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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 11


While the last couple of weeks have been heavy on prospect call-ups with the arrival of such players as Brendan Rodgers, Nicky Lopez, Cavan Biggio, and Keston Hiura, this week seems to epitomize a league of changing landscapes. The Phillies acquired Jay Bruce (with immediate results), there are further trade talks already swirling around the majors, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel found mid-season homes, and another 1,217 amateur baseball players were drafted into the professional ranks, just over the last seven days. It only speaks to the challenges of managing a team in this era of the game: there are more platoon situations, there is more position ambiguity, and the very fabric of what makes up an MLB starting lineup is being stretched on a daily basis. It isn't predictable, routine, easy, or fair, but it is the hand that we have been dealt. That makes keeping a trained eye on the ups and downs of the middle infield positions a top priority.

As always, the second base and shortstop positions are notoriously lacking in waiver wire depth and are therefore quite fickle to navigate. Each week of the season, we are going to be taking a look at a slew middle infielders who are worthy of acquisition (or strong consideration at the very least) and are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo Leagues. Staying on top of the injury, roster, and statistical trends regarding the middle infield positions will ensure that your team has year-long robust depth and is ready if a crisis situation were to arise.

With that, let's have at it and take a look at a fresh batch of second base and shortstop waiver wire targets for Week 11.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Asdrubal Cabrera (2B/3B/SS, TEX)

42% Owned

It may be a little hard to believe, but 13-year MLB veteran Asdrubal Cabrera could be on his way to the best power-hitting season of his career in his first year as a Texas Ranger. "Chiquitin" has been unconscious from the plate over the last two weeks, though not from a power perspective with zero HR and a slash of .385/.489/.462 in 39 AB. The real story has been his quality of contact on batted balls. At 33 years old he has hit nine home runs and produced a rather well-rounded slash of .251/.335/.440 with a stolen base in 191 AB, and he has done it off the back of some phenomenal peripheral figures.

He strikes out at a 21.1% clip, but he has struck a solid balance with a 10.6 walk rate to supplement his OBP. Speaking to the location of his batted balls, he has been giving himself a swinging chance with each instance of contact to the tune of a 0.82 GB/FB ratio and 49% pull rate, and his IFFB percentage sits at a meager 4.8%. He's sending back pitches with intensity too, producing his lowest soft contact rate in three seasons (15%) and (amazingly) the best hard contact rate of his MLB tenure at 39.5%.

Cabrera has been starting at third base for the majority of his recent torrid stretch, but his defensive versatility consistently gives him every shot in the world to see the field on a given day. He may not run the bases like he once could, but this power-upside infielder somehow seems to be adding power upside, and he hasn't had to sacrifice base hits or walks to do it.

 

Travis Shaw (1B/2B/3B, MIL)

35% Owned

Travis Shaw has hardly had the start to 2019 that he was probably hoping for. All in all, he has hit just four home runs and produced a paltry slash of .170/.282/.286 in 147 AB for the Brew Crew, and he has just taken just 12 AB since returning from the IL with a right wrist strain. Though Milwaukee fans may have been a little reluctant to see a blossoming Keston Hiura have to go, there are a cavalcade of reasons to want to see "The Mayor of Ding Dong City" back on the field in Miller Park alongside his slugging teammates.

Shaw has never really had a bad campaign in the majors, and he has hit for some gargantuan totals in his time. Namely, he has hit for a combined 63 home runs and 187 RBI over the last two seasons while posting slash figures of .273/.349/.513 and .241/.345/.480, and he has also stolen a surprising 15 bases in 17 attempts since the start of 2017. Even with his early struggles this year before hitting the IL, things weren't nearly as gloomy as they seemed for the Kent State alumni. His power has forced opposing pitchers to take a less direct approach against Shaw, and he has gotten a lot of free trips to first base out of the deal with a 12.4% walk rate.

More importantly, Shaw's poor start didn't mean he wasn't ripping at the ball with ferocity, as he was hitting for a career-best 40.9% hard contact with a soft contact rate that is down slightly to 18.3%. He has been taking full advantage of his home park as well, with an air-heavy 0.67 GB/FB ratio and 40.9% pull rate. While it has been a very limited sample since he's been back and healthy, Travis Shaw hardly stays down for long, and he's a proven slugger who is back in the order for a heavy run-scoring squad.

 

Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, DET)

35% Owned

Speaking to the streaky nature of Niko Goodrum, we have already discussed him on several occasions this season, both in extremely positive and negative lights. Sometimes he'll hit for power, sometimes he'll start running the base-paths like a man possessed (which he is perfectly inclined to do with a team-leading 29.0 feet in sprinting speed per second), and sometimes he'll roll the whole ensemble together to terrorize opposing pitchers for wonderful stints at the plate.

That's what he's been cooking up over the last two weeks, swinging for three home runs, swiping three bags, and ultimately netting a .320/.346/.600 in 50 AB in a plethora of positions for the Detroit Tigers. With a total body of work this season that communicates a trusty power/speed skill set and a respectable all-around final product, Goodrum is a guy that we routinely have to be patient with but rewards us in the long run.

His cumulative peripheral figures this campaign support a feeling of safety when deploying him as well. He supplements his OBP with a 10.3% walk rate, he's attempting to navigate Comerica Park with a 43.4% pull rate and 1.02 GB/FB ratio, and he's hitting for a robust 40.8% hard contact and 15.8% soft contact. This guy can pretty much do anything on a diamond besides pitch and play catcher (I guess?), and even if a couple more mini slumps lie ahead, he will provide the volume if you can trust in the figures that inspire confidence in his utilization.

