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Top Hitter Streamers and Starts for Fantasy Baseball - Week 19

Ramon Urias - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

The NFL preseason may be starting, but let's not lose sight of what should be a fantastic end to the MLB season! Multiple division races are up for grabs, the wildcard races are as wide open as it gets, and it's anyone's guess who wins the major awards. I mean, what else could you want?

Fantasy baseball teams are built through the draft, but an argument can be made that leagues are won through in-season management. Being able to leverage your lineups appropriately so that you are starting the players who are a) playing in the most games and b) are in the most favorable matchups will allow accumulating as many statistics as possible, regardless of league format.

One common way to create the optimal lineup is streaming hitters off of the fantasy baseball waiver wire. It is very common to pick up pitchers who have favorable matchups, but what about doing the same for hitters? Outside of batting average, the other four traditional 5x5 hitter categories are counting statistics, meaning that you can gain a legitimate edge by targeting undervalued hitters on the waiver wire you have the best opportunity to produce. That is the focus of this column. Every week, we will be taking a look at which hitters are the most valuable streaming assets off of the waiver wire. All of these players are under 50% owned in Yahoo leagues, yet could be premium contributors for the upcoming week. Who are these intriguing fantasy baseball streamers? Let us dive right into it!

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What Teams Offer The Most Streaming Value?

When it comes to streaming hitters, outside of overall talent, there are three factors to pay attention to:

  1. How many games is that team playing this week? Playing in the most games gives you the most opportunity to rack up the counting statistics we are looking for. Six games are the standard for a week, with anything above that very enticing and anything below that worrisome.
  2. What parks are they playing at? There is a major difference between playing your games in Colorado and playing your games in Oakland when it comes to offensive success. Targeting players who will benefit from playing in hitter-friendly targets is a great way to gain an edge over your opponents. For this study, we will be using Baseball Savant's park factors to rank the friendliness of the stadiums each team is playing at for this upcoming week.
  3. Which pitchers are they facing? To calculate the strength of the opponent, we will be using Fangraphs Depth Chart's FIP projections for each starting pitcher they will face.

By taking the average park factor and projected opposing starting pitcher ERA for each of their games, and then adding a boost based on the game played, we can accurately measure the "friendliness" of each team's upcoming matchups. Speaking of which, it is time for the great reveal!

It's fun to see some new teams rank near the top of the list, including the Giants, who generally don't have many favorable matchups in the NL West. That being said, they have four home games against the Diamondbacks and three in Colorado this week, making this the optimal week for their offense to get back on track. The same goes for the Red Sox and Rangers, while the Mets play a hefty eight games this week.

By this point of the season, it's much harder to strike gold by identifying a hidden gem that is on the verge of a major breakout. Nevertheless, the search goes on. So who is in a position to thrive this week? Let's take a closer look!

Stats via Baseball Savant and Fangraphs

Josh Naylor, OF/1B, Cleveland Guardians

Oscar Gonzalez, OF, Cleveland Guardians

Naylor: 47% rostered

Gonzalez: 4% rostered

Don't look now, but the Cleveland Guardians are in first place in the AL Central! A lot of credit will be given to their efforts in run prevention, particularly with a stellar bullpen, but don't discount an offense that has been quite pesky, to say the least.

Coming into the season, a major concern for Cleveland was their offensive depth outside of superstar third baseman Jose Ramirez. Franmil Reyes was expected to help with that, but he struggled mightily (70 weighted-runs-created-plus/wRC+) while also dealing with various injuries, and was eventually designated for assignment. Alas, it has been another former Padre that has picked up the slack.

After dislocating his right ankle in late June of 2021, it wasn't clear what sort of role Josh Naylor would play for the Guardians this season. Remarkably though, he not only came back just a week after opening day but has put together a career season. Overall, the 25-year-old has been 23% above league-average with the bat (123 wRC+), and with slightly more launch in his batted-ball trajectory, his massive raw power is leading to him hitting for more power (9.6% barrel, 63rd percentile as well). Remember, this is a player who already makes a lot of contact (16.3% K), but now you add that to the improvements in power, and you get a much more complete offensive profile. In the middle of Cleveland's lineup, that'll work.

