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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 25

In one unfortunate week (though suspiciously, not on Friday the 13th), the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs both lost their biggest star in the midst of the NL wildcard race, and are still fending off the Phillies and Mets on razor-thin margins. In losing Christian Yelich and Javier Baez, for their big league squads and the rosters in all leagues that harbored them, there's now a big, gaping whole where a mound of production once stood firm. With "El Mago's" fractured thumb, many of you might be in search of some serious infield depth, and there are some interesting options available this week (though his level of play is far from replaceable). With really only half of September remaining, the time is now to make some strong moves and finalize your crew for a championship run.

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 25.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Kolten Wong (2B, STL)

43% Owned

At first glance, behind the confusing force of a 3.8% walk rate, 20.9% hard contact rate, a 32.6% soft contact rate, and a 2.88 GB/FB ratio, it may be inconceivable that September signals good times for Kolten Wong. In fact, Wong is in progress of stringing together his third consecutive successful month at the plate, and has netted five knocks for extras (two doubles, two triples, and a bomb), three stolen bases, and a .319/.340/.511 slash through 47 AB, 15 days in.

A segment of the explanation comes from Wong's sustained ability to reach base via bunt, and the fact that he is still producing line drives at a 20.5% clip, on which he has applied 46.6% hard contact and just 12.3% soft contact for the season. His natural speed is enabling, but not too much more, yet he has still managed to club for a smorgasbord of XBH while making the most of the balls he puts into play over his most recent run of success (as evidenced by his .192 ISO and .350 BABIP at this point in September). If you can handle a few minor blips in the departments of base-hitting and reaching of the like, then Kolten Wong is a choice still open to many for contribution in true areas of substance for a Cardinals club looking ahead to October.


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

39% Owned

Speaking of the St.Louis Cardinals, the defensively versatile and lightning-quick Tommy Edman has made that forecast for October and beyond look full of possibilities. Though he has slowed down a little bit over the past week, Edman is still well on his way to the finest month of his inaugural MLB campaign with seven extra-base hits (four doubles, a triple, and two homers), three stolen bases (giving him 12 in 13 attempts on the year), and a .262/.311/.548 slash in 45 plate appearances.

How Edman is able to steal bases, accumulate assorted XBH, and take advantage of batted balls in the face of inconsistent contact quality is pretty clear: his sprinting speed of 29.4 feet per second is a game-changing factor (though, surprisingly, it is only the fourth-fastest time among fellow Cardinals). Even while walking at a minuscule rate (4.4%) and reaching a season-high strikeout clip (17.8%), Edman is still clubbing for a .286 September ISO off the efforts of a 23.5% line drive rate, while putting 50% hard contact and just 5.8% soft contact on liners all season. As a plug-in asset across the diamond with a crazy set of wheels, it is vital that Edman has a bona fide formula for finding and re-finding success with the bat from month to month. With evidence of that beginning to take shape, he seems worthy of confident deployment during September's latter-half.


Gavin Lux (2B/SS, LAD)

32% Owned

Nowadays, I guess when you're an elite, highly anticipated prospect, it is an emergency of enormous gravity if you're not playing like a future Hall of Famer from day one. That isn't anyone's fault, because it's been a good year for guys making their first MLB appearances, but it looks like Gavin Lux has waded through the glow of the spotlight and found his big league rhythm in the incredibly short time allotted. Once the Dodgers made it clear that they were planning on promoting Lux from Triple-A Oklahoma City (where, as we have previously covered, he dominated and instilled fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers), they also made it clear that he would be called on to serve in a significant role, and his performance suggests he could do a lot with that roll by the time October arrives.

In his first 33 AB for Los Angeles, Lux has done well to showcase his skill set with two doubles, two home runs, a stolen base, and a slash of .273/.333/.515. Besides his 25.9% soft contact rate, the blue-chip talent has left little room for desire. His 8.3% walk rate and 16.7% strikeout rate communicate early composure, his 48.1% hard contact rate on 62.9% combined line drives and batted balls make his .242 ISO an easy conclusion to reach, and his upper-echelon sprinting speed of 28.9 feet per second helps to round out his threat as a base-runner while supplying a safety net for times of turbulence.  The hype is very real with Gavin Lux, and it is manifesting as we speak, so there's no need to squander that opportunity away behind the fog of trepidation.


Nick Solak (2B/3B, TEX)

27% Owned

Nick Solak's rate of owner investment has made a furious ascent over the last couple of weeks. The reason is that he has hit a roll like butter with five extra-base hits (a power-heavy one double, one triple, and three homers), a sharp count of seven walks compared to ten strikeouts, and a .359/.479/.667 slash in 48 plate appearances through this point of September. He has clearly been an active cog in the Rangers offense in that time as well, going for eleven RBI and ten runs. That's just one consequence of the former Louisville Cardinal's repertoire that you won't want to miss out on in your push to the final levels of the playoffs.

