Justin Bour (Marlins)
Available in 56% of CBS, 77% of Y! and 73% of ESPN leagues
Bour is under-owned partly due to the fact he sits versus lefties, but he’s batting .276 against righties with 13 home runs over 174 at bats. For the season and the last 30 days he ranks just outside the top 20 first basemen, but over the past two weeks he has jumped into the top-10 batting .419 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
Last season Bour hit .262 with 23 home runs over 409 at bats, but nobody thought he could repeat. Well, he’s halfway there now. The walk rate increased since last season (7.6% to 10.1%) as did his hard hit rate (33.7% to 39.2%) while the strikeout rate has gone down (22.6% to 19.7%). His contact rate has remained the same, but it has improved inside the zone with fewer swings.
Bour is quietly exceeding expectations and is worthy of being used as a corner infielder or utility player in mixed leagues. And if you don’t need him, pick him up anyway and stash him on your bench so nobody else can have him – he could be used as trade bait later on.
Johnny Giavotella (Angels)
Available in 89% of CBS, 96% of Y! and 94% of ESPN leagues
Just like Bour, Giavotella ranks outside the top 20 for the season and the past 30 day for second basemen. Over the past two weeks though, Giavotella has been a top-five option batting .365 with four home runs, seven RBIs and nine runs scored. His six home runs already surpasses last year’s total of four, and with a close to 12 point jump in hard hit rate (up to 28% this year) it is probable he will finish in the double digits for home runs.
The .279 batting average for the season does not appear to be lucky, but it is driven somewhat by a 25.7% line drive rate. Normally I would say this would regress to the 20% range, but he did post a 23.7% line drive rate last season so maybe this is part of his game. Unfortunately Giavotella doesn’t have a set spot in the lineup so predicting run and RBI totals is impossible, but since he is not locked in to the bottom half, his numbers should end up being better than replacement level at the very least.
Second base is a deep position so I don’t expect many to roster Giavotella as their starting second basemen, but if you use a middle infield slot and need a quick boost I see no reason not to add him.
Max Kepler (Twins)
Available in 82% of CBS, 95% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
Kepler hasn’t done much this season, batting just .247 with two home runs, two stolen bases, and 12 RBIs over 89 at bats. However, over the last two weeks Kepler is batting .275 with two home runs, two stolen bases, and 10 RBIs – those numbers got him a ranking of 12 on the ESPN player rater. While his season average may be low, Kepler is batting .293 against right-handed pitchers so if you play the platoon card he is somewhat productive.
Can he keep this production up? My magic 8-ball says “outlook not so good”, but it has been wrong before. Kepler has shown limited power in the minors, enough to maybe hit 10 home runs on a good year. The speed is average; he stole 19 bases last year so I would make that his ceiling. He won’t score many runs hitting towards the bottom of the lineup, and RBI opportunities will be limited as well.
I know none of this makes him seem worthy of a roster spot, but a strong batting average will eventually get you some decent counting stats – more often than not. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for from a fourth outfielder or bench player – at least until something better comes along.
Paulo Orlando (Royals)
Available in 93% of CBS, 96% of Y! and 97% of ESPN leagues
Orlando is a 30-year-old career minor league outfielder with limited pop and speed who is allergic to walks. His minor league batting average sat in the .275 range for the past four years, and when Kansas City gave him a shot last year is was for depth purposes only. This year Orlando is surprising everyone with his bat and making a push for more playing time.
After hitting .267 in April in limited at bats, he posted a .429 average in May over 63 at bats. Surprisingly the high average carried over into June as he is batting .333 this month over 69 at bats. He’s hitting .340 against lefties and .365 against righties. With just one home run and just five steals (three this month) his value is limited. He also only has six RBIs and five runs scored this month, mainly due to hitting towards the bottom portion of the lineup combined with the Royals offense not clicking on all cylinders.
Right now Orlando is an empty batting average, but if he gets moved up in the order some and the Royals start to hit, we could see a big bump in counting stats. Orlando is a nice bench player to own and use on off days, but there is the potential for more if he keeps hitting the way he has.
Steven Moya (Tigers)
Available in 73% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 87% of ESPN leagues
Prior to this season it looked like Moya would be a .250 hitter with big power that would eventually collapse from the weight of all his strikeouts. From 2013 to 2015 Moya’s strikeout rate sat between 25 and 30 percent, but this season in Triple-A he was able to rein in the K’s and lower his strikeout rate to 21.4%. His average was also up this year in Triple-A to .298 (.310 vs lefties – .294 vs righties), and the .327 BABIP shows there wasn’t much luck behind it.
