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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 18


It figures: we spend all year discussing a plethora of trade deadline possibilities and make allusions to chaotic deadlines of years passed, and we are experiencing one of the slowest deadlines in recent memory. Maybe this year a crazy result of the deadline will be that every team, more or less, ended up with the set of pieces they started out with. With the removal of the August deadline, the issue appears to be that many of the MLB squads with assets to offer just can't decide whether they find it worth it to ante up or not. With many deadlines around the fantasy baseball community coming later, take the time you need to come to a rational understanding of where your best chances lie. There's just enough time to drastically alter the course of the next couple months: while it usually stands true to not fix what isn't broken, I would hardly recommend sitting idle and watching other owners blow-by.

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 will 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 18.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Amed Rosario (SS, NYM)

47% Owned

I was about to start this off by saying something about what a long road it has been for Amed Rosario to get into his major league groove, and while it might feel that way, the former top-rated prospect is still only 23 years old and is now tearing it up on the field, base-paths, and at the plate for the New York Mets. Thanks to a line of two home runs, one stolen base (in two tries), and a slash of .310/.383/.619 in 42 AB over the last two weeks, Rosario now has respectable season totals for homers (11), steals (11 in 16 attempts), and OPS (.752).

It would be natural to feel reluctant or skeptical, but if it helps you to make the leap, he has accomplished his recent stretch of success with across-the-board improvements. His plate discipline has gone a long way towards capitalizing on offense, as he boasts season-best marks for walk rate (8%) and strikeout rate (13.3%) through the month of July, while his batted ball quality has been kicked up a notch with 50% hard contact and just 8.6% soft contact.

It does detract a little bit that Rosario has simultaneously been producing a 1.47 GB/FB ratio this month with just 19% line drives, but his 90.4 MPH exit velocity and elite sprinting speed of 29.2 feet per second do more than enough to get him to base safely and sustain his .375 BABIP (as well as swipe bags and chase down grounders). The hesitance of owners across the fantasy baseball community has kept Amed Rosario widely available, but he would make a great addition right about now for a postseason push.

 

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, COL)

25% Owned

It may scare you that Ryan McMahon has produced a pattern of up and down performance from month to month, but a break in those kinds of patterns has to come sooner or later, and he could get a lot done from now until the end of September if he continues to swing his bat with his current stroke. The season-ending injury to Brendan Rodgers and the sustained sub-par play of Garrett Hampson have opened the door for McMahon to accelerate into a frenzy with his playing time more secure, and he bounced back from a one-HR, .632 OPS month in June to clobber the opposition to the tune of four homers, two stolen bases, and a .309/.360/.574 slash in 68 July AB.

As far as physical ability is concerned, McMahon is just fast enough to steal a sneaky number of bases and reach base safely on shots to the outfield, while his 91.3 MPH exit velocity and 423-foot average home run distance are well geared for success in Coors Field. Even when belting the ball back with that level of fervor, the positive shift probably isn't due to what you would think.

He still strikes out a lot at 28% but makes up for it amply with an 8% walk rate this month, and he is hitting for an impressive (though not even his best of the year) 39.6% hard contact on batted balls, although he has also netted a curiously stagnant 25% soft contact rate. However, despite his GB/FB ratio sitting at a seemingly dirt-heavy 2.30, he has been able to find wide-open gaps in the outfield throughout July by boosting his line drive rate from 21.1% to a zipping 31.3%. In Ryan McMahon we have a well-rounded, hard-hitting member of the young Colorado Rockies who offers a nothing-to-sneeze-at power/speed skillset and is fresh off of a surging month of mastery at the plate, so it would be a wise move to grab him and watch him break his back and forth cycle, before others become the wiser.

 

Luis Urias (2B, SD)

17% Owned

It's rather interesting that there was such a long period of discussion surrounding when Luis Urias would be called back up to the major league Padres, and after it finally happens, there is immediate discussion regarding Urias as a potential trade piece and whether or not San Diego would feel comfortable including him in a deal. A trade to another team would probably mean a reduction in MLB AB for the consensus top-30 prospect, but all of that noise aside, it is not lost on me that he has begun this major league stint at no better a pace than he did before.

In 44 AB for the Padres in 2019, he has hit for just one XBH (a double), stolen zero bases, and produced a grimace-worthy .372 OPS. With the results you're looking for out of Urias down the road, 44 AB is essentially a blink of an eye, and there remains plenty of reason to remain invested as we hit the final months of the regular season. First, there is his 295 AB for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas this season in which he has accumulated 19 home runs, seven steals (in nine tries despite questionable base-running talent), and a robust .315/.398/.600 slash which earned him such a ceremonious return. Then, while he has struck out at an uncharacteristically high (but not to be unexpected) 22.8% clip for his short 2019 MLB sample, he has seen the strike zone well as evidenced by a 19.3% walk rate.

He has hit for way too many grounders (61.3%), and has yet to have any real showings of power, his hard/soft contact split on batted balls really isn't as terrible as you'd expect at 29%/16.1%. I mean, what are the Padres going to do if they opt to keep Luis Urias, forgo providing him with any MLB plate appearances for the rest of the season and try out Ian Kinsler again? Unlikely, so if you made the stash or are still mulling it over, tough it out to the other side and give the kid a chance to prove his metal.

