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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 22

By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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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NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Nick Hundley (C, SFG) - 3% owned

With news breaking that Buster Posey is done for the year, Hundley looks to either be the starter or at the very least, next in line to see a jump in playing time. Through 71 games so far Hundley is slashing .239/.299/.431 with nine homers and 30 RBI. The SLG underlines a productive fantasy bat who will hit for a bit more impact than the average might suggest. The other good news is that he has close to doubled his walk rate moving from last year’s 4% mark to this year’s 7.9% line. The other interesting piece is that the BABIP is low for his career number, at only .292, whereas in most years he is closer to .310. In the short time left, this could be the best chance for a productive catcher bat off the wire, with a new found path to playing time as the catalyst.

1B - Matt Holliday (OF, COL) - 1% owned

So adding Holliday is a dart plain and simple. No one, even the Rockies, knows what he will do the rest of the way. And yet, if owners are willing to take that shot, why not bet on a player returning to Coors Field? Not only is this the park where he posted his best career numbers, but Coors is also the park that gave Mark Reynolds a chance to play and earn a starting role. For Holliday, the choice seems pretty straightforward, especially with power upside, and more pinch hitting that starting appeal. This means good match-ups, and there is no real pressure on the hitter for what should be the last hurrah. There is not much else to say here, other than the risk is worth the impact. Holliday is a bench bat right now but could slot into the CI spot easily for a few weeks.  

2B - Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B/OF, SD) - 1% owned

A few reasons to add the Padre down the stretch for fantasy owners. First, the typical position flexibility play here means that Spangenberg is eligible at MI and CI, adding value for teams with injuries down the stretch. Second, so far, the offensive line has been solid, but not great. In 94 games he is slashing .240/.296/.386 with seven homers and six steals. Add this all together and Spangenberg is a utility player with actual offensive value, which is hard to find. His Triple-A numbers are elite, which also adds a bit of helium to the profile with a .341 batting average in 21 games so far. Without the demotion, Spangenberg was on his way to passing the power and speed numbers he posted last year, so there is still some production to be had here. Not elite, but not going to hurt teams, this is a reliable utility play due to playing time and power/speed combination.

3B - Jose Bautista (3B/OF, NYM) - 6% owned

Owners looking at Bautista should be encouraged by the rumors of an impending move to Philadelphia. While the news might break on that deal before this article goes live, this is the type of move that will add value to the struggling veteran. For one, Bautista is hitting almost 40 points better on the road with the Mets, hinting that Citi Field is not a good fit for him. Second, he is hitting close to 25 points better versus righties, and a move to the bench with the Phillies shifts him into a match-up role. This means more chances to avoid lefties and boost the underlying production. Finally, the opportunity to move to a better lineup situation should help support all these numbers as well. Bautista has not been great this year, but with the right location can still produce. He is not the same hitter he was but yet has shown that he can contribute in the right spot.    

SS - Chase D’Arnaud (2B/3B/SS, SFG) - 0% owned

Back in the MLB after a lengthy demotion this year, D’Arnaud seems to have a hold on a platoon split with Joe Panik the rest of the way for the Giants. This is good news for fantasy owners, as he is hitting over .300 versus lefties so far this year. Add to that, all of his power has come versus lefties this campaign, and this platoon spot only seems to be a good move for the utility player. On the other hand, there is still clearly some speed to be had here with D’Arnaud stealing 15 bases in 76 games at Triple-A. To date, in 28 with the Giants, he only has one, but expect that to jump up as well. Owners will add this player knowing he is not a starter, but with the platoon splits will be a good fantasy player.

OF - Preston Tucker (OF, CIN) - 2% owned

Since moving from the Braves, Tucker has not been able to rediscover the form that turned him into a fantasy darling to start the year. After the trade, he is hitting .216 and only has two homers to his name. The reason to add now is that the park plays well, and might boost the limited power enough to make it worth the stash. At the same time, when there is not much else out there this week. The ability to add a player who has had a hot stretch is worth it. Even better, in daily leagues Tucker is worth the add, as he hits .261 versus righties and only .118 versus lefties. The rumor is that he will move out of the platoon with Scott Schebler on the mend, but until that happens, owners should play the numbers so far.   

OF - Roman Quinn (OF, PHI) - 1% owned

As this piece was being written, Quinn looks to have suffered a leg injury and might be out for some time. If that is the case, then owners need to monitor the injury before making a move. For the sake of argument, and assuming that he is fine, this is an elite speed option down the stretch. In 24 games with the Phillies he has five steals, and at Triple-A had 13 in 25. If healthy, he is the speed option that will win owners a category coming off the wire for free. The other good news is that with the Phillies he is slashing .357/.379/.518 with a homer and seven runs. Quinn should be a hot pick next year, but this season, if healthy, could be that spark that most teams need.  

OF - Mac Williamson (OF, SFG) - 0% owned

When Williamson first made it up to the Giants this year there was a bunch of excitement around a new swing in search of more loft. Then an injury derailed the breakout, and now he is back at Triple-A. Already being on the 40-man roster, this seems to be an easy add in September and should be a popular fantasy stash. Owners should beat that rush and add him this week before it is too late. The hedge is that he is still involved in the concussion protocol, so there might be some lag here as well. The power has been there in the minors, with 13 bombs in 52 games. If this can play out with the Giants, there is real value here, with the upside for six or more bombs over the final few weeks. The issue is the park, but that should not scare owners away. The best move is to add and stash on the DL, with the hope that run of form moves him into the starting line-up sooner than later.

P - Jesse Chavez (SP/RP, CHC) - 1% owned

What at the time as viewed as an underwhelming deadline move, now seems to be working out for the Cubs in a variety of ways. At the same time, the fantasy community has not taken notice, and Chavez is free everywhere. Since moving to the Cubs, Chavez is holding opposing batters to a .192 batting average, with only two walks in over 20 innings. He has even added a few wins to the line as well. While Chavez might not get a start, and will not be in line for saves, this is a reliever with multi-innings usage potential and the trust of management. He has appeared in three extra-inning games already, adding to his value with chances for wins. The ratios alone are worth the add, and this will be a solid play for the rest of the season.

P - Matt Strahm (SP/RP, SD) - 1% owned

When Brad Hand left the Padres, there was a bunch of talk about who would end up as the closer. That job seems to have passed Strahm, but he still looks to offer good fantasy value out of the pen. First, in 48.2 innings he has an ERA of only 2.22 meaning he is keeping his team in games, and, therefore has moved to critical late innings. Second, he is striking out 9.62 per nine, with only 0.92 HR/9 as well. The BABIP is remarkably low at .220, so there might be some regression coming, but for now this is a good pitcher with a low ERA and high K numbers. There is also a path to saves, so owners in need could do much worse.

P - Corbin Burnes (SP/RP, MIL) - 1% owned

While Burnes has not lived up to the prospect hype yet, and next year will be a better indicator of his talent level, there is no reason he should be owned in only 1% of leagues right now. First, the Brewers are willing to use their relievers for multiple innings adding up gross counting stats. Second, in 22 innings he has an ERA of 3.27 and a FIP of 3.47. Not elite, but good numbers to get to the stuff. Third, the upside is there with 9.41 K/9 to date, and the numbers at Triple-A were close at 9.27 K/9. Fourth, he has dropped almost a walk per nine off the rate as well, meaning that with the Brewers he is pitching better. Finally, Burnes will get wins out of the pen with three in 16 appearances so far. If owners need upside, this is the pitcher. Next year, he will be a target so add now where owners can.


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