As for the power, Moya hit 33 doubles and 35 home runs in 2014 at Double-A, and 33 doubles and 23 home runs last season between two levels. He has only tasted the majors in the past, but with J.D. Martinez out for an extended period, Moya gets a chance to make his mark.
So far so good as Moya is hitting .322 with four doubles, two triples and three home runs over 59 at bats. The strikeouts have returned (28.6%), and the average is BABIP driven (.421 BABIP) so regression is in the cards, but until it shows up there is no reason not to give Moya a shot while he is hitting and receiving full-time at bats.
Marcus Semien (A’s)
Available in 47% of CBS, 62% of Y! and 78% of ESPN leagues
Semien ranks just outside the top-12 for the season and the past 30 days; that makes him a top middle infield player, or worthy of a bench spot at the very least. Like Justin Bour above, Semien has jumped into the top 10 over the past two weeks batting .313 with two home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored.
For the season he is only bating .244, but he does have 13 home runs over 246 at bats – he hit 15 last season over 556 at bats. The walk rate is up from last season (7% to 8.9%), and while the hard hit rate has dropped some (29.1% to 26.7%), the fly ball rate has increased (38.8% to 41.4%) and he added a few feet onto his average fly ball distance (283 feet) to help support the higher home run totals.
Semien will not finish in the top-10 for shortstops, but he will rank just outside – that’s a lot of value to be sitting out there on waivers. Let’s see if we can correct that over the next few weeks.
A.J. Reed (Astros)
Available in 42% of CBS, 70% of Y! and 84% of ESPN leagues
Reed may not be ready for the majors judging by his numbers this season at Triple-A, but the Astros are willing to roll the dice. Prior to his promotion Reed was hitting .266 with 19 doubles and 11 home runs over 222 at bats. Reed hit over .300 from college all the way through Double-A – except for Class-A; he hit .272 over 125 at bats there. Last season he hit 34 home runs between two levels so it’s understandable some may be disappointed to only see 11 this season.
There are two areas of concern with Reed. The first is his issues hitting lefties, with a .238 average in Double-A and a .222 this year in Triple-A. The second issue is strikeouts; Reed saw his strikeout rate increase again this year, up to 23.4%. These two things are tied together since he strikes out more against lefties than righties – the strikeout rate against lefties this year is close to 30%.
If the average does not improve and the strikeouts continue, Reed may become a platoon player. He’s on the right side of the platoon mind you, but sitting versus lefties puts him right there with Justin Bour – only with more potential. Reed is still young, has a lot of upside, and is worth gambling on if he is available. Just temper your expectations, and don’t expect him to save your team.
Seung-Hwan Oh (Cardinals)
Available in 75% of CBS, 69% of Y! and 83% of ESPN leagues
I discussed the similarities between Trevor Rosenthal’s career numbers and those of Fernando Rodney in last week’s closer report. Since then he has had two clean saves (clean for Rosenthal), but three appearances where he allowed a total of seven earned runs while only registering one out – that’s one out total over three appearances. While management hasn’t stated anything publicly, the writing is on the wall. It’s time for Seung-Hwan Oh.
Oh has a 1.66 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over 38 innings. He has issued eight walks (1.89 BB/9) and racked up 51 strikeouts (12.08 K/9). His 1.42 FIP is in line with his ERA, and the SIERA (2.13) and xFIP (2.52) only point to mild regression – if he even does regress. Oh did a great job as a closer in Korea and saved a total of 80 games during his two seasons in Japan – with similar ratios and strikeout numbers I might add. Even without the saves, his ratios and strikeout numbers can help any fantasy team. Don’t wait for St Louis to drop the hammer; make a preemptive strike.
Josh Bell (Pirates)
Available in 83% of CBS, 97% of Y!, and 98% of ESPN leagues
Bell was recommended as a stash a little while back, but given this is the time of the year where promotions are right around the corner, I thought he deserved another shout-out. To date, Bell is hitting .316 with 17 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. The batting average is split equally between lefties (.311) and righties (.319) and well as home (.310) and away (.321). His walk rate is down some from last season (11.7%) and his strikeout rate is up (16.2%), but I don’t think anyone is complaining.
Bell hit .335 in High-A, .303 in Double-A, and has a .326 average in Triple-A. The power is still developing, but the bat is major league ready right now. John Jaso has done an adequate job holding down first base, but a .278 average with four home runs and 22 RBIs is hardly the type of numbers you want from your corner man. If you missed out on A.J. Reed and you want a nice consolation prize, roster Bell Now!
