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Outfield Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 5

A brief glance at the lineup notes section of this week’s article illustrates what was a busy week in the MLB, giving fantasy managers plenty of opportunities to get ahead using waivers this week. Although most of the recommendations in this article are longer-term focused, fantasy managers should take advantage of lineup movements for short-term gains as well.

It's still pretty early in the season, so most of the hitters mentioned in previous weeks continue to be worthwhile waiver targets this week -- probably none more so than J.D. Davis (46% rostered). To avoid redundancy, though, I’ve focused on other valuable hitters this week for the most part. It’s also worth calling out that the ball is different this year, and metrics (specifically metrics using exit velocity like hard-hit rate and xwOBA) should be considered in that context.

With that in mind, below are six outfielders worth considering in waivers this week - April 19 through April 25. Roster rates for waiver wire pickups are based on Yahoo! leagues with standard 5x5 scoring, and an outfielder must be rostered in fewer than 50% of leagues to be considered for this article.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Weekly Summary

Who’s Hot?

Player Name Rostered % Week wOBA
Austin Riley 38% 0.598
Brad Miller 2% 0.560
Raimel Tapia 27% 0.524
David Peralta 36% 0.515
Josh Rojas 7% 0.514
Seth Brown 2% 0.504
Guillermo Heredia 3% 0.490
Brandon Belt 10% 0.478
J.D. Davis 47% 0.477
Jordan Luplow 12% 0.465

Rest of Season Projections

Player Name Rostered % ROS wOBA Projection
Brandon Nimmo 48% 0.349
Luis Arraez 46% 0.337
Brandon Belt 10% 0.334
Jordan Luplow 12% 0.330
Joc Pederson 26% 0.328
Aaron Hicks 29% 0.328
J.D. Davis 47% 0.327
Josh Naylor 1% 0.326
Alex Dickerson 16% 0.324
Alex Kirilloff 30% 0.322

Schedule Notes

  • The Yankees play every day this week with four games against a weak Orioles rotation and three games against an arguably just as weak Tigers rotation.
  • The Angels get a pair of unimposing matchups in the Mariners and Rangers.
  • The Royals are slated to face a trio of below-average pitching staffs in the Tigers, Pirates, and Twins.

Lineup Notes

  • The Royals optioned Kyle Isbel (2% rostered) to their alternate site, and he can be dropped in all non-dynasty leagues at this point.
  • Alex Kirilloff (20% rostered) was called up with Miguel Sano (hamstring) landing on the injured list, and Kirilloff should be rostered in most leagues as a result.
  • Joc Pederson (wrist) was placed on the injured list, possibly pushing Nico Hoerner (4% rostered) into semi-consistent playing time.
  • George Springer (oblique) is nearing a return from the injured list, likely denting the fantasy value of Randal Grichuk (48% rostered) or Rowdy Tellez (4% rostered) depending on how the Blue Jays plan to manage their roster.
  • Yonathan Daza (1% rostered) has been picking up semi-consistent playing time with the Rockies lately and is an intriguing option for fantasy managers in need of cheap stolen bases.
  • Anthony Santander (ankle) was placed on the injured list, likely opening up everyday playing time for both Austin Hays (10% rostered) and DJ Stewart (1% rostered) for now.
  • Andrew Stevenson (1% rostered) has picked up more regular playing time with Juan Soto (shoulder) on the injured list, but that arrangement appears likely to be short-lived.
  • Lewis Brinson (0% rostered) has been called up to Miami’s Major League roster with Starling Marte (rib) on the injured list but is likely not worth rostering in most leagues.
  • The Mariners activated Kyle Lewis (knee) from the injured list, relegating Jose Marmolejos (1% rostered) back to a bench role.
  • Andrew Benintendi (44% rostered) has been moved out of the upper-third of the Kansas City lineup, hurting his fantasy value.
  • Brad Miller (2% rostered) has picked up (at least temporary) everyday playing time with Jean Segura (quad) on the injured list and should be a waiver target for fantasy managers in deeper leagues.

 

Shallow League Pickups

Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates

45% rostered

In 2019, Reynolds finished with a .314 batting average that tied him with Charlie Blackmon for the ninth best mark among qualified batters. In 2020, Reynolds struggled at the plate as his xBA dropped from .290 to .227, but he’s bounced back so far this season with a .307 xBA through his first 20 games. Importantly, the areas where Reynolds struggled most last season -- namely, his z-swing rate and his contact quality -- have rebounded to 2019 levels.

