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Digging Deeper: NL-Only Waiver Report for Week 19

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 - Tony Wolters (C, COL)

3% owned, FAAB $14 

A waiver claim from the Cleveland organization in 2016, Wolters has found a home in Colorado. Ironically, Wolters offers much less power than other catchers, even with the home park. For his career with the Rockies, he only has seven homers in 301 career games. Still, the glove and hit tool play. Wolters is not an elite defender, but as a former infielder, has an intriguing level of athleticism. This allows him to block pitches, even without the body or form of the typical backstop. Bud Black likes how he works with both the veterans and rookies, meaning that Wolters is the starting catcher until the team upgrades at the spot.

While Wolters might not factor into all roto-categories, the batting line alone will make him stand out at the position. To date, Wolters is batting .278, well up from his career .241 mark. While he is hitting the ball softer this year, down from an 84.3 exit velocity to 83.9, the launch angle is way up. Last year, Wolters posted a flat five launch angle, and this year, that is up to 9.7. Add in Coors, and the runs will be there for Wolters, with 33 runs scores already this year. A starting backstop, with a chance to post the best batting line at the position, Wolters is an easy add for teams in need at catcher this week.

1B - Matt Adams (1B/OF, WAS)

2% owned, FAAB $5

While no longer a starting option on most teams, Adams can still offer fantasy owners power production. To date, in 81 games, Adams has hit 17 bombs. When he is only averaging 2.4 chances per game and has seen more action as a pinch-hitter, Adams is legitimately on a 40 homer pace. While he will never get that playing time, when he has played in close to 70% of games, there are chances, and with this bat, runs to be had.

The expected numbers are like Adams to at least keep the batting line where it is. To date, he has batted .244, and his xBA is .247. Even more, Adams is hitting the ball two ticks harder than last year, and a 44.7 Hard Hit%. When all the numbers are up from last year, and the role does not seem to have changed, Adams looks as stable as ever. A better play in daily leagues as opposed to weekly formats, Adams should be added by any owner needing a boost in runs or homers.

2B - Jon Berti (2B/3B, MIA)

1% owned, FAAB $9

While Isan Diaz will get the FAAB bids this week, owners should not be ignoring Berti’s season so far. Entering the year as an afterthought for the team, Berti has managed to play in 28 games this year. A former 8th round selection by Toronto, Berti played in only four games before being released. Choosing free agency over a demotion, Berti now finds himself on another rebuilding club. Before losing some time to a knock, Berti had been slashing .286/.344/.464 this year. Add in the two homers and four steals, and all the tools have been on display. Even more, while listed at second, Berti has played in left field, short, and third this year, adding the Brock Holt argument for playing time.

While Marlins Park will sap what is middling power from Berti, the speed is real. Rating in the top 2% of the league in terms of spring speed, and with 270 career steals in the minors, Berti is an emerging rabbit. With the batting average in support, he offers upside as an MI, even if he begins to lose playing time with other roster moves. While the xBA is down to .267, the small sample should help Betti. Also, even if he is a .270 hitter, the 25-steal upside is worth a dart.

3B - Matt Beaty (1B/3B/OF, LAD)

1% owned, FAAB $21

A player who in a vacuum, has no right being on this team, Beaty has been a mainstay for the Dodgers this year. With the Galacticos around him, Beaty, never a top prospect, has emerged after entering the year undrafted in most leagues. Through 55 games, Beaty is slashing .297/.325/.500 with five homers and one steal. The counting numbers will keep his ownership down; all the rate stats have been in light with starting options at first and third. Add in the 15 doubles, and it is only a matter of time before those begin to leave the yard.

Beaty’s current production has been backed up by his expected numbers, with a .284 xBA the rest of the way for the Dodger. The only true red flag is a 3.9% walk rate, but when he only strikes out in 13% of his plate appearances, owners are not losing much with the OBP production. Beaty also hits the ball hard, with a 90.2 average exit velocity, and 45.7% Hard Hit line. A player with a regular role on a team that scores runs for fun, Beaty will be even more useful when the team begins to rest its regulars.


SS - Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL)

2% owned, FAAB $8

With another year of returns that have failed to meet expectations, it is no surprise why owners are moving on from the former top prospect. In fact, at this point, Arcia might not even be a starting option in 12-team NL-only formats. Still, owners should be buying low as opposed to going even further down the ladder. To date, in 100 games, Arcia is slashing .232/.296/.367 with 12 homers and seven steals. The counting line alone would put Arcia close to the top of the list, but with the subpar batting line, the only playing time Arcia is not losing is with the Brewers.

That alone is a reason to pick Arcia over other options, as with the team not making a move; he will play the rest of the way. Pairing well with Keston Hiura to balance out the defense, Arcia has value to the team even if he is not hitting. In terms of his expected line, Arcia seems only to be losing steam, with a .221 xBA. Still, a .344 xSLG and 29,7 Hard Hit% shows that there is pop in the bat. While he might never hit .300, owners are moving away from a .240 20/10 bat far too soon.


