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1B and 3B Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 15

Though the All-Star break is still a week and a half away, the Major League Baseball season is more than halfway over. Teams around the league cruised past their 81st game played in week 14. At the halfway point, a lot is still unknown, but baselines have been formed. From a player perspective, injuries and playing time variances shrink that sample size. But from a team perspective, we have a lot more to work with.

It isn't always beneficial to harp on which opponents a player will face. Sometimes, they will catch or miss aces, skewing the results. Other factors also make projecting season numbers down into upcoming matchups foolhardy. And yet, having these baselines is important. It is good to know that the worst pitching staff in the league based on ERA is Baltimore. Arizona, Baltimore, and Minnesota give up the highest opponent batting averages and most home runs per nine. A set of opponents isn't a deal-breaker when it comes to adding a useful bat, but it is another factor that swings the tide between who to add and who to skip.

For our purposes in this column, we are looking at Yahoo!'s rostered percentages, as well as its positional eligibility. We are searching for useful players rostered in fewer than 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues. With that being said, below are my first base and third base waiver wire pickups to consider for Week 15 - July 5 through July 11.

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J.D. Davis, New York Mets

37% Rostered

At last, we are on the precipice of Davis' return to the New York lineup. The hefty hitting cornerman has been on the injured list since the spring. He has had setbacks in his return, but those seem to finally be behind him. He was set to begin his rehab last week, which means he could be returning to the big club any day now. He was eligible to come off the 60-day IL July 1, so the only hurdle that remains is his readiness.

When Davis went down, he was hitting like one of the best third basemen in the game. His gaudy .390/.479/.610 slash line is backed up by rocking peripherals. His sample size is too small to qualify, but a 50 percent hard-hit rate and 19.2 percent barrel rate play in any league size. He barely remains eligible for this column as folks have yet to scoop him back up in most leagues. If you have an available IL slot, not sure why Davis would have been overlooked in the first place. Add him right away. If not, he shouldn't be relegated to the bench for too much longer. A healthy Davis immediately plays as a top-12 3B.


Jake Burger, Chicago White Sox

5% Rostered

Burger got the call up to the big leagues just a few days ago. It would be a big gamble to rely on him in shallow leagues, but his upside is intriguing. There isn't much data on Burger because he missed all of 2018 with a ruptured achilles, and then all of 2019 with a heel injury. He didn't get to play in 2020, and now, after 42 Triple-A games, here we are.

The numbers at Triple-A were outstanding. The scouts love his power, which is hopefully what will translate to the MLB level. Fangraphs gave him a 60 raw power grade, as well as the upside of a 55 game power grade. If his contact skills lag behind, he doesn't draw enough walks to be useful. This is a gamble for that sweet, sweet power. It helps that Chicago gets the bottom-feeding Twins and Orioles on the schedule for this week. It is unlikely one would find a softer landing spot for your first extended chance in the majors.


Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox

7% Rostered

Normally, this article is arranged entirely in numerical order, listing the higher rostered players down to the lower rostered ones. I broke my rules so as to create a small narrative when it comes to Burger and Sheets. You see, the two Chicago rookies are eerily similar, though Sheets one-ups Burger at nearly every turn.

  1. Sheets has gotten more minor-league reps and has made a more natural progression up to the majors.
  2. The scouts love Sheets' raw power even more than Burger's (70 raw power tool).
  3. If Sheets' contact skills lag behind, he draws walks at a much higher clip than Burger.
  4. Sheets also wins out with that cupcake schedule in week 15 and could find himself in the starting lineup a bit more than Burger.

For good measure, Sheets came out of the gate hitting, so Burger will be playing catch-up.


The Repeats

Alex Kirilloff is healthy now and playing well. He is still rostered in only 31 percent of leagues despite holding one of the best expected slash lines in the entire sport: .306 xBA, .572 xSLG, .382 xwOBA. He isn't lifting the ball into the air (4.9 launch angle), but other than that, it is hard to put better contact on the baseball than he is doing.

With five starts and six appearances in his last six games before sitting Saturday, Patrick Wisdom (26% rostered) has become close to an everyday player for the Cubs. A torrid start to his season gave way to a solid if unspectacular June. He continues to hit the ball very hard, though strikes out 40.6 percent of the time. I wish he batted higher in the lineup to accumulate more counting stats, but that doesn't seem likely to transpire without another injury occurring.

Still no love for Joey Votto (25% rostered). What more does he have to do? It is hard to find anyone in the league putting together a better batting profile. Votto arguably even has Kirilloff beat in terms of quality of contact. The Reds are set to face the scuffling Royals to start their week, so jump on a Votto add before it's too late.

We've been waiting on Andrew Vaughn (21% rostered) for quite some time. A hot week this past week is hopefully enough to keep him going for a nice run here. A la new teammates Burger and Sheets, Vaughn possesses huge power. The difference is he's a much better all-around hitter. I've already discussed the Chicago schedule for week 15; Vaughn will obviously benefit as well, and he should be added ahead of either Sheets or Burger if available.

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