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AL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 14

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 - Sandy Leon (C, BOS) - 1% owned

While locked into the backup role for Boston moving forward, Sandy Leon has been getting close to half of the games behind the plate so far.  This, all of a sudden, makes him fantasy relevant. In May, for example, he played in 13 games, and in June the number stayed the same at 12 games. With some small improvements in production Leon moves to the top of the backup catchers for 12+ fantasy leagues, and offers interesting upside in addition to line-up context. Taking just June, Leon hit .256 with two homers and eight RBI. If he can keep a batting line close to .260 the rest of the way that places him in the top third of catchers, and at worst does not hurt fantasy teams. With the typical chance of an injury and rotation, this seems to be like the best piece on the wire concerning production moving forward.

1B - Hanley Ramirez (1B, FA) - 24% owned

A few things on this pick for some context. First, that 24% ownership rate for Hanley Ramirez, seems way too high for a player not currently on a team to be accurate. It might be a bit of a lag with some owners still holding out some hope, but also might be owners who are not checking rosters. Second, even with that in mind, owners should be taking this risk as the most likely landing spots look to be in the AL. If one spot made the most sense, it would be Detroit, but Kansas City also looks like a solid pick if Duda still has to fight through a knock. While he was with Boston, Ramirez was slashing .254/.313/.395 with six homers and 29 RBI. On any other team these numbers are worthy of the long side of the platoon, and for fantasy would be starting worthy.  If and when he gets signed there will be some lag to account for with the conditioning and game readiness, this still could be the addition that helps a team the most in the second half.

2B - Joey Wendle (2B, TB) - 1% owned

Playing time matters on this list, and Wendle is getting that this year with 68 games for the surging Rays. Over that time he is batting .260 with 22 R and 21 RBI. Little to no power, but could add a few here and there to the line. Wendle is a play for the runs and average floor due to the rest of that team. The OBP might be there, but a 25% and above K rate is not helping on that level. The other rub with the playing time is splitting the platoon with David Robertson, but again, when looking to a deep league, the platoon should boost the underlying numbers with the matchups. Wendle seems like a safe play with limited upside, but excellent support at the position.

3B - Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CWS) - 12% owned

While not dipping below that magic ten percent line, the chance that Sanchez is free in a league makes him worth a discussion here. 78 games this season have resulted in a .260/.306/.410 slash with 36 RBI and eight steals. For a lousy offensive club, these are good numbers that should play at the position, and even better at the MI/CI slot. The power is not there, but for a team needing RBI this is the play, as Sanchez is the top in the category for players owned in under 18% of leagues. Some position flexibility adds to the profile, and the speed plays with those steals placing him at the top of the list as well. Sanchez is Joey Wendle with additional speed and should be picked over that player, but is also valuable on his own.

SS - David Fletcher (SS/3B, LAA) - 1% owned

With Zach Cozart needing season-ending surgery David Fletcher seems to be guaranteed at least a utility role on the club. Through his first 14 games with the Angels, Fletcher is slashing .324/.378/.412 with five RBI. The production seems to line up with this minors numbers well and shows that he is mostly a rate stats play who will chip in some other production. Do not expect the power to come, but perhaps with ball factors in the bigs, eight or so should be a good target over a season. The critical factor to this profile is the K rate which sits at 10.8%, right in line, if not lower than his past track record. Fletcher will put the bat on the ball and should be able to ride a decent BABIP with above-average speed and plate approach to good overall numbers.

OF - Leury Garcia (OF, CWS) - 1% owned

The close to zero ownership rate must be tied to the recent DL stint, and for that reason, owners who are interested should jump on while he is still available. In 45 games Garcia is slashing .275/.312/.369 with two homers and nine steals. The latter is what makes him the must add-on this list. While most of the speed options on the list only get steals, Garcia offers an above average batting line which will keep him in most line-ups. For context, in 2017 he stole eight bases in 87 games and has passed that in half the time this year. When looking to add speed, the ability to add players on a team that is already out of the race cannot be understated. When there is nothing to lose fantasy owner benefit from the increased risk-taking with numbers like these. Even better, Garcia is hitting .375/.405/.500 against left-handed pitching this season, so even in daily leagues should be a must-add.

OF - Jake Marisnick (OF, HOU) - 1% owned

Another play that owners should avoid looking to season-long stats for evaluation, and instead look to what Marisnick has done lately. In 19 games in June, Marisnick is hitting .286 with 10 R and three homers. For a player posting a sub-.200 line the rest of the campaign this is a marked improvement. While hopefully not just a small sample, the ability to add a close to .300 batting line for free is worth the risk. The best line for this player is when he bats as a righty at home, as over the course of the season, he is hitting .304 with two homers in that spot. With that being said, when owners can shoot for that match-up make sure he is in the lineup, but if not, this could be a good OF4 while he stays hot. No power and limited speed, but the average along make this worth a dart.

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

Another under the radar player who needs to be owned more than 1%, Ben Gamel has slashed .299/.371/.414 with 22 R and five steals so far this season. While mostly playing off the bench, in the past week he has played in five of six games and might in for a run with other factors affecting the outfield in Seattle. At the very least, the lefty-bat will keep him in conversation with the platoon, and the average should make him an exciting addition to the roster. In addition, the K rate is down a few points, and the BB rate is up a few, meaning that the overall profile is moving in the right direction. Another outfielder who is not going to chip in power, but will offer a good floor with the bat. Gamel, with playing time, could work himself into an OF3 spot for AL teams.

P - Jose Alvarez (RP, LAA) - 1% owned

The Angels’ bullpen is a mess right now with injuries and performances, so any time owners can add the reliever that is consistent that is worth a ton. 36.2 innings for Alvarez have resulted in three wins and a 2.95 ERA supported by 8.84 K/9. Not a saves play right now, but if that bullpen stays a mess who knows. At the very least, this will give owners decent K numbers with a low 0.49 HR/9 rate that should be steady the rest of the season. Good ratios play, and that ERA should stay much the same with the sample size building.

P - Edwin Jackson (SP, OAK) - 3% owned

Two strong starts for the veteran make him an interesting option moving forward, as, at the very least, good performances will keep him in the Oakland rotation. Over those two starts, Jackson has pitched 12.2 innings with one win and an ERA of 2.13. Add that to a 9.24 K/9 rate, and this looks like an SP2 in most leagues for that small sample. Does this mean that he will continue to pitch like this moving forward? Perhaps not, but the 3.10 FIP indicates there is something right in the approach that is working. While probably Jackson is more of an SP4 moving forward, that 3% ownership rate means adding a starter for free who could outperform pitchers drafted in the 20th or later rounds.

P - Jonathan Holder (RP, NYY) - 1% owned

After a solid 2017 campaign, 2018 has been a bit of a breakout for Jonathan Holder. 31.1 inning so far this season has been the righty post a 0.73 WHIP to compliment a 2.01 ERA. Even better is the drop in BB/9 from 1.83 to 1.15 and the 0.29 HR/9 rate. While, as is common on this list, perhaps not a save candidate, these ratios can help any club looking for that RP3 to keep in the line-up for the long term. The team context means not much risk for losses, and he should be in a position to pick up a few wins here and there. This year Holder has added a slider which he is throwing 15.9% of the time and explains the changes in the overall line. Keep an eye on this pitcher as this could be the closer of the future for the Yankees.


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