 

Giovanny Urshela (3B/SS, NYY)

15% Owned

For several months, even as he kept dropping dimes all over the field while fellow Yankees were dropping like flies, the sentiment towards Gio Urshela could be expressed as, "this has been nice, but New York has some tough roster decisions to make coming up." Fast forward to today, and after his lone mediocre month of work at the plate is a distant memory of June, Aaron Boone would be crazy not to call on one of 2019's biggest surprise stars continually. In 60 AB for the Yankees in July, Urshela turned up the heat by crushing five pitches into the stands and maintaining his usual medley of base-hitting with a slash of .317/.349/.683.

Known before this season for his defensive prowess, he has looked every bit like a potential future batting champion with his body of work in pinstripes, and he seems to be making adjustments in plate appearances that could be gearing him up for more extra-base-hitting down the homestretch. He's been striking out at a 17.5% rate for July and walks extremely little for a man of his skill set (4.8% this month), but has been setting himself up to capitalize on every opportunity presented by a batted ball.

His contact quality has been serviceable with 36.7% hard contact (though an ugly 24.5% soft contact) for July, but he has been netting a base hit-friendly 24.5% line drive percentage, season-best 42.9% pull rate, and for the first time all season has produced a sub-1.00 GB/FB ratio (0.95, down from 1.14 in June). He has additionally torqued the ball for a 90.4 MPH exit velocity during the 2019 campaign, and when applied to line drives, that sounds like a concrete formula to stuff the stat line in offense-friendly Yankee Stadium. The newfound offensive astuteness of Gio Urshela was sweet enough when it was mainly singles, but with a July ISO of .367, the urgency to add him to rosters should be appropriately heightened.

 

For the Sneaky and Savvy

Bo Bichette (SS, TOR)

12% Owned

It's already been a couple of weeks since Bo Bichette publicly insisted that he was ready for a promotion to the majors and that he's "done everything" that the Toronto Blue Jays have asked of him to this point (and more), and we have still yet to see Bichette get the call to the Rogers Centre. It could definitely be due to the fact that Toronto was hoping to have a busy trade deadline by flipping the likes of Eric Sogard and Freddy Galvis (along with Ken Giles and Marcus Stroman), but even if they prove unable to clear that middle infield room coming up, the highly-rated Bichette is still well worth the stash.

He has progressed remarkably quick for a non-college batter, and he has shown the ability to adapt without a hitch with each new level of the minors, most recently raking for eight home runs, 15 stolen bases, and a slash of .277/.336/.477 in 220 AB for Triple-A Buffalo. Bo Bichette wreaks of a guy that can come in and immediately provide explosive statistical contributions across the board and would be an interesting addition to the upstart Blue Jay batting order. (Update: Since Eric Sogard was dealt to the Tampa Bay, this could very well open up the window that Bichette needs for his long-awaited promotion)

 

Gavin Lux (SS, LAD)

11% Owned

Recently, as all of the speculations turned to the potential MLB call-ups of Urias and Bichette, it began to look more and more likely that Gavin Lux would enter the mix as the Los Angeles Dodgers charge head-on into the postseason. Lux entered the ranks of the top-100 prospects in baseball thanks to an emergent 2018 minor league campaign, but he is having himself quite a time (on a whole new level) across the Sooner state in 2019. In 353 AB in total for Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, the 21-year-old shortstop has posted a powerful 21 home runs (including eight bombs in just 94 AB for OKC), seven stolen bases (in ten tries), and a viciously well-rounded slash of .357/.423/.629.

The Dodgers have ridden a stacked roster into the heart of World Series contention, but they have had enough injuries in the middle infield to desire some breathing room, and why make a deadline deal for depth when you have one of the best power-hitting shortstops in minor league baseball in your very own farm system? With his promotion possibly coming very soon, Gavin Lux could make an immediate impact of significant nature like many young Dodgers before him.

 

Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, BAL)

3% Owned

The Baltimore Orioles have had a few surprising bright spots for their last-place run of 2019, one of which is the competent play of 26-year-old Dominican infielder Hanser Alberto. With six home runs, four stolen bases (in six attempts), and a .741 OPS across 320 AB this season, "Radio" has even popped up in a few trade deadline discussions, but his play of late has been even more encouraging than any involved parties may have anticipated.

His OBP hasn't been much higher than his batting average due to just one walk being taken over the last 70 AB (which, granted, is startling), but he has struck out just four times over the course of the past two weeks (33 AB), while at the same time clubbing two dingers with a .394/.412/.576 slash for the Orioles. Admittedly, it would go a long way towards his base-running figures if he could take walks with a little higher frequency and give himself the maximum opportunities, but there are plenty of rewards to be reaped from a player who can put up a 10-10 power/speed mix over a season with a high BA to boot (even if their club is a bottom-dweller).

 

Just Checking In...

  • The Milwaukee Brewers were in need of a boost in the midst of the tight National League postseason race, and sensational rookie Keston Hiura has been that and more. Behind an onslaught of home runs, steals, and constant impact-hitting, Hiura's star has risen and appropriately, so has his ownership rate to 67%. All that held him back earlier in the season was his security for playing time, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Brewers want Travis Shaw back anytime soon.
  • Danny Santana has gone from a 2019 roster-rarity to a vital component for owners in 61% of leagues, a feat which he has accomplished through a steady barrage of uncharacteristic power-hitting and aggression on the basepaths, while being a member of a high-scoring batting order like the Texas Rangers. With the Rangers on a down spell and dwindling, it is important to note that Santana's name has popped up in trade talks.
  • This was probably not the year that Addison Russell had in mind. After returning from an unfortunate off-season suspension, the Chicago Cubs finally decided that Russell's struggles were costing them too greatly and designated him to Triple-A. It doesn't appear to be a temporary trip either, as the Cubs are now pretty openly in the market for a second baseman.

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