Happy Wednesday, folks! It’s time for a mid-week version of fantasy baseball waiver wire adds—hitters only! These guys are 50% rostered (or less) in Yahoo leagues.
Full disclosure, any stats cited will not include Tuesday’s games. You have to have a cutoff somewhere, and that was mine!
James McCann, New York Mets (44% rostered)
Strangely enough, covering first base in Pete Alonso’s absence and batting towards the top of the batting order (based on a lack of healthy options) coincided with more success at the plate for McCann. He’s still only slashing .213/.281/.307, but it looks like he’s been a bit unlucky against lefties with a .176 BABIP. If his performance against southpaws normalizes anywhere close to what we saw in 2020, that batting average should at least creep over the .230 threshold. We could be talking about Mitch Garver lite here. McCann is currently sporting a .250 ISO, 18.5% K-rate, and hefty 11.1% walk rate against southpaws, for reference. It’s just that BABIP holding him down. I was ‘on’ him as a bottom-end C1 option prior to the season beginning, and I still think he can deliver that sort of production.
Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers (37% rostered)
If McCann isn’t available, I think you can look to Omar Narvaez. And if you need batting average help instead of potential power, I think you go Narvaez over McCann, anyway. Narvaez has a smaller sample than most this year due to spending some time on the IL, but that’s just a smokescreen masking a good player. Like most backstops in this range, you’ll have to suffer through off days given the presence of Manny Pina on the roster. But he’s still slashing .304/.382/.461 this year, production that is more in line with his previous four years worth of being a plus in the batting average department. I think 2020—the year he shifted to a new team and was forced to work on his defense—was the anomaly. Batting average help at catcher doesn’t come around very often. You know what to do.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds (6% rostered)
Lastly, if you’re really desperate in a deep one, look to Tyler Stephenson. He’s been solid in limited duty this year, and he’s getting some run in the heart of the Reds lineup (as a first baseman) given the absence of Joey Votto. As recently as a couple of days ago, Votto said he still had pain in his finger when fielding balls at first base. So it’s possible we get another full week of Stephenson’s bat in the lineup, if not a little more. And even when Votto returns, it could behoove the Reds to let Stephenson spot-start at first on occasion, anyway. If you take a cursory glance at Cincinnati’s farm system, it’s pretty clear there aren’t internal options ready to cover first base when Joey Votto finally hangs it up. If that results in a few more at-bats for Stephenson each week moving forward, it should benefit us in competitive 15-team leagues. Batting fourth or fifth in the Great American small park means he’s gotta be on your radar as a second catcher option.
1B/3B Jeimer Candelario, Detroit Tigers (28% rostered)
I had Evan Longoria pegged in this spot, but he was lifted from yesterday’s game due to right side soreness. Weeping. Anyway, Candelario has been an on-base machine for Detroit, as his .358 OBP is entrenched in the second and third spots of the order for the Tigers. He batted .400/.455/.650 with a .250 ISO against southpaws a year ago, and so far in 2021 he’s slashing .362/.423/.447 in the split. The home runs haven’t come against lefties yet, but once they start to fall he’ll improve on his already solid .286/.358/.413 slash line. I’m using him to cover my CI slot in multiple leagues where I am decimated by injuries.
1B/OF Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks (36% rostered)
He’s been really steady for the D-backs, slashing .289/.335/.443 with four homers and a steal so far. He’s also been a solid real-life player, covering first base and all three outfield spots at different junctures due to Arizona’s injuries. I’d think it’s the 34-year-old Josh Reddick getting squeezed out of the lineup now that Christian Walker and Ketel Marte are both healthy. After all, he was just signed off the street recently, and the D-backs (19-36) are dead last in the NL West and likely playing for next year anyway. Best to let the young guns get their feet wet, which means Smith should be a solid value moving forward. Lastly, he’s held his own against southpaws, which is nice to see for a lefty stick. He’s batting .255/.308/.404 with a 13.8% strikeout rate and tolerable .149 ISO in the split so far.
***Update: Smith started last night and smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning. He also walked and scored the game-winning run. So now he’s up to .288/.336/.455 with five homers.***
1B/2B/3B Ty France, Seattle Mariners (28% rostered)
The phrase “professional hitter” still applies. France got disrupted due to a slump at the plate, followed by a left wrist injury. This is still the man who crushed 27 homers at the Triple-A level in 2019, though (only 76 games). He swatted seven homers in limited MLB duty that same year, but then slashed .305/.368/.468 in 2020. He had a blistering Mar/April to begin 2021, slashing .289/.386/.464 with a .175 ISO. That’s more in line with what I think we can expect from him. Sample sizes are so small still, and his .240 BABIP in May is conspiring to drag his numbers down. He’s not hitting the ball quite as hard this month, but he’s also returning from injury. He’s still walking 10.0% of the time and only striking out 18.6% of the time over 18 May games...I think the ship will be righted soon enough. Best to get back in now for this middle-of-the-order stick.
***France was 3-for-5 with a double last night. It’s coming.***
2B/3B/SS Jonathan Villar, New York Mets (43% rostered)
I think you have to consider Villar in your middle infield if you’re in need. He’s leading off for the Mets, and we’ve seen super-impactful power/speed numbers as recently as 2019—24 homers and 40 swipes, to be exact. That means if you remove the pandemic-shortened 2020, he’s still fantasy-relevant. I know, I know. Hashtag analysis. Point is...it hasn’t been that long! Villar’s plate discipline took a dive in 2020, but so far in 2021 he is chasing less and making more contact—and his barrel rate, sweet spot percentage, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, and XWOBACON are all more in line with 2019 than they are with the nosedive of 2020. I’m not going crazy, but with J.D. Davis still rehabbing and Jeff McNeil still out until at least late June, it’s possible that Villar again benefits from a team simply needing to do anything it can to generate offense. Even if he is only 6-of-9 on the basepaths...those caught steals aren’t counting against you in any league I ever heard of...
OF Avisail Garcia, Milwaukee Brewers (47% rostered)
Garcia has been raking in May, slashing .291/.344/.570 with seven of his 10 home runs. He has also swiped two bags in each split, giving him 10 homers and four swipes on the young season. He’s a top 25 outfielder in 5x5 leagues, but he’s available in over half of them. He’s going to strike out plenty—25.8% so far—but he’s got over a .200 ISO to both handedness of pitcher, and he still runs enough to be significant (90th percentile sprint speed). Like Villar, he plays for a team that needs to generate offense any way it can. Garcia is a physical specimen—not many guys have his combination of power and speed. Just check his max exit velocity marks by year, and note all the deep red on his Statcast batted ball profile. The wart here is that he has massive swinging strike rates, and that he’s a free-swinger. He’ll be prone to hot and cold streaks, so just know that when you dive in. But a guy with his tools shouldn’t be languishing on the waiver wire in over half of Yahoo leagues.
2B/OF Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres (42% rostered)
Profar is up to a whopping NINE steals already, albeit with only one home run. Formerly a 20/10 sort of candidate, Profar kind of disappeared on us in 2019, just when we started to trust him. He followed up his quality 2018 with a .218/.301.410 slash line in 2019, though he did again manage 20 homers and also stole nine bags that year. In 2020 we saw his average rebound, though, back up to .278. He swatted seven homers and stole seven bags in the sprint year, in only 202 plate appearances (56 games).
That’s it for me this morning. Who are YOU adding in your fantasy baseball leagues, ladies and gents?