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1B and 3B Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4

Heading toward the end of April, we approach the first major checkpoint of the 2021 season. An 0-4 fantasy start is not impossible to overcome, but it sure leaves a nasty taste in one's mouth. This is getting to the point where you want to consider mixing things up if nothing is working. The classic belief to avoid panic is that players eventually reach their skill level in a large enough sample, but how long can you afford to wait?

When adding players from the waiver wire this early in the season, we are looking for a couple trends: how often someone is in the lineup and where they are routinely slotted. Those sparsely owned players who seem to be catching love from the manager deserve a closer look in fantasy.

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. With that being said, below are my first base and third base waiver wire pickups to consider for Week 4 - April 19th through April 25th.

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Joey Wendle - 2B/3B/SS, Rays

33% Rostered

We thought Tampa Bay would have a more fluid lineup than it has thus far this season. Yandy Diaz has taken advantage of more consistent playing time. Mike Brosseau will be mentioned later in this very column. But Joey Wendle may be the biggest winner. He is finding his name in the lineup nearly every game. And with that has come production. The numbers don't mean much yet, but Wendle is currently sporting a 140 OPS+, which is why Kevin Cash hasn't had reason to move him to the bench as often as in past seasons.

More accurately, because of the way Wendle is hitting the ball, Cash has had to keep him in there. Wendle is hitting the ball harder than he has in any full season of his career. Again, it's early, but his average exit velocity is 90.4 mph, his barrel rate is 6.1%, and his hard-hit percentage is 42.4%.

 

Phillip Evans - 3B, Pirates

26% Rostered

I mean...

Okay, I don't believe it either, but why not ride it while he's hot? The key here is not that Evans turned from a castoff utility man into an elite baseball player. That still remains to be seen or debunked. However, Pittsburgh believes, which is more important than what you think. Evans is playing every day. He is also batting second nearly every game. Even when he hasn't been in that coveted two hole, Derek Shelton batted him fourth or fifth. With games in Week 4 against Detroit and Minnesota, we could see some high-scoring affairs to boot. The Tigers have one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, and the Twins currently rank an underwhelming 19th in opponent batting average.

 

Travis Shaw - 1B/3B, Brewers

23% Rostered

After not being quite sure of his role to start the year, Shaw has fallen into a good spot. He has settled in as the everyday three-hole hitter for the Brewers. Early returns show the benefit of such placement, even in a poor lineup. Shaw has 12 RBI in 12 games, and this has come without much production anywhere around him. Milwaukee is 29th in baseball in batting average and OPS. But that won't be the case for too long.

Christian Yelich (back), Kolten Wong (oblique) and Lorenzo Cain (quad) will return from the injured list; Keston Hiura will improve upon his .495 OPS almost by default. This lineup is going to look exponentially better by the end of the month. Benefit from Shaw's hot bat now and reap further rewards later in the spring.

 

Tommy La Stella - 1B/2B/3B, Giants

13% Rostered

Is Tommy La Stella ready to play everyday? Every day he plays, he becomes the perfect fantasy option: batting leadoff with great rate stats. Two things had been working against him. First, he had a back issue that sidelined him. Second, he is sitting pretty much all the time against lefties. With back tightness hopefully in his rearview, just the platoon comes into play. This week for San Francisco, there are games against Philadelphia and Miami.

The Phillies only have one lefty starter, Matt Moore, who San Fran will miss. Thanks to a day off for the Marlins, they may miss both of Miami's lefties as well. This looks like it should shape up to be a very busy week for La Stella. Get him in your lineups any time he's starting.

 

Mike Brosseau - 1B/2B/3B/OF, Rays

4% Rostered

Brosseau is only 4% rostered because of how rarely he gets into the Tampa Bay lineup. Yet, similarly to La Stella, the tides are changing in his favor. Brosseau normally only faces lefties. He mashes lefties, but that certainly limits his opportunities. However, thanks to injuries and inconsistency elsewhere, as well as his positional flexibility, Brosseau already has 15 at-bats this year against right-handed pitching (compared to 10 ABs versus lefties).

He is someone that deserves a look anytime he's given a start, and this coming week should guarantee a bunch of starts. Tampa Bay will face at least one lefty in its series against Kansas City. Then, hosting Toronto, it appears as though TB is squarely heading toward three consecutive lefty opponents. That means a lot of Brosseau in Week 4, and may I remind you of his career against lefties: .925 OPS, with 16 extra-base hits in 122 ABs.

 

Rowdy Tellez - 1B, Blue Jays

4% Rostered

Tellez started the season off terribly, but he has picked it up in recent games. Catching these low-rostered players on the upswing of a hot week could be the difference between adding them and missing out. Tellez was given five consecutive starts last week. The six hits and first home run are nice, but seeing him consistently in the lineup is key. Though he didn't play both ends of the doubleheader Saturday, he was inserted as cleanup hitter in the second game of the twin bill.

These are all key facets to Tellez reemerging as a valuable fantasy piece. Heck, his manager even said he thought Tellez was going to get hot. Of course, the quote means nothing. What means something is seeing Charlie Montoyo's actions when filling out the lineup card.



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