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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 6


Baseball is neither fair nor consistent, this much we all know. It is however, predictable. Not in the sense that we know what will happen with each player taking each individual AB, but in the sense that based on the complete picture of performance formed by a player's peripheral figures, we can typically feel a certain degree of confidence that a player will either sustain their current level of play or gradually drift closer to their baseline of true ability. That's why it is beyond maddening when an unexpected surge or slump characterizes the start of a player's season, with nothing to do but wait it out and trust in the evidence that drove the decision to acquire or hold out on an asset in the first place. On that note: the calendar just turned to May. The summer months are here, kids are finishing up with school, and it's time to make some tough decisions. Who is unstoppable and who is droppable? Who's hot and who's not? Who is a winner and who...isn't a winner?

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 year-long robust depth and is ready if a crisis situation 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 6.

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Week 6 Middle Infield (2B/SS) Waiver Wire

Amed Rosario (SS, NYM)

47% Owned

I'm not going to lie to you: a couple of weeks ago I thought it was very possible that Amed Rosario would start to see a significant decline in PT, especially with the return of Jed Lowrie looming. Now that the 23-year old highly-touted shortstop has had a bit of time to stretch out this season, his performance appears to be trending in the right direction. First off, while his overall numbers at the major league level have been disappointing thus far, he has steadily improved with each year. He finished 2017 and 2018 with OPS of .665 and .676, and has started 2019 with a .260/.300/.390 slash to go along with two home runs and four steals in five attempts. He's warming up too, with a subsequent slash of .256/.293/.410 over the last two weeks, and his quality of contact appears to be on the upswing as well.

After producing hard/soft contact splits of 24.1%/19.8% and 27.7%/20.4% over the last two seasons on the way to ISO of .145 and .125, Rosario has been hitting for much more workable hard and soft contact rates of 37.8% and 14.4%, although his ISO remains slightly grounded at .130. He is certainly striking out at a higher than ideal clip (25.4%) and needs a higher walk rate than 5.4% to produce a solid OBP, but with an average exit velocity of 90.4 MPH that beats out the standard at shortstop, his routinely high BABIP is easily sustainable.

That's not the only reason: Rosario is one of the fastest men in the game with a registered sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second. He has already proven that he is a viable power/speed option at shortstop last year when he still managed to put up nine HR and 24 SB, and with Lowrie's return looking less and less likely to have a drastic impact on his share of starts, Amed Rosario is an intriguing asset with plenty of upside given his improving batted-ball quality.

 

Jose Peraza (2B/SS, CIN)

47% Owned

Jose Peraza has certainly made a lot of people break out in a cold sweat who spent a relatively early pick on the Venezuelan native, but much like Amed Rosario, he has supplied plenty of reason to keep the faith that there is a great season of offensive work ahead of him. Granted, his .188/.219/.277 doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, and his (still improved) .250/.308/.389 slash over the last two weeks paints the issue as his power-game. That isn't all that has been off with his approach for the 2019 campaign: he has been striking out way more (21%) and walking way less (2.9%), while his quality of batted-ball contact has also deteriorated early with a decrease in hard contact from 29.5% in 2018 to 24.1% this season in conjunction with a less than prudent 19% soft contact. With those figures, his 0.70 GB/FB ratio appears to actually be holding him back, even in offense-friendly GABP.

Not to worry though (despite that laundry list of discouraging details), because "El Llanero" (which I've been told means "The Lone Ranger") has continued to demonstrate his strengths amidst his struggles. First, while he has hit two homers this season he has blasted them for an impressive average distance of 412-feet per shot, building off his emergent power performance from last season in which he surprised everyone (particularly Reds fans) by hitting 14 bombs. Also, while his sprinting speed of 27.9 feet per second isn't exactly in the MLB's top-tier, it is enough demonstration of physical ability to infer that his four stolen bases in five tries is getting off on a great foot to once again improving his base-running efficiency. He has swiped 67 bags over the last three years and his success rate has gone from 68% in 2016 to 79.3% in 2018.

Lastly, he is a perennial (though that doesn't make it less irritating) late starter. He has a career OPS of .643 with eleven HR and 45 SB in 861 first-half AB, but a .747 OPS with 13 knocks and 29 swipes in 622 second-half Ab, and his career OPS through the months of April and May are mostly responsible as they respectively stand at .592 and .607. With Scooter moving to the 60-day IL, Peraza's spot in the order is that much more safe and based on his peripherals, he should be getting back to the balanced power/speed track in the blink of an eye.

 

Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, MIN)

25% Owned

"Margo" left the Houston Astros for the Minnesota Twins after seven seasons with bonafide hero-status, mostly stemming from his amazing run with the 2017 World Series Champions in which he finished 19th in the AL MVP Race, though he had a respectable campaign as well last year when he produced a .247/.324/.409 slash with 16 homers in 489 AB. His first season as a Twin? Not exactly going as planned (ironic, considering the fact that the 20-12 Minnesota squad is second in the MLB in OPS at .815), as his .191/.262/.277 slash indicates. Despite the paltry figures, Gonzalez has been picking up the pace over the last two weeks while excelling at the plate in Target Field to the tune of a .727 OPS and both HR, as compared to his unsightly away splits of zero XBH and a .359 OPS.

