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Points Leagues Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17


Welcome to the RotoBaller waiver wire column that skews towards points league. Yes, there is positive correlation to standard 5x5 scoring but in our format, specific categories matter less and the accumulation of total stats is the ultimate objective.

We’ve hurdled the Midsummer Classic and turning towards home for fantasy baseball season. While some league counterparts may be multi-tasking with pigskin prep, it’s time for savvy owners to stay juiced on the diamond! By now, team turnover should be commonplace and most managers have waved goodbye to busted high-round assets. During the dog days, keenness on the waiver could result in celebratory pay days in October.

Our points league waiver wire column will default to standard scoring and try to unearth three players under at least 50% ownership and three players 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

Nathaniel Lowe (1B, TB)

31% Owned

It wasn’t long ago Nathaniel Lowe was a buzzy call-up, generating hype after smashing 17 homers in 335 minor league plate appearances in 2018. However, an underwhelming debut in his first 10 games, subsequent demotion and more successful prospect performances have led to Lowe becoming an afterthought.

Time to reset. Since returning on July 4, the 24-year-old is hitting .371 in 11 games with five bombs. His OPS has crept up from .625 to .975. Lowe possesses the traits we like in solid plate discipline, raw power and defense good enough to play every day. He’s thus handled lefty pitching (1.074 OPS) better than righties (.944). With expected stats superior to an impressive prevailing resume, it’s becoming apparent the best is yet to come.

 

Brandon Crawford (SS, SF)

8% Owned

In tune with Lowe’s resurgence, Brandon Crawford has risen from the Mendoza Line, recently snapping an eight-game hitting streak and hitting .368 since July 5 with seven extra-base hits. With the Giants surging and Crawford rounding into form, he’s earned his way back in the deeper league conversation.

At 32 years old, Crawford’s role is unquestioned. A lock for 145-plus games and a run at 140 runs-plus-RBI are within reach. He’s one homer away from his sixth consecutive double-digit dinger campaign and with 18 doubles is threatening his season high in two-baggers (34). A glance at his peripheral numbers confirm he’s doing what he’s always done, quietly plodding his way to another year of solid numbers.

 

Tyler O'Neill (OF, STL)

22% Owned

Tyler O’Neill made a semi-splash last year, posting an .805 OPS and was rewarded with a big league roster spot after spring training. After a month of subpar returns, he was optioned to Triple-A. Fast forward to June 29 and O’Neill has been mashing. Time to take notice.

O’Neill is riding a .365 average since his promotion including a 1.185 OPS and seven extra-base hits with 19 runs-plus-RBI in July. Allotted with a prime cleanup spot in a hot Cardinals lineup, O’Neill should have plenty of opportunities to post fantasy-friendly numbers. Unfortunately, O’Neill’s tear doesn’t seem sustainable as he holds a .490 BABIP and ugly 38 percent strikeout rate, but a 50 percent hard-hit rate should help bolster his stats, at least short term. At this juncture, the player du jour is always worth a look. Just make sure the eject button is nearby.

 

Manuel Margot (OF, SD)

12% Owned

In two years, Manuel Margot has gone from a fantasy sleeper in 2018 drafts to an anonymous one-category fantasy longshot. Without a clear path to at-bats entering the year and a mediocre 2018 (.675 OPS, 11-of-21 on steals), the fade was merited. But since he’s been awarded everyday playing time, Margot suddenly deserves reconsideration.

After a lackluster slugging profile to start the year, Margot has ripped three homers with a surprising 9/7 BB/K in July. For someone with a sub-seven percent walk rate, that is material. The 24-year-old has parlayed the newfound plate discipline into raising his OPS over 100 points to .726. Incorporate a perfect 12-for-12 on the basepaths and Margot has essentially morphed back to the same player the fantasy community fell for in 2017.

 

Homer Bailey (SP, OAK)

17% Owned

Ugh. This endorsement isn’t ringing with conviction, but Homer Bailey is *shudders* fantasy relevant. After a brutal start to the year, Bailey posted a 2.82 ERA in his last six starts with the Royals, earning a trade to a playoff-contenting Oakland A’s. In his new confines, Bailey fired six innings of two-run ball in his team debut on July 17.

Bailey’s improvement this year resides in his .337 xwOBA, a decline of 30 points year-over-year, and a strikeout rate of 21 percent, up six points from 2018. Mix-wise, Bailey has abandoned his slider, leaning on a curveball to supplement his fastball and splitter. Results have improved his pitch quality across the board. Now on the A’s, a rekindling the 2012-13 glory days doesn’t seem farfetched amidst a heated pennant race.

 

Chase Anderson (SP/RP, MIL)

16% Owned

Another blah starter deserving a second look is Chase Anderson. While he hasn’t gone deep into games, the crafty veteran has rattled off five solid starts and a 2.45 ERA in the process. Coupled with a favorable team situation, Anderson should put himself in regular win position if he just meets the minimum qualifications of a decent outing.

Anderson’s biggest improvement in 2019 has been the cutter. By using it 16 percent of pitches, he’s peeled back on an ordinary heater and upped his SwStr% to 12 percent. Correspondingly, he’s in the top-20th percentile for average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. While he’s been a streaming staple the past couple seasons, Anderson’s numbers in 2019 closely resemble his breakout 2017 campaign (2.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Readily available on the waiver, he should be a steady backend option if he keeps up the run rate.

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