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Points Leagues Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 1

It’s here, it’s finally here! Happy baseball season to all our diamond-dwelling RotoBallers. For the past five months, we’ve settled for touchdowns, goals and brackets but now it’s time to bust out our stirrups for summer’s pastime.

With Opening Day in the books, it’s only reasonable to look ahead to the waiver wire for rest-of-season strategizing. Clearly, after one game, it’s entirely rational to extrapolate player values across a full year. In this column, we’ll look at potential waiver gems specific to points league. We’ll utilize the standard scoring format discussed in the offseason primer.

The Week 1 column will resemble a sleeper article. Ample talent was likely left on the wire after draft day. Each week, we’ll unearth three players under 50% ownership and three under 25% ownership. For each group, we’ll identify an infielder, outfielder and pitcher. Let’s get hunting!

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Points League Pickups to Consider


Kike Hernandez (1B/2B/SS/OF, LAD) - 50% Owned

By the time of this publication, Kike Hernandez will surely be owned in over half of leagues. The 27-year-old led the way as the Dodgers pummeled the Diamondbacks on Opening Day, cranking two homers and driving in three runs. Slated for his first season as a full-time player, Hernandez could offer enticing power and positional infield versatility.

With 5.4% Barrels per PA and a 92.7 FB/LD exit velocity, Hernandez doesn’t jump off the page, but he used his fly ball tendencies to belt 21 dingers and 119 R+RBI in 462 plate appearances last season. Importantly, Hernandez doesn’t strike out a ton (17%) and walks enough to negate that marginal detraction (11% BB%). With his plate discipline and above average xwOBA (.334), Hernandez should be a serviceable offensive contributor all season.


Starlin Castro (2B, MIA) - 17% Owned

As Starlin Castro approaches age 30 and wallows in the depths of Miami, he continues his fade into fantasy oblivion. However much of an afterthought Castro has become, he’s aged gracefully in anonymity. 2019 marks Castro’s 10th big league season, and he’s become a bankable middle infield commodity.

In extreme pitcher-friendly Marlins Park, Castro bashed 12 homers and 32 doubles while producing 130 R+RBI in 2018. Usually a swing-happy hitter, he boosted his walk rate from 4.9% to 7.4% year-over-year. With strikeouts static at 19%, the marginal points from free passes are significant. Castro remains in the heart of the Marlins lineup, but despite their woes, the team likely won’t be any worse than last year. Fantasy managers don’t need to watch Miami games to enjoy useful stats.


Adam Jones (OF, ARI) - 37% Owned

Old reliable Adam Jones made a strong impression on his new squad, collecting two hits and launching a long ball as the only bright spot for the Diamondbacks on Opening Day. In a thin outfield corps and batting leadoff, Jones appears on pace to log over 580 plate appearances for the 10th consecutive season.

At 33 years old, the flashy appeal of Jones is far in the rearview mirror. However, he’s as consistent as they come. Along with his durability, Jones has surpassed 20 homers and 150 R+RBI in every season but one since 2011. Even as the Orioles cratered and Jones endured a mediocre campaign in 2018, he still batted a respectable .281. Arizona will struggle to win this season, but Jones should remain a rock in the lineup and steady fantasy option.


Kevin Pillar (OF, TOR) - 8% Owned

Most experienced fantasy players have ridden the Kevin Pillar streamer bus intermittently across his past four seasons as a full-time player. In terms of real contributions to the Blue Jays, Pillar offers negligible offensive value (89 wRC+), and his excellent defense is what keeps him in the lineup daily.

Fortunately, volume is king in fantasy, and Pillar has recorded over 500 plate appearances every year since 2015. Despite his struggles in the real game, Pillar has been a suitable fantasy piece across his four campaigns, achieving modest pop and speed numbers (50 homers, 68 steals). In a points league, Pillar’s incremental value comes in his gap ability, where he’s roped over 30 doubles in every campaign. While his plate discipline isn’t great and there are concerns of declining defensive ability, Pillar certainly works as a plug-and-play outfielder in deeper formats.


Eric Lauer (SP, SD) - 32% Owned

Eric Lauer breezed through the Giants lineup on Opening Day, requiring 70 pitches to fire six innings of shutout ball. After a rough debut last season, Lauer emerged as a reliable arm for the Friars and will be counted on to lead a young rotation in 2019 as a 23-year-old.

Lauer’s results last year weren’t eye-popping, but he certainly straightened the ship in his final seven starts by finding success in a slider (3.15 ERA, 8.7 K/9). Lauer was kept under wraps in Spring Training, but the Padres had enough confidence for him to start the season opener. While innings limits could impact his fantasy value down the stretch, he’s currently a lock to take the bump every fifth day. With favorable matchups against Arizona and San Francisco over the next two weeks, he’s approved for streaming.


Taylor Rogers (RP, MIN) - 22% Owned

Taylor Rogers emerged from Opening Day as the apparent leader of the Twins’ closer-by-committee, locking down a multi-inning save ahead of Trevor May and Blake Parker. Even prior to the positive development, Rogers deserved standalone fantasy recognition as a relief option with tantalizing strikeout potential.

Rogers boasts a three-pitch portfolio headlined by a killer mid-90s sinker. In 2018, he registered a 10.0 K/9 that was supported by a 27% SwStr%. Of all pitchers that faced over 250 batters last year, his xwOBA of .247 was tenth lowest in baseball, ahead of touted closers Wade Davis, Kirby Yates, and Felipe Vazquez. Rogers has the arsenal to finish games and should anchor favorable K/BB ratios season-long. With bullpen unpredictability rampant in today’s game, Rogers is the type of pitcher to target over mediocre designated closers.

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