His problems appear to be due to slightly worsened plate discipline (though nothing disastrous) as illustrated by a 25.2% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate, and the fact that his GB/FB ratio has temporarily ballooned to 1.75 despite figure of 1.16 and 1.21 over the last two years. That screams, "Forget about this guy!", right? Not if his power figures and batted-ball peripherals get a chance to speak up. Gonzalez has been blasting pitches back in the opposite direction at an above-average speed of 90.9 MPH, and his average home run has been traveling for a marathon distance of 436-feet. He is also hitting for a current career-high hard contact rate of 39.7%, and his vast defensive versatility has been a big help in consistently keeping on the field during his early-season slump.

It is definitely more difficult to hit the ball deep in Minneapolis than it is in Houston, and Gonzalez appears to have come down with a wee bit of homesickness that has hampered his adjustment to his new club. However, with the quality of contact that he continues to unleash on pitches being paired with the Twins offensive potency, the veteran utility man is well worth your focused consideration.

 

Howie Kendrick (2B/3B/OF, WAS)

10% Owned

Truthfully, I could've probably recommended Howie Kendrick as a middle infield waiver wire acquisition in each of the past three weeks, but he has sustained his strong showing through some key milestones, and the offensive peripherals he came out of the tunnel with give indications of a monster 14th MLB campaign (at the age of 35). With Trea Turner being out for an extended period of time to start the season and the Nats suffering at the hands of a cavalcade of injuries (including Matt Adams, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Michael A. Taylor, and Ryan Zimmerman), an unexpected gap recently opened up in the Washington middle infield and outfield.

Even with the call-up of Carter Kieboom, Kendrick has remained a fixture in the lineup, and has rewarded the club beyond expectations with a .338/.400/.559 slash, with four home runs and a stolen base in 68 AB. In fact, it's pretty tough to find a statistical category of importance that he isn't currently knocking out of the park (literally and figuratively). His plate discipline has been stellar, with a balanced 10% walk rate and 12.5% strikeout rate, and his batted-ball contact has been of phenomenal quality as illustrated by his 42.6% hard contact rate and 9.8% soft contact rate.

His pull rate of 31.1% and his GB/FB ratio of 1.41 indicate less than ideal batted-ball placement, but he is hitting with such vigor that his .333 BABIP appears just as sustainable as it has been for him in years of the past. The force behind each bash is considerable as well, with a 92.8 MPH average exit velocity and 420-foot average HR distance being the measurables behind the man hitting for a .221 ISO. At his best, he has a time-tested track record of being a well-rounded bat, with the ability to hit for power and incorporate modest base-running. With the window of opportunity in Washington's lineup still open and his stroke on line, Howie Kendrick is an exciting player to have a stake in.

 

For the Sneaky and Savvy

Logan Forsythe (1B/2B/3B, TEX) - 7% Owned

With a .361/.429/.611 slash, two home runs, and a steal over the last two weeks for the Texas Rangers, Logan Forsythe is looking like the well-rounded, power/speed threat from all over the infield that the Rays enjoyed for so long. While he has been striking out a bit more than usual (23.2%), he has been supporting his OBP by taking walks at a 13.1% clip, and appears amply able to sustain his high BABIP (.362) with a career-high rate of hard contact at 47.5%. His soft contact albeit, is also up to 19.7%, but in producing another career-high with a .181 ISO, his swing quality appears to be back in for a Rangers squad reaching deep to fill the lineup.

Brandon Drury (2B/3B, TOR) - 5% Owned

B-Dru has had a hard time getting back on the horse after a rough couple of years. Due to some sub-par plate discipline as evidenced by his 4.2% walk rate and 36.1% strikeout rate, he has started off the 2019 campaign for the Jays with a cringe-worthy .221/.261/.425. He's been red-hot though over the last 37 AB, producing three dingers (giving him five total) and an .857 OPS, and his power peripherals carry a lot of weight as well. The (still just only) 26-year old has been hitting for 48.6% hard contact and a .204 ISO, and while also applying 90 MPH average exit velocity to a 0.89 GB/FB ratio, he is setting himself up nicely to find the stands at the Rogers Centre.

Derek Dietrich (1B/2B/OF, CIN) - 4% Owned

Derek Dietrich may seem like an underwhelming candidate to receive a lot of playing time moving forward with Scooter Gennett moving to the 60-day IL, but check your facts: "Dietz" hasn't turned in a poor statistical season of work since 2013 with the Marlins. He has been adjusting to GABP just fine this year, producing a 1.019 OPS and eight homers already in just 67 AB behind 40% hard contact and solid plate discipline as demonstrated by an 8.8% walk rate and 16.3% strikeout rate. His ISO is .403, he has a 0.73 GB/FB ratio in a park that rewards flyers, and that makes his BABIP of .191 seem a bit unlucky.

 

Just Checking In...

  • Since covering him in the season's early weeks, Brandon Lowe's ownership rates have soared to 70% while he has continued to support the Tampa Bay Rays youth movement with a .378 BA, one HR, and one SB in the last two weeks. He remains an explosive middle infield option.
  • Likewise, Dansby Swanson has been off to possibly the best start of his young career for the offensively-potent Atlanta Braves, and his ownership rate has climbed to 57% as a result. He is on pace to hit for a career-high HR total, while his two dingers and a swipe support the former top-prospect as a viable power/speed option at shortstop moving forward.
  • On the flip side, Kolten Wong has been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride since we discussed him. While he has been on a base-stealing tear and his overall numbers on the season look great, he has hit for just a .200 average over the last two weeks and his ownership has appropriately dropped to 47%. He's missing out on a lot of offensive rewards during this slump as a member of the surging St.Louis Cardinals.

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