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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 20

We didn't have to venture too far into the month of August for the impact of the new trade deadline rules to become clear. Gaps on each team that weren't addressed by July 31st don't just go away, and players like Joe PanikZack Godley, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Lucroy, and Asdrubal Cabrera have all found new homes as a result following being DFA'd. Though with Week One of the NFL preseason kicking off this past week and talk of fantasy football draft strategy flooding all of the familiar channels, it would have been easy to miss out on these recent details. As we all know, it gets tricky when you are managing the overlap between two different sports at drastically different times in the year, (and demand very different kinds of attention), but that is what we face until the calendar marks October. With an exciting cast of characters making the most of the spotlight this week, there's no reason not to pick up steam as the playoffs approach.

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 20.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

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

46% Owned

It has been a year characterized by ups and downs for Scott Kingery, going as far as to hit seven home runs and steal three bases during the month of June, then turn right back around and net a mediocre OPS of .616 through the heat of July. While he has definitely been worse off during the second half of the 2019 season, he has once again turned the tide with the start of the month, already hitting for four XBH (three doubles and a home run), stealing three bases in three tries, and producing a .294/.368/.471 slash in the first 38 plate appearances of August.

Kingery steadily bumped up his walk rate from 2.9% in April to a dialed-in 10% during his otherwise poor month of July, and has started the month of August with a solid rate of 7.9% to go along with his lowest strikeout rate since the start of the season (18.4%). Upon reviewing the numbers, other than his high strikeout rates, it's rather confusing as to where his struggles stemmed from in the first place.

During his horrid time last month, he was hitting batted balls for a combined 70% line drives and fly balls, while applying just 11.7% soft contact and 43.3% hard contact. He has started this month off with a larger volume of grounders and 6.3% less hard contact, but he is still just hitting for 11.1% soft contact, and his elite sprinting speed of 29.1 feet per second is more than enough physical ability to sustain "Scotty Jetpacks" regularly high BABIP and attack the base-paths (even if reaching base becomes more rare).  With such high-quality contact and the strikeout issue being mended, Scott Kingery is worth grabbing before he gets searing-hot again.


Freddy Galvis (2B/SS, TOR)

37% Owned

Aside from the seemingly endless stream of phenomenal, young talent that the Toronto Blue Jays are building their future around, iron man Freddy Galvis has somehow continued to put up fantastic, career-best figures. In the first 40 plate appearances of August, he has already hit for five extra-base hits (three doubles and two to the stands) and produced an end-heavy slash of .289/.308/.526, and the opportunity still remains for Galvis to receive steady playing time (even with the arrival of Bo Bichette) thanks to the trade of Eric Sogard.

Galvis's Achilles heel has been his plate discipline. It isn't typically a great formula for a shortstop to strike out very often and walk with extreme scarcity, but that has been what Galvis has done to start the second half of the season with respective rates of 25.8% and 1.7% (yikes). On top of the strike zone obstacle, "Toco" has really slowed down on his already conservative base-running efforts, only stealing two bases (in both tries) since the beginning of May (and it's hard to steal bases when you never walk and only hit for extras...)

Those drawbacks are of mute concern, because you're adding Freddy Galvis to your roster for his power consistency. With 18 knocks on the year, he hasn't gone a single month with less than seven extra-base hits, he is currently on pace to put up consecutive ISO figures of .189 and .237 for July and August, and he has been producing a solid mix of 36.8% hard contact, a mere 12.6% soft contact, and 61.6% combined line drives and flyers on batted balls over the season's latter half. With that level of persistent power to rely on out of the Rogers Centre, Galvis still projects as a strong play to the bitter end.


Jason Kipnis (2B/OF, CLE)

35% Owned

The Cleveland Indians are making a strong run at the Minnesota Twins and the AL Central title, and a big part of that run has been veteran second baseman and two-time All-Star Jason Kipnis. Over the last two weeks (40 AB) the fellow former Kentucky Wildcat recorded nine XBH (six doubles and three bombs), a stolen base, and a robust .350/.386/.725 slash.

Kipnis has been making concrete contact on batted balls all season with a steady eye for the strike zone, but it has only been these last couple of months where the circumstances are becoming ideal and the stars are starting to align. He has kept his strikeouts in check for August at 18.9% (though this is a season-worst figure), and has been taking frequent free trips to first at 8.1%, in addition to upping his proportion of non-grounders with 65.4% line drives and fly balls.

The real kicker has been how hard he has been punishing the pitches of opposing arms. After putting up an excellent 44.3% hard contact rate and 8.6% soft contact rate for July, he has kept the snowball snowballing with a meaty 63% hard contact rate to begin August with a measly 11.1% soft contact rate. A .364 ISO and .400 BABIP may seem a bit over Jason Kipnis's head, but it really isn't if you trust the strength with which he is striking the ball and the location that they are falling into.


Cavan Biggio (2B/OF, TOR)

29% Owned

From a month-by-month perspective, Cavan Biggio would appear to be slowing down after a red-hot start to his career with the youth-driven Toronto Blue Jays. Although he has accumulated a poor overall showing for July and August, he has put up a strong showing at the plate over the last two weeks (45 AB) with three home runs, two stolen bases, and a rather wishy washy slash of .222/.327/.444.

