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Week 17 Waiver Wire - First Base (1B) and Third Base (3B)

It is week 17 and the All-Star break has passed. Don’t become complacent, regardless of your place in the standings. You don’t need to manage your active roster the next few days so take this opportunity to clean things up. Spend some time rummaging through the waiver wire to find assets to assist your endeavors. Consider making a couple of moves to keep your team competitive.

The corner infield spots generally offer power bats. However, waiver wire players come with as much downside as they do upside and these power bats could come with mediocre averages. In this article, I’ll discuss waiver wire targets for first base and third base in week 17. This week we cover a broader range of players, but the old guys, out-of-favor guys, and rebound guys from last week are still available and recommended.

Key points - the primary focus of this list is on players who are owned in less than 50% of leagues. Below are some names that might be available. I've included the recent performance below as well, so you can compare and make a better selection.

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Week 17 Corner Infield (CI) Waiver Wire Targets

Josh Bell (1B, PIT) 46% owned

Josh Bell is a 25-year-old switch hitter that produces in opposite fashion than one would expect from a guy that hits from both sides of the plate. Bell hits for power from the right side as all five of his homers have been generated there. He hits for average (.295) from the left side of the plate. Over the last 14 days, Bell continues to lack power but does have nine runs and six RBI with a .424 batting average.

Bell has incredible plate discipline with an impressive 11.7% walk rate and a 17.8% strikeout rate.  However, he is swinging at more pitches outside of the zone (28.4%), but making contact with less (67.6%) than he did in his rookie season. Bell’s slash line for the season of .267/.350/.402 isn’t remarkable, but he has turned it on in the last 30 days with a slash line of .351/.437/.500. The Pirates have a rough start to the week in Cleveland but will benefit from a home series against the Mets. Bell doesn’t have the best schedule this week but he is a definite add in deep and dynasty leagues.

Yonder Alonso (1B, CLE) 30% owned

Sitting on the waiver wire is a power bat capable of 30+ homers in an offensively talented lineup. There is no reason why Yonder Alonso should be sitting in the free-agent pool. Keep in mind though, just because the Indians start him doesn’t mean you should blindly have him in your lineup. In the stock market, you shouldn’t ever try to time the market. Similarly, you shouldn’t try to time the production of fantasy players. But, you can increase your odds by starting Alonso against right-handed pitchers (.277 AVG). Contrarily, he is only hitting .208 against southpaws, admittedly with a .235 BABIP.

The main attraction for Alonso is his power, which stems from a 39.2% hard hit rate with a 40.7% fly ball rate. His walk (9.2%) and strikeout rates (21.4%) are respectable and not reasons for skepticism. Also, he is turning up the production levels recently. Alonso has four homers and 17 RBI to go with a .292 batting average in the last 30 days. It is true Alonso isn’t an everyday player, which necessitates daily management. However, if you can control when you play him, Alonso has a chance to be a valuable contributor. There are four right-handers on the schedule this week with home series against the pirates and a road series against the Tigers. Alonso might put a couple over the wall while the offense continuously runs around the bases against oppenents.

Matt Chapman (3B, OAK) 32% owned

Matt Chapman is a prime candidate in head-to-head leagues.  He will give you premium power but it also comes with some strikeouts that does not affect H2H leagues as much. Additionally, Chapman might have the best schedule of any corner infielder.

You do not need to worry about his splits as Chapman is performing mediocre across the board. Chapman has a .247 batting average against lefties and a .256 average against right-handed pitchers. Even the location isn’t a factor as he is hitting .239 at home and .266 on the road. His 10.3% walk rate will compensate for his 23.3% strikeout rate. Chapman is smacking the snot out of the ball with a 43.6% hard hit rate but he has moved away from his fly ball rate of 2017 (50.4%). He has traded fly balls (38.2%) for increased line drives (22.1%) as evidenced by his 17 doubles already this season. He only had 23 in all of 2017. Chapman will have an opportunity to get back to what he does best (power) in very hitter-friendly locations in Texas and Colorado. Enjoy.


Others Worth Mentioning

Some of these corner infielders were mentioned in the last week’s column, yet remain under-owned due to inactivity during the All-Star break.

Jake Bauers (1B, TB) 17% owned

Last 14 days: 11 runs, three HR, nine RBI, one SB, .279 AVG

The rookie continues to show why he should be taken seriously but his ownership levels continue to demonstrate he is underestimated. Bauers has started to make adjustments at the plate and just let loose, increased both his fly ball rate (33%) and hard hit rate (45.6). He is a great addition in OBP leagues with a 14% walk rate. The Rays start the week at home against the Yankees followed by a more favorable matchup on the road against the Orioles.

Greg Bird (1B, NYY) 44% owned

Last 14 days: six runs, three HR, 14 RBI, .297 AVG

News of an incoming replacement has a remarkable effect on some players. The idea of the Yankees looking for first-base help at the trade deadline seems to have lit a fire under Greg Bird. In the last 30 days, he has a 34.8% hard-hit rate with a 52% fly ball rate. Also, a .244 BABIP could forecast an improvement in a .217 AVG. As long as he has the spot there will continue to be opportunities in the dynamic Yankees offense, even hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. The schedule this week starts on the road against Tampa Bay, with the only lefty forecasted, Blake Snell, followed by a home series against Kansas City.

Albert Pujols (1B, LAA) 41% owned

Albert Pujols will be returning soon from the disabled list (knee inflammation). Don't presume the 38-years-old slugger is finished. He is still hitting the ball hard and in a lineup that can produce runs. Pujols has home games against the White Sox and Mariners.

Maikel Franco (3B, PHI) 46% owned

Last 14 days: six runs, three HR, seven RBI, .270 AVG

Franco has improved upon his plate discipline and the ownership levels continue to increase slowly. It appears the once highly-touted prospect might finally be coming through on some of those promises or at the very least becoming a reliable third baseman. He has a schedule of home games against the Dodgers and a road series in Cincinnati.


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