Fantasy baseball as we know it came to a grinding halt in early March, but it’s finally time to prepare for the start of the season.
We’ll keep the criteria simple. Only players who are owned in 30% or fewer Yahoo leagues will be eligible. In less stringent leagues you can add some of these players now. On your more strict sites (or in leagues where waivers were locked) you may be waiting until this weekend’s waiver run, with July 19th probably being a big day in most circles. So let’s scope out the waiver wire ahead of time, eh?
Daniel Hudson, Washington Nationals (30% owned)
Sean Doolittle’s is currently healthy, and though he’s one awesome dude he’s not exactly a pillar of health. It was Hudson who garnered the last out of Game 7 in last year’s World Series, for instance. Hudson managed eight saves in total in 2019, and ended the year as the Nationals closer. If I owned Sean Doolittle anywhere, Hudson would be a must-own. And if I needed saves help, Hudson is the top name I’d be mining for on waivers. One way or another, it’s possible he finds himself in the role again in 2020.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers (27% owned)
Maybe there haven’t been enough drumbeats here. Maybe this level of ownership is due to the number of 12-team leagues on Yahoo? Either way, the Rangers seem committed to finding at-bats for Solak, whether that comes in left field, center field, first base, or somewhere else. His bat is what we want, as he reads like a solid #2 hitter from the jump. He slashed .293/.393/.491 over last year’s 33-game cup of coffee.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (17% owned)
Nick Markakis has opted out. Freddie Freeman (positive COVID-19 test) might not be ready for Opening Day. Riley managed a 1.080 OPS over 32 plate appearances in Spring Training 1.0, and he notably struck out just five times after posting a whopping 36.4% strikeout rate in 2019. There aren’t many better shots to take past pick 250 in your fantasy baseball drafts in 2020.
Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers (9% owned)
Turnbull popped up in my earlier pitcher research, as a guy who limited line drives and homers, while also striking out an above-average amount of hitters in 2019. Last year’s 4.61 ERA is unsightly, but the 3.99 FIP tells a better story—meaning, what Turnbull controlled by way of strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs was pretty solid. Sure, he plays on a bad team. But the Tigers did add C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Cameron Maybin to the mix. And Turnbull is a free square at his ADP in the 530s. It doesn’t cost you much to see if the 27-year-old can continue making the leap, and he already has the makings of a fine streaming option.
Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners (6% owned)
Consider this me officially drinking the Kool-Aid. Lewis slugged six homers in 18 games at the end of last season, though he walked just three times against 29 strikeouts (a 38.7% strikeout rate). But he’s continued to hit bombs in the restart. And his batting averages across the minors were actually tolerable, mostly in the .260+ range. That jives with last year’s .268 average, and the .254 xBA is tolerable given his power potential. Lewis hit the ball really, really hard last year. I know, hashtag analysis. But his 23.3% barrel rate would have ranked first in the majors, as he managed 10 barrels on only 43 batted ball events. He’s not going to win you a batting title, but he’s tabbed for a starting corner outfield slot and he’s even proven capable enough to handle center field in a pinch.
Sure, there are plenty of other names to consider. But these are the ones who stuck out the most. If there are any drop/add questions, we’ll be happy to tackle those in the comments!