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Welcome to week 12 of the fantasy baseball season. We’re continuing our mission to find you the best and brightest players with second base and shortstop eligibility. As noted last week, the own percentage of players are beginning to settle in, so this list may begin to have a bit less turnover, allowing us to go back and focus on a few of the names we wrote about in-depth earlier this season.

This week we’ll focus primarily on three new names because of two graduates and two in the Cut Bait section. As always, we’ll give updates on the returning names.

Friendly reminder, we are using Yahoo ownership percentages and position eligibility. On to the middle of the infield!

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Week 12 Middle Infield (MI) Waiver Wire Targets

Yangervis Solarte (SD, 2B/3B): 27% owned

Solarte is one of the hottest bats in baseball, and given the fact that his name has been on fantasy player’s radar before he may well be one of those one-week-and-graduated type players. He has four homers in his past four games and five homers in his past seven games. Over that time, he has brought what was a stagnant batting line up to a .268/.349/.425 slash line. Solarte has one of the best walk-to-strikeout ratios among batters in 2017, and he is still in for some more positive regression. His HR/FB rate (9.7 percent before Monday) is still lower than last season, and his BABIP (.272) is 11 points lower than his career rate and 34 points lower than last season. He’s a super solid option.

Ian Happ (CHC, 2B/OF): 18% owned

I’ve been avoiding Happ on this list out of a fear of not enough playing time for Happ, but he has now made six straight starts for the Cubs, and it appears as though he’s winning Maddon over more and more. Happ has hit three home runs over that stretch, and his .523 slugging percentage is quite impressive for a 22-year-old rookie. While he has succeeded at drawing walks and hitting home runs, his .215 batting average is troubling in standard leagues. Part of that is due to his lofty 32.8 percent strikeout rate, but he is also running a .254 BABIP despite a projected BABIP right around .300 and a minor league BABIP of well over .300. Happ’s line drive rate is a bit lower than his minor league stops, but the BA should bounce back enough to cancel out any regression that he is bound for with his 30+ percent HR/FB rate.

Eduardo Escobar (Min, 3B/SS): 10% owned

Escobar flies back onto this list thanks to a massive past seven days. Escobar collected 13 hits, two of which left the park, and tallied 11 RuBIns (runs+RBI). With the big week, Escobar is now sporting an excellent .296/.344/.486 slash line on the season, which equates to a wRC+ of 117. Escobar has been the fifth-best third baseman and third-best shortstop in fantasy baseball over the past 15 days (via ESPN Player Rater) and can contribute in nearly all fantasy categories. Escobar has seven homers and one steal in 44 games, and there seem to be legitimate improvements to his batting profile. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down, and he is hitting the ball harder than at any other season in his career. His line drive rate remains elite, and there aren’t many hitters in baseball better at avoiding soft contact. He’s a definite buy, even in some shallower leagues if necessary.



Brandon Drury (Ari, 2B/3B/OF): 46% owned

As was predicted last week, Drury was under the 40 percent ownership mark for only one week before folks added him enough to move him into the graduation tier.

Andrelton Simmons (LAA, SS): 41% owned

A four-steal week was enough to push enough owners into Simmons camp and over the 40 percent threshold. He was a staple of this list for a while and should still be owned in more leagues.


Keep Adding

Jed Lowrie (Oak, 2B): 25% owned

Lowrie has finally reached his peak at the top of the middle infield waiver wire “Keep Adding” section. He’s been on the list all season and has stayed healthy and productive. It’s very telling that he is owned in nearly twice as many ESPN leagues, despite ESPN usually catering to shallower leagues. Yahoo owners are just missing the boat on Lowrie.

Howie Kendrick (Phi, 1B/2B/3B/OF): 21% owned

Kendrick did most of his damage last Monday when he clearly had some sort of intel on Rick Porcello, as he stole three bases off the righty, but he tacked on a pair of multi-hit games over the weekend, and is producing as if it’s 2013 all over again. In fact, his BA and OBP would be career highs if maintained, and his SLG would be the second-best of his career.

Joe Panik (SF, 2B): 10% owned

Panik had a strong past week, collecting 10 hits, as his average is now up to .269 on the season. Panik may not be able to reach the lofty .300 BA of seasons past, but he should hover around .275-.280 for this season and he gets plenty of RuBIn opportunities as an everyday player for the Giants.

Whit Merrifield (KC, 2B/OF): 26% owned

Merrifield and Panik are basically on the same level right now, with Merrifield a bit higher-risk/higher-reward version if only because no one can be less-risk/less-reward than Panik. I tend to lean low-risk in deeper leagues which is why Merrifield is behind Panik here, but either is an acceptable move, and if you’re reaching in a shallower league, Merrifield is probably the better option.

Adam Frazier (Pit, 2B/OF): 11% owned/Jordy Mercer (Pit, SS): 7% owned

Frazier and Mercer remain strong NL-only candidates who should get regular at bats and plenty of hits for the Pirates, but really shouldn’t be owned in anything but quite deep leagues. Fun fact: the two are a combined 5-for-13 when attempting stolen bases in 2017. Well, maybe not so fun fact for their owners.


Last Chance

Chase Utley (LAD, 1B/2B): 3% owned

Utley had a quiet last week, and given that he is hitting below .250 on the season, he is on his last chance, despite the fact that his plate discipline and batted ball profiles suggest he should start getting a bit luckier sooner than later. At Utley’s age, he can’t afford the poor real-life numbers much longer.


Cut Bait

Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM, SS): 15% owned

Cabrera ended up back on the disabled list with a re-aggravation to the same wrist that cost him some time earlier this season. That is not a good sign at all.

Kolten Wong (StL, 2B): 4% owned

Wong landed on the 10-day DL with an injury to his right triceps, and given that he was reportedly struggling to even throw the ball, he could be out a lot longer than 10 days.


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