It is one of those weekends where I have no colorful anecdotes or words of wisdom to share with the masses. What I do have for you is a number of under-owned players who can help your fantasy team now – that is why you are here, right? And away we go!
Adam Duvall (Reds): After hitting .226 in April with only two home runs and five each in the run and RBI categories, Duvall has caught fire. His May totals are double what we saw in April and the batting average is 100 points higher. Just as impressive is the fact that he cut his strikeout total in half – it’s been a while since we’ve seen his strikeout percentage below 20. His walk total could use a little work as well as his contact skills, but we’ll take the small improvements as they come.
For now, Duvall is playing everyday and hitting for average and power. He hit 30 home runs in each of the past two seasons, and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t get close to that number this year. This could be more than a short-term addition to your fantasy squad.
Available in 72% of CBS, 84% of Y! and 82% of ESPN leagues
Brandon Guyer (Rays): Guyer’s .324 part-time batting average in April earned him additional at bats in May. It has also earned him a spot at the top of the lineup; an odd place for a guy who doesn’t draw walks and hasn’t shown any speed compared to last season, but nobody is arguing with the results. The fact that he can play all three outfield positions works to his advantage, but now with Kevin Kiermaier headed to the disabled list that no longer matters. It’s a coin flip on who will play left and center between Jennings and Guyer, but the important thing is that Guyer will be in the lineup almost nightly now.
Last season Guyer hit eight home runs and stole 10 bases over 332 at bats. He is halfway to that home run total in under 100 at bats, and with the improved ISO and hard hit rate I can see him cracking another 12 or more over the next four months. He may even start chipping in some steals soon too. As long as Guyer is making solid contact he is worth owning.
Available in 92% of CBS, 97% of Y! and 95% of ESPN leagues
Steve Pearce (Rays): Maybe you might prefer Guyer’s teammate, who is also seeing more playing time in May thanks to a hot bat and poor hitting by Logan Morrison (.170) and Tim Beckham (.174). His May power surge has him batting in the cleanup position, and that is where all five of his May home runs have come from.
I know Pearce has been a disappointment for years, but he did have one successful season in 2014 where he hit .293 with 21 home runs. This season looks a lot like that one, the difference being he is walking more, making better contact, and his average is not BABIP-dependent. Pearce qualifies for first base and outfield, second base in most leagues, and depending on your eligibility rules he could also qualify for third. Second base is where he could deliver the best value, but you could do worse using him as a fourth outfielder.
Available in 66% of CBS, 75% of Y! and 77% of ESPN leagues
Trayce Thompson (Dodgers): In the minors Thompson showed us a nice combination of power and speed, the ability to draw a walk, his propensity for strikeouts, and his inability to hit for average. His best batting average was in 2015 at Triple-A where he batted .260. He then went on to hit .295 over 135 plate appearances with the White Sox. Thompson ended the year with 31 doubles, 18 home runs, 11 steals, and most importantly a strikeout percentage below 20.
This season the strikeout percentage is close to 25, but he is making better contact, his ISO is closing in on .300, and he is maintaining an average close to .300. Thompson has five home runs so far in May in only 33 at bats, and with every hit he is pressing for more playing time. He hits lefties and righties equally, for average and power, so he can spell Pederson against lefties and Crawford (.222 – 0 HR) and Puig (.211 in May) nightly. His bat is too hot right now to leave out of the lineup, and the more the Dodgers trio struggles the easier it is for management to bench them for Thompson.
I don’t think this will last all year, but Thompson is hitting now, and now is all that matters. Ride the hot streak.
Available in 84% of CBS, 93% of Y! and 90% of ESPN leagues
Evan Gattis (Astros): A lot of Gattis’ fantasy value derived from his eligibility at the catcher position. Once he became a DH only player he lost almost all fantasy appeal, even with the ability to hit 25 or more home runs. The Astros decided they want to use Gattis behind the plate again, and even sent him on a brief trip to the minors to hone his skills. The question is, will Gattis be worth using at catcher once he is eligible again?
Looking at his numbers so far you would think not. He hit just his second home run of the season on Tuesday, plus he is striking out more and making less contact than any time in his major league career. Still, it’s early, and he is only one year removed from 27 home runs and does have three consecutive 20+ home run seasons. If you have a weak catching option or need a boost in home runs then Gattis makes a nice speculative add. Otherwise you can monitor his progress on the waiver wire.
Available in 45% of CBS, 55% of Y! and 69% of ESPN leagues
Danny Valencia (A’s): He hit an empty .294 in April and then missed some time with a hamstring injury. Many owners that drafted him just moved on to the next hot player, but those that stuck with him or were quick to the wire are now reaping the rewards. Valencia is hitting over .400 this month and all of his home runs were hit after May 12th. I know I was skeptical myself last season, and the lack of power to start this year made me think I was right to be. I was wrong, and I missed out on Valencia. Hopefully you were quicker than me – he is still out there for some of you though, but as of Friday his ownership levels continue to rise so he may be gone by the time you read this.
Available in 35% of CBS, 52% of Y! and 49% of ESPN leagues
Jonathan Schoop (Orioles): Another rags to riches story. Schoop batted .218 in April and left a lot of owners unhappy with their purchase. Hopefully you held on to him or were able to scoop Schoop (say that 10 times real fast) up off waivers because May has been a fine month for batting average. He is hitting over .300 right now with similar counting stats to April, and we still have another week left to the month. This may just be a hot streak so don’t get too attached, but don’t be surprised if these few hot weeks turn into a few hot months.
