Another week in the books, and now is the time you can start to contemplate parting ways with that 20th-rounder who is hitting a paltry .087 on the season (not to name names or anything, Jose Reyes.) It's the time when struggling hitters may be sent to the DL and roster spots begin to open up faster than through the first two weeks. In other words, if fantasy baseball were the Masters, it would be Moving Day.
This week sees the addition of three new middle infield waiver wire targets for Week 3, while one name is cut and two names graduate. As always, the three new names will be highlighted in greater depth, with a few of the names from weeks past highlighted as well if need be. Friendly reminder, we are using Yahoo! ownership percentages and position eligibility.
On to the middle of the infield!Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Week 3 Middle Infield (MI) Waiver Wire Targets
Brandon Phillips (2B, ATL) - 28% owned
Phillips makes his debut on the Waiver Wire Targets list thanks to a .326/.380/.467 slash line to start the season. The 35-year-old made the move from Cincinnati to Atlanta this offseason and has looked rejuvenated in the process. More so than the slash line (which may be slightly inflated by a .350 BABIP), the four steals Phillips has are the best thing about his stat line right now. Phillips stole 14 bases in 2016, and he was especially strong in the second half, stealing 9-of-11. That makes 13 steals in the last 70 games for Phillips, and a season total in the 15-20 range is not out of the question in 2017. The 16-year veteran is a Stone Mountain High School (GA) graduate, and he seems to be loving the chance to play in front of his home crowd each night. While he may be susceptible to injuries at his advanced age, he is showing no sign of his 35 years right now, and he has plenty of value in most leagues.
Taylor Motter (SS/OF, SEA) - 4% owned
Motter is absolutely smoking the ball right now, and his stats show it. Before Monday night’s game, Motter had a line drive rate of 31.3 percent, a pull rate of 62.5 percent, and a hard hit ball rate of 50.0 percent. All three of those figures would have led all qualified hitters in 2016, and while we’re dealing with a week-long sample, it’s good to know the results have been legitimate. Motter has three home runs and four doubles through his first ten games, and he’s worth adding in any leagues where you need middle infield help. Motter is a little old for a true prospect (27), but that means he’s right at his prime age for hitting. He should keep this up for a bit while pitchers adjust. His value may disappear quickly once Jean Segura returns off the DL, so consider him a short-term add.
Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN) - 4% owned
Gennett may be lightly-owned for the time being, but that may not last long, as he could well be a helium free agent in the week-to-be. Outside of possessing one of the best names in all of baseball, Gennett also has one of the best batted ball profiles in all of baseball so far this season. Among players with at least 25 plate appearances, Gennett is one of only three hitters (Buster Posey and Seth Smith being the other two) to have a soft-hit contact rate of 0.0 percent right now. Gennett has been lining up the ball well all season, and he has a .308/.333/.731 slash line to show for it.
Gennett has three home runs in just ten starts, and while he won’t keep leaving the yard at that rate (30.0 percent HR/FB rate is more than triple his career rate), there’s still a lot to like. He is hitting .308 despite a BABIP of .250, which would suggest Gennett has actually been a bit unlucky this season. Gennett is also sporting a hard hit ball rate of nearly 40 percent, which would be by far a career high, and, when combined with a career-high fly ball rate, would suggest at least some of that HR total can stick around. He’s very lightly-owned, so we’re not suggesting you pick him up in ten-team mixed leagues, but in 14- or 16-team leagues where you’re in need of a move at middle infield, he’s quite interesting.
Chris Owings (SS/OF, ARI) - 69% owned
The man we highlighted last week for being so hot has continued his upward trend and went from not even on the Week 1 radar to graduated by Week 3. He is the Billy Madison of this series.
Yangervis Solarte (2B/3B, SD) - 60% owned
Solarte was on this list since the beginning, and now is actually owned in slightly too many leagues. Solarte is slugging just .396, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he swings back down below 50% ownership by next week.
Hold for Now
Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI) - 45% owned
Hernandez continues his upward trend in ownership, as he is up to three homers, 13 runs, and eight RBI. Hernandez added his first steal of the season on Sunday, and he is hitting .346 on the season. There’s a lot to like here.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, NYM) - 45% owned
Another two-week recommended pickup who has started well, Cabrera is slashing .286/.310/.429 through his first 13 games, and that is underscored by a batted ball profile that expects more of the same.
Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B/OF, PHI) - 40% owned
Kendrick isn’t going to be able to keep up his .333 batting average, but presuming it will drop to the levels of last season (.255) may be incorrect as well. This is a man who has hit below .285 just twice in his career, and just because one of those times was last season doesn’t mean he is trending that way entirely.
Marcus Semien (SS, OAK) - 37% owned
This hold is contingent upon you having a DL spot open. If you don’t have a DL spot open, you can probably part ways with the injured A’s shortstop in ten-team leagues. In slightly deeper leagues, if you don’t have a DL spot open, the length of his injury (at least six weeks) means you probably still have to let him go, unless that spot is opening up soon. All that said, Semien’s injury is almost good news for his owners. There were two numbers that were really standing out for Semien in the first few weeks of the season. He was sporting a 21.7 percent walk rate (7.8% career) and a 22.2 percent infield fly ball rate (8.4% career). That looks a lot like a player who was playing through injury - not wanting to swing and then not following through when he did swing. The hope that Semien is back to his normal HR/SB threat after he returns from the DL from his wrist injury is a fair one.
Ryan Schimpf (2B, SD) - 28% owned
For those who see Schimpf’s batting average (.139) and are scared away, just know that he’s sporting a .095 BABIP right now. He’ll be around .230 soon and the power (three home runs) won’t go anywhere.
Jorge Polaco (2B/3B/SS, MIN) - 14% owned
I still like a lot of Polanco’s overall profile, but he did damper my hopes a bit with a slow last week. He’s still slashing .289/.360/.422, but the line drive rate and hard hit ball rate aren’t quite where they were in the first week of the season.
Jed Lowrie (2B, OAK) - 4% owned
Lowrie is still not hurt (knock on wood), so I still suggest you pick him up.
Jose Reyes (3B/SS, NYM) - 20% owned
Last week we preached a bit of patience with Reyes, but also warned that there were indeed some rough stats that suggested his poor start was not merely bad luck. Well, now Reyes sits at 4-for-46 and it’s fair to part ways with him in all but the deepest of leagues. Most of what was said last week remains true, as his line drive rate is a paltry 9.4 percent and his hard hit ball rate (15.2%) is a far cry from his career average (24.4%). Reyes is striking out more than a quarter of the time, and he is suddenly looking a very aged 33. Unless you’re in an NL-only, feel free to release Reyes to the wolves.