 

Brian Dozier (2B, WAS)

35% Owned

We sometimes forget, since there's been another Dozier making waves with his bat this season, that Brian Dozier used to terrorize the opposition from all angles. 76 home runs and 34 stolen bases between 2016 and 2017 looked like ample evidence to suggest that the Brian Dozier freight train would never slow down. Well, after highly disappointing work on offense for most of 2018 and through the start of 2019, he was starting to make a lot of cut lists for those salty at using an early-round pick on him. The Nationals lineup is stocked with guys that threaten his playing time including a surging Howie Kendrick and it was beginning to look like an inevitable conclusion, that was until the last two weeks when he has been able to crush three homers (giving him ten on the year) with a monstrous 1.234 OPS in 27 AB.

With Dozier's sprinting speed measuring less than ideal and his attempts at thievery waning, he is first and foremost an option for power at second base. Though, with a 25.1% strikeout rate and 10.3% walk rate, his plate discipline measures just as good as many other people we have discussed. His saving grace comes in the fact that he is somehow hitting for a career-best 41.1% hard contact rate on a 0.89 GB/FB ratio with a sturdy 54.6% pull rate, yielding an ISO of .194 that reads better than his total output on offense for the year. A formidable obstacle has been Dozier's soft contact rate of 20.6%, his highest mark since 2012, though this hot stretch is very worth paying attention to if it signals his return to even 50% of what he was in 2017. He may never take home another piece of hardware, but he is finally hitting for measurable power, and that's a start.

 

For the Sneaky and Savvy

Scott Kingery (3B/SS/OF, PHI)

27% Owned

Though Scott Kingery put up a less-than-pedestrian line last season, he was still able to demonstrate his worth as a power/speed capable player with eight home runs and ten stolen bases in 452 AB. After a disappointing start to the 2019 season and a stint on the IL, "Scotty Jetpacks" is back in full force with a consistent slot in the surging Phillies batting order.

Kingery has been a big part of the recent Philadelphia upswing on offense, hitting for two bombs and a slash of .275/.310/.500 over the last two weeks. He strikes out a lot (26.5%) and walks very little (3.9%), but his superb marks of 47.8% and 10.1% for hard and soft contact make it plenty believable that he can sustain his .415 BABIP. Plus, with a team-leading 29.1 sprinting speed per second, the former Arizona Wildcat looks ready to make up for lost time.

 

Willy Adames (2B/SS, TB)

20% Owned

Willy Adames also got off to a sluggish start to this campaign with a .565 OPS in 90 April AB, but he was clearly getting jealous of other young Rays that were thriving at the plate, because he decided to get in on the action. He hit for three homers, a stolen base, and a slash of .284/.357/.443 in 88 AB through May; and has already notched two home runs, a steal, and a .812 OPS this far into June. Adames also strikes out at a hefty clip (25.9%) but walks at a much more tolerable rate of 8.6%, and his sprinting speed of 28.2 feet per second is enough to support his BABIP (.319) and optimism for a modest stolen base total proceeding forward.

Even with his GB/FB ratio sitting high at 1.64, he has been making high-quality contact on batted balls with 39.1% hard contact, 17.2% soft contact, and a 41.7% pull rate that have been the driving forces behind his well-rounded work with the lumber of late. If you can get behind a guy who churns out a little bit of everything, 'The Kid" is a widely available choice.

 

Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL)

6% Owned

It seems like we've been waiting for 24-year-old Orlando Arcia to put the package together at the plate for a while now, and "El Nino" is starting to deliver in a big way. Arcia has knocked three pitches into the bleachers, swiped one bag, and put up a fantastic slash of .286/.348/.595 over the last two weeks, and appears well on his way to obliterating his previous career-best HR total (15) for the top-tier Brewers.

We have been seeing all of the right things from Arcia: he is walking at a better rate of 9.1%, he is striking out 5% less frequently, he's pulling the ball at a 41.9% clip in hitter-friendly Miller Park, and he is swinging for career-best hard and soft contact figures of 31.4% and 22.1%. Arcia's surprisingly low sprinting speed has manifested into some inefficient base-running (three steals in six tries this season), but there should be little to complain about if he has adapted to hit for power at shortstop for an offensively powerful club.

 

Just Checking In...

  • Eduardo Escobar has continued to rake at the plate, both in the form of all-around offense and his signature power touch at his position, and his ownership rate has accordingly soared nearly to the level of red-hot teammate Ketel Marte. While most have already long missed their chance of being a proud owner of Escobar, he is a player worth doing a lot to acquire with him going tit for tat in RBI with the entire league over the past couple of weeks.
  • It took long enough for the community in need of a middle infielder (or several other positions for that matter) to take appropriate notice of the young David Fletcher, but his ownership percentage has already flown north of 60% this week as he continues to stuff the stat sheet at the plate for the Los Angeles Angels. Tommy La Stella may be the surprise power-bat, but Fletcher appears all the more sustainable.
  • Howie Kendrick has been a fixture of our weekly discussions for a hot minute now, and maybe we could cease the talk if the 35-year-old former All-Star would just quit murdering the ball for Washington. It seemed like a nice, flash in the pan performance from a seasoned veteran for a team in need of a short-term replacement at a few positions. Even with many Nats itching at the chance for more AB, Kendrick has yet to show signs of going quietly in 2019.

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