Last week my waiver wire effort got a bit of a makeover. Instead of going position by position I chose to simply highlight the five best hitters and pitchers that are under 50% owned in the Yahoo game. This format allows me to pick the best adds and not be forced to come up with a pair of catchers each week. All God’s people said “amen.”
Yonder Alonso, Indians (33% owned)
His batting average is up to .254 thanks to his line drive rate rising up to 19.4%, up from the poor 14% or so he had early on in the season. These things normalize over time, and Alonso’s batted ball profile isn’t markedly different from 2017’s 28-homer campaign. He is making hard contact 39.1% of the time (more than last year) and is still hitting fly balls at a 41.9% rate (slightly less than last year’s 43.2% mark). Cleveland’s Progressive Field plays well for left-handed power, and by season’s end I expect Alonso to push for starting-caliber first baseman numbers. This should play well in your corner infield slot right now. For reference, Alonso is tied with Anthony Rizzo in home runs and bests Rizzo in runs and batting average. Rizzo is ranked one spot behind Alonso in the fake game currently. If you need a CI bat or some power, I’d grab Alonso now.
Mark Trumbo, Orioles (31% owned)
A 42.4% hard contact rate and 24.6% line drive rate somewhat offset the gargantuan 14.2% swinging strike rate. Trumbo’s 39.6% chase rate is also no bueno (the MLB average is 30.4%). Still, you won’t find many guys with his power pedigree floating around on waivers, and Trumbo’s z-contact% is the highest it has ever been save for his 2011 year. So yeah, he chases too much and misses too much, but he is making more contact in the zone and when he does hit the ball he’s strong enough to do damage. Over the last two weeks he is the No. 7 outfielder in the fake game. Only Odubel Herrera has hit more home runs in the outfield ranks over that time—six, compared to Trumbo’s five.
Manuel Margot, Padres (31% owned)
According to Statcast, Margot is a top-15 speed asset in baseball. He is tied at No. 15 overall with Dansby Swanson, Rajai Davis, Peter Bourjos, and teammate Travis Jankowski at 29.4 ft/sec. Last year he was 17-of-24 (70.8% success rate) on thefts, so I see no reason why he won’t improve this year’s 6-of-12 (50% success rate) ratio soon enough. The wheels are still there. Also, his .217 average against southpaws isn’t pretty, but he makes more hard contact (42.0%) against them and hits less ground balls against them (42.9% compared to 50.4% to RHP). It’s possible we see that number positively regress soon enough. While I can I’m taking a shot on him and hoping that he finally lives up to the preseason hype.
Kevin Kiermaier, Rays (21% owned)
Kiermaier is another preseason stud that many drafted to round out their outfield ranks due to his decent power/speed ability. Alas, he was sidelined for two months with a thumb injury, so that train was derailed right after it left the station. With 82 games left to play, it’s possible Kiermaier finishes with double-digit home runs and steals, with upside for more. He’ll be hitting leadoff for the Rays—which isn’t ideal for other categories—but we are digging fairly deep so don’t be picky.
Gerardo Parra, Rockies (21% owned)
He is the No. 12 outfielder in the game over the last two weeks, as he’s benefiting from consistent playing time that exists due to David Dahl’s broken foot. Dahl is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, which means Parra is a hot add right now. He has a very tolerable .303/.340/.424 slash line to go along with his five homers and six stolen bases. Still only 31 years old, Parra is an undervalued asset given that he’ll play half of his games at Coors.
Shane Bieber (54% owned) and Freddy Peralta (53% owned) can’t make this list because of ownership, but I would add those arms before I worked my way down this list.
Ryan Tepera, Blue Jays (47% owned)
He’s the ninth-inning man for Toronto, and the main worry is a potential trade that would relegate him to a non-closing role. Still, the Jays can’t be in a hurry to move a guy they control through 2021 who is posting a career-best strikeout rate (28.1%)...so it’s possible Tepera is the guy for the rest of the year. And by the way, if you’re mining for saves at this point of the season most guys are rentals anyway.
Kyle Gibson, Twins (37% owned)
Maybe after Gibson crushes the White Sox tonight (Wednesday) people will notice him more. He was on last week’s list as well, and he will stay in this space until he is over the 50% threshold. I always like to find a reason whenever a guy is suddenly producing at a superior clip to what he was previously, and with Gibson it’s his slider. Opponents managed a paltry .236 batting average against the slider in 2017, but this year Gibson has increased his usage by about two percent (up to 19.9%) and hitters are managing a mere .102 BAA on the pitch. Expect him to mow the hapless White Sox down and perhaps he’ll be ineligible for this list come Week 14.
Sam Dyson, Giants (33% owned)
It’s a reliever-heavy week since I’m choosing not to tout the services of Milwaukee hurler Brent Suter. Dyson has 30 strikeouts across 36 2⁄3 innings, as well as a 2.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. More importantly, he’s the fill-in closer while Hunter Strickland is sidelined 6-8 weeks with a fractured hand. Add those saves while you can, degenerates.
Steven Matz, Mets (24% owned)
He’s a three-pitch guy (FA, CB, CH) with a career-best 52.6% ground ball rate to opposing hitters. Hitters also have a weak 14.6% line drive rate against Matz, which is by far the best mark of his career (19.6% average). He doesn’t allow a ton of fly balls (32.9%) and he’s probably been unlucky with an 18.6% HR/FB rate (15.6% average). He is completely stifling to left-handed hitters (only 9.8% hard%, a whopping 31.4% soft%, and 77.6% GB%) but struggling against right-handed hitters (40.2% hard%, 12.4% soft%, 45.1% GB%). Still, he’s healthy for the first time in a long stretch, and he does the LHH thing really well. I’m fine to grab him at the back end of my rotation and manage him a little if he’s up against a righty-heavy lineup. But really, no one else is intrigued? Matz generated 15 swinging strikes against the Pirates on Tuesday, and even had a no-hit bid through four innings. I’m intrigued.
Sergio Romo, Rays (23% owned)
I don’t love it either, but Romo is logging innings and saves so it’s time to make the move. Over the past month he has six saves and solid ratios (2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP). Only nine relievers have more saves over the last month, and Romo is the lowest-owned of that bunch by a mile (Joakim Soria is the next lowest at 60%). Romo isn’t getting enough love right now. Take that bad team smokescreen and run with it.
That’s it for me. Yes, I omitted Brewers southpaw Brent Suter. I know it’s blasphemy after the amazing defensive play he made today. But I don’t like the home digs and I don’t like the 28.4% line drive rate against him. I don’t like the 86 mph fastball, either. I’m a sucker for velocity. I’m just afraid things will come crashing down on him soon...
As always, hit me up on Twitter @HeathCapps or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or friendly banter. All unfriendly banter will be shunned.