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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 23

Now college football is here, and the NFL regular season will have arrived by this Thursday. That means that final fantasy football drafts are popping off like Labor Day fireworks this weekend, and the attention of every living, breathing alumni of colleges across the country will be fixed on the television from noon to one in the morning, and that doesn't even take into account the percentage of us that have swung full force into the Premier League campaign. To add a cherry on top of the uncertainty sundae that is about to be the final month before the MLB postseason, with the August acquisition period coming to a close and September call-ups directly around the bend, there are still going to be some opportunities to grab some high-ceiling help.

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 23.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Kevin Newman (2B/SS, PIT)

37% Owned

It has definitely been a slower second half at the plate for Pittsburgh rookie Kevin Newman, but he has bounced back admirably during the month of August to the tune of eight XBH (three home runs, two triples, three doubles), four stolen bases (in six attempts), and a slash of .303/.361/.465 for the otherwise downward trending Buccos. Newman's sprinting speed of 28.4 feet per second has been the key to his base-stealing volume and the not so secret ingredient in his ability to sustain a high BABIP (.321 for August) on a 1.67 GB/FB ratio and hard contact rate of only 27.6%, but is he in a good position to keep the pace through September?

Even with a high GB/FB ratio, Newman is still hitting for 24.7% line drives, on to which he has applied a minimal 8.3% soft contact on the season as a whole. In addition to this ability to spray the shallow outfield, he has counterbalanced his low walk rate of 4.6% for August with a strikeout rate of just 11.1%, allowing himself the maximum opportunity to reach base and do his brand of damage. With a couple of clutch offensive performances under his belt to help spur the current hot streak, Kevin Newman looks to have settled into a wave prime for riding.


Jon Berti (2B/3B/SS/OF, MIA)

32% Owned

Before the beginning of August, 2019, if asked who 29-year-old rookie Jon Berti was, an answer of, "pass" would've been perfectly acceptable. In the 105 AB of his first substantial month as a major leaguer, the former student of Bowling Green State University has tallied an impressive 12 knocks for extra bases (four home runs, one triple, and seven doubles), a slash of .286/.364/.486, and an attention-grabbing seven stolen bases in an effective eight attempts. His plate discipline hasn't been special with a 6.8% walk rate and 22.9% strikeout rate, and he hits for 53.8% grounders on a 2.80 GB/FB ratio, but past those figures, his game appears to be the result of an airtight formula.

Berti is a top-tier base-runner as evidenced by his blazing sprinting speed of 29.8 feet per second, and he has swung for 26.9% line drives during August, on to which he has put 62.5% hard contact and an astute 9.4% soft contact for the season. The Marlins may not do a whole lot of scoring, but if they have at all lately, Jon Berti seems to have been a vital part of it. By saving his best contact for the most hittable of pitches, he has tarnished few opportunities en route to high-volume base thievery, and he may be the most potent option off of the waivers in that category proceeding forward.


Jurickson Profar (1B/2B/3B/SS, OAK)

30% Owned

I mean, when you really put the measures of performance under a microscope, Jurickson Profar has only had one truly sub-par month for the 2019 campaign (being his .495 OPS showing all the way back in April). However, the disappointment in his work is more than understandable when considering the fact that scouts once had him pegged as the best prospect in all of baseball. The disappointment got super real when the Athletics declared a role reduction for Profar after a particularly nasty stint to start the month, but on a dime, the now 26-year-old Curacao native has shifted the tides in a major way.

In only 56 AB for August, Profar has hit ten balls for extra bases (four home runs and six doubles) with a .250/.386/.571 slash, which has for the vast majority been off of the efforts of the previous week in which he clubbed three bombs with a 1.548 OPS. He has put himself in far better position to find success at the plate during this last month with a 14.3% strikeout rate and beefy walk rate of 17.1%, and his 21.3% line drive rate (giving him a 1.18 GB/FB ratio) is vital when considering his 53.7% hard contact rate and 4.5% soft contact rate on liners for the year. Jurickson Profar is clearly a roll of the dice, but if the circumstances persist, he is a high-ceiling, defensively versatile player who could serve a meaningful role for your squad down the stretch.


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

25% Owned

Asdrubal Cabrera has been a force in major league baseball for over a decade, and at the age of 33, the two-time All-Star is in the midst of one of his best-ever stretches for a single squad as a member of the surging Washington Nationals. In his 56 AB for the club since being snagged from the Texas Rangers, Cabrera has hit eight balls for extras (two home runs and six doubles), produced a .321/.400/.536 slash, and has been laser-focused in the box with only eight strikeouts and an equally impressive eight walks.

