The fantasy baseball season is chugging right along. I don’t know about you all, but I’m having mixed results so far—and a hefty amount of injuries to overcome. Luckily, there are some names on waivers that can help get us through for a period of time.
The criteria here is no player over 50% rostered on Yahoo. I’ll try to hold to that.
Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals (17% rostered)
I know, the most exciting play ever—a catcher batting .265 with a moderate amount of power. But can you really stomach guys like Mike Zunino (6 HR, .214 BA), Dom Nunez (5 HR, .203 BA), and Mitch Garver (6 HR, .200 BA)? I prefer taking a shot on Gomes’ recent hot streak. I can’t stomach the batting average sinkhole that is those other guys. I’d rather have a guy who won’t burn me in any one category.
So far, Gomes is posting his lowest chase rate (34.8%) since 2017, and his 8.2% swinging strike rate is a career-best. That helps me trust in the career-best 15.5% strikeout rate. Gomes has some room to perhaps improve his average, too—his current .264 BABIP is on the low side, as he’s a career .294 BABIP guy. He is hitting quite a few more ground balls this year, but a 47.4% ground ball rate isn’t a death knell. There’s also nothing amiss with his quality of contact. Gomes’ 10.5% barrel rate is a career high, and he’s inside the top 10% of the league in xBA (.327) and xSLG (.562). I’m fine taking a shot here. He has little competition on the Nationals roster and there’s little else to trust at the catcher position currently.
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (45% rostered)
Mountcastle’s .223/.250/.331 slash line looks ghastly, but he’s now popped two homers over his last four games—and three of those four have been multi-hit affairs. If he’s going to have big league value, it’s probably going to be because of his stick, not his glove. The Orioles recognize this, and have basically allowed the 24-year-old to swing his way out of his funk at the plate.
It’s still early, but Mountcastle has improved his barrel rate, max exit velocity, sweet spot rate, and his XWOBACON so far in 2021. That’s saying something given how cold of a start he had. He’s also got solid 81st percentile sprint speed (three steals already) and his HR/FB rate is starting to course correct. There’s 25-homer pop in this bat and some chip-in speed. I’ve been waiting on signs of life all season, and now those appear to be manifesting. I’m hopping back on this train before I miss out.
Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins (37% rostered)
He’s been the de facto leadoff man in Miami with Jazz Chisholm (hamstring) shelved, and so far he’s acquitting himself well. He won’t wow you with his category juice—just two homers and three swipes so far—but he’s a quality middle infield target given his ability to hit for average and his role atop the Marlins lineup. He has quietly improved his power output since last year, though. In 2020 his .192 ISO was a far cry from previous years, and so far he’s following that up with a .170 ISO in 2021. For reference, his highest mark previously was .095. That’s good news for a guy who doesn’t strikeout or chase much. As for the power, I’m buying into double-digit pop over the course of a full season. His launch angle has crept up into double-digits these last two years, as has his hard hit rate. He still doesn’t hit a lot of barrels (only a 3.2% rate this year) but his 96 batted ball events ranks 42nd in the majors and I think he’ll continue to creep up that leaderboard given his role as leadoff man. He can volume his way to 10 homers. Add in the 10+ steals and quality batting average...this is a free square in your middle infield slot. He’s been a waiver wire gem for my TGFBI squad.
Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (67% rostered)
I feel obligated to report that Seattle intends to activate top prospect Jarred Kelenic this week. He is over my self-imposed 50% threshold, but a man of his talents should be added EVERYWHERE and I’ll give you another name momentarily to make up for me bucking the parameters. He’s a future 20/20 threat who can hit for average, a guy who has plus tools everywhere—from whom we should reap fantasy baseball goodness for years to come. It’s probable that he is the hottest add you can make in your fantasy baseball league for the entire 2021 season, so if he’s available in your league it’s time to make the move.
Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles (15% rostered)
After about a two-week stint on the IL due to a strained right hamstring, Hays has now settled in as the No. 2 hitter for Baltimore. He’s a quality athlete, a guy who could handle center field were Cedric Mullins not having a really solid season so far. As is, Hays has a home in left field. and should be added in all 15-teamers due to his opportunity alone. His strikeout rate in Mar/Apr was a ghastly 27.5%, but he’s since corrected in May and has a 18.4% K-rate—which is much more in line for what we should expect from him. So far he hasn’t run at all this year, but it’s possible we’ll see the steals start to fall as he gets farther away from that hamstring injury. I really like Baltimore offense to start to click pretty soon given the health of Hays and what seems to be an awakening for Mountcastle. Add in Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini...that’s a pretty nice foursome at the top. I’m adding the two young Orioles while I can.
Who are YOU adding in your fantasy baseball leagues? And do you trust these Orioles hitters to keep producing?