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Digging Deeper: NL-Only Waiver Report for Week 12

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. Note: all FAAB bids assume a $1000 budget.

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C - Matt Wieters (C, STL)

1%, FAAB $8

After being a mainstay in Baltimore to start his career, Wieters has struggled to live up to his fantasy and former prospect stock in moves since. At this point in his career, Wieters is best suited to a bench role, with some good mentorship qualities that can add to a competitive team like the Cardinals. While owners would prefer Andrew Knizner for the upside, Wieters does offer some with the bat than most veteran backstops. For now, the Cardinals are not attached, and could be moved with other players pushing for the spot. Still, he will play while he is on the roster.

To date, he is slashing .224/.246/.414 with three homers through 24 games. While the career .251 batting line might be a stretch as a target this year, the average of the current and career still look suitable for owners. Wieters' value comes from some power output, as the backstop is posting a 34.4 Hard Hit% and an 89.9 exit velocity in a small sample to start his career. In two-catcher formats, this is an easy add. If not, a substantial stash on the bench.


1B - Rangel Ravelo (1B/OF, STL)

1% owned, FAAB $13

Another Cardinal to make the list this week, Ravelo is a bit old for a debut but carries untapped potential into fantasy leagues. He appeared on our deep-dive season-preview piece hoping for this exact call, with the opportunity to land in an excellent offensive environment from the beginning of his career. After spending parts of 10 seasons in the minors, Ravelo joins St. Louis with a career .301/.372/.543 slash. The limit on his value comes from the power, with only 59 homers in 838 games. And yet, the hit tool grades out with a 55 floor, and the contact rates makes a 60 look more likely.

Expect Ravelo to see time mostly in the corners, with less time at first due to Paul Goldschmidt. Still, owners should expect two games and seven ABs a week at this point. Expect a .270 batting line with a run production floor as the carrying skill. Ravelo can get on base, and if he can fall into some power, this could be the next Max Muncy late-career breakout to follow.


2B - Kyle Farmer (2B/3B, CIN)

0% owned, FAAB $21

Farmer keeps hanging around with the Reds, and so has his fantasy stock. With the addition of second to the profile, Farmer now offers even more playing options for fantasy owners. Appearing in 52 games for the Reds so far, Farmer has a .230/.284/.437 slash with five homers and three steals. The power is what will carry him in fantasy leagues, but he needs this to pick up as the batting line as a whole has dropped. With a decent glove, Farmer can play regularly with the production so there is still more growth in this profile.

The fact factors are critical here, as Farmer generates power with 16.1-degree launch angle. This allows him to add power even with a below-average exit velocity off the bat. The other good news is that he appears to be slotted into a platoon at second with Derek Dietrich. Farmer struggles versus righties with a .200 career mark, but versus lefties, he is batting .278. A fantasy unknown to enter the year, Farmer is best placed to succeed with the Reds moving forward.


SS - Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, NYM)

1% owned, FAAB $7

Known so far in his career as a glove-first option at short, Hechavarria is serving as the primary reserve option for Amed Rosario this year for the Mets. With a career .254 batting line, fantasy owners have tended to stay away, as there is replacement level value at the plate, at best. So far, Hechavarria is hitting .244, but the xBA sits at .253, so right in line with career norms.

The value for fantasy comes from the counting numbers, as with the .250 average Hechavarria has gotten to career norms of eight homers and five steals over his career. Add in the 52 run floor, when playing full time, and he can compile enough to find a role on most teams. Playing a bit more than expected so far this season, Hechavarria offers some value in a shallow position. At the very least, and easy drop is a roster drop is needed.


3B - David Freese (1B/3B, LAD)

3% owned, FAAB $24

Another player who will not go away in fantasy leagues, Freese is back hitting again for the Dodgers. After being added to aid the quest for a World Series last year, Freese signed a small deal at the beginning of the offseason to stay in Los Angeles. At the time, he seemed to be an easy cut target if the team made a move, but hung around to make the team this spring. From there, the expectation was marginal chances, but so far, Freese has been a regular in the rotation.

To date, Freese is raking, with a .312/.419/.624 slash over 109 plate appearances. The power has been the surprise with eight homers so far. Always a professional hitter, Freese never seemed to break-out over his career, but appears to be seeing the ball as well as ever as he perhaps ends his time in the Majors. For now, owners in need of a corner or utility bat can buy into the value, but take the playing time concerns into question. Freese will hit, but only in two games a week, unless other injuries strike.


