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AL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 26

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 - Kevan Smith (C, CWS) - 0% owned

The fact that Smith is free everywhere is a surprise, as after a strong 2018 campaign, Smith looks to be one of the catchers to target for next year. In 47 games he is slashing .296/.351/.371 with two homers and one steal. This means that for comparison he has posted a 102 wRC+. An average, offensive catcher this year has value in fantasy, especially in deep leagues. What stands out with Smith are the ratios, with a 5.2 BB% and an eight percent K line. This means he gets on base a fair amount, and when he makes outs, the ball is in play. Accordingly, so far this year, he has driven in 19 runs, or close to one every two games. With a batting average that keeps him at the top of the position, and the ability to pad the counting stats at the catching spot, this is a win in fantasy leagues. Smith is an easy add this week.

1B - Daniel Vogelbach (1B, SEA) - 0% owned

Vogelbach is another player that has split the fantasy community in terms of opinion on his long-term value. To be fair, if this was a dynasty column there is no way that the basher would make the list. Still, with a week to go, and for owners needing power and production, this is the natural free dart add at the spot. In 31 games so far, he has four homers, but at Triple-A he had 20 bombs in 84 games. The batting average is down at .214, but again, at Triple-A he was hitting .290. For the last week of the season, there seems to be upside at the spot, knowing that the Mariners are playing hard but out of it at the same time. If he hits, this could be a four-homer week for Vogelbach, but at the same time, could be eight Ks and no production. Owners with the spot open can take the risk.

2B - Chad Pinder (2B/3B/SS/OF, OAK) - 1% owned

Another player with an ownership rate way below his true value, Pinder is a crucial deep league add, with the position flexibility and bat to boot. In 104 games, he is slashing .255/.331/.429 with 12 homers. That plays up at short, and at second, fits in with league average. The K rate is a bit up, but with a decent walk line, there is still a good floor. The OBP line plays higher than the average, and with a decent gap to add even more quality to the profile. Pinder is a safe defensive play around the diamond, and that alone makes him an easy add. Knowing that he gets on base, and plays for a team in a pennant race also adds some helium to the runs to date. Get on base, watch the team hit a homer, and add fantasy points with Pinder up the middle.

3B - Jefry Marte (1B/3B, LAA) - 0% owned

Getting a chance to play down the stretch, Marte has established himself as a fill-in with limited offensive upside. And yet, what he does well, score runs, matters in fantasy giving him a spot on the roster. In 85 games, he has scored 24 runs and driven in 18. Add that to a .215/.257/.343 slash line and the warts are apparent. This is where proper line-up context matters the rest of the way, as Marte still could score a handful to help most teams. Add to that, the list of injuries meaning he will play the rest of the way adding to the value. With the ability to play a few spots, Marte should be on fantasy radars for a week of play.

SS - Gregorio Petit (2B/SS, MIN) - 0% owned

A first-time appearance on the list this week, Petit has bounced around so far in this career but is getting a shot on the rebuilding Twins. The team needs to add some bodies to cover for injuries, and so far, Petit has gotten into 20 games. In those appearances, he is slashing .260/.339/.280 with three steals. With Target Field still a firm hitters park, the lack of power should not scare owners away. The speed upside is there, and with a decent batting line, allows owners to chase that speed without losing the rest of their batting line. Petit also walks a fair bit, with a 10.7% mark for the Twins. All of this means Petit gets on base, and with nothing to lose, might keep running.

OF - Leury Garcia (OF, CWS) - 0% owned

Garcia has quietly improved on a decent 2017 campaign and is under-owned looking at his production so far. In 78 games he is slashing .279/.309/.389 with four homers and 12 steals. Another player with a hit tool to carry the offense, Garcia offers a bit more upside than Petit but fits that same mold. Garcia’s walk numbers are low at 3.1%, but the overall approach seems to get him on base enough. The other exciting piece has been the drop in power, with nine homers last year to this year’s four count. This means that there is not much power to boost the profile, but there could be a bit more this last week with regular playing time. Garcia is another player to watch next year, and with a bit more support around, has OF3 upside.  

OF - Jake Marisnick (OF, HOU) - 0% owned

With Houston close to securing their spot in the postseason, Marisnick looks to be on the outside of the playoff roster but firmly stuck in the bench bat role the rest of the regular season. What stands out with this batter is the mix of power and defense, with nine homers in 96 games so far. The downside is the .201/.259/.372 slash but add that to five steals, and there is some good production for fantasy owners. The K rate is way up, but in a small sample this upcoming week, even that could be balanced by the power/speed combination. The other piece here is with late-game subs for defense; the match-ups should work in his favor. Or, at the least, he is not the batter that opposing managers will face match-up options. He does hit much better against lefties, but the power is reasonably even from both sides. For owners looking for either steals or homers this week, this should be the add after Garcia.

OF - Victor Reyes (OF, DET) - 0% owned

Reyes is stuck on a bad Tigers team and offers the most significant risk of the batters so far. A Rule-5 pick this winter, he might be playing in a tougher league than he should be and it shows in the .235/.250/.300 slash so far. The fantasy appeal is nine steals and 34 runs in only 95 games. The K rate is up to 20.6%, but he also jumped from Double-A to the Tigers, so some of this might be an adjustment period. The fantasy appeal is there with playing time, speed, and a hitters park to score in. While he will look to be a backup option on most teams, in the last week, this is a dart with some appeal.

P - Diego Castillo (SP/RP, TB) - 2% owned

Castillo looks to be one the openers in the last week for Tampa Bay and perhaps works best in a relief role for fantasy owners. While he might not get the win, the upside is still there without the obvious save risk as well. In 52 innings so far, he has a 3.25 ERA with 9.91 K/9. Both numbers play on most fantasy staffs, but also offers an inning upside with only 41 appearances. The walks are a bit high at 3.08, but the 0.85 HR/9 limits the damage. A .226 BABIP provides some risk, but in a week, should be predictive. Three wins in 11 starts show that owners are not punting that category with this play. Castillo looks to be a decent play this week based on the role he will play for the Rays.

P - Steven Wright (SP/RP, BOS) - 4% owned

Wright has flipped roles a few times due to injury and roster context but recently seems to have found a home in the bullpen down the stretch. In the second half so far, he has pitched 10 scoreless innings of relief holding batters to a .171 average. He is walking the same number of batters as he is striking out with six, but the rest of the profile looks good for fantasy owners. If he is taking on that long relief role and could add three innings in an appearance, this is a steal in some roto leagues. Add to that the ratio upside with a low ERA, and this is an excellent floor to add to the relief corp on most teams. Good team, resting starters, and a track record mean he should be owned in more than four percent of leagues.  

P - Louis Coleman (RP, DET) - 0% owned

The final player this week is a reliever for the Tigers. A former fifth-round pick for the Royals, Coleman bounced around before joining Detroit earlier this year. In 49 innings so far he has an ERA of 3.44 with 7.07 K/9. While he is only going one inning an appearance, he does have four wins so far, and with the holds upside fits even on a bad team. While the team will lose games, the reliever only gets hurt if he gives up the game, and Coleman has been consistent so far. The other piece is the 1.31 WHIP which supports his fantasy role. No real saves upside, but no reason he might not get a shot on a bad team. While a dart, there is value in this profile for one week.

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