Follow me on Twitter @fantasybbguru
Another week down means another opportunity to improve your team by picking up tomorrow’s stars today. If you’ve been following my waiver wire column this year, you should have already snagged some high performers because each of the following guys, including newly crowned fantasy superstar Taylor Ward and the others below, have all been profiled in just the first three weeks:
Did you grab some of these guys? If not, and I can't say it enough, always check your waiver wire to see if some of these guys might still be available – long shot maybe, but you never know what you’ll find on the wire. In one of my shallow leagues, I picked up Willy Adames earlier this week . . . Willy fricken’ Adames! Doing that secured me 3 HR, 9 RBI, and 4 R in just 5 games and now I’ve got a star on my roster for the rest of the year because he was off to a slow start and was cut. In short, check your wire regularly . . . you never know who might have been cut.
With that backdrop, let’s jump in and see who else is out there that can bolster your squad. As always, you know we’ve got you covered @weknowfantasy and you can also follow me on Twitter @fantasybbguru – feel free to message me any questions. Good luck all!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Adam Frazier, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners
If your team needs a boost in runs and average, scoop up Frazier. He has been a fixture atop that Mariners lineup which is—don’t look now—8th in runs scored and 5th in RBI—in all of baseball. He has played every day this season except for one and has been the leadoff man for the Mariners each of those games. Frazier already has double-digit runs and RBI through just 20 games and, although he won’t provide much power, it is likely that he will reach 9-12 SBs this year. And although he is currently hitting just .241, Frazier is a career .280 hitter (with a career .344 OBP) and his expected stats all suggest that he has underperformed to date. Frazier provides the kind of steady production that—while not flashy—helps to keep your team at the top of the standings.
Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore’s offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut, but Austin Hays is turning it on after a slow start and is now a fixture in that lineup—finding himself on the bench just once all year. His recent hot bat (slashing .400/.471/.733 over the past 10 days!) has been rewarded, as he is typically in the middle of the order and has batted cleanup in the last three games.
What jumps out at me from Hays’s stat line is that he is being more patient – his walk rate has more than doubled to over 11% so far this year, compared with just 5.3% last year. This may be a change in approach for the Orioles generally, as I profiled his teammate Anthony Santander’s jump in walk rate on Twitter a couple of weeks ago (@fantasybbguru). If Hays is being more selective, he has the tools to deliver a respectable stat line for your team, perhaps something in the .270/.340/26 HR/75 R/80 RBI/4 SB range (with upside) and his playing time looks solid. A strong add in 5 OF leagues.
Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Like Hays, Bohm is another guy that is swinging a hot stick lately. But unlike Hays, Bohm has the added benefit of being in a very good Phillies lineup. As long as he’s in that lineup, he should have plenty of RBI opportunities batting behind that murderers row of Harper, Castellanos, Realmuto, and Schwarber. Bohm is young, but has great plate discipline (8%-10% walk rate), an above average hit tool, and projectable power to go with his 6’5” frame. And as good as he has been so far—.306 BA, 9 R, 14 RBI, and a 15% K%—his expected stats show he may have underperformed to this point. Bohm has a .469 SLG and .356 wOBA, but a .642 xSLG and .436 xwOBA. This 25 year old may be on the rise and poised to succeed in a lineup that will score runs in bunches.
Miles Mikolas, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Mikolas has never been a high strikeout pitcher, but when he is on (like he is now), he displays exceptional control and is highly adept at limiting hard contact and keeping hitters off balance. Among qualified pitchers, Mikolas currently ranks in the top 10 in least hard contact allowed and has looked great in his first five starts of the year—his last two outings included a 7 inning gem against the hot-hitting Mets where he held them to just 4 hits and 0 earned runs and this line against the D-backs: 7.1 IP, 4H, 2ER, 0BB, 7Ks. There will be bumps in the road with a low strikeout pitcher and the 1.52 ERA clearly won’t last, but Mikolas also has just a 2.85 FIP and 2.23 xERA, suggesting this is no fluke. He’s definitely worth an add if you are in need of a starting pitcher.
Drew Rasmussen, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are a pitching factory, constantly churning out fantasy-friendly pitchers, with Drew Rasmussen seemingly the next in line. Through four starts, Rasmussen currently sports a 3.50 ERA (3.36 FIP and 3.14 xFIP) with 18Ks and only 4 walks in 18 innings (the innings will increase as he builds up – he went 6 IP in his last start). Rasmussen is a guy with good control for a pitcher that can post respectable strikeout numbers and his presence on a very good Rays team means that he will have opportunities for wins as well. He’s not a frontline starter, but can be a good back-of-the-rotation starter for your fantasy team in shallow leagues and an even more valuable asset in deeper leagues.
