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Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

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AL-Only Team of the Week

C - Mitch Garver (C, MIN) - 0% owned

2018 has been up and down so far for Mitch Garver, and while getting playing time with Jason Castro out long term, so far the bat just has not come around for the backstop. Owners should still be interested due to the increases at the plate he is showing this year and the opportunity for playing time that will always factor in. So far he is slashing .216/.293/.324 up from .196/.288/.348 from last season. Some pop at the plate with two homers in 37 games should not be discounted as playing time at Target will increase these numbers over the long term. Garver is also hitting the ball harder with a 40.3 HARD% up from 32.3% last season. For owners looking to add a catcher, this might be one the of the only options with upside on the waiver wire this week, just do not expect this to be a long-term solution.

1B - Brad Miller (1B/2B, TB/FA) - 1% owned

Brad Miller was recently DFA’d by the Rays, and this could be the second coming of Cory Dickerson.  Moving elsewhere might help the profile and his fantasy usefulness in the same way that a move to PNC seems to have helped Dickerson.  While there are flaws with the profile, the overall production has been stable for Miller in 2018. Through 48 games he is hitting .256/.322/.429 with five homers.  Not typical output for the position, but the batting average should help most teams at the very least. What is also interesting for Miller is where he goes next. Landing with the White Sox or Tigers could see regular playing time, whereas ending up with Seattle might lead to better match-ups moving forward. At the same time, he could be leaving the AL making him a casualty on this list to the switching leagues. In the short term worth, a stash as his value has never been lower but looks to be at least a replacement level player moving forward.

2B - Matt Duffy (2B/3B, TB) - 6% owned

Another Ray to make this list, and also under-owned for the production so far. In 48 games he is hitting .319/.358/.419 with two homers and two steals. To add to that, Duffy has driven in 17 runs and scored 12 of his own. The 116 WRC+ shows that he has been better than the average, and with the ability to play around the diamond offers a nice find in AL-only leagues. Perhaps his best play is at MI right now as that bat will carry versus other options. Tampa Bay is another situation where the playing time counts for more than the bat, and if that slash can keep up this looks like good value.  With Miller leaving, this should mean less competition for Duffy at second, and there is not much depth at second worth looking at on this team right now.

3B - Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/3B/OF, DET) - 8% owned

Since a dazzling series versus Cleveland Goodrum has come back to earth a bit, but still is showing well in his first extended stint in the majors. 46 games have resulted in a .237/.322/.437 slash with five homers and five steals. While his last stint was only 11 games, this time his K% and BB% are moving in the right direction, and the overall contact is much improved. With playing time this could be a 10/10 profile the rest of the season, and the other counting stats should follow suit. With the Tigers playing better than expected this should bode well for Goodrum who will have players on base in front of him and should continue to push the line.  With that ownership rate starting the creep up grab this commodity before it is too late.

SS - Ronald Torreyes (2B/3B/SS, NYY) - 1% owned

Recently recalled, and getting the promotion over Brandon Drury, is good news for fantasy owners looking for a replacement in the middle infield. In 23 games so far he has hit .333 but has offered no power or steals so far. While mostly an average play, the skills are there to keep this close to a .300 line the rest of the season if he stays with the team. Last season he flashed a bit of power with three homers in 108 games, but not part of the profile that owners should rely on for overall production. Torreyes is a daily play with a good lineup context, and with the excellent home park the doubles can add up. His six in 23 games are on pace to pass the 15 in 108 last season and could be a sneaky source rest of season. Points leagues are probably the better fit, but with playing time that average will help in roto as well.

OF - Alex Gordon (OF, KC) - 3% owned

The former top prospect who signed a big contract and went bust will never be the top player he was even four years ago, but if owners squint the stats play much better than the name. In 49 games he is slashing .270/.326/.376 which are all improvements over the last three seasons. In fact, they line up better with his 2015 line of .271/.377/.432 than the others. Even if he cannot get back to that production, the improved performance is intriguing for most fantasy owners. Five homers and three steals are also nice to add to the profile, and the RBI totals place him top five on the team. The other good news is that the K rate is down to 20.7% from 23.3% last season. If this production holds over the season, Gordon might reestablish himself as an OF3 for most fantasy rosters.  At the very least, the 3% ownership is more tied to the bust label than what he is doing with the bat.

