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Digging Deeper: AL-Only Waiver Wire Report for Week 9


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. Note, all FAAB recommendations are based on a $1000 budget.

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C - Pedro Severino (C, BAL)

1% owned, FAAB $27

After struggling to find playing time in Washington, Severino has moved to the sister-city in Baltimore and a starting gig on a losing team. Appearing in 30 games to date, Severino is slashing .261/.349/.467 with five homers and 13 RBI. With a career .207 batting line, the production has been the best of his career, but with the first regular playing time to date, this might be the result of that opportunity. For fantasy owners, the offensive value to date makes him worth a stash, and without the competition, should be the starter til September.

The expected numbers are supportive, with a .278 xBA and .437 xSLG. His Hard Hit% is up nine points, and his K rate is down a point or two. All of this points to a good approach at the plate and the park to take advantage. With the risk of other hitting, Severino looks to be a stable bat, on a confusing team. At a weak position, Severino is a must add this week.

 

1B - Ryan O'Hearn (1B, KC)

1% owned, FAAB $8

Entering this year with some draft hype, O’Hearn has not lived up to the billing. Through 45 games he is batting a lowly .188 and is striking out 25% of the time. While the power has been there with five homers, this is not enough to make up for the lack of other values. Still, O’Hearn seems to have a platoon split at first, so there is time, and opportunity to make up for a slow start. As the Royals try to see what they have, expect O'Hearn to be given an extra long leash.

The good news for fantasy owners is that O'Hearn is hitting the ball hard, with a 91.4 exit velocity. Add in the 45 Hard Hit%, and there has been some bad luck so far. The xBA is not great at .205, but owners would settle for a low .22o line if the power can turn out. For now, owners should buy in on the skills, and even if he is a lost prospect, there can still be fantasy value with the profile. At worst, a cut, and at best, a season-changing CI.

 

2B - Brandon Drury (2B/3B/OF, TOR)

1% owned, FAAB $3

A fantasy darling a few weeks back, Drury has cooled off a bit since. Not only has he lost some time at third to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but has moved to a utility player with Richard Urena’s demotion. Still, Drury has played in 45 games and slashed .220/.257/.387 with five homers and 19 runs. The batting line is a down a bit, but the expected number places it at .238. If owners can get Drury with a .240 batting line, the value comes from the run production.

The team context is moving in the right direction, and with the young rookies, will at least be better than it was to start the year. These types of moves will add to the floor on a player like Drury, and if he can turn it around at the same time, fantasy owners can add those streaks to their roto stats. Drury also adds value as he moved around the team, so if he can play a bit more at the top of the lineup, then the value moves up more. Drury is a rising stock and would be a smart add for owners needing a player at the keystone.

 

3B - Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, BAL)

4% owned, FAAB 31

A bit high of an ownership rating for the list, Alberto offers the batting upside to still be recommended this week. After starting his career with the Rangers, Alberto moved to Baltimore and has emerged as the primary option at second so far this season. Always carried by the hit tool, he has never developed the power to play at second or third in fantasy leagues. Still, as the playing time has increased, so too has the batting line, with a .301 line. Add in a .315 OBP with 13 runs, and Alberto is compiling enough to be worth a look.

The exit velocity is up, but still below league average, adding to the contact floor. The power is not there, even with the park fit, but owners can always expect some gappers for RBIs. The .346 xSLG again supports the contact approach but also limits some of the upside. For now, with the eligibility, Alberto can offer an injury replacement. Long term, the value seems to have grown over the season, so this is a player to buy now if interested.

 

SS - Ehire Adrianza (1B/2B/3B/SS, MIN)

1% owned, FAAB $18

The primary utility option in Minnesota, Adrianza has only played in 35 games so far. And yet, he is slashing a career-best .241/.340/.405 with four homers. While not great numbers, from this type of player, the value is there with the team context added in to the bottom line. With Minnesota looking to be the secret, best offense in baseball, players with some flexibility allow owners to ride those waves. Adrianza has shown the ability play around the diamond, so he will get those chances on a team looking to win games.

The expected numbers also like what he is doing, with a .260 xBA and .436 xSLG. The exit velocity is up, but the launch angle is down, a typical fit for a slap hitter. Still, with a declining Hard Hit%, a controlled approach from Adrianza seems to be working. Buy now for the team context, and sell later when he starts to play a bit more down the stretch.