"Chiquitin" has produced a lower clip of line drives than you'd like to see at just 14.3% for the month of August to make help compose a 1.33 GB/FB ratio, but his contact on batted balls has been of sterling quality with a 42.9% hard contact rate and minimal 8.2% soft contact rate. Plate discipline and concrete contact are valuable enough on their own, but they help to net even further offensive results when you are a component in the batting order that ranks fourth in runs scored and third in team OPS among all teams in the MLB for August. A .340 BABIP isn't out of the question given his current level of lumber, and a .214 ISO for the month of August with a 1.00 BB/K ratio over his stretch with the Nats make Asdrubal Cabrera quite enticing.


For the Sneaky and Savvy

Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS/OF, STL)

24% Owned

At this point in the year, it's wise to buy stock in players who have the physical talent and capabilities to put some concrete numbers up across the board. If you're in search of said player, Tommy Edman could be a great option for deployment through September. Over the last two weeks (47 AB) he holds five XBH (one home run and four doubles), two stolen bases in three attempts, and a .298/.353/.447 slash, and from the looks of his peripherals it could've been a whole lot more than that.

He only walked at a 5.0% rate for the month of August, but he brought his strikeout rate down to a meager 12.9%, and applied 41% hard contact with 16.9% soft contact on 28.6% line drives for the month as well. Even with an ISO of just .125, that level of quality contact and a sprinting speed of 29.3 feet per second should keep Edman on the base-paths, ready to turn and burn.


Gavin Lux (SS, LAD)

19% Owned

After months of anticipation for the call-up of Gavin Lux, the whispers started to circulate that the Dodgers were feeling a bit reluctant to green-light the promotion. That sprinkle of doubt has helped to keep the prospect hungry owners at bay for the time being, but the Dodgers have also hinted at the fact that if they do decide to bring Lux to the majors, he could serve in a very meaningful role. If that happens, you'll be happy you got the jump on adding the elite 21-year-old.

In 454 AB for Tulsa and Oklahoma City across the Double-A and Triple-A levels for 2019, Lux has clubbed a remarkable 59 extra-base hits (26 homers, eight triples, 25 doubles), stolen ten bases (in an albeit inefficient 16 tries), and a robust slash of .346/.420/.608. He has adjusted to each new level of the minor leagues with prodigal speed, and with the eye to walk at a 14.5% clip in conjunction with a .333 ISO for OKC, he can do damage all over the field if he enters into a role of even moderate prominence in the Dodger infield.


Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, BAL)

12% Owned

After an impressive stretch over the last two weeks (46 AB) that saw him swing for six extra-base hits (three home runs and three doubles) and a hit-heavy slash of .370/.396/.630, Hanser Alberto now finds himself in ninth place in all of major league baseball in batting average. Coming off of by far the best month of what has already been an amazingly surprising season for the player dubbed "Radio", he has not only expanded upon his strengths, but has shored up his weaknesses, and still remains available in a ridiculous amount of leagues.

In August, he walked at a season-best (but still poor) 4.9% walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate to a minimal 5.9% clip, and hit for a season-high .232 ISO off of 58.5% medium contact on 23.6% line drives and a 1.13 GB/FB ratio. It's unclear how trustworthy his recent power propensity is moving forward into the final month of play (at least for the bottom-dwelling Orioles), but as a hitting-title contender who makes few mistakes in the batter's box, Alberto is well worth having a stake in.


Just Checking In...

  • Giovanny Urshela has landed on the ten-day IL retroactive to August 29th with a groin strain. Despite the inopportune timing of the rising star's sidelining, the Yankees have plenty of respectable replacements waiting in the wings, and Gio isn't expected to be gone for any longer than the required ten days.
  • While his potential call-up is less likely than the other big-name prospects around the league, Jake Cronenworth has a wide array of skills to offer the Tampa Bay Rays down the homestretch. They're going to have to add him to the MLB roster unless they want to lose him to the Rule 5 draft, and he's impressively packing a line of ten home runs, 12 stolen bases, a .964 OPS, and a 0.00 ERA in 7.1 IP for Triple-A Durham.
  • Freddy Galvis has finally graduated from the ranks of the widely available after a strong season-long effort for the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds, and of course, now is the time that he has picked to start slowing down. With only one extra-base hit in the last week and a .394 OPS, the Rojos may start to explore different options for field time in their final month of work.

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