OF - Ben Gamel (OF, SEA) - 1% owned

For the time being it looks like Ben Gamel will split time with Denard Span in the Seattle outfield which should put him on the long end of the platoon. Manager Scott Servais said that this would be a 50/50 split, and for fantasy owners, this looks like the floor for Gamel moving forward. In 41 games he is hitting .277/.357/.384 for the best numbers of his career, and has also chipped in one homer and four steals. While not a run producer with five RBI so far, he does score his fair bit with 16 runs so far this season. As is typical for players who make this list, the K and BB numbers are moving in the right direction and show some improvement for the player moving forward. Gamel will be a speed and average play who will offer a good OBP floor which makes him an excellent complement to a high-power, low-OBP outfielder in the lineup.

OF - Daniel Palka (1B/OF, CHW) - 4% owned

Making a return to the list, Daniel Palka has slowed down since he was last profiled, but in this way might be more available in deeper leagues after hitting 10% ownership a few weeks ago. Hitting right in the middle of the White Sox line-up Palka has taken on the run producer role with 20 RBI in 35 games, and six homers. His SLG sits at .508 which is a good representative of the overall profile, as he tends to strike out a bit with a 28.6% this year, but offer pop when he makes contact. The lack of a real walk profile keeps the OBP down, so owners should figure this as more of a points play versus ROTO where he hurts in more categories than he helps. That being said, like Gamel if owners can pair Palka with a contact-heavy hitter this could play well. In fact, if owners need two fielders, Gamel and Palka fit well together. Above average SPD at 5.7 plays well for a power hitter and should mean a few extra runs over the course of the year. Palka should be with the team the rest of the year and should at least be owned more than he already is.

P - Mike Fiers (SP, DET) - 5% owned

When Fiers moved to Comerica the red-flags were out for a pitcher who gives up a lot of hard contact in a field that is almost the size of Coors. So far, the numbers have been better than expected with a 4.01 ERA and career-low walk rate over 12 starts. Most of these gains can be tied to the lowered HR/FB rate from 19.5% last season to 13.7% this season. The FIP is higher at 4.67 but not to the point that regression should hurt that much for Fiers moving forward. The park seems to be working for the pitcher, and if he can keep getting a few wins here and there from a better than expected Tigers team could make this a good SP4 in most AL-only leagues. The pitch-mix looks much the same, so the only real changes are tied to park and context, so no reason to doubt the results.

P - Ryan Pressly (RP, MIN) - 1% owned

In what has been a strong campaign to date, what stands out the most for Pressly in 2018 has been the K rate shooting up to 12.93 this season from 8.95 last season. The current line looks to be right in line with his AAA numbers from 2017, so the skills are there for the pitcher mostly working out of the bullpen. The other key factor is that the FIP is 2.72 which is a full run lower than the 3.73 ERA so far, meaning that the stat line could get even better moving forward. Pressly seems to be at best third in the closer race in Minnesota, but with the performances so far expect some shot if the others begin to falter. Pressly has also fixed some of the home run issues with a drop from 1.47 in 2017 to 1.15 this season.  Pressly looks like a good RP3 play with the ratios and chances to sneak into some wins.

P - Nick Tropeano (SP, LAA) - 11% owned

Bad news for Shohei Ohtani owners could be good news for owners of other Angel starters as there is a rumor of a move to the five-man rotation that has limited starts so far. Even if they stay with six starters, Tropeano seems to get more stability with his spot in the rotation at least. Through nine games the ERA is a bit high at 4.35, but when taken with the league context this is not much higher than a typical starter. The BB% is down almost one per nine at 3.08 which plays well with the profile. WHIP is also moving in the right direction after posting a 1.48 mark last season down to 1.33 in this campaign. The one thing to watch is he is giving up a lot more hard contact with a current rate of 45.5%. That being said, even with a ten point jump this season, the rest of the stats are not all that inflated. Good rations and a spot on a good team bode well for fantasy owners.


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