Available in 66% of Y! and 55% of ESPN leagues
Jose Reyes (Rockies): Now that we know how long Reyes will be out, it’s time to start planning for his return. I know some of you don’t see value in Reyes anymore after his disappointing 2015 season. While you didn’t get the numbers you paid for in 2015, it was hardly a disappointing season. Sure he only played in 116 games, but he still managed 24 stolen bases and 50+ in each runs and RBIs. He even socked seven home runs and could have reached double digits if not for the missed time. Those totals, despite not being what we expected, ranked Reyes 5th on the ESPN player rater. Tulowitzki ranked 9th, and he missed a hell of lot more time than Reyes has over the past five seasons, yet we still prop him up on a pedestal. Reyes is no longer elite, but he is every bit as good as Elvis Andrus, except with a better batting average.
Now to deal with the 600 pound gorilla in the room, namely Trevor Story. Let’s face facts people. The Rockies are paying Jose Reyes 22 million dollars a season. Let me say that again so the reality sinks in: The Rockies are paying Jose Reyes 22 Million Dollars a season. I know every loves Story. Everyone knows he is the future for Colorado at the shortstop position, but the Rockies are not going to sit 22 million dollars on the bench just to appease fantasy owners. Either Story will have to learn a few more positions and use versatility to force his way into the lineup or Reyes will – I’d assume either second base or left field. A trade is coming, but until that day Reyes should be in the lineup more often than not.
Available in 49% of CBS, 77% of Y! and 92% of ESPN leagues
Tony Kemp (Astros): Carlos Gomez landed on the DL
because he sucks with bruised ribs and will be out for several weeks. If you’re looking for a sneaky fill-in option you might want to consider Kemp. After three years at Vanderbilt he was signed by the Astros. He struggled to hit for average in the low minors, but took off once he was promoted to A+ where he was a .300 hitter. It was the same story in Double-A, and while he didn’t hit .300 in Triple-A, nobody is going to complain about a .281. He was on his was to .300 this year (.298) prior to his promotion so maybe he just needed a little time.
Kemp has two calling cards, batting average (which I just covered) and speed. He has over 100 steals in his short minor league career, although the success rate needs some work. The Astros are currently batting him ninth which isn’t ideal, until you remember that he is batting ahead of Altuve, Springer and Correa. That lethal combination should ensure Kemp sees plenty of good pitchers and has ample run scoring opportunities. This is a short-term add (no pun intended – he’s the same height as Altuve), and one (realistically) for those that use more than four outfielders, but it could pay off.
Kemp qualifies for second base on ESPN and Yahoo – bonus points.
Available in 97% of CBS, 99% of Y! and 98% of ESPN leagues
Matt Bush (Rangers): After multiple arrests over the years for offenses ranging anywhere from minor misdemeanors to more serious charges like assault and battery and a hit and run accident while under the influence, the real life Ricky Vaughn is looking to make a comeback. Putting past indiscretions to the side, Bush can still throw – even at age 30. During spring training his fastball was regularly clocked in the upper 90’s and he even surpassed 100 MPH a number of times. His other two pitches, a curveball and slider, both need some work, but as long as Bush has heat he can get away with a below average secondary offering.
It only took Bush 17 innings in Double-A to prove he still belongs. Prior to his promotion, Bush had 18 strikeouts with a 2.65 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. The jury is out on how he will handle the majors after all that time off, but the team is in desperate need of bullpen help. Closer Shawn Tolleson was just pulled from the closer role, and Sam Dyson is now the new ninth inning man. The Rangers will now need a reliable arm to bridge the gap, and right now Jake Deikman is the only arm that can be considered worthy. In turn, Bush could be put into some high leverage situations early which would result in more holds (for those that use them) and also put him next in line should something happen to Dyson.
The days of playing for the California Penal League are in the past (hopefully).
Available in 93% of CBS, 94% of Y! and 98% of ESPN leagues
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor my hits
and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.
This is the last week Marcell Ozuna and Steven Wright will appear here. Their ownership levels have reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Mark Reynolds, Michael Saunders, Melky Cabrera, Tyler Chatwood, Matt Andriese and Bartolo Colon are all still solid adds. Also Kevin Gausman on Yahoo and ESPN.
- Derek Dietrich and Jake Lamb both had an off week, but one bad week doesn’t warrant being downgraded.
- Melvin Upton is back to being fantasy relevant again- ride the streak.
- Trevor Bauer is not a must add, but he deserves strong considerations.
- Eduardo Nunez is still hitting well enough to be used as a middle infielder.
- Mike Napoli is still hitting well enough to be used as a corner infielder.
- Tim Lincecum makes an interesting speculative add now that he has signed with the Halo’s.
Stash – Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion
- Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trea Turner, Blake Snell
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Javier Baez has cooled and is not getting at bats. His talent warrants a hold, but his current numbers say otherwise. Do what you will here.
- Brandon Moss is in the same boat as Baez, but with less talent and upside.
- Jeremy Hazelbaker is hitting slightly better than Moss, but I might give him another week or two before officially calling it quits – feel free to drop if there are better options on waivers though.
- Mallex Smith had a decent week hitting, and could be in line for more playing time with AAA manager Brian Snitker taking the helm.
- Rubby De La Rosa had his start skipped due to “nagging injuries”. They say it’s nothing major, but we’ve heard that before.
- Homer Bailey and A.J. Griffin are worth a hold, but only if you have a DL slot for them. Don’t waste the bench spot if you don’t.
- Joe Mauer is hitting .189 in May. That hot April was fun though.
- Sean Rodriguez is now officially a drop – buh bye.
- Eddie Rosario had a strong week with the bat, but not enough to warrant a hold. The same goes for teammate Danny Santana.
- Aaron Blair was mercifully sent back to the minors.
- That’s too many bad weeks in a row for Joey Rickard and Nick Markakis.
- Jayson Werth is still worth a hold in leagues with 12 or more teams that use 5 or more outfielders, but everyone else feel free to jettison him.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown