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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 15


Just like that, we have reached the 2019 MLB All-Star Break. After virtually every day since the start of late-March has been jam-packed with baseball, ranging in time from the early morning in another country to late night on the west coast, we're going to once again have to wrap our brains around going a few days without regular season competition while the festivities kick off in Cleveland. Even for major league baseball, it's already been a weird year. That much is clear from the sheer amount of unlikely teams at the top of their divisions, eye-popping offensive performances from entire clubs, and first-time All-Stars that have disrupted the status quo of who we generally believe can be perennially depended upon. Just like the players and personnel around the league, take this time allowed by the break to take a deep breath or two. Come away refreshed though, because you won't be working at the same pace when we come back.

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 robust year-long depth and is ready if a crisis 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 15.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Michael Chavis (1B/2B/3B, BOS)

49% Owned

I haven't really had a chance to discuss Michael Chavis this season because he has been so universally owned due to a hot start to his rookie year, though that has gradually changed as he came back down to earth in the months of May and June. Don't fall asleep on Chavis just yet, because he has started to heat up again in a big way with three home runs and a slash of .286/.318/.595 over his last 42 AB. Even in a year where the Boston Red Sox have been disappointing at the plate (given that they are defending World Series champions), Fenway Park remains a great place to call home if you're trying to hit for power, and the 23-year old former first round draft pick is geared to do just that.

With 15 knocks to the bleachers, two stolen bases, and a .813 OPS in 262 AB for his charter campaign, his cumulative body of work for 2019 has been undeniably excellent. He strikes out at a high rate of 33% but has successfully supplemented his OBP with an 8.5% walk rate on the year, and with a respectable 35.5% hard contact rate in conjunction with a 20.7% line drive rate and some surprising sprinting speed (28.1 feet per second), his BABIP of .364 seems quite sustainable. It's his raw power that makes the difference though: with an ISO of .207 and Herculean average home run distance of 419 feet, Michael Chavis is about to make a lot of people remorseful that they thought the ride was over.

Cavan Biggio (2B/OF, TOR)

47% Owned

Even with the occasional and brief offensive lull, the numbers on Cavan Biggio make it almost impossible to think that he isn't a must-own asset proceeding into the latter half of 2019. I mean, it's not like he arrived in the MLB with the burden of a famous last name to carry or anything, but he has wasted little time in establishing himself as a legitimate power/speed threat with a well-trained bat. Over the last 84 AB he has blasted five bombs, stolen three bases, and hit for a .262/.376/.512 slash, and there are some eye-popping peripherals behind that product.

Biggio has slowly brought his strikeout rate down with each passing month and has been walking at a ridiculously focused rate of 16.8%. That is an absurd amount of free trips to first. He has also been slugging for high-quality contact on batted balls with 48.8% hard contact, a meager 4.9% soft contact, and a combined 69.5% line drives and fly balls. His sprinting speed of 27.8 feet per second is plenty of natural ability to steal bases at worthwhile volume while also making good on his .303 BABIP, and a 90.3 MPH exit velocity in combination with a 17.5-degree average launch angle should keep pitches soaring out of the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Alongside fellow thriving young-guns like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (good thing he isn't Craig Biggio Jr.), Cavan Biggio is a dynamic player that will reward owners handsomely for sticking him in their starting lineup.

Kevin Newman (2B/SS, PIT)

36% Owned

Every time it looks like Kevin Newman is ready to suffer an extended slump, he has hopped right back on track behind a slew of extra-base hits and stolen bases. His power/speed capabilities became most clear over the course of 114 AB in June when he was able to crack four home runs, steal four bases in six attempts, and produce a .316/.352/.491 slash, and he has been sizzling-hot of late. Over the last two weeks (47 AB) he hit four bombs, stole one base in two tries, and produced an even more impressive slash of .362/.375/.660 for the nearly .500 Pittsburgh Pirates.

While he has been walking less and less frequently, he has also managed to bring his strikeout rate down with each passing month from 25% in April to just 4.8% to kick off July. While Newman's power-indicative factors like ISO and exit velocity are rather pedestrian and he has at times struggled with quality of contact on batted balls, he started to reverse that tendency with 30.8% hard contact and 23.1% soft contact (though it's hard to believe that those were improved figures), and has gotten off to a promising start at the plate in July with 31.6% hard contact and only 5.3% soft contact. In addition, while he has come up stagnant in situations due to his high volume of grounders produced, he hit for a workable 19.6% line drive rate in June while spraying pitches for liners at a 26.3% clip to open up this month. With a sprinting speed of 28.3 feet per second, he can cover an effective distance with each line drive created while constantly looking to burn rubber on the base-paths. With so many chances allowed by his low strikeout rate, Kevin Newman can maintain this pace well past the All-Star break.

Kike Hernandez (1B/2B/SS/OF, LAD)

22% Owned

Last season, Enrique "Kike" Hernandez emerged as a solid power hitting option for the Los Angeles Dodgers by crushing 21 home runs in 402 AB. Now 27 years old, Hernandez went through two miserable months smack dab in the middle of 2019 after a fast start that included six balls blasted to the bleachers in April alone. Not that the first place Dodgers were desperate for Hernandez to pick up the pace, but he has nonetheless done just that by whacking three dingers and hitting for a power-heavy slash of .257/.316/.571, and his defensive versatility has helped to keep him on the field consistently for a club that has plenty of options for batting order combinations.

Some detracting characteristics of Hernandez's game include not walking at any considerable volume, routinely striking out at a rate north of 20%, and having the propensity to eliminate line drives from his repertoire and hit for grounders all too often. Despite that, he has held an ISO of .193 over the first half of the season by applying 45.5% hard contact and harmless 15.5% soft contact on batted balls, which are bound to travel out of the park with regularity with his 0.84 GB/FB ratio and 19.1-degree launch angle. Even with his stretches of sub-par performance, Kike Hernandez has simultaneously pumped out above-average figures for exit velocity (89.1 MPH) and average home run distance (403 feet). Even if he is one-dimensional, his one dimension is pretty strong, so buy in now to reap the rewards from any latter-half homers from a guy going to work for an offensively stout (World Series contending) club.

 

For the Sneaky and Savvy

J.P. Crawford (3B/SS, SEA)

18% Owned

J.P. Crawford has slowed down a tad in his brief sample of work in July, but he is still very worthy of waiver wire consideration given the fact that he is fresh off of a fantastic month of June when he hit two home runs, stole one base, and held a .338/.413/.569 slash over 65 AB for the Mariners. His success at the plate last month started with his eye for the strike zone. He lowered his strikeout rate from 29.9% in May to 17.3% while taking frequent free trips to first base with a 12% walk rate. His BABIP over this period of time was suspiciously high at .392, but it appears far less suspicious when you see that Crawford produced line drives at a 28.3% clip last month while also creating 45.3% hard contact (and 40% hard contact with just 10% soft contact on line drives for the year). He has the speed to capitalize on all opportunities presented by batted balls, and his 16.6-degree launch angle only further cements his safety in delivering on contact.

Tim Beckham (2B/3B/SS, SEA)

18% Owned

With Tim Beckham, you're going to have to accept some hard truths. The 29-year old infielder strikes out at a beefy rate of 31.2%, is typically unable to supplement his OBP by taking walks, he tends to mix in a lot of soft contact even when he is producing hard contact at a solid clip, and he should probably stop trying to steal bases with just one conversion in four tries this season. If we can accept that, there remains one sure-fire factor that makes "Swaggy T" easily worth acquiring, which is his raw power hitting. He has hit for 14 home runs in 242 AB this season while slugging .475 with a .244 ISO, and his complete body of work would read significantly better if not for an unusually ugly time in June. He has quickly gotten back on track for July, and over the last 26 AB, he has clubbed three homers and produced a more well-rounded slash of .269/.321/.654, so Tim Beckham could be well on his way to a career-best home run total.

Mauricio Dubon (SS, MIL)

1% Owned

After a scary collision with Keston Hiura, Orlando Arcia has been sidelined and the Milwaukee Brewers have chosen to call up 24-year old Honduran infielder Mauricio Dubon to fill in (though it wasn't like Arcia had found any sort of consistent footing at the plate). The Brewers could use a spark given their offensive mediocrity since the turn of the month, and Dubon could be ready to provide that ignition. He has steadily improved with his promotion to each level of the minor leagues, and his work to develop a power game to add to his high-volume base-running is apparent through his 24 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and .300/.336/.478 slash through 669 AB of work for Triple-A Colorado Springs and San Antonio. It's a pretty promising sign when a player seems to adjust better as the competition becomes stiffer, and Mauricio Dubon is going to have a shot to show some metal for Milwaukee, and he could rack up power/speed figures in a hurry if he is able to extend his stay in the majors.

 

Three to Grow On

Luis Urias (2B, SD)

13% Owned

After a few scattered signs of life, Ian Kinsler is starting to get extremely stale at the second base slot for the San Diego Padres. If you are looking to get in early on a potential post-All-Star Break prospect call-up, the Padres have been looking for a good reason to fully commit to Luis Urias for some time. The 22-year old native of Mexico could join a very exciting young infield of Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. for the latter half of the campaign. Even though he has yet to bloom in a very limited MLB sample size, his 17 home runs, seven steals, and .322/.406/.601 slash at Triple-A El Paso this year should soon be too enticing for the Padres to resist.

Bo Bichette (SS, TOR)

10% Owned

The imminent promotion of Bo Bichette is still a little tricky when considering that Eric Sogard and Freddy Galvis (not to mention the few young-guns) continue to rake, and while they definitely won't rush the 21-year old Bo Bichette to the major league ranks, they remain eager to see what he can accomplish out of the shortstop position. He is a consensus top-15 prospect for a very good reason: he holds a slash of .327/.386/.517, with 33 home runs, and 69 stolen bases across 1,214 career minor league AB, and has already hit four dingers, stolen eleven bases, and hit for a .833 OPS in 134 AB at Triple-A Buffalo this season. Toronto may look to promote Bichette sometime down the road in 2019 for a nice acclimation stint, and it could happen much sooner if an injury pops up or someone starts slumping.

Gavin Lux (SS, LAD)

4% Owned

Corey Seager is already underway with some futuristic virtual reality rehab work, and the Dodgers are never truly shorthanded at any position. That being said, the Los Angeles Dodgers will do anything down the stretch that they determine to be in their best interest towards a deep postseason run, and that could very well mean a promotion of Gavin Lux as the summer dwindles down. Another member of the 2016 draft class, the 21-year-old Lux has excelled at Double-A throughout his professional career with 17 home runs, nine stolen bases, and a .316/.384/.514 slash through 364 AB. This level of dominance prompted the Dodgers to ship Lux to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he has wasted little time (27 AB) in clubbing six XBH (one homer and five doubles). With heavy power upside as a shortstop, the highly rated Gavin Lux is worth keeping a very close eye on.

 

Just Checking In...

  • With eleven home runs, 15 stolen bases, and a .832 OPS, Tim Anderson has had himself a first half to be proud of while also remaining one of the more entertaining on-field personalities in the game. However, he recently hit the IL with a right ankle sprain and is expected to be out until around late-July to early-August. That impacts a lot of owners who will in all likelihood bite the bullet and hang on until he returns.
  • Another year interrupted at a rather inconvenient time, Brandon Lowe has just hit the IL after smacking a foul ball off of his own leg, and just following the announcement that he was a 2019 All-Star replacement. With 16 home runs, five stolen bases, and a .862 OPS in 279 AB, Lowe has more than earned the nod, and luckily his injury doesn't appear to be as bad as immediately presumed. Nate Lowe will be replacing him in the meantime, but Tampa Bay seems to be keeping that information on the Lowe.
  • What a bummer. After a bona fide breakout first half to the 2019 season and his first career All-Star selection, Tommy La Stella has landed on the IL for eight to ten weeks with a fractured tibia. With free-falling ownership, many have already started to abandon the proverbial ship when considering the long layoff. After 16 home runs and a .300/.353/.495 slash in 283 AB this year, you just hope he can return and put some sort of cap on his season already cut far too short.

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