categories in one bad start.