While his strikeout rate has ascended to 32.4% and his walk rate has diminished (though it still sits at a robust 10.8%), his proclivity for power has remained solid with a .182 ISO for August. One issue is that his hard contact rate and soft contact rate both sit at equally ugly marks of 23.8%, which in conjunction with his line drive falling to 19%, explains how his BABIP could ever fall to .211 with a sprinting speed of 28.3 feet per second. Thankfully, with the added benefit of his athletic talent, he is doing all of the right things to (at the very least) remain a power/speed threat through September.

Even with his batted ball quality waning into August, these problems are extremely recent, as Biggio was able to hit for 38.2% hard contact just last month when he struggled to find a rhythm. Even though his line drive rate has hit a season-low, his GB/FB ratio still stands at 0.55 thanks to an air-raid 52.4% fly ball rate, which has still allowed him to exit the park with pleasurable frequency in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. It is this mixture that still makes Cavan Biggio a potent acquisition for any contending lineup, even his batting average dips below the "Mendoza Line".


For the Sneaky and Savvy

Eric Sogard (2B/SS/OF, TB)

22% Owned

We're approaching mid-August and he is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, and still another week is going by of the season when Eric Sogard would make a strong addition to any roster in need of a middle infielder. While it has been a brief time for Sogard since being shipped to Tampa (29 plate appearances), he has already racked up four XBH (two doubles and two dingers), two stolen bases, and a beefy 1.203 OPS. Like many players enjoying successful (and surprising) runs for 2019, the numbers suggest that you should be able to ride Sogard up until the final out.

While his hard contact rate for August has dropped a bit to 29.4% and he still produces a bit too much soft contact (17.7%), his plate discipline has been excellent with a 13.6% walk rate and 9.1% strikeout rate, and his location supports a sustainable BABIP. Applying a 29.4% line drive rate and just 23.5% grounders to a 19.6-degree launch angle, Sogard is setting himself up well for a continued stream of lasers to the outfield and occasionally, out of the park.


Isan Diaz (SS, MIA)

19% Owned

Off-and-on top-100 prospect Isan Diaz, along with teammate Lewis Brinson, recently received the call to join the Miami Marlins for the formality that is their final months of play. It hasn't exactly been the start through the albeit brief debut that Diaz and the fish were hoping for, but with two XBH (a double and a home run with his entire family present) and a couple of walks to show for it, there is something to be pleased with and even more to remain excited about.

Diaz has always carried the label of a power-ceiling shortstop, but his 2019 body of work in NOLA far surpasses anything he's accomplished in his minor league career until this point. In 377 AB for Triple-A New Orleans this season, he has clubbed an eye-opening 26 homers, stolen five bases in an uncharacteristically inefficient nine attempts, and hit for a slash of .305/.395/.578. On a .273 ISO and 11.3% walk rate at the highest level of the minor leagues, Diaz has the tools to move past this initial slump and dole out destruction as his Marlins squad has nothing to lose in deploying him over the last two months of the regular season.


Gavin Lux (SS, LAD)

12% Owned

Speaking of power-hitting shortstops receiving the invitation to the big show, the talk is really boiling on when (probably not if) Gavin Lux is going to arrive in Los Angeles to help propel the Dodgers into the postseason. With the injuries to Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor, the Dodgers made it clear they needed infield depth when they traded for Jedd Gyorko at the deadline, but with Lux's performances throughout the state of Oklahoma this season, he's made himself a bit too enticing to resist.

In 402 AB across Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A OKC, Lux has crushed 53 XBH (22 doubles, eight triples, and 23 home runs), stolen ten bases in 15 tries, and produced an insane .358/.429/.624 slash. He has actually been far more dominant since his promotion to Triple-A, and he is able to quickly adapt to the competition as evidenced by his improved figures for strikeout rate (16.7%), walk rate (14.9%), and ISO (.371), not to mention the strides he has made this season on the defensive side. For a Gavin Lux-urious conclusion to the campaign, grab the highly-touted prospect before he pulls a Bo Bichette right out of your reach.


Just Checking In...

  • I don't often use the word "wowza", but given the circumstances, Bo Bichette has earned it. He's got three home runs, a 1.254 OPS, and a record-setting nine-game doubles streak over the course of his brief MLB debut. As a result, his ownership rates have skyrocketed, and you may very well have missed out on your chance to reap the rewards of the fantastic newcomer for 2019.
  • Just as Robinson Cano was actually starting to heat up, along with the rest of the New York Mets, boom: he tears his left hamstring and is declared out for the remainder of the season. While it's a disappointing conclusion to the campaign for the 36-year-old former superstar, the Mets are making a strong push for the postseason, and they have plugged in Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme, and Adeiny Hechavarria at second base in his absence (and signed Joe Panik).
  • In what can be considered a major bummer, Tim Beckham was slammed with an 80-game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Beckham's fantasy value for the foreseeable future is therefore, not good. It's a shame that he can't keep playing too, because he had proven serviceable to many fantasy managers this year with a power-heavy 15 home runs and .237/.293/.461 slash in 304 AB for the early peaking Seattle Mariners.

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