The waiver wire isn’t just about looking for the next hot player. OK; it is, but often times players are overlooked due to a slow start or dismissed based upon a poor track record or even age. What a player has done in the past should not matter. Mike Moustakas proved that last year, and Melvin Upton is on his way to proving that in 2016. Fantasy baseball is all about the numbers – everything else is irrelevant. That brings us to today’s waiver wire; players who are under-owned for a variety of reasons that demand your attention.
Kendrys Morales (Royals)
Available in 53% of CBS, 42% of Y! and 67% of ESPN leagues
Hopes were high after Morales hit .290 with 22 home runs and 106 RBIs in 2015. This year he hit .226 with two home runs in April and followed that up with a .163 average with four home runs in May. The first part of June wasn’t much better as his batting average stood at just .205 on June 16th. Since then he has raised his average 57 points up to .262, and over that span he has five home runs and 17 RBIs. That makes Morales the top rated hitter on the ESPN player rater over the past 15 days. If an owner gave up on Morales and he is sitting out there on waivers, add him to your roster now.
Yasmany Tomas (Diamondbacks)
Available in 44% of CBS, 68% of Y! and 65% of ESPN leagues
For the season Tomas ranks just inside the top-50 outfielders – good solid numbers worthy of being a fourth outfielder, but overall nothing special. Over the past few weeks Tomas has turned it up a notch batting .280 with four home runs, eight RBIs and a stolen base. That’s good enough to rank him 11th on the ESPN player rater. His average against righties still needs work (.240) and for some reason he struggles in hitter friendly Chase Field, but he is crushing lefties (.324 with six home runs over 74 at bats) and is great on the road (.296 with 10 home runs). Tomas may have lost some at bats in the early months, but the increased hitting should ensure he’s in the lineup on a nightly basis.
Colby Rasmus (Astros)
Available in 41% of CBS, 72% of Y! and 66% of ESPN leagues
Rasmus was a hot play in April batting .263 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He fell off hard in May and hit .194 with just one home run, and just like Morales above he was cold through the first two weeks of June. However the last two weeks he has found his swing (Bagger Vance paid him a visit). During that time Rasmus is batting .432 and raised his average 30 points. He only has one home run, but he does have 10 for the season and has averaged 22 home runs a year over the past four years so another barrage of long balls should be on its way. CBS owners did not give up on him, but he is widely available on Yahoo and ESPN.
Bartolo Colon (Mets)
Available in 43% of CBS, 59% of Y! and 65% of ESPN leagues
Colon was recommend a while back, but given his numbers and ownership levels, I feel the need to beat the proverbial dead horse. Here’s the relevant facts on Colon – prior to his start last night against the Cubs.
- He is the 43rd ranked starting pitcher on the ESPN player rater.
- His 2.86 ERA ranks inside the top 20 for qualified starters.
- His 1.17 WHIP ranks inside the top 30 for qualified starters.
- He has given up two or fewer runs in 11 of his 16 starts.
- He has allowed more than three earned runs in a game just once.
I know everyone is enamored with K’s, but strikes are boring and fascist. Colon can eat innings (cue the fat jokes), is stingy with walks, and consistently puts himself in line for the win. Colon is not an ace, but he is a terrific complement for those aces and can easily anchor the back-end of your fantasy staff. Ignore the age; the numbers are all that matters in fantasy.
Brett Lawrie (White Sox)
Available in 49% of CBS, 64% of Y! and 44% of ESPN leagues
Lawrie ranks just inside the top 20 on the ESPN player rater for the season and just outside for the past 30 days. Just like the other hitters above, he flipped a switch midway through June. During that time he has raised his average 28 points by batting .333 with five doubles, four home runs, five RBIs, seven runs scored and two stolen bases. That makes him the 6th best second baseman over that stretch. Lawrie is on pace to match last year’s run, RBI and batting average marks. He has six steals so he should easily surpass 10 by season’s end, and his 11 home runs put him in line to finish with 20. Only one second baseman finished the 2015 season with 20 home runs and double-digit steals, Brian Dozier.