 

OF - Jordan Luplow (OF, CLE)

2% owned, FAAB $13

This has been an interesting season for Luplow, with early seasons struggles, and a rebound since the recall. While he had pushed the batting average to .280, it currently sits at .244, so Luplow has hit another cold stretch. With an OBP at .298 and a .500 SLG, the overall profile has been a bit of a mess as well. And yet, with six homers so far, Luplow offers one of the few right-handed bats on the team.

The reasons to buy-in on Luplow the rest of the way is the situation in the outfield. Even if Oscar Mercado continues to hit, Luplow is the starting right fielder due to the handedness alone. Add in a plus arm, and he makes up for the lack of regular contact with the glove. When the xBA sits at .244, expect the current line to continue. The upside is 20 homers, and if the rest of the team starts to hit, there is a run floor with the fourth spot in the lineup as well.

 

OF - JaCoby Jones (OF, DET)

1% owned, FAAB $6

Jones is another player that I have a love-hate relationship with based on past disappointments. The tools are there for a fantasy player, but the production has been bottom of the league in terms of actual value. The main issue is that the glove does not play in center, and he must take a corner spot unless the team wants to risk his defensive history. This means that fantasy owners need the power to keep him playing, and not moved to the bench role on the squad. So far, Jones has been a below-average player around the field, and the Tigers are even running out of patience with the player.

With a career high of 11 homes last year, the bat was not worth the price for fantasy owners, but with five already this year, the story might be changing. While this only gives him 17 or so power over a full season, with five steals so far, Jones moves to a 15/15 player. The batting average needs to come up from .214 to add the final piece, and his xBa at .221 shows some increase. Jones is finally worth a stash, and in AL-only leagues will be a crucial piece to own. He might also be changing the team's opinion of him the rest of the way.

 

OF - Derek Fisher (OF, HOU)

1% owned, FAAB $34

Fischer puts fantasy owners in a tight spot, as he might only be up for a week or so, but the hot start has made him hard to ignore. In 34 games at Triple-A Fisher was slashing .314/.383/.555 with eight homers and six steals. While the counting rates might come down, Fisher still has shown 20/20 skills to add to the bat. Able to play around the outfield, Fisher is one of the safer prospects for fantasy value this year. Add in the team context, and his floor is moving higher and higher.

After spending parts of the last four years at Triple-A, Fisher has nothing left to prove, so the only thing holding him back is production with Houston. If he can flash the speed, then he might keep Myles Straw down at the end of the year. This would make Fisher the baserunning threat off the bench, adding some more speed to fantasy teams. While the ceiling is a bit lower than other prospects, Fisher has a track record to buy. With the situation, Fisher will be a good value add, even if he does not play much when everyone is back and healthy.

 

SP - Zach Plesac (SP, CLE)

0% owned, FAAB $12

A three-hour rain delay is not the ideal way to start off a Big League career, but Plesac turned in a start to match the occasion. With 5.1 innings pitched, and one run allowed versus the surging Red Sox, Plesac might have earned himself a spot in the rotation moving forward. While he did only strike out two, the one walks, and only four hits show the value that he can offer on the mound. Mike Clevinger is two weeks away, but until then, the spot seems to be his for the time being.

After being drafted in the 12th round by Cleveland, Plesac has posted ERAs around four during his time in the minors. And then, after a promotion to Double-A to end 2018, things has started to turn. Since that move, and during the time in Triple-A this year, Plesac has an ERA of 1.82. Add in the sub-one WHIP, and the overall profile has jumped. Fantasy owners in need of pitching should be targeting the potential breakout, and while he lacks the stuff to play up on his own, if the team comes around, there will be wins to had. For now, add to the roster, and avoid the top offensive teams to squeeze the most value out of this SP5.

 

RP - Ariel Jurado (RP, TEX)

2% owned, FAAB $8

While no save chances as of now, a 2.28 ERA through 11 games should have fantasy owners interested. Add in the 1.18 WHIP, and Jurado has gotten off to a fast start with the Rangers. Ratio support is critical, but with Texas also playing a bit better than expected, there will some wins that owners can fall into to boost the bottom line. With a changing role and injuries to the pen in Texas, Jurado is the player to own for owners speculating one wins later in the year.

Offering mostly fastball and sinker, Jurado can dot the entirety of the plate with both offerings. Sporting a curveball that tends to fall to the glove side, Jurado can be more effective against righties deep in counts. Lacking the length to be a multi-inning option as of now, the stuff will need to play up for fantasy owners. If he does, Jurado has 12 K/9 stuff, and a spot in most fantasy benches at least.

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