OF - Dexter Fowler (OF, STL)

2% owned, FAAB $15

With the recent demotion of Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neil headed the Injured List, there is playing time in the St. Louis outfield. While Fowler is another player who has been disappointing to date, at the very least, he has improved from last year. That batting line is up to .240 from .180 last year, and he has 12 homers to eight from last campaign. While no longer a top player at the spot, Fowler has emerged as a league-average bat with the team to add additional value.

Last year, in 90 games, Fowler scored 40 runs, and this year he already has 39. The RBI numbers are also up to 37 from 31, and Fowler has been better than league-average when batting with runners on base. Even more, Fowler has been moved into the two-hole by the team, up from seventh, so the counting lines should only increase. When his xBA is up to .252, owners can even expect some return to form with the rate stats as well. While the name might scare owners away, Fowler is at least an OF4, and if he holds his spot in the order, the upside is clear.


OF - Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA)

1% owned, FAAB $3

Another player falling behind on his scouting report, Brinson was recently recalled to Miami. While the young outfielder might already be considered a “bust” for the Brewers, fantasy owners should be willing to buy him for the last six weeks of the year. A former top prospect with the Brewers, Brinson has been a player-type that Miami seems to be stockpiling. With the addition of Jazz Chisholm, the preference for power upside is clear. In fact, according to reporting by Ken Rosenthal in the Athletic, the Marlins have been turning to Statcast data for player evaluation more than any other team.

With Brinson, owners are buying a player with a career .190 hitter, but scouts still think there is a 35-homer upside. Owners will look past the batting line with that return, but Marlins Park also plays against Brinson. The good news is that Brinson is a much better hitter on the road. For his career, he is batting .220 batting away from Miami, and all but two of his homers have come away from home. For owners looking for an upside play to jump up the standings, Brinson on the road offers a good mix of power and speed. When he is still in the top 3% for sprint speed in the league, the tools are there for a high-upside finish. Is that the probable outcome? No. Still, owners looking for help at this point should also push the chips in.


OF - Phillip Ervin (OF, CIN)

1% owned, FAAB $27

The biggest beneficiary of the Ysiel Puig trade, reports are that Ervin will be given a chance to earn the job the rest of the way. Through 38 games, Ervin has been hitting well beyond his expectations, with a .340/.410/.553 slash line. While the counting stats are not at the same level, with only two homers and three steals, the minor league numbers tell a different story. In 614 career professional games, Ervin has tallied 61 homers and 153 stolen bases. With the park to push up the power and the speed to make a difference in the field, Ervin should open 2020 as a starting option for the Reds.

While the numbers will drop with playing time, and the xBA sits down at .242, there are enough reasons to think that this could change. First, Ervin is still holding true to a 32% career hard-hit rate in the Majors and is hitting the ball at the same launch angle. This projects a player with an increased batting eye, backed up by an increased walk rate. The question has always been repeatability with increased playing time, and with the trade, that opportunity is finally there for Ervin to exploit.


SP - Conner Menez (SP, SFG)

0% owned , FAAB $7

Entering the year as the number 18 prospect in the system, Menez is likely not on any fantasy radars. Still, with a fastball that touches 95, and plus slider/changeup combo, the skills are there for Menez to succeed. While he does have some more room for growth on his pitch mix, the fact that he can command four pitches gives him a more comfortable landing spot. At Triple-A this year, Menez had posted an ERA of 4.06 and WHIP of 1.49. While both numbers could improve, with the run environment in the PCL this year, Mene has actually been better than league-average arm to date.

With the Giants playing good ball, there is a route to wins for the young arm. Even if the Giants fall off, that is even more reason for them to run the youngsters out for their cups of coffee. The other piece to highlight is that even with the high ERA, Menez has only allowed 12 homers in 104 total innings. This means that more balls are falling in the outfield, and most of these would be caught at the Major League level. With a better defense behind him, expect Menez to at least keep similar ratios. When there is not a book on this San Francisco hurler, and the price will be cheap, owners can safely target this young arm in a proper stadium for pitchers.


RP - Ryne Stanek (RP, MIA)

4% owned, FAAB $13

While Stanek might not have been thrilled to make a move down the coast to Miami, owners in need of saves should be. While the Marlins might only win 15-20 more games this year, Stanek is the clear closer on this staff. The other option would be to move him back to an opener role, and even there, Stanek is an excellent player to target. The value comes from the saves, but even in loses, Stankey can still record holds and improve this team as a whole.

For his career, Stanek has a 3.34 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Add in a 30% strikeout rate, and Stanek at the very least offers a ratio floor on a fantasy roster. The other reason this move makes sense for his fantasy value is the park factors in Miami. The red flags for Stanek are a 90.3 exit velocity, and 40.2 Hard Hit%. This means that even with the good stuff, the ERA can only come down with a move to a pitchers park. With a low cost and a risk for five or move saves, Stanek is a good dart in the bullpen this week.


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