Emilio Pagan, RP, Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins bullpen is on par with the vast majority of bullpens these days – chaotic. It is difficult to predict who might be next to get a save on many teams, but for now, the Twins closer appears to be Pagan. And with closers, you have to live in the moment. Pagan has earned the Twins’ last two saves, although he did get charged with a BS after allowing one run last Tuesday. I expect Pagan will get the next opportunity but his stats show how unpredictable he can be. On the one hand, he currently has a 3.18 ERA and 11 K/9 with an xERA of 3.76 . . . okay, fine you say. On the other, Pagan has walked 6 in 5.2 IP, has a 6.08 FIP, and has stranded 92% of runners (demonstrating his ERA may be artificially suppressed). If you need saves, grab him and ride the wave, but just know that you may get some rough outings here and there.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only):
Sheldon Neuse, 2B/3B, Oakland A’s
If you find yourself in need of an infielder in a deeper league, take a close look at Sheldon Neuse (pronounced “Noisy”) of the Oakland A’s. As we know, playing time is king in deep leagues and Neuse has played in 18 straight games for the A’s. Not only that, but he has played his way from the bottom of the order up to the second spot in the lineup over the past 10 games. Neuse currently has a .328 BA, but that is inflated by a .442 BABIP and will likely settle in the .240-.250 range given his 25-28% strikeout rate. He has some speed and pop and already has 2 HRs and 3 SBs on his line this year (to go with 7 runs and 13 RBI). Oakland has every reason to keep Neuse in the lineup and, if that continues, he could post double-digit HRs and SBs this year.
Taylor Walls, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
For a guy thought to be primarily a bench player, Taylor Walls is finding pretty regular playing time rotating in the Tampa Bay lineup—he is currently playing in about 5 of every 7 games. Drafting Rays in fantasy can be frustrating at times, but Walls has great underlying skills and was highly sought after in fantasy when he was called up from AAA last year, and with good reason. Prior to the callup, Walls had 8 HR, 41 R, 29 RBI, 10 SBs, and a .387 OBP in just 52 AAA games. Walls has a high walk rate, which will make him substantially more valuable in OBP and points leagues, but he will contribute in all categories leagues (he already has 4 SBs in just 47 PAs). Walls is a great power/speed option that will provide much needed steals and is just an injury away from everyday playing time and potential fantasy greatness. He’s definitely worth a pickup.
Chad Pinder, OF, Oakland A’s
A few years ago, Pinder was a trendy fantasy breakout pick given his propensity to hit the ball extremely hard and his relatively good plate discipline. But viewed as a lefty-masher, Pinder was often relegated to a weak-side platoon role and has never accumulated more than 400 ABs in a season. But ABs are up for grabs in Oakland this year and Pinder is getting regular playing time – he has even batted leadoff several times. If he stays healthy, Pinder should reach a career high in ABs this year and he has the pop to post 20 HRs with an average that won’t hurt your team. This Statcast darling is smashing the ball again this year (56% hard hit rate) and that, combined with regular PT, is enough for Pinder to deserve a spot on your team in deeper leagues.
Glenn Otto, SP, Texas Rangers
Otto was called up by the Rangers about 10 days ago and has now made two starts this year for the big league club, logging a 2.89 ERA, 9.8 K/9, and a 50% ground ball rate – not bad at all . . . Otto is not a guy that will blow hitters away with his fastball, but he mixes his pitches well (he throws 5 pitches and none over 40%). So far this year, he has featured a slider that has induced a ridiculous 26.2% SwStk% and 42.9% CSW% - stated differently, nearly 43% of the time Otto has thrown his slider, it has either been a called strike or resulted in a swing and miss. He has some very interesting underlying skills and gets and extra bump pitching in that spacious Texas Rangers park. Take a chance and see how he performs the next few outings.
Michael Pineda, SP, Detroit Tigers
Pineda was late in arriving to spring training and needed time to build up before making his major league debut. He has made two starts so far and the results have been sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Pineda earned a win against the Yankees in his first start, allowing just three hits across five innings of work. His second outing was more befitting of his less-than-complimentary nickname, Michael Piñata. In that outing, he allowed three home runs in just five innings, allowing four earned runs and being tagged with the loss. I like Otto better, but Pineda could be a good option in deep leagues, as he has a career sub-4.00 ERA and has long averaged around a strikeout per inning. Add in that he now plays in a pitcher-friendly AL Central and you have a very serviceable starter for your squad.
Dany Jimenez, RP, Oakland A’s
Dany Jimenez’s ownership is rising so fast, he started the week as a deeper league add and now might be more appropriate for the shallow league section! Jimenez was a potential closer candidate as recently as 10 days ago, but has logged the A’s last three saves and now appears to be firmly locked into the role. And why not? Through 9 innings, Jimenez has yet to allow a run, has allowed only 8 hits, walked just 2, and struck out 9. He’ll allow a run sooner or later, but for now, he’s the clear closer for Oakland and that is definitely worth and add.
That it for this week folks. Stay tuned to us on Twitter @weknowfantasy and @fantasybbguru for more real-time updates, but most importantly, check your wire! Good luck and see you out there.