Javier Baez (Cubs)
Available in 53% of CBS and 73% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Baez started the season as a man without a position. He totaled only 29 at bats in April, but he made the most of each of them and received additional looks in May. Unfortunately he only hit .219 and did little to instill faith in fantasy owners who began to jump ship. On June 1st his batting average stood at .242. Since then he has raised his average to .269 thanks in part to a .292 June average with six home runs, 12 runs scored and 21 RBIs. He even chipped in three stolen bases. That makes him a top-12 second base, third base and shortstop option over the past 30 days (he should qualify at all three positions next season). Baez has been batting fifth lately which is a big bump considering he was regularly batted 6th or lower, and he is receiving regular playing time all over the diamond.
Anthony DeSclafani (Reds)
Available in 41% of CBS, 55% of Y! and 69% of ESPN leagues
He was on a number of sleeper lists coming into the season, but an oblique strain lowered or negated his draft status, and some of those that did draft him had to cut bait when their disabled list filled up. Well, Tony D is back ladies and gentlemen. His first start against Oakland was a little rough, and then the Braves debacle had us questioning if he could take a step forward from last year. His last three starts, though, have been terrific. He went seven innings in Texas, giving up just two runs on five hits; then he pitched eight innings of five hit shutout ball against the Padres, and finally on Friday he went 6.2 innings at Washington giving up two runs on six hits. Oh, and 19 strikeouts over 21.2 innings. It’s a small sample size, but that three game stretch ranked 6th on the ESPN player rater over the past 15 days. His ownership rates are rising so act now.
Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians)
Available in 74% of Y! and 79% of CBS and ESPN leagues
Is this just a hot streak for the 27-year-old former first round pick, or is Chisenhall a late bloomer? After a quiet April with minimal at bats, Chisenhall quietly hit .313 in May. The average went unnoticed – mainly due to the lack of counting stats, and because of his lackluster past the average was dismissed by most as a fluke. That was not the case though as he batted .302 in June with four home runs, 13 RBIs and 10 runs scored. So what’s changed?
There are a number of noticeable differences when you dig into the numbers. He is posting the best walk (7.5%), strikeout (15.4%), F-Strike (60.7%), line drive (26.8%) and hard hit (27.3%) percentages of his career. The .175 ISO is similar to the .173 he posted in 2013 when he hit 11 home runs over 289 at bats. The batting average improvements can be linked to both the improvements in walks and strikeouts, but also an increase in his Z-Swing% which has upped his overall contact percentage.
The increase in line drives has inflated his BABIP, and potentially the batting average, so it may not last, but he’s hitting now – that’s what matters, right? Chisenhall was once considered a highly touted prospect. Maybe this is just a hot streak; maybe he’s finally figured things out – only time will tell. I’m not fully on board here, but I’m highly intrigued by the improvements in his underlying metrics. He’s worth a speculative add if you need a fourth outfielder, corner infielder or backup bench player for both spots.
Mark Reynolds (Rockies)
Available in 68% of CBS, 69% of Y! and 73% of ESPN leagues
Just like with Bartolo Colon, Reynolds was someone recommended a while back, on May 1st to be exact, when he hit .311 with two home runs, seven RBIs and 11 runs scored while platooning with Ben Paulsen. He carried over that hot batting average into May, hitting .303 with nine RBIs and 12 runs scored, but the lack of home runs did not help his cause. Enter the month of June where Reynolds was now in sole possession of the first base job. The average did finally drop (.271), but the power finally arrived. Reynolds hit six home runs last month and totaled 17 each in the run and RBI categories.
Reynolds has a lot of competition at first base so his hot June only ranked 16th on the ESPN player rater – not good enough to be a starter, but more than worthy of being a corner infielder or utility guy. He can hold his own against lefties (.260) and on the road (.264), and he has equal power both home and away. It’s his home starts you really want him for (.315) and every start against righties (.302 with all eight home runs).
The ISO, hard hit rate and fly ball percentage say don’t expect him to be that 30+ home run guy from years past, but the average fly ball distance of 294 feet says we should see (at least) another 10 home runs over the next three months. Plus the improved contact rate and career high line drive percentage should keep the average going. It’s time to start believing in Mark Reynolds again; at least as far as 2016 is concerned.
