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AL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 23

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

The 2018 season has been a campaign to remember for Maile, as this is both his longest stint in the Majors and most successful season at that. Through 60 games he is slashing .232/.318/.346 with three homers and 27 RBI. While there does not seem to be a ton of power in the profile, and the batting line should stay near the .230 mark, the upside is there for a C2 at the very least. Owners should take a look at Maile for the run production as that is perhaps his best fantasy addition. In those 60 games this campaign, he has scored 21 times. Full season this would mean 50 plus out of the catcher slot. Add to that a solid OBP line, and this makes for a relevant player. The other piece is that he has stolen two bases this year, and had eight in one season in the minors. So on a good night, this could be a catcher who can run as well. As of now, he is not a fantasy starter, but in two-catcher leagues, is a solid number two who plays.

1B - Steve Pearce (1B/OF, BOS) - 6% owned

Since his trade to Boston, Pearce has slowed down a bit and has only hit .224 in the second half. The good news, his five homers in the second half have matched his first-half numbers already. This means there is still some pop that can help that batting average look a bit better in context. Owners should expect some rebound in the batting line, but perhaps a .250 the rest of the way is a good bet. The other key piece for owners to watch is the batting splits, as the Red Sox added him to play versus lefties mostly. To date, he is hitting .346 versus lefties, again adding a bit of upside to the batting line. Pearce is a good play for owners in roto leagues looking for power or for daily rosters that can sit him versus righties. At the very least, that six percent ownership will not last long.

2B - Logan Forsythe (2B/3B, MIN) - 3% owned

Forsythe is back in the AL, where he had his breakout seasons with the Rays. With the Dodgers, those same numbers have not been there. This offers an excellent buy-low opportunity for fantasy owners looking for a 2B/MI play. The move to Minnesota seems to be working out as with the Twins he hit .308 in August through 26 games. No homers but 10 runs in that time means there is production to be had. In general, he has been much better since the All-Star break with both teams, and at the very least, will not be hitting himself out of a line-up spot. The impressive numbers are tied to pitcher match-ups, as even though Forsythe hits from the right side, he does much better against righty pitchers as well. In fact, the batting line is close to 70 points higher on the same side. A good move in most leagues, but best where owners can shoot for that matchup value.

3B - Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE) - 0% owned

A bit of warning on this move, as Josh Donaldson will be the starting third baseman for Cleveland once he is healthy. And yet, Diaz is hitting well enough that he should get playing time at DH or the outfield at the very least. Through 18 games so far he is slashing .296/.321/.370 with six runs and eight RBI. The knock on Diaz has always been the lack of power, even with a ton of hard contact. If he can make that change, this stock will soar, but in the meantime, he is a singles hitter with run potential. That alone plays with the type of players hitting around him, so context adds value to this play. Add him now, and wait for the homer spike, even though that might happen next year.

SS - Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, NYY) - 0% owned

A favorite on this column for the NL side all season, Hechavarria now makes the move to the AL side of things. While in the near future he is more of a bench or utility player than a starter. The fact that he is playing in the Bronx adds enough value to keep him on fantasy radars. While the numbers should change with the new park and lineup factors. The good news for owners is that it should only improve. And yet, to date, he has been an excellent hitter with a .254/.287/.342 slash line. Only four homers and one steal thus far means this is mostly an empty average play, but in deep leagues, that still should help most teams. With playing time he will score runs and might steal a bit more, but owners should view the numbers to date as the baseline.

OF - Robbie Grossman (OF, MIN) - 0% owned

After a few weeks away from the list, Grossman is back after a hot August. In 11 games he hit .345 but did not add much concerning power or runs. Therefore, like others on the list, Grossman is an empty average hitter with some ability to surprise in the right game. The other piece is that Target Field looks to be a great place to hit and with some power help, might get Grossman a homer or two. The other reason to add is there will be playing time own the stretch. While Jake Cave looks to be getting the bulk of playing time, Grossman seems to be a player the team might hang onto into next year. This means there is little worry about losing playing time, meaning if the hot bat can keep up, this is a smart play to hold onto a category.

OF - Joey Rickard (OF, BAL) - 0% owned

Rickard is another player on a bad team, who is playing better in the second half, and giving himself plenty of time to show what he has to offer in a rebuild. The young outfielder has worked his way into fantasy relevance with a .269 batting line in the second half. Not a ton of power, with only seven homers in 53 games to date, but this is also not a bad line. Over a full season, owners should expect 15 or more bombs from the outfielder. Not only will he play down the way, but is auditioning for next year, so there is little downside to Baltimore playing him regularly. Only two steals with Baltimore, but in the minors, he was often a double-digit steals option. This means there might be more speed to be had, but owners cannot rely on that. In the long term, this looks like an OF3, but the rest of the way seems to be a fantasy asset.   

OF - Brian Goodwin (OF, KC) - 0% owned

When the Nationals dumped him to Kansas City, there was some fantasy interest based on the speed that Goodwin could offer. And then came the injuries, which he is only now back from and should be a starter soon. So then, take the numbers with a grain of salt, but also look to them as a good floor. To date, with two teams, in 55 games, Goodwin is hitting .267/.356/.433 with four homers and three steals. The other exciting line is that both his K and BB numbers are way up, so this has been one of those seasons for Goodwin. The rest of the way he is a fringe power and speed threat with a .270 batting line offering the best case option. If owners are looking to add a wildcard in roto leagues, this is the best lottery ticket with playing time.

P - Oliver Perez (RP, CLE) - 1% owned

Perez is an exciting fantasy option the rest of the way. To date, Cleveland has only used him as a match-up play, but in that limited time he has been lights out. Not even on the team to start the year, Perez might be the best Cleveland reliever to date. In 25 innings he has an ERA of 1.08 with 10.8 K/9. Add to that with 1.44 BB/9, and these are elites ratio number for a fantasy pitcher. While he will not get many innings, with Andrew Miller out on the DL again, there will be plenty of pitching time the rest of the way. This might be a sneaky relief arm that helps most fantasy teams.

P - Hector Velazquez (SP/RP, BOS) - 5% owned

After pitching in the Mexican League for most of his career, Velazquez seems to have found a home with the Red Sox. In 71.1 innings to date, he has posted a 3.15 ERA with seven wins and two losses. The downside is that he has only struck out 5.68 per nine, which limits some of his fantasy appeal. The good news is that with Boston he should get more wins which makes up for some of that downside. The other good news is that he does not give up many homers, with only 0.76 HR/9 this season. When the K numbers have been better in the past, and just a bit more stuff helps his fantasy profile, this is a good buy-low on a good team.

P - Jonathan Loaisiga (SP, NYY) - 2% owned

After a hot start to this career with the Yankees, the youngster struggled with injuries and a roster crunch to limit his time so far. The good news is that now owners should not be worried about an innings cap, and with no real shot of making the postseason roster he should get good time the rest of the way. The numbers have been good in 18 total innings, with a 3.00 ERA and 2.87 FIP. Add to that 10.50 K/9, and there is upside to be had. While still on most radars, the extended stay in the minors has pushed his ownership rate down to the two percent line, meaning he is there to be had. Even if he is not a starter, this is the play for stuff and wins on a good team.

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