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Digging Deeper: AL-Only Waiver Wire Report for Week 7


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 for 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. Now, onto the AL version of the Island of Misfit Fantasy Toys.

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C - Roberto Perez (C, CLE)

1% owned, FAAB $11

After a disappointing 2018 campaign Perez has rebounded with a hot start to this year. Through 29 games he is slashing .235/.320/.435 with five homers. Add in a top 10% of the league Hard Hit%, and there is pop in the bat. While he has always posted better than average power grades in the minors, there has not made enough contact with Cleveland to turn that into real production so far. This meant that owners were avoiding a .210 batting average and 12 homers player at the position.

Even with the struggles in past years, the thing keeping him in the lineup has been the glove. Tito and the rest of the front office love what he does with the pitching staff. When they were willing to keep him in the team for 100 games last year with a .200 batting line, there is no reason to see Perez lose playing time after this start at the plate. Owners in need of catching help should buy into the .327 xOBP and .255 xBA. Add in 20 homer upside, and Perez could end as a top-eight catcher this year.

 

1B - Brandon Dixon (1B/OF, DET)

0% owned, FAAB $26

After bouncing from team to team early in his career, Dixon has found a role with the Tigers due to some early struggles. Able to play in the corners and at first, Dixon offers a good platoon option with some power upside. Through 16 games he is slashing .311/.326/.578 with three homers and 11 RBI. Appearing in both left field and the designated hitter spot so far, Dixon looks set to keep getting a run in the team in either the two or the eight spot.

The knock on Dixon as a prospect was that he did not add enough power to hold his own at his defensive spots. This year, on the contrary, the 59.3 Hard Hit% shows a different approach at the plate. With a career high of 18 homers over a full year in pro ball, Dixon seems to be on pace to pass that with the Tigers. With four miles added to the exit velocity and a doubling of the Hard Hit%, there is real interest in what Dixon can keep doing. With good hitter’s parks in the division, expect this run to continue.

 

2B - Steve Wilkerson (2B/OF, BAL)

0% owned, FAAB $8

Fitting the multi-positional mode, Wilkerson is another player who will move around the fantasy and real life lineups almost daily. With a primary role at second base, Wilkerson enters an open competition with no one taking the lead in Baltimore at the spot. With a passable hit tool, Wilkerson is not expected to explode for power in the Bigs but should be a solid bottom third of the batting order option.

Over 17 games this year Wilkerson is slashing .271/.295/.475 with three homers and eight runs. The OBP numbers show some of the downside, but part of this comes from no other offensive threat on the team. Wilkerson is a player who might never be a starter, but owners can squeeze some value out of a role and good park. This means that with a supporting cast he can be a source of runs, or a lower batting average with RBI type of play. For now, add as a bench option, but over the rest of the season, Wilkerson should at least be a reliable MI option.

 

3B - Logan Forsythe (1B/2B/3B, TEX)

4% owned, FAAB $28

Since a break-out in 2015, Forsythe has been a disappointment for fantasy owners. Not only has he dropped the batting line from .280 to .220 over that time, but also has seen his homer totals fall 20 to six. Texas signed him this offseason as a veteran stop-gap for some of their young players, and all of a sudden Forsythe is hitting again. Through 29 games he is slashing .316/.414/.541 with 17 runs scored and 18 RBI. Adding to this, he is seeing more pitches per chance this year and has a .407 xWOBA. These are numbers to believe, and Forsythe looks to be back in the fantasy conversation.

The other piece of note is that he is not playing at third currently, but played at first, short, and second over the past week. Right now he is listed as the starting shortstop with Elvis Andrus heading to the Injured List. The increased playing time means that Forsythe will be a regular in the team, giving owners 400 ABs from a reserve spot on draft day. Add Forsythe as the utility option with the most upside the rest of the way due to the skills and the park.

 

SS - J.P. Crawford (SS/3B, SEA)

2% owned, FAAB $14

No longer the top prospect in baseball, Crawford is at least moving to a team that can play him the rest of the way. Seattle clearly liked the tools as he has the main piece coming back in return for Jean Segura this offseason. After the Tim Beckham hot start has cooled, Crawford will be given a chance to show that he can hold down the position, or at least, offer a defensive upgrade. Playing time is the key piece, and the next month will be crucial for dynasty owners to see if there is any value left in their prospect stash.

With what little data that exists on Crawford's time in the Majors so far, the signs have not been great. Over 77 games he has slashed .214/.326/.350 with three total homers. While the hit tool was always highly graded, it is Crawford’s plate approach that drew the top reviews from scouts. He has been patient in the Majors, with 4.47 pitches per plate appearance, so the approach has been there. While the ceiling is reasonably low, expect Crawford to hit his way into solid rate stats to justify a start at MI. In OBP leagues, Crawford will be a cheap addition, but will post numbers 100 points higher than his batting average this year. In other leagues, this is a stash, but there is still some excitement to follow.