OF - J.D. Davis (1B/3B/OF, NYM)

1% owned, FAAB $38

No stranger to this list, Davis is back after adding outfield to the position eligibility. A bat that has played well so far, the Mets are trying to find a way to give him more chances. Blocked by Peter Alonso at first and Todd Frazier at third, the only real playing time will be somewhere else in the field. With the news that Yoenis Cespedes will not be back at all this year, the outfield seems to be a place that the Mets could use an upgrade. Grading out as a 45, if he can hide a bit, Davis seems to be a decent option.

Through 60 games, Davis is playing well enough with a .275/.337/.474 slash. Add in the eight homers and 24 runs, and Davis is a fantasy stud. Looking to his batted ball metrics, the support is there for the current value at the plate. With a 91.1 exit velocity and 47.3 Hard Hit%, Davis is making excellent contact. The concern with him as a prospect was the hit tool, with the typical .230 batting line expected for the slugger. With a .314 xBA Davis is defying that report and needs to be owned in all leagues.


OF - Ben Gamel (OF, MIL)

1% owned, FAAB $11

Gamel is another regular on the list this year, with the batting tool to support fantasy additions. Like other outfielders in this ownership rate, Gamel will be playing mostly off the bench with some spot starts. The good news is that he has played in 61 games this year, and seems to be on pace for a career-high with both plate appearances and games. Still only 27, Gamel is no longer a prospect but can be a piece of this Milwaukee window. This means they have no reason to move past him, adding some stability to his fantasy value.

So far in 2019, Gamel is slashing .255/.337/.389 with four homers and one steal. Add in the 24 runs, and Gamel has been above-average, even taking into account more off days. The other piece is that Gamel has a top 15% of the league exit velocity, so expect a bit more pop as well. With a glove to play all three outfield spots, Gamel is a steady producer in only leagues. Add him now, as while owners have been taking their time to catch on, his price will only rise.


OF - Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SFG)

1% owned, FAAB $9

Back on the list after a hot start, Yastrzemski is starting to look like he might stick with the team for a bit. Upon his call, the expectation was two weeks and then back down due to the injury and other roster moves. To date, with a .250 batting average and two homers through 20 games, Yastrzemski has been one of the better hitters for the Giants. Add in the 10 runs on 16 hits, and Yastrzemski is a player with a knack to score, offering some floor moving forward. While his success also highlights the team's struggles at the plate, it is hard to send a key hitter down.

The question for fantasy will be the power, with both a sub-par tool and park to limit the upside. Still, the batting average will play, with the doubles stroke to play at Oracle. The expected numbers no like what he has done, with a .199 xBA, but this can also be tied to the sample size. While Yastrzemski will not win a league on his own, the profile is there for owners to expect some batting support from the OF4 spot.


SP - Logan Allen (SP, SD)

3% owned, FAAB $27

After the first wave of Padres pitching has reached the Bigs, now Allen can start the second wave. Thought of as the most polished arm in the system, the Padres still wanted to give him regular innings at Triple-A before the call, and hopeful, stay in the rotation. After racing to a 1.63 ERA in five starts to end the year at Triple-A last year, Allen struggled to a 5.15 line to start the year. Still, owners can ignore the 8.02 ERA from this April, and should see that Allen has been much better over his last few starts.

Posting a 23.7 K% in the minors, Allen can flash the stuff to play in fantasy, but will rely on keeping the WHIP and ERA down to flash more than SP3. The park is a great fit to limit some power to lefties when the changeup hangs, and Allen has the command to keep runners off the bases. The other limiting factor will be his three pitches, as only his changeup has more than a 50 grade. There is still time for development, and owners seeking pitching are running out of prospects to target.


RP - Jose Alvarez (RP, PHI)

1% owned, FAAB $3

Currently serving as the lefty-specialist arm for the Phillies, Alvarez slips through the fantasy cracks without the name value or role to excite owners. Still, he has six SV+Hs so far, and with limited use, offers little downside. Due to the role, many of his outings are one or two batters, limiting the counting stats, but also protecting the rate stats.

Worst-case scenario, when Alvarez lets on a runner, at most, one run will score on his line. This will inflate his ERA, but spread over a full team does not move the needle much. Even more, each of his 19 Ks plays, with a good rate so far. Over his career, Alvarez has also posted bottom 15% league exit velocity rates, further limiting the damage. Alvarez offers a low-risk, low-reward fantasy option, but can be a great value in leagues that count holds.


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