Hunter Renfroe (Padres)
Available in 90% of CBS, 99% of Y! and 98% of ESPN leagues
The main factor keeping Renfroe in the minors, other than the Padres wanting to ensure they get an extra year of control, is playing time. Kemp and Upton’s large contracts will keep them on the field, so that leaves Jon Jay who hasn’t been half bad this year. Last Sunday, Jay was hit on the wrist by a pitch and has not played since. The team has discussed a trip to the disabled list, and if that should happen we could see Renfroe very, very soon.
This year in Triple-A he is batting .318 (.364 vs lefties – .299 vs righties) with 23 doubles and 17 home runs over 299 at bats. Last season he had 27 doubles and 20 home runs over 510 at bats across two levels. He hit .333 in Triple-A, but only .259 in Double-A, and .232 in Double-A the previous season. Whether he improved or his average is a product of the PCL remains to be seen.
Renfroe did improve his strikeout rate which is down to 18.3%. Walks, however, are still alluding him. He had a 4.2 walk percentage last season in Triple-A, and this year it is down to 2.9 percent. The low walks are the biggest knock on him right now, otherwise he looks to be ready for that next step. Renfroe is worth a stash, and if he hits the ground running he could be a difference maker.
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 monitor their progress until they either graduate (over 50% ownership on all three sites) or are listed as drops (sometimes you’ve just got to cut a man loose).
This is the last week Mike Napoli, Michael Saunders, Trevor Bauer, Jake Lamb, Rajai Davis and Jonathan Schoop will appear here. Their ownership level has reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Hitters:Wilson Contreras, Melky Cabrera, Mark Reynolds, Devon Travis, Didi Gregorius, Tyler Naquin
- Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Gausman, Blake Snell, Daniel Mengden, Zach Eflin, Carlos Estevez and Matt Bush
- Tim Anderson and Joe Mauer had an off week, but nothing to panic over.
- Tim Lincecum looked good in his first start against Oakland, but those same A’s hammered him in his second start. His next two starts are against Houston (Tuesday) and at Tampa.
- Jose Reyes is now with the Mets and should see full-time at bats once he’s done with his minor league stint.
- Matt Adams has been slowed by back issues, but his numbers still warrant an addition unless it turns out to be something other than stiffness.
- Jefry Marte stopped hitting the day he was recommended here. Coincidence, or just a small slump?
Stash – Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion
- Hunter Renfroe, Josh Bell, Alex Bregman, Tyler Glasnow, Alex Reyes
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Kolten Wong is hitting the like the player we saw prior to his demotion as opposed to the one that tore up Triple-A. He should qualify for the outfield in Yahoo leagues by the end of the weekend for what it’s worth.
- Corey Dickerson continues to tease with his power. Drop or hold depending on your waiver wire outfield depth. The same goes for Peter O’Brien who is doing a pretty good Corey Dickerson impersonation.
- It looks like the party is over for Robbie Grossman, but give him another week just in case it is a cold spell.
- Trayce Thompson is mired in a two week slump. You may want to start looking for an alternative.
- Brandon Guyer should only be stashed if you have room on your DL.
- Dae-ho Lee has zero home runs over the past two weeks. I would hold, but feel free to drop him if there are better options available.
- Mitch Moreland‘s streak could be over, and if it truly is then keep your eye on Ryan Rua.
- Cody Reed was hit hard this past week which should curb buying from future owners, but he is much too talented to just dismiss.
- Ryan Zimmerman is back to being replacement level. Keep him on your watch list for the next hot streak.
- Wilmer Flores is not going to be given a full-time role, and he’s not hitting well enough in a part-time role to warrant a hold. His versatility makes him deserving of a spot on your watch list in case things change.
- Tommy Joseph hit .158 with a home run last week and .125 with two home runs the week before. Ryan Howard 2.0 is in full effect.
Need more waiver wire recommendations and free agent pick-ups, check out Fantasy Rundown daily for that and more.
Latest posts by Jim Finch (see all)
- Where Is The Pitching Legend Orel Hershiser Now? - January 17, 2017
- Tom’s Trophy to Lose - January 7, 2017
- Five Early Picks For Impact Fantasy Rookies In 2017 - January 5, 2017
- Yasmani Grandal: Overrated catching option in 2017 - January 2, 2017
- Is Matt Carpenter still a top-10 at first base - December 19, 2016