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AL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 13

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 - Luke Maile (C, TOR) - 1% owned

Early in the season, it looked like Maile would hit his way into a starting role, but sadly for fantasy owners that is not how it has gone.  At the same time, for two-catcher leagues, or leagues with teams needing a catcher, this is the clear pickup. Through 36 games, he is slashing .241/.336/.393 with three homers.  The K rate is high at 32.8%, but when Maile walks at an 11.7% clip, there is some support for the OBP. While not playing as a regular, there should be at least 50+ more games left for Maile, and with the ability to go on a run, could hit enough in those games to make-up for the backup role.  At the very least this is a piece that will stick the rest of the season and give fantasy owners some average production.    

1B - Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX) - 3% owned

Guzman has struggled so far in June, but still offers an exciting mix of power and other supporting stats to keep him fantasy relevant.  The weird piece with the profile is that he hits lefties better, with a .263 average as opposed to .218 versus righties. And yet, offers more power versus righties with five homers as opposed to his two batting lefty.  The other interesting piece is that in three starts at DH he has no offensive production, but when playing in the field, he is batting .232. All of these numbers seem to hint at a player still trying to figure out the bigs, and yet, still has the skills to rebound to a .240+ bat with some power.  Bench stash for now, but could work his way into a match-up 1B, or regular at CI.

2B - Brock Holt (2B/3B/SS/OF, BOS) - 3% owned

Holt missed most of last season with injuries, and when he was playing did not appear to be the same player.  Holt is one of those players that might be a better fantasy player as opposed to real life players since there is hitting upside that plays around the diamond.  This season is his best since 2014/15 with a .294/.372/.412 slash in 46 total games. In addition to the excellent rate numbers, he has chipped in 17 runs and three steals.  Holt has always had a good eye and the current 10.3% walk rate this year is a bit down from normal, but owners will trade that for the average any day. One of the differences in the hitting profile is a jump in his Pull% from 29.6 last season to 44.1% this season.  If Holt can even keep the average above .280 the rest of the way, this is one of the best infield options on the wire.

3B - Isiah Kiner-Falefa (2B/3B, TEX) - 1% owned

Kiner-Falefa seems to be sticking in the bigs for a bit with rumors that Adrian Beltre is being shopped, and other vital injuries still affecting the Rangers. At the same time, he has hit well enough to make this an easy call for the front office.  Each month has seen his overall batting line improve with a .258 average in March/April all the way to a .261 average in June. While only a few points, when looking to rookies hitter even just staying the same is a good sign. This means pitchers are taking a bit longer to adjust, or he is making those adjustments on the fly.  Either way, this is all trending in a proper direction. Not much power for a 3B play with only two bombs this season or this is an average floor play if anything for a fantasy team. At the same time, with more playing time and this could turn into something more valuable.  Even more, he could be catcher eligible before long to add another wrinkle to the profile.  

SS - Jose Iglesias (SS, DET) - 10% owned

When owners are looking to add infielders on the waiver wire, there are two ways to go: either power or speed.  Often shortstops do not provide both, and if they do, are top of the draft picks meaning no chance later in the year to add.  Enter Iglesias with the mix of average and speed, but no power, that makes for an exciting piece that is under-owned.  The first reason to pick him up are those steals, as he has 12 through 73 games. When overall speed is down this year, adding double digits is a “steal” off the waiver wire. Second, add to that a .273 average, and this is not a player that will hurt you to get that speed.  No power with only two homers this season, but he does have 28 RBI which plays well up the middle. For owners dealing with an injury, or looking to add steals, this is the best option out there.

OF - Rajai Davis (OF, CLE) - 1% owned

While he will always be remembered in Cleveland for a certain hit off a certain team and a particular pitcher, Davis is not the power hitter from that game but still well worth a look for fantasy teams.  Instead, he has 15 steals to tie him for third in the AL. There is no other steals options on the waiver wire with that upside, and even better, he has those steals in 51 games in a reserve role. The .230 batting average does not help the overall profile, but 21 R plays better than the other stats.  In this line-up, when Davis gets on base, he will often steal second and score on a single up the middle. If a team can deal with the low rate stats, the counting stats will help any team.

