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Happy middle of July, RotoBallers! I don't know about you, but it's getting real hot. Both outside and on the MLB trade wire. Moves are being discussed as we speak, which means I need to get this up and in front of your eyes ASAP or all this great advice that will definitely help you win your league could be useless or at least less than helpful. It's hard enough to keep up with trade talks and the rumor mill, but Rotoballer is here to wade through all the conjecture and give you real, actionable advice.

We'll continue our dive into the hottest and most interesting options largely available on waiver wires across the country. And since it's July, we'll be getting prospects into the mix more regularly. You scouting hounds will no doubt recognize many of the names listed over the first couple of weeks, but keep checking back as I've got quite a few sleepers that will be interesting come late August.

Here are your Week 16 Outfield Waiver Wire Targets. Check out the rest of RotoBaller.com for the content you need to win, and don't forget to follow our team of analysts on Twitter. We have the moves you need to make to get that ring. Happy hunting!

Editor's Note: Our friends at RTSports have best ball leagues with no in-season management. Just draft your team, and that's it! Use your phone for this casual draft by getting emails or texts when you're on the clock. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 16 Outfield Waiver Wire Targets

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN) - 22% owned

Cincinnati’s Jesse Winker has continued his impressive performance at the plate from the past month, showing surprising pop and walking more than striking out. He’s built up a fair amount of trust in a Red’s lineup that has dealt with more than its fair share of flux. At this point, he deserves to be owned in all leagues, and has become extremely valuable in leagues that use OBP and penalize strikeouts.

This is all old news at this point. One interesting note that may predict even greater performance is the shrinking platoon split. Despite being one of the most gifted pure hitters, Winker has shown a pretty dramatic weakness to lefty arms. For his career, Winker has a putrid .188/.309/.300 on 90 at-bats versus southpaws and a sparkling .324/.420/.508 against righties. He hits for much more power, with 12 of his 14 career bombs coming against the strong side, and has an even BB/K rate. But over the last month the 24-year-old has shown signs of figuring it out, with an impressive .278/.381/.444 over 21 plate appearances. It’s possible that this is an aberration and he’s still not getting consistent looks against lefties, but the eye test confirms that he’s taking better at-bats against that side of the rubber.

If he continues to grow and improve this part of his game, Winker could grow into one of the best hitters in baseball, full stop. The .563/.650/.938 with four walks and a homer over 20 plate-appearances show what he’s capable of.

Max Kepler (OF, MIN) - 21% owned

I’m one of the few remaining Max Kepler fans in the fantasy community, or at least that’s what it feels like. He, admittedly, has one of the strangest profiles in baseball. He continues to be very effective against left-handed, but struggles against the strong side put him at risk of losing at-bats to one of the Twins’ very talented hitters in the minors. All that said, Kepler is a potent power bat that has improved his approach at the plate dramatically, posting an 11% walk rate and just a 15.4% strikeout rate. What is most odd about Kep is his consistently BABIP, .263 for his career and just .246 this season so far. For a guy who has dropped his groundball rate from 42.8% a year ago to 38.5% in 2018, raised his flyball rate from 39.5% to 45%, and has a HR/FB rate of just 8.5% despite an ISO of .174 and good hard hit rates, 10 home runs and a .228/.312/.402 line seem low. The 25-year-old looks like he’s either just missing or getting incredibly unlucky. If you’re hungry for some buy-low pop that could pay dividends in the second half and cost you basically nothing, Kep might be your answer.

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB) - 19% owned

Here’s a guy I didn’t expect to ever include in this article at this point in the season, only because I figured he was way too proven a commodity to ever drop low enough to be featured. But, an awful season line of .172/.257/.281 and a busted thumb later, and fantasy owners have given up en masse on the Rays’ 28-year-old star. Kiermaier has been unquestionably bad this year, looking overmatched and underpowered in nearly every way, and the stats support what the eye test says. KK’s approach seems to have deteriorated, his pop has disappeared, and he can’t get on base enough to put his wheels to work.

All that said, this looks eerily similar to a season ago, when the dreamiest eyes in baseball came out of the gate like a slug, went on the mend for an extended period of time, and ultimately returned to fantasy stardom. It’s the not the kind of recipe you look to recreate year over year, but maybe KK has found himself a lane. He’s yet to show any signs of positive regression to his old power/speed combo offerings, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming. Anyone looking for the kind of profile he provided in the second half of 2017, namely .306/.352/.517 with eight homers and six steals, could make worse bets.

Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD) - 2% owned

I can’t front, I’m a huge fan of Alex Verdgo. He’s exactly the kind of ballplayer I love to watch. Makes great contact, drives the ball, can make something out of nothing at the plate, doesn’t strike out much, loves to lace line drives into the gaps, has enough speed to play even at the bigs. It’s all there for me, and I can’t wait to see where he ends up.

Where he ends up is kind of the story here. It would surprise no one if the Dodgers made a move for an established star, with Manny Machado at the top of their wish list. Whatever upgrade they eventually make, Verdugo is likely to be involved as he represents their best hitting prospect by a fair margin (in my humble opinion). Therefore, Verdugo’s stock looks primed to rise dramatically for the second half.

This season, the 22-year-old has made a mockery of AAA, going .350/.395/.521 while striking our just 13.8% of the time and launching eight homers. The game looks way too easy for him, and the power hiding in his young frame is just starting to bubble up to the surface. There’s 25 home run power in there as his body matures, and I’m jumping in early.

Jordan Luplow (OF, PIT) - 0% owned

Speaking of power speed combos, here’s one you’ve likely never heard of. In fact, this guy is so under the radar, I typed his entire profile before I realized I was using the wrong name!

Martin Luplow had an 87 plate appearance cup of coffee with Pittsburgh a season ago, and has now taken 10 plate appearances in 2018. In case you haven’t noticed, the Pirates aren’t likely to morph into contenders anytime soon, so now is the time to start looking at the talented youngsters in line to snag at-bats.

Luplow has shown marked improvement in the speed department each season, and scouting reports paint a picture of a smart ballplayer who is willing to take what the opposition gives him. He’s quick and athletic enough to make it work in the majors, but his calling card is his power. He has above average raw power and bat speed, but a pull happy approach makes scouts wonder if it’ll ever fully translate. Despite the questions, the power is very legit, and the 26 dingers he provided across three levels in 2017 prove that point. Just today, Luplow launched a pair of solo shots across four at-bats.

I personally am a sucker for guys that have an MLB-ready skill, have performed in the minors despite not being considered a “prospect”, and are heady enough to make adjustments on the fly. I’ll be grabbing Luplow in a couple of deep leagues to see how he does, and if you’ve got the bench space and are desperate it might be worth pulling the trigger.

Willians Astudillo (OF/C/2B/3B, MIN) - 0% owned

Well, that was fast. Saw five at-bats this week. Didn't get a hit and struck out once. Also somehow gave up five runs over an inning on the mound against the Rays. Johnny Field, he is not.

 

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