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Outfield Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 1

The season has officially begun and managers are already ravaging through the waiver wire for various reasons. Some are overreacting and contemplating rash decisions. Let us help you before you do anything drastic.

Aside from stars and scrubs, there hasn’t been enough time to determine if your current options in the outfield will provide the production you sought when you acquired them in the offseason. If you are proactive and want to initiate movement, we will help you jump into the fray a little smarter. If you’re looking to replace injured players like Justin Upton, Aaron Hicks, and Starling Marte or even looking to find the latest hot item to own or flip (trade) for increased value, these outfielders will get you going in the right direction.

Even in the first week, ownership can change quickly. Be quick to check your leagues for their availability. While there are best matchups included for some players, past performance does not guarantee future success. In most cases, it is best to see which sided pitchers the player hits well. Key points - this list will focus on players who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. When you want to chat it up regarding outfielders, prospects, or dynasty leagues, message me directly on Twitter @EllisCan2.

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Outfield (OF) Waiver Wire Options

Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) — 19% Owned

Gardner’s best attribute is that he hits atop the Yankees potent lineup. To give some context of how beneficial that is, the Yankees led the league in homers last year (267). They had 821 RBI, second to only the World Series Champion Red Sox (829).

In 2018 Gardner hit 12 homers and stole 16 bases. That’s right, even at 35 years of age, he is picking them up and putting them down fast enough to help in your steals category. Hitting in front of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Gardner will not need to steal much. However, the big men could demand most of the pitcher's attention that Gardner can work his way towards accomplishing my bold prediction of 15 homers/20 steals.

Gardner has a very nice schedule this week with three games at home against the Tigers followed by three games in Baltimore. He has the pleasure of seeing five right-handed pitchers and only one lefty. Last year Gardner batted .239 against lefties and .235 against right-handers. But over his career, he is better against righties (.264 AVG). So, given the opponents, the slot in the lineup, and the favorable pitching matchup, Gardner is definitely a grab for this upcoming week.

Best Matchups (according to historical performance):
BAL: Bundy (20AB-.300) - Saturday


Shin-Soo Choo (OF, TEX) — 44% Owned

No love for the Korean sensation. Why? I don't know, but I have a feeling ageism is involved. People glance at the name and think, "Damn, he's been around too long to be still viable." Dum-Dums. Yep, the pack of lollipops/suckers you buy for your kid but end up eating most of them. Let other managers be the suckers who passed on Choo and allowed you to pick him up.

Choo bats leadoff and carries a quality OBP (.377). The Rangers offense is young but improving. Choo has proven that he can still keep up, hitting at least 21 homers in three of the last four years. He ranked 48th in the league with an 11.1% Barrels per Batted Ball Event. Also, he may not have the legs he did in his youth, but he still contributed six in 2018, a drop from 12 the year prior.

While he might not have the legs he did in his youth, his home park will help the 36-year-old maintain his youthful spirit. Globe Life Park ranks as the third-best homer-friendly venue in baseball. Choo takes on the Astros at home before traveling to LA to face the Angels. He will face off against six righties and one left-hander. If you can be selective, I’d make sure to avoid his start against Verlander (79AB-.190). Otherwise, do well ageless wonder. (잘하세요)

Best Matchups (according to historical performance):
HOU: Peacock (17AB-.294) - Monday / Cole (8AB-.375) - Wednesday
LAA: Skaggs (14AB-.500) - Saturday


Jake Bauers (1B/OF, CLE) — 40% Owned

In his first look at major league pitching, Bauers hit 11 homers with six stolen bases in 323 at-bats and barely tiptoed above a .200 batting average in 2018, albeit with a .252 BABIP. In the process, his strikeout rate skyrocketed to 27% as well. He might be best suited to stay away from the pull-side (51%), fly ball revolution and get back to using the whole field. Also, for the last four years in the minors, Bauers had a swinging strike rate as high as 9.5% and as low as 7.1%. However, in his first big league experience, it bumped up to a league-average 11%.

In the offseason, Bauers changed venues, moving to a location that has an opportunity at both the outfield and first base. While not a sign of future placement in the lineup, Bauers started opening day batting sixth in the order. With Francisco Lindor out due to injury, the hope is that he will get some chances to hit higher in the lineup. Bauers and the Indians will be the hosts all week. First, they get the White Sox for two games before a four-game series against the Blue Jays. During that time Bauers will see at least four right-handers and two southpaws. This mix is beneficial for him as he does hit better against right-handers, likey even better against these poor starters. Bauer is a solid addition as he provides both power and speed.


Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) — 49% Owned

Renfroe gives you the power you like with 26 homers the last two seasons. He doesn’t destroy your batting average (.248). However, one reason he is sitting on half the waiver wires is the playing time concerns. Because the Padres brought in Manny Machado and bought the option of Fernando Tatis Jr, there are fewer spots to rotate players. This forces musical outfield spots amongst Wil Myers, Franchy Cordero (2% owned), Franmil Reyes (48% owned), Manuel Margot (23% owned), and Renfroe. That is too much talent to force someone to ride the pine. Unfortunately, the situation will persist until the Padres trade one of their outfielders in exchange for better pitching (ahem, Cleveland).

The Padres are home against the Diamondbacks before they travel to St. Louis. The team faces off against five right-handers and one left-handed pitcher. Generally, Renfroe is better against lefties but he improved to a nearly-league-average of .245 in 2018 against right-handers. Also, 18 of his homers were against righties. So, the cards are matched up for him to be successful this week. Manager Andy Green needs to feel the same way to put Renfroe’s name on the lineup card instead of keeping him in a platoon.

Best Matchups (according to historical performance):
ARI: Greinke (12AB-.333) - Tuesday


Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA) — 4% Owned

A rollercoaster 2018 may have provided an opportunity for Calhoun to resurrect his fantasy goodness and also give the proactive fantasy owner a chance to pay nothing for his services. Last year was poor for him, but an injury at mid-season gave him an opportunity to fix his swing. He came back and hit .322 in July and .274 in August. We cannot throw out his performance in September (.125), but the hope is that he used the offseason to get consistent reps with the things that worked for him in the two best months. While spring training is not a reliable indicator, it was nice to see him hit .327 with a couple of homers.

Calhoun will play two games in Seattle before returning home to face the Rangers. He doesn’t have much of a split, but he does do better against righties over his career (.257) and will face four of them and only two left-handers.


Tread Lightly

Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) — 12% Owned

Recency bias is strong. If you don't believe me, go to your waiver wire and see the ownership level of Pederson now, as opposed to when this article was written. With two homers in the Dodgers Opening Day game, I'd venture that it has risen quite a bit. Do I believe he has suddenly become the ambassador of moonshots, just crushing it? Nope. He is an example of the better side of a platoon.

It is tough to trust a guy against lefties with a track record of .170 (2018), .204 (2017), .125 (2016), and .216 (2015) the last four years. However, I won’t deny Pederson’s impressive feat of hitting at least 25 homers in three of the last four years. If you’re in daily moves, you get two very good chances to play him when he takes on two right-handers in Colorado. He also faces one other at home against the Giants.


Bonus Pickup

Kike Hernandez (1B/2B/SS/OF, LAD) — 36% Owned

I know this one is out of position, but at the same time, it is not. Hernandez is the starting second baseman for the Dodgers but has plenty of positional eligibility, including the outfield. Take advantage of that and find a way to get him on your team. Like his Dodger brother mentioned above, Hernandez already has two deposits over the wall this year, and subsequently, his stock will be rising as well. It shouldn't be this low in the first place, especially for a guy in an offense that will score plenty of runs — likely the bandwagon will be crowded by the time you read this.

As a utility player, Hernandez was able to accrue 21 homers in 2018, which earned him the starting job at the keystone. Similar to Pederson though, he too has had issues with same-sided pitchers (righties) but improved against them in 2018 to a decent .252 AVG. Now you can start him and know he will play all six games next week, with three games at home against the Giants before a juicy road trip to play the Rockies at Coors Field.

Best Matchups (according to historical performance):
SF: Bumgarner (39AB-.487) - Tuesday


Grab For The Future

Gregory Polanco (OF, PIT) — 47% Owned

Polanco is recovering from shoulder surgery and seems to have become a forgotten man. He is a power/speed guy that was highly touted as a prospect. Unfortunately, he has had a series of false-starts to start his MLB career with routine nagging injuries.

In 461 at-bats in 2018, he hit a career-high 23 homers to go with 12 stolen bases. He is starting 2019 on the Injured List, but he has already started playing in minor league games. Polanco was expected to be out until mid-May, but his progress might allow him to return sooner. Ensure that he isn’t sitting on your waiver wire, especially if you have IL/DL spots in your league.

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