Marwin Gonzalez (Astros)
Available in 93% of ESPN and 89% of CBS and Y! leagues
Gonzalez isn’t the typical hot player that is recommended; he’s here for eligibility reasons. Right now Gonzalez should qualify for first base, third base and shortstop in all leagues and depending on your league setting he could also qualify for second base (Yahoo, CBS, Fantrax) and outfield (Yahoo). The outfield spot is no big loss if he doesn’t qualify, but a guy, who plays every day, that qualifies for every infield position – there’s a lot of value in that.
He didn’t have much value in April (.222) or May (.226), but in June Gonzalez flipped the switch like most of the hitters above. Trouble is, nobody noticed because when you look on waivers all you see is a .252 average with six home runs. Who wants that? Gonzo hit .298 with two home runs, three steals, nine RBIs and 16 runs scored. That ranks just outside the top-20 for first, third and short, and just inside the top-20 for second.
The past two years he average a .278 BA so expecting a solid average going forward isn’t too presumptuous. Assuming he gives us nine or so RBIs and 10 runs each month that puts him at 60 runs and 50 RBIs. Tack on double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases and you’ve got a nice cheap plug and play option to cover for injuries and off days. Gonzalez can alleviate the need for one of your backup bench guys and enable you to pickup that player you’ve been itching for but weren’t sure how to get him.
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 Willson Contreras and Seung-Hwan Oh will appear here. Their ownership level has reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Hitters: Melky Cabrera, Didi Gregorius, Mark Reynolds, Devon Travis, Tim Anderson, Marcus Semien, Justin Bour, Tyler Naquin
- Pitchers:Bartolo Colon, Kevin Gausman, Daniel Mengden, Zach Eflin and Carlos Estevez
- C.C. Sabathia has two clunkers in a row, but give him a few more starts before panicking.
- Jose Reyes may be working out at third base, but his value is at short. Despite the low numbers last year he still ranked in the top-10 at short so consider him if you’re struggling there.
- Steven Moya missed most of this week with a knee issue, but he’s still the same power hitter I recommended last week.
- Both Max Kepler and Paulo Orlando had an off week; not enough to warrant a drop, but since their value is tied to their average it is enough to be concerned about.
Stash – Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion
- Hunter Renfroe, Josh Bell, Alex Bregman, Alex Reyes and Tyler Glasnow – although Glasnow’s walks are worrisome.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Blake Snell has had a few tough opponents, and the struggles have made me question what he’ll do against weaker offenses.
- Brandon Guyer hit a home run in his return from the DL. Let’s see how he does over the next few days before moving him up or down.
- I said A.J. Reed didn’t look ready for the majors, and so far he doesn’t. There is still power upside here if you can hang on, but nobody would fault you for moving on.
- Brandon Moss’ hot bat means Matt Adams will take a seat even if his back is fine now. But really, how long can Moss swing a hot bat for?
- Kolten Wong is showing signs of life. Hold if you can, drop if you need to, and add if you’re feeling froggy.
- I am no longer listing Corey Dickerson here. We know he has power and a bad average. If the average ever starts to come around we’ll revisit his status.
- Matt Bush has seen his ERA triple over the past week. and while his ratios are still good, they are no longer in elite status – nor are the strikeouts.
- Mitch Moreland can be tossed back in the Ryan Zimmerman pile marked “pick up only when hot”.
- That’s three bad weeks for Trayce Thompson and Robbie Grossman. A home run by each of them this week doesn’t negate the lack of counting stats and bad batting average.
- Cody Reed has a lot of talent, but he looks overmatched. Keep him on your watch list though.
- Joe Mauer is back to being irrelevant and is not even worth a bench spot.
- Jefry Marte was just a short-term hot add – back to the waiver wire with you.
- I was excited as anyone about a potential Tim Lincecum comeback. It was a nice dream….
- Dae-Ho Lee can be dropped, but something tells me his names will be on add lists sometime in the second half.
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