Each week I will dig through the f/a pool to find the best potential free agents on waivers (under 50% ownership on ESPN and Yahoo). Some are good for a quick boost, others could be good long-term additions, and there will be a few speculative adds thrown in there as well. And just like in years past, I will be tracking previously recommended players and if they are still worthy of a roster spot. Now on to what you came here for.
- Alex Gordon (OF)
I was tempted to list Gordon last week and almost added him myself. Sadly I missed out – Gordon continues to hit and his ownership rate is on the rise. Gordon is currently hitting .360 with 3 home runs and double digits in both runs and RBI. He’s also batting 3rd; that’s a nice change since Gordon hasn’t had a set spot in the order for quite some time. Like in previous years the walk rate is strong, but the strikeout rate is uncharacteristically low, over half his career average. He has built on last years career high hard hit rate, going from 37.9 to 42.9. He is also showing stronger contact skills (85.4%), swinging at a career low number of pitches outside the zone while improving the O-contact%.
Small sample size.., yes. That said, Gordon is hot now and should continue this hot streak for a little while longer.
- Freddy Galvis (SS)
Galvis has found the life in Toronto that was meant for Troy Tulowitzki. He is currently batting .351 with four home runs and has recently been seen batting at the top of the lineup. All this sounds good, and if you need shortstop or middle infield help I’d be all over Galvis. Just be aware that Cinderella will soon turn back into a pumpkin. Galvis is posting a career low contact rate along with a career high swing rate – not a good combination. The current hard hit rate is high for Galvis, but average overall so don’t expect the home run binge to continue. Once the .300+ ISO drops along with the fly ball rate which is close to 50%, this can go south quickly.
Galvis has had his hot moments in the past which is why he’s always on the radar, but he just can’t sustain the production over a full season to warrant holding when he cools off. Grab him and enjoy while you can.
- Jorge Polanco (SS)
Polanco isn’t as hot as Galvis, but he does have more upside and offers a more stable – albeit boring – middle infield option. Everyone like to focus on the 80 PED suspension and lackluster numbers in 2018. Don’t forget, the former top-100 prospect batted .284 or higher from Class-A on up. He has double-digit power and speed. And this year the Twins have had him batting 2nd so the runs total could be strong and the RBI numbers better than average. It’s things like this that made Polanco a sleeper on many lists in 2018.
The red flag, just like with Galvis above, is an increase in swings (both in and out of the zone) coupled with a drop in overall contact – an uptick in hard contact has evened things out. The lower contact percentage doesn’t bother me, though, since it is still solid – solid enough to hold an average north of .280. I was a fan prior to the season and am still on board.
- Josh Phegley (C)
In 2014 at Triple-A Phegley hit 24 home runs along with a .274 batting average. That is the last time anyone had anything good…, well, anything at all to say about the former first round draft pick. Coincidentally, that is the last time we saw a hard hit rate north of 40% for him. At 31 years of age and little to nothing to show for a major league career I don’t expect him to continue to hit .300 and show power. However, when it comes to the catcher position, and as it applies to those of us that play the catcher carousel, you need to quickly identify and take advantage of every hot trend. That’s basically what Phegley is right now, a trend – the flavor of the month if you will.
The batting average is fueled in part by an unsustainable line drive rate (43.3%) and improvements in strikeouts. The latter is something he can control; the former, however, will come down. When that happens we’ll re-address the situation. Until then, ride the Phegley train until it derails.
- Hunter Dozier (1B)
“With horrible plate skills and mediocre power, Dozier will need to take several steps forward to be a fantasy option in 2019.” That is the FanGraphs preseason summary of Dozier, and I can’t argue with it one bit.
Well, the sample size is small, but it looks as if Dozier has taken a few of those steps. First off, the soft contact rate is down to 10% while the hard contact is still over 40%; that bodes well for the aforementioned power. Dozier is also striking out less, 16.7% compared to a 27.2% career and numbers well over 30% since his cup of coffee in 2016. The walk rate is also strong in the early goings (9.3%), resembling what he did in the minors. And Dozier is also making better contact this year, chasing fewer pitches outside the zone while tagging everything that crosses the plate (95.7% Z-contact).
Those few improvements, should they stick, combined with a static BABIP suggest he could maintain an average north of .270. And if this new-found disciple does continue we could see the former first round pick move higher than sixth in the order, increasing run and RBI potential. With the exception of Double-A – where he hit .223 – Dozier hit .277 or higher at every level. He is also at an age (27) that players tend to breakout. Not saying Dozier will, but all signs are pointing in the right direction. There is CI potential here.
- Nick Margevicius (SP)
I tend to shy away from recommending pitchers early; things are so volatile this time of year and one bad start can reverse the fortunes of any waiver add with pitchers having a limited number of starts to judge them by. I’ll make an exception, though, for Margevicius – at least for his first trip through the league. He doesn’t possess high heat, but he does have a solid four-pitch arsenal with varying speeds to keep hitters off-balance (similar to Kyle Hendricks). The hard contact and overall contact rate is higher than I’d like, but this is countered by a ground ball rate of 50% and soft contact rate of 25%. This has helped limit the number of long balls (0.54 minor league HR/9), and his plate control has helped limit the number of free passes (1.23 minor league BB/9) and get ahead in the count early this season (67.8 F-Strike%).
What I like most about Margevicius, and the reason why I only like him for his first trip through the league, is that there is really no book on him. He hasn’t pitched above High-A, has only thrown 182 minor league innings, and wasn’t expected to start the season in the majors. The limited experience doesn’t play in his favor, but at the same time the limited exposure and overall scouting makes it hard for teams – at least in the early goings – to get a true read on what to expect. Once teams have a little more to go on things could change, but for now Margevicius makes for a solid streaming option at a minimum. His home park is just an added bonus, which is where he’ll make his next start Tuesday against the Rockies followed by the Mariners before hitting the road against the Braves.
This is the last week Dansby Swanson and Ketel Marte will appear here. Their ownership rate is over 50% and both should be owned in all competitive leagues. If either is still available in your league – Last Call!
Continue to ADD
- Alex Verdugo is playing every other day and making a case for additional at bats. You may want to act now before that happens.
HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)
- Ryon Healy went homerless this past week and the average came down to earth. Give him another week; I still have hope.
- While I still think Dominic Smith deserves a shot, it doesn’t appear he will get that opportunity – at least right now. I would still keep him on your watch list.
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