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Peter O'Brien (1B/OF, MIA) - Week 26 Waiver Wire Pickups


BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team Leagues

OWNED IN: 4% of leagues

ANALYSIS: Miami Marlins outfielder/first baseman Peter O'Brien completely evaded my radar until I spun up my usual tools for finding and picking out waiver wire adds. However, while I usually would just chalk up a line like .294/.375/.647 and three dingers over his first 40 major-league plate appearances since 2016 as beginner’s luck, I was intrigued enough to dive in. A 28-year-old rookie on his seventh organization, O’Brien had six home runs on just 79 plate appearances heading into the cup of coffee he’s received with Miami. The power he’s shown all season, 30 homers between Double and Triple-A, was expected. He’s a big swinger who strikes out frequently. In his first two tastes of the bigs, he was teed up to the tune of 41.7% and 40.3%, and neither of those numbers were terribly unexpected. He’s the spiritual successor to Matt Reynolds, a guy who can send the ball to the moon, take a walk, and set single season strikeout records. With a little more playing time, he might compete with Joey GalloYonder Alonso, and Chris Davisfor the three true outcomes trophy.

There’s a little extra team-building theory to this pick too, so allow me to offer some additional thoughts. H2H, whether your league is roto or points, is all about plugging in as many at-bats as possible that can be productive and not harmful. Many H2H leagues include deductions and penalties for strikeouts, grounding into double plays, leaving men on base, and other negative outcomes. But home runs, steals, and other extra base hits bring nice bonuses. So you want to fill your lineup with a mix of guys who can produce bonus points and players who are steady enough to weather the kinds of dramatic swings players like Gallo or Alonso can be subject to.

Which brings us back to O’Brien. He is indeed a huge cutter who has made soft contact on, and I swear this is true, just 4.3% of contact. When he hits a ball, he freaking hits a ball. But there have been a few changes which might be indicative of good things to come. For one, while he’s still striking out around 30%, that represents a major improvement. Furthermore, it’s been a consistent change all year. He’s swinging less, which has cut his rate of swings on outside pitches by more than 15% from his career average and his swinging strike rate nearly in half. For a guy with moonshot power and a swingers mentality, these are the first two numbers to drop when a guy shifts from a scrub to an asset. And sure enough, his contact rate is up more than 10% over his career best. And as we’ve clearly established, when O’Brien hits the ball, he hits the ball.


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