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Points Leagues Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 4

It’s Week 4 of RotoBaller’s points league waiver wire extravaganza and we’re back after a one-week hiatus to discuss the thrills of fantasy free agency.

If your teams are scuffling in the cellar after the opening weeks, it’s turnover time. By now the bottom of any squad is subject to intense scrutiny and available players at equal or higher value are certainly eager for deployment.

Our points league waiver wire column will default to standard scoring and try to unearth three players under 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

Jorge Polanco (SS, MIN) – 39% Owned

A few surprises like Tim Anderson and Paul DeJong have found themselves in the top-15 shortstops this season. While Jorge Polanco hasn’t been as good, the ownership is well-below his upstart counterparts. Polanco’s gotten off to a sizzling .400/.464/.717 slash with three dingers and 16 runs-plus-RBI. Having sat just one game so far, Polanco is entrenched as the Twins number two hitter.

Polanco faded into anonymity after a PED suspension last season, but he’s still just 25 years old and has always demonstrated strong plate discipline. While his current pace isn’t sustainable, his barrel rates are up four times from his career average. An xwOBA of .424 will do just fine. Polanco is dependable for walks, minimal strikeouts and the uptick in launch angle and exit velocity should do wonders for his fantasy value if they prove durable.

Yonder Alonso (1B, CHW) – 16% Owned

While a different Alonso has taken the fantasy community by storm, Yonder Alonso has wallowed in obscurity. With just a .717 OPS to start the season, that’s deserved. But while Alonso has only 12 knocks this season, three have cleared the fence. Currently taking more walks (12) than strikeouts (11), a forthcoming power surge would make him a coveted points league asset.

As a predominant pull hitter, his low ground ball tendencies (70% fly ball and line drive rate) support his slugging abilities. Alonso has cranked over 20 homers in two straight years in limited duty and he’s currently mashing the ball at a career-high clip. The White Sox offense has been a positive development this season, and Alonso is positioned to benefit as a key run producer in the cleanup slot.

Shin-Soo Choo (OF, TEX) – 38% Owned

It’s taken four weeks, but the annual “Shin-soo Cho is underrated rant” has arrived. The 36-year-old has started his 15th major league campaign with 10 extra-base hits and a 1.046 OPS. Choo’s picked up the pace this past week, batting an even .500 since April 15.

Aside from two injury-plagued seasons, Choo has quietly recorded double-digit homers in every season since he became a full-time player in 2008. Over the past two seasons in Arlington, Choo has tallied 95 extra-base hits including 43 long balls. He’s also chipped in 18 steals at an efficient 82% success rate. Choo’s peripheral stats suggests his hot start will cool, but he should remain a dependable rotation outfielder who can get on base and has always pummeled right-handed pitching (.888 career OPS).

Dwight Smith (OF, BAL) – 16% Owned

With just 104 big league plate appearances to his credit prior to 2019, Dwight Smith has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles, slashing .276/.317/.474 with three homers, three steals and 25 R+RBI in the early going. Consistently batting third, Smith holds intriguing run production potential along with some power-speed potential.

Buried in Toronto’s farm system, Smith’s trade to Baltimore in spring training paved his path to plate appearances. In seven minor league seasons, Smith smacked 59 homers and swiped 74 bags. Last season at Triple-A, he registered a serviceable .771 OPS and 0.83 BB/K. While the plate discipline hasn’t ported over to the majors and his .289 xwOBA suggests his current performance is a façade, Smith has demonstrated adequate hitting chops in the minors and cut down on strikeouts materially enough (36% to 15%) to merit some deep-league consideration.

Sonny Gray (SP, CIN) – 46% Owned

I thought I swore off Sonny Gray after touting him to disastrous repercussions last season, but we’re back to chasing that silver unicorn. Gray is off to a tremendous start, posting a 2.79 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 in four starts. Encouragingly, his 2.59 FIP tells us something could be finally going right for the 29-year-old hurler.

Gray’s success could be credited to a slider this season that’s transformed from average to excellent. His wSL/C of 4.36 has favorably impacted his arsenal and generated more ground balls and a 29% strikeout rate. While his xwOBA (.271) sits over 50 points higher than his current wOBA, it remains materially below the .321 mark from 2018. While his track record makes him difficult to trust, Gray is back in the fantasy discussion and approved for use on April 23 against the Atlanta Braves.

Luke Weaver (SP, ARI) – 25% Owned

After a couple years in flux, Luke Weaver appears to have settled into a secure starter role in Arizona. He’s rewarded the club with a 3.92 ERA (2.91 FIP), 1.21 WHIP and 10.5 K/9 in four starts. With an attractive matchup upcoming on April 23 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he’s firmly in the streamer conversation.

So far in 2019, Weaver has leaned on a cutter with a normalized pitch value of 4.04. Paired with a solid changeup, Weaver has upped his swinging strikes to 10%. On the Statcast side of the coin, his actual and expected numbers are currently inline, pointing towards season-long sustainability. Once a first-round pick and still only 25-years-old, Weaver might be making the case for a long-term home in Arizona and on fantasy rosters.

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