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Week 4 Outfield Waiver Wire Targets


May is nearly upon us, Rotoballers, and your chance to pick up the best waiver wire targets is becoming thinner by the day. Outfield continues to be the most plentiful and still most competitive group to identify and grab the best available for the long haul. With so many spots to fill, finding the true asset among the chaff will put fantasy owners in a sweet spot as the season progresses.

As always, Rotoballer is looking for adds for both shallow and deep leagues, but don't let the deep targets pass you by if you're in a 10 or 12-teamer. A productive player is a productive player, regardless of their name, draft position, or, in one specific case, previous history. Names don't matter, only numbers.

With that said, here are the outfielders with numbers that made us double take over the last week. If you've got the roster space and good waiver position, any of these guys would make fine additions for your shallow or deep league. Don't get comfortable, don't stop adding, and always look for that baller move edge. Here are the week 4 outfield waiver wire targets.

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Week 4 Outfield Waiver Wire Targets

Brandon Belt (OF/1B, SF) - 47% owned

Don't say we didn't warn you. After two straight weeks on this column, Belt blew up. Over the last week, the first baseman knocked 4 home runs, 6 runs batted in, 5 runs, and a .368 average on just 19 at-bats. For good measure, he even produced the longest at-bat in major league history of 21 pitches! While that epic plate appearance didn't actually yield a hit, it's actually more telling for his season-long performance than the pop produced over the last week.

Belt is seeing the ball extremely well, and making great contact when he's at the plate. And, as we've mentioned in the past, when he connects with the ball, it's coming off the bat harder than it has in his entire career. Belt has always been a wildly underrated player due to the lack of counting stats, but this may be the year that this is put to rest. Still available in more than half of fantasy leagues, if he's out there, don't wait.

 

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - 32% owned

Mallex Smith, the diminutive Rays center fielder, is still raking. Over the last week, Smith has hit 7-for-21 with four more runs and another steal. He hits for almost zero power, but remains a solid three-category producer. His value will be capped as the season wears on due to the lack of pop in the Rays lineup, but he just keeps hitting. It's not a totally empty average, either, as Smith has true 80-grade speed and can steal 30 bags easily. He's this generation's Rajai Davis, and he's going to be getting all the run at center with Kevin Keirmaier on the mend and the Rays tanking like it's their job.

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) - 28% owned

Boston's jack-of-all-trades outfielder has had a sub par 2018 thus far, but over the last week has shown signs of putting it all together. While his season line of .224/.316/.373 leaves a lot to be desired, he hit .300 with five runs batted in and his first two home runs on the year. His batting average on balls in play sits at a minuscule .241, more than 60 points below his career average. His batting line is bound to recover as that BABIP normalizes.

Bradley is hitting for solid contact and, at this point, below average pop. He's seeing the ball well and has improved over 2017, as 73.2% of his cuts are coming against pitches inside the zone. He's also making better contact on those pitches, to the tune of a career-best 83.7%. No one is expecting a rebound to his 2016 All-Star campaign level, but there's potential that Bradley's luck turns around and he becomes a solid contributor across the board while not hurting your average or strikeout metrics.

 

David Dahl (OF, COL) - 26% owned

A preseason favorite of mine, Dahl has been recalled to get run in left field in Colorado. At one time, Dahl was mentioned among the most exciting prospects in baseball, but a run of bad luck on the injury front has reduced the shine on the talented outfielder. Now, he returns to the Rockies hoping to recapture the magic that led to a .315/.359/.500 line across 237 at-bats in 2016.

No one really knows what Dahl will be while taking his first major league cuts after a disastrous rib injury cost him most of 2017. There's a real chance that the rib issue, plus a nasty stomach bug that made him lose 10 pounds, keep him from getting any power on his swing early. Dahl has also had some swing-and-miss to his game, and has been fairly dependent on a strong BABIP for that shiny .315 average. But for all of the potential faults, Dahl represents one of the most physically talented young players in baseball, with a speed and power combo that fantasy owners drool over. A 20/20 season is very realistic, with a lot of room to go beyond if his pop returns sooner. This will be the last chance owners have to jump on him, especially if he plays well.

 

Jason Heyward (OF, CHC) - 5% owned

Ok, ok, ok, I realize this one is a little nauseating. Many of us, including numerous Rotoballer staffers, have been badly burned by the once highly regarded prospect. And on that note, does anyone remember the level of hype surrounding Heyward's promotion in 2010? He was the next great superstar, in the same vein as guys like Ken Griffey Jr. A dynamo who could field with the best ever while providing elite power, 20-steal speed, and average near .300. He was a wunderkind. Unfortunately, the middle-of-the-order power never fully developed, the hit tool didn't completely translate, and Heyward has actually been more valuable for his glove than his bat. And, after a disastrous 2017 that saw the 28-year-old rack up 11 home runs and just 4 steals with a line of .259/.326/.389 across 481 at-bats. Both fantasy owners and the Chicago Cubs have found Heyward disappointing, to say the least.

Now, fast forward to three weeks into 2018, and (deep breath) Heyward looks pretty good. Across 72 at-bats, the outfielder has produced a line of .262/.352/.410 with a pair of homers, no steals, thirteen runs scored, and fourteen runs batted in. These numbers may seem a tad pedestrian, but there's a surprising amount of positive signs. For one, Heyward is striking out and walking at the exact same rate, 11.1% of his at-bats. Secondly, and take this with a grain of salt as these numbers don't tend to normalize until about 100 to 120 at-bats, Heyward is actually connecting with the third-highest hard hit percentage of his career. Finally, and this is the most interesting metric, Heyward is hitting fly-balls on a whopping 48.1% of contact, more than 16% over his career rate. So, to summarize, the Cub is making harder contact, better contact, and putting those balls in the air at a rate we've never seen from him. Luckily for fantasy owners, it'll no longer take a middle round pick to wait and see.

 

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