Solak doesn't attempt to steal bases with much frequency, but his 28.4 feet per second in sprinting speed shows plenty of natural ability to make use of in burning base-path rubber. Also his speed has played no insignificant part in sustaining his .423 BABIP for the month. His 1.88 GB/FB ratio in conjunction with 27.6% hard contact and 17.2% soft contact sounds risky in line with his skill set. However, taking a closer look we see that he is still hitting for 20.7% line drives (on which he applies 53.9% hard contact and 0.0% soft contact for the year in total), and has corked balls back in the opposite direction at a stout 89.6 MPH in exit velocity, lending ample credence to his September ISO of .308. If you feel secure in the category of stolen bases, Nick Solak is a strong consideration to contribute across all other statistical areas.


For the Sneaky and Savvy

Cavan Biggio (2B/OF, TOR)

24% Owned

The main focus of the Toronto Blue Jays youth movement has been Bo Bichette, but Cavan Biggio has recovered nicely out of a mid-season tailspin en route to a strong finish. In 31 AB in September, Biggio has racked up four extra-base hits (one home run, one triple, two doubles), two stolen bases, and a slash of .290/.450/.516. The impressive rookie with Hall of Fame lineage has already accumulated a WAR of 2.1 in 305 AB for the 2019 Jays. He also has yet to be caught stealing in eleven successful attempts on the base-paths (despite less-than elite speed) and his batted-ball contact paints a grand portrait of his final months for the season. Though his September strikeout rate has reached a season-worst 32.5%, he has managed to walk at a robust 20% clip, and can maintain a .471 BABIP with 38.9% hard contact and 11.1% soft contact on a 27.8% line drive rate (and 0.63 GB/FB ratio). Under this formula, Biggio looks primed for stat-stuffing until the end of the month.


Luis Arraez (2B/3B/OF, MIN)

15% Owned

The play of fellow high-volume hitter Hanser Alberto may be hitting the brakes as September screeches on, but Luis Arraez remains dialed in. Since the start of the month, he has already piled up six doubles and a .436/.488/.590 slash across 39 AB. Not only that, but he has demonstrated an astute eye in the batter's box with just 12 strikeouts and 13 free trips to first base since August commenced. The key difference has come in where, and how he is bringing his bat to meet pitches. As opposed to 32.9% hard contact, 14.1% soft contact, and a 27.1% line drive rate to maintain a .310 BABIP last month, Arraez has been hitting for a far more potent 44.4% hard contact, 5.6% soft contact, and 33.3% line drive rate on the way to working with a BABIP of .472. If he's walking with regularity, strikeout out with scarcity, and hitting the ball harder at a more linear angle, he is putting himself in a great spot to keep raking and scoring runs for an elite Minnesota offense.


Dylan Moore (2B/3B/SS/OF, SEA)

2% Owned

While it has been in some inconsistent spurts up to this point, Dylan Moore has quietly put together a solid few months of work, culminating in four XBH (two dingers and two doubles), four stolen bases, and a .258/.343/.516 slash in his last 35 plate appearances. Moore has at least remained a reliable base thief, and has been assisted by his considerable sprinting speed of 28.3 feet per second. However, its been a few interesting differences in his already fickle offensive approach that have kept the ball rolling (and flying) in Seattle. He is still walking at a healthy volume but his strikeout rate has hit a stratospheric 31.4% this month, and his soft contact rate has been downright concerning as well (reaching 35% to this point in September). In spite of that, when applying 40% hard contact to batted balls being launched into the air 55% of the time, his propensity for power shots is clear from his 18.2% HR/FB ratio. With that aspect in play to shore up some of the loose ends, Dylan Moore is a wise and widely available choice to proceed further into the playoffs.


Just Checking In...

  • It has been nice to see Starlin Castro back in a positive light, and his ownership rate (and his free agency stock) has risen consistently on the tail of a barrage of bombs over the past two weeks. While he still may end 2019 with his worst figures for a full season in four years, it's hard not to hold optimism for 2020 with the way he's closing out.
  • In other encouraging news, Keston Hiura was activated off of the IL (though he is scheduled to return on Monday against San Diego), and the Brewers will certainly be happy to have him back. So will fantasy baseball managers, and even if he needs a couple of plate appearances to regain his rhythm, his 16 homers, nine steals, and .941 OPS will still be worth deploying.
  • An injury to Javier Baez, an injury to Addison Russell, and a pair of injuries at Triple-A Iowa is what it took to get Nico Hoerner in a major league uniform. That's a rapid-fire timeline that only the Chicago Cubs could turn into a positive while chasing a postseason birth, and Hoerner has begun with plenty of fanfare after smacking a pitch into the stands in his first AB in Wrigley Field.

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