 

OF - Jordan Luplow (OF, CLE)

2% owned, FAAB $24

Luplow was a clear favorite to win a job out of the Spring and seemed set to feature as a key piece in Cleveland's plans this year. That did not go well, and after struggling to produce, Luplow was sent back to Columbus. And yet, since his recent recall the production has been remarkably better. With a season batting average of .280 complimented by four homers, there is fantasy relevant player to be had. The prospect pedigree is good with multiple MILB player of the year awards with Pittsburgh before the trade this offseason.

The issue so far has been transitioning the minor league production to the Majors, but over the past week, Luplow has matched those successful seasons. Not only is Luplow starting to hit, but Cleveland is desperate for a right-handed bat. This has led to him getting some playing time in center and might assume an OF4 role on the team with more playing time that than the role expects. Oscar Mercado’s call will affect this a bit, but Luplow has a position on the team. At this point, add for the playing time, and play for the upside.

 

OF - Christin Stewart (OF, DET)

3% owned, FAAB $12

Potentially the platoon partner of Dixon from first base, Stewart has moved around in terms of his role to date. There have been some stretches where Stewart is playing every day, but also has moved to the current platoon role. The batting average has dipped to .214 as the season has progressed, but he does have three homers. The power is the main piece for Stewart in fantasy, so that number needs to jump a bit to play or keep his spot on most teams.

The good news for owners is that his Hard Hit% is up from last year, but the exit velocity is still sitting at 88 or so. This is league-average from a player who needs the hit tool to carry him. Still only 38 games into his career with Detroit, there is plenty of time for more development to occur. He makes the list off the back of his upside, and with Dixon, would be a solid OF3/4 platoon.

 

OF - Charlie Tilson (OF, CWS)

2% owned, FAAB $14

As Tilson has moved up the organizational ladder, his stock has dropped, and now owners are expecting an OF4 in most leagues. Bouncing between Triple-A and Chicago to start the year, Tilson has finally started to hit over the past week. Through nine games, Tilson is slashing .303/.346/.364 with three steals and five runs. Not a real power threat, the speed is the primary fantasy tool that Tilson can add to most teams. With five career steals in 51 games, the production has not been there, but there is a clear track record in the minors.

Tilson also gets good reviews for the glove, which will help him often play around the outfield. With 23 assists over his career in the minors, while playing in center, Tilson offers a definite upgrade on the other options that the Sox can roll out there. Expect 20 steals over the rest of the way, if he is starting, and calibrate accordingly if not. At the worst, this is an easy cut, if the Sox move to another of their Quad-A players.

 

SP - David Hess (SP, BAL)

2% owned, FAAB $12

Starting pitcher is a mess this week, as is has been over the whole season. At this point in the year, if owners are still streaming starters, they either need to be in innings leagues or racking up the counting numbers. There is no point at risking the blow-ups that are occurring. With that, we had to pick one, and so here is David Hess. Admittedly, of the options this week, Hess is appealing with 33 Ks and 1.29 WHIP over 40.1 innings. The wins will not be there, as he plays for the literal worst team in the game this year, but the other numbers should be. He also should be an option all year, as there is not much to push him from the high minors.

The red flag is the 5.58 ERA, but a six run outing over two innings versus Tampa Bay is inflating the gross numbers. Even more, he also has been giving up hard contact to date, with bottom 25% of the league expected numbers. This can be tied to that one outing, and yes, does not explain why he is posting a good WHIP for the league this year. There will be regression, and for owners who can match him with the right outings, and catch the upswing, have some upside on the bench. Expect that over the full season the contact starts to fall to fielders, and the WHIP shows an SP4 value pick.

 

RP - Jalen Beeks (RP, TB)

3% owned, FAAB $17

After moving to Tampa Bay from Boston last trade deadline, Beeks has shifted into the role that many expected: the follower. While he lacks the elite fastball to cycle the lineup three times, the complementary pieces are there to be a productive Major League pitcher. Boasting a sub-league average fastball velocity, but top 25% of the league curveball spin, the approach is clear. There have also been some gains with the baseline velocity, so Tampa Bay is clearly working their magic on this prospect as well.

To date, Beeks is giving up hard contact, but also posting a 1.17 WHIP. The 23.8 K% shows the effectiveness of his off-speed stuff and can explain the contact metrics. This means that when opponents are making contact, on the ground, it is an out, but in the air, it gives Beeks an issue. The .238 xBA does give owners some interest if he can continue to limit the contact, or at least, minimize the chances to get burned. While he will be eligible as a reliever in most leagues, this is effectively the SP4/5 in Tampa with Tyler Glasnow going down. Expect him to earn wins with three or four-inning outings, and be an overall capable sixth starter on most teams.

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