The most significant negative to Reynolds’ performance so far this season has been his less than stellar 28% hard-hit rate, but he’s made up for it with launch angle improvements so far, and his .467 xwOBAcon remains strong. Fantasy managers should expect Reynolds’ contact quality to level out over the rest of the season (think a hard-hit rate just below 40% and an xwOBAcon around or slightly above .400), giving him a shot at a .300 batting average and an OPS around .800. It doesn’t hurt that Reynolds appears to be locked into a spot in the upper third of the Pittsburgh lineup, and given his overall performance this season Reynolds should be rostered in most leagues.

David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks

29% rostered

Peralta started wearing contact lenses midway through the 2020 season, and the impact has been noticeable. In 2019, Peralta’s reluctance to swing at pitches in the heart of the plate hurt his performance. Peralta was far less reluctant to swing at those pitches in 2020, and his swing rate at pitches in the heart of the strike zone has improved again in 2021. Additionally, Peralta’s chase rate has fallen so far this season, helping fuel career-best strikeout (15.2%) and walk (10.1%) rates.

It’s worth noting that Peralta’s strong start to the season has come with an inflated wOBA (51 wOBA-xwOBA), and that Peralta’s eye issues may not have been a factor in 2019. That said, if the contact lenses drove Peralta’s improved plate approach and the baseline projection for his 2021 season was a batting average around .270 with an OPS around .760, Peralta’s improved plate approach could allow him to hit closer to .300 with an OPS around .800 over the rest of the season, and that upside is enough to make him worth rostering in most leagues at this point.

Kole Calhoun, Arizona Diamondbacks

20% rostered

The only reason Calhoun has been dropped in so many leagues already this season is a knee injury that he suffered in the preseason, but he’s largely put that injury behind him at this point. Calhoun was quietly a phenomenal power hitter over the past few seasons. Hit hit 41 home runs over the past two seasons (206 games), boasting a well-above-average 5.7% home run rate.

That power was enough to get Calhoun drafted in 57% of leagues -- a number that was likely depressed given that his knee injury occurred in early March -- and it should be enough to have Calhoun rostered in most leagues as of this week. The Diamondbacks are understandably being somewhat cautious with Calhoun’s playing time for now, but fantasy managers in need of power production should feel comfortable targeting Calhoun on waivers this week.

 

Deeper League Pickups

Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants

15% rostered

If you’ve followed along with this series this season, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of being patient with underperforming hitters early in the season as impatient fantasy managers tend to drop slow-starting hitters based on tiny samples of data. Alex Dickerson may not be as extreme an example as some examples in earlier weeks, but Dickerson is still an attractive buy-low candidate this week. After being drafted in 39% of leagues coming into the season, Dickerson is now available in 85% of leagues despite no red flags in his 2021 performance. 

Beyond not posting any red flags, Dickerson has managed to post a .418 xwOBA that sits well above his marks from either of the past two seasons. Although his plate discipline has been subpar (41% o-swing rate), there’s no reason to expect Dickerson to underperform his draft-day expectations over the rest of the season. The only major downside of rostering Dickerson is one fantasy managers knew about coming into the season: he’s likely locked into the long-end of a platoon for the season, so his playing time is capped somewhat. Still, fantasy managers should feel confident that Dickerson will live up to the expectations they had when drafting him, and he’s an excellent waiver target in deeper leagues as a result. 

Brad Miller, Philadelphia Phillies

2% rostered

Miller was a breakout candidate heading into 2020 thanks to strong power and developing plate discipline and contact skills. Although some bad luck (-28 wOBA-xwOBA) held his performance back last season, Miller still posted a solid .807 OPS for the season and owns a .853 OPS for the past two years. Miller should once again display strong contact quality this season after posting barrel rates around 13% and strikeout rates around 27% in each of the past two seasons, putting him in a fairly exclusive group of hitters.

Since the start of the 2015 season, there have been 66 instances of a qualified hitter posting a strikeout rate below 30% and a barrel rate of at least 13%. Those hitters combined to post an average OPS of .941 (.933 median -- not weighted for playing time), and only 10 of them (15%) posted an OPS below .850. Miller appears likely to remain in that group in 2021 (with the exception of the playing time requirement), and he should be rostered in deeper leagues given that he’s likely to receive significant playing time this week.

Myles Straw, Houston Astros

18% rostered

I considered writing about Jon Berti and Yonathan Daza here, but neither is worth rostering if Myles Straw is also available. Straw remains by far the best option for stolen bases on waivers this season, and only two hitters project for more rest of season stolen bases based on FGDC projections.

Straw’s start to the season at the plate hasn’t been ideal, but he’s already stolen four bases on the season and is in line for more than 25 additional steals over the rest of the season. He’s undoubtedly a single-category contributor, but stolen bases are scarce enough (and Straw is productive enough on the basepaths) that Straw is well worth rostering in deeper leagues.



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