With Reyes being let go, someone had to step into his place as a direct replacement. In the end, that has been Oscar Gonzalez who showcased the combination of contact skills (14.3% K) and power (.224 isolated power/ISO) in Triple-A, and has continued to perform at a high level (121 wRC+) in his first 160 MLB plate appearances. Now, a decent portion of that is due to a very high .366 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but it's also true that his batted-ball quality (45% hard-hit, 30.8% flare/burner) as well his raw speed (90th percentile sprint speed) is going to lead to him posting naturally high BABIPs. ZiPs projects him for a .271/.296/.446 slash line the rest of the season (108 wRC+), which seems quite fair, especially for someone with as little pedigree as him. Clearly, the Guardians see something here they like, as they should for a player who hits the ball as hard as he does.

Both of these players hit in the thick of Cleveland's lineup, which is notable when they're set the play seven games this week, including four against a depleted Tigers pitching staff. This is a perfect time for them to continue to solidify their spot at the top of the AL Central, and that's going to come with strong offensive contributions. If all goes as planned, expect a lot of run production to go around from this entire lineup, but specifically from these two.

 

Christopher Morel, 2B/3B/OF, Chicago Cubs

41% rostered

Once upon a time, the Cubs were on top of the world, featuring a three-headed monster of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez to vault them into dynasty status. Unfortunately, that never quite came to fruition, and now the team is back in a re-tooling phase. While it's a tough time for the fanbase, it does open up the opportunity for their next core of young players to make a name for themselves, which is exactly what Cristopher Morel has done so far.

After a rough minor-league stint in 2021, the shine with Morel had seemingly fallen off, but he came out firing (147 wRC+) in Double-A this season, earning his promotion to the MLB level. Since then, he has not let off the gas, posting a 116 wRC+ and .260/.329/.454 slash line in his first 293 MLB plate appearances. The best part? This isn't just a flash in the plan. With a 13.4% barrel rate (90th percentile) and an elite .457 expected weighted on-base average on balls in play, the 23-year-old's quality of contact is next to none, and it's allowed him to succeed in spite of a high strikeout rate (29.4% K). Meanwhile, as someone who swings more in the zone and less outside the zone compared to league average, this isn't just a "one-trick pony;" he's a much more complete hitter than you'd imagine.

Projections aren't very high on Morel, but we have enough of a sample size by now to overlook that to some extent. In the end, Morel should hit for enough average and get on base at a reasonable clip, while hitting for tremendous power and stealing plenty of bases (9 already) in the process. Add in that multi-positional flexibility, and he's quite the appealing addition to your fantasy team, as well as simply someone Cubs fans can cater to. Chicago gets a seven-game week, including three against the Nationals and one against the Orioles, paving the way for Morel to continue his surge. This is a very electric player and one that folks in the Windy City definitely can enjoy as they wait to get back to the top.

 

Ramon Urias, 2B/3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles

31% rostered

Want extra optimism, Cubs fans? You never know when your window can open up. I mean, just ask the Orioles. In the midst of a complete teardown in which they replenished their farm system, the Orioles, who finished with the worst record in baseball, were not expected to be competitive at all this season. All of the sudden, they're right in the thick of the AL wildcard race, and that is thanks to the contributions they are getting from several different players.

Considering he signed with the Texas Rangers at 16 years old, Ramon Urias probably did not imagine it would take him more than a decade to get an extended look at the MLB level. However, better late than never, as they say. Over 627 career MLB plate appearances, the 28-year-old has been above league-average offensively (109 wRC+) and will continue to see everyday playing time for the Orioles thanks to strong defense and infield versatility.

Notably, especially for not an imposing player (6'0", 190 pounds), Urias hits for plenty of power (9.7% barrel, 47.2% hard-hit), and that has come with not that many strikeouts (22.7%) as well. Need more reason for optimism? Since May 1, he has posted a 120 wRC+, 11.4% barrel rate, and .262/.307/.486 slash line. Yep, that'll work. Baltimore will get to chance to feast this week with six of the seven starting pitchers they face projected for a FIP over 4.00 from Fangraphs Depth Charts projections, and Urias can be a key piece of the puzzle. Will that ultimately lead to a postseason berth? Only time will tell, but how can you not be excited about what's going on in Baltimore?

 

Harold Castro, 1B/2B/3B/SS, Detroit Tigers

3% rostered

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the Detroit Tigers, who after finishing with a winning record following the first month of 2021, believed that they were ready to contend for a postseason spot. Instead, they're nearly 30 games below .500, and consequently, made the decision to relieve general manager Al Avila of his duties. Right now, it's hard to find any sort of optimism in Detroit, especially with Tarik Skubal now on the injured list.