OF - Mark Canha (OF, OAK) - 2% owned

Trade rumors have linked Canha with Boston or Seattle, and even if he stays in Oakland, Canha looks like a good play the rest of the season.  First, he rebounded well from a putrid May when he hit .183 with three homers. So far in June? .296 with two homers in seven fewer games.  27 runs so far this season is also an excellent addition to any team and should keep improving as he keeps up that June batting line. No speed to be seen, but that power could result in 25+ HR which makes up for the lack of other stats.  The K rate is high at 25% but still is down four points from last season, so there is movement in the right direction. All in all, this is a solid OF with power upside, and that should not kill a fantasy team’s batting line.

OF - Carlos Gomez (OF, TB) - 2% owned

Gomez has had a rough season, which is why he is owned in so few fantasy leagues.  He makes this list since there are no many other outfielders who can offer power and speed even if they have not been there for Gomez so far this campaign.  The .197 average is not good, but the .240 BABIP is down almost 70 points from the .313 career number. While some of that is propped up by earlier seasons in his career, there is no reason it cannot push up to .280 and bring that average to close to .240.  The K rate is down a few points which means that the BABIP seems to be affecting the line when he is making outs with the bat, but not getting more to drop in. Seven homers keep him on his pace from last season, but the four steals are not. Owners looking to take a shot should keep an eye on Gomez as playing time should be there without Denard Span, and there is a hot streak coming up.  If owners have been stuck with 1st half Gomez that has not been a good thing so far, but second half Gomez could be that OF owners have been looking to add for that stretch run.

P - Jake Diekman (RP, TEX) - 1% owned

Diekman appears on this list for a few reasons, the first being the fact that the Rangers have made him available in trades.  A match-up lefty moving to a contender will help to maintain ratios, and might even slide into a few saves and wins. Also if he does not move, the value is there for this reliever.  Second, through 27.1 innings, Diekman is striking out 11.52 per nine, and posting an ERA of 2.96. Third, two saves also help the line, and seems like he is either in line for the closer role, or sharing the load when there are lefty line-ups.  While not a play in innings leagues, if he moves into this regular late-inning role, the other stats should make him at worst a stash, and at best a RP 2 with saves risk.

P - Francisco Liriano (SP, DET) - 8% owned

Coming off the DL, Liriano looked a bit lost versus Cleveland on Saturday but picked up steam as the game went along. Including the last start, this season Liriano has made 11 starts en route to a 3.94 ERA and three wins.  The HR/FB is up to 12.9% from 10.8% last season, but even with more home runs, the ERA is down from the 5.66 mark from last season. When walks are also much the same, it must be tied to the park as opposed to a skill change.  If he moves at the deadline, the stock might go down, which means that ironically playing for the Tigers is good for his fantasy owners. In the meantime, this is a starting pitcher on the wire that has some upside, and worth the stash.

P - Ryne Stanek (SP/RP, TB) - 1% owned

How Kevin Cash and the rest of the Tampa Bay staff use Stanek might change before this article is published, but he seems to at least be in the mix for that “opener” role so far for the Rays.  He is on this list due to the stats and trust in owners to follow and use him as needed. If he continues to open bullpen days, do not let him eat up a starts cap, but if that is not a concern, this is a sneaky way to perhaps run into some wins and good match-ups.  Seven starts in 19 total appearances have led to 22.2 total innings, with a 1.99 ERA. Add to that 9.93 K/9, and this looks like one of the better long-men for fantasy purposes. What should be watched is that .160 BABIP, but this might be tied to how he is being used.  When appearing after another opener, the pitch mix is unique enough to cause hitters to get off kilter. When opening games, avoiding a bad first inning could lead to a quick two plus. Stanek is worth the roster spot if owners are smart with usage.


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