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1B and 3B Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2

The 2021 MLB season is just underway. In fact, for some teams, the season has still yet to begin. The Washington Nationals and New York Mets remain with records of 0-0 heading into week two after having their opening series delayed due to COVID. This will be the reality of this season. Much like last year, unknowns lurk around every corner. A team could abandon a series at the drop of a hat.

For the players that have taken the field and completed one series in a short week one, there is a lot to unpack. Obviously, it is too soon to make any declarations about players' performances. But information gleaned from week one leads into successful fantasy months of April and beyond.

When adding players from the waiver wire this early in the season, we are looking for one major factor: playing time. Those sparsely owned players who are seeing a lot of game action deserve a closer look.

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First Base and Third Base Waivers

For our purposes in this column, we are using 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.

40 percent is the threshold we've used for this column in year's past. It just so happens to be a rather large breakoff point for the current season. At 1B/3B, Yuli Gurriel is rostered in 41 percent of leagues, holding the final spot of ineligibility for this exercise. The next player on each list is rostered in 33 percent of leagues or fewer at both first base and third base. The public has spoken; it really doesn't find the need to utilize much of anybody below Gurriel, which is a mistake.


Jonathan India - 3B, Cincinnati Reds

33% Rostered

It was somewhat of a surprise that India made the Reds' Opening Day roster to begin with. Though a highly regarded prospect, he had played in just 34 games above high-A and, like most everyone in the minors, missed all of 2020. Instead, not only was India on the 26-man for Opening Day, he has started each of Cincinnati's first three games (though not at third base). The start is nice: five hits in 11 at-bats, though a high average isn't necessarily what to expect. India is a very good on-base guy with a little power and a little speed, who will soon have both 3B and 2B eligibility.


Willi Castro (3B/SS), Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B), Detroit Tigers

23% and 15% rostered respectively

Castro and Candelario are not household names. And yet, in each of Detroit's first three games of the season, they have been near the top of the lineup card. Castro has hit third in each contest; Candelario, second. There are an awful lot of ABs coming their way this season.

Castro's .349 average from last year is not real. He has a poor eye at the plate and had a .448 BABIP, but counting stats are hard to avoid batting third every day. And there are worse players to have in front of you than Candelario. The 27-year-old broke out in 2020 by cutting his K-rate to 23.8 percent and setting a career-high ISO at .205. The Tigers will make news with their rookie starting pitchers, while Castro and Candelario can slide under the radar in fantasy circles.


Nate Lowe - 1B, Texas Rangers

18% Rostered

Finally out from under the logjam in Tampa, Lowe has room to spread his wings in Texas. Through the season's first series, Lowe played every day and hit right in the middle of the lineup (fifth twice and fourth once). With that lineup positioning have come major counting stats. Lowe already has nine RBI in three games thanks to a high-scoring series with Kansas City. He also has five hits, two runs, and a home run. But as we stated at the top, what we are most thrilled with is the playing time.

Thus far, the Rangers have used the DH spot to rotate players halfway in and out of the lineup. Lowe garnered one of those half-days off Sunday in favor of Ronald Guzman at 1B. That only helps his case. With the team willing to use the DH to keep his bat in the lineup, Lowe should easily set career-highs in games played and plate appearances. With even partial playing time, ZIPS projects him to surpass 20 home runs. With a 65 raw power scouting grade and 60 game power grade, that is the draw. I mean, just look at those max exit velos! But Lowe also possesses a good batting eye. In his last full season in the minors (2019 at AAA), he finished with a 17.7 walk rate.


Austin Slater - 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants

7% Rostered

The San Francisco Giants are rotating players in and out of the lineup all over the place. The only mainstays seem to be Mike Yastrzemski, Evan Longoria, Donovan Solano (no surprises) and... Slater. Not only has Slater started each game, he hit leadoff in the team's first two games of the season. Though the production isn't there yet, the opportunities are, which is what's important in the beginning of April.

This is Slater's fifth big-league season, and he seems to be getting better each and every year. His walk rate rose four consecutive seasons from 2017 through 2020; he set career-best K-rates, line-drive rates, and ISO last season. He has the tools to produce in every fantasy category and has shown he belongs in the everyday lineup. As long as San Francisco continues to agree, he's worth an add.

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