So, what can keep Tiger fans tuning in? Well, the hope would be that a few players emerge as potential contributors for next season. Speaking of which, can we talk about Harold Castro's positional versatility? So far this season, the 28-year-old has lined up at first base, third base, shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. I mean, that is simply remarkable! Plus, it certainly helps when you're performing at an above-average clip (105 wRC+).

Interestingly, Castro's offensive numbers are suppressed by a 4.5% walk rate, which depending on your fantasy baseball format, may not affect his value much. Rather, this is a hitter who has consistently run high BABIPs and is projected by ZiPs to hit .279 the rest of the way, while he's showing more power (6.8% barrel) than ever. Meanwhile, he's also making more contact (19.2% whiff, 82nd percentile) than ever, thus leading to a career-low 17.8% strikeout rate. There's a chance he's putting it all together to be the best version of himself possible, which has to hold some notable intrigue.

Sure, Castro isn't going to hit 20+ home runs or steal any bases. What we will do, though, is hit for a high average while hitting in a very favorable lineup position (cleanup), while also being eligible at four different positions. Especially with Detroit playing seven games, including a favorable schedule against the Guardians and Angels, that's quite appealing. Sometimes, the "boring pick" is the best one. I mean, we need something at stake to watch some Tigers games, right? Here's hoping the organization can get back on track soon.



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Hello everybody and welcome! The 2022 NFL season is underway and that means our friends over at PrizePicks have a TON of great DFS plays we can look to take advantage of. PrizePicks is a great DFS site where you can choose to select plays in terms of fantasy points or single stats. The goal... Read More


Week 4 DraftKings NFL DFS Lineup Picks (2022): Break The Slate

Hello RotoBallers and welcome back to Break The Slate, our DraftKings NFL DFS Lineup Picks for Week 4! I appreciate you joining me in our season-long quest to find the best plays at each position for every DraftKings Main Slate. After a Week 3 slate that was heavy on marquee matchups and projected points, we... Read More


NFL Betting Picks for Week 4 - Best Bets, Expert Odds and Predictions

We fell an extra point away from a 2-0 week last Sunday. The Detroit Lions offense has proven to be very capable thus far, despite some underlying stats that hint to me it isn't sustainable (aka going 3-for-16 on third down). The Panthers' defense bailed out another weak offensive performance by Baker Mayfield and co.... Read More


NFL DFS Must Avoids and Injuries for Week 4 (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to our weekly Must Avoids and Injuries series for our NFL DFS Premium Subscribers.  Below, you'll find our expert's top players to avoid this week and a snapshot of the injuries that matter heading into the DFS main slate. We're looking at the... Read More


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Daily NBA Injury Roundup for September 30th, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for September 30th, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Must Have Late Round Picks For Fantasy Basketball (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. In this article, I'll be going over some late round picks that I see as must-haves this year in fantasy basketball. All... Read More


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Top 10 Fantasy Basketball Rookies For Redraft (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. Do you know which rookie finished as the highest-ranked player in 9-category leagues last season? Scottie Barnes? Nope. Evan Mobley? Wrong. Franz... Read More


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Thunder Dan's Fantasy Basketball 9-Cat Specialists (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. Here I want to highlight my favorite 9-cat specialists, players who can contribute across the board in all of the nine categories... Read More


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Thunder Dan's Breakout Players to Target in 2023 Fantasy Basketball (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Thanks for grabbing our NBA Draft Kit for the 2022-2023 season, you're not going to regret it! I'm thrilled to be helping out with our premium content this year and bringing you my rankings, favorite 9-cat studs, and breakout players. Some of these players... Read More


Fantasy Basketball Category Studs: Blocks And Steals

Blocks and steals, the two defensive stats used in typical category leagues, may seem secondary but they are just as important to manage as rebounds or assists, and they should not be overlooked. Yes, it feels cool to grab all the guys who can score points and average double-doubles, but if you aren't rostering players... Read More


Thunder Dan's 2023 Draft Rankings: Fantasy Basketball

I am quite possibly more excited for this NBA season than I have been for any previous season since I was a kid. I grew up watching the golden age of the NBA in the '80s and '90s and have been an NBA fan ever since. But this season is hopefully going to be like... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 3)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More


Alex Burns' 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I know what you're probably thinking."Fantasy basketball rankings in September? We haven't even begun training camp. Does he have nothing better to do with his time?" While I do find myself suffering from significant boredom during the NBA offseason, I want to clarify one thing: It is NEVER too early to begin discussing fantasy hoops.... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 2)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 1)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Forwards (Part 3)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More