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Welcome Rotoballers. Week 7 is on the way, and with it we're one step closer to completing our second month of the season. By now, we're starting to accrue enough data that advanced statistics become more usable for analysis. This is an exciting time when we learn who's gains in contact percentage and ISO are real, and who is just a mirage. We don't deal in mirages at Rotoballer, we see through the distractions. Only quality players bring fantasy glory.

And because we're looking for glory, the training wheels are off. No longer is 50% ownership the threshold for consideration. From now on, we're operating at a minuscule 35%. That means more obscure sleepers, more unfamiliar names, and more opportunities to learn about players you would've never thought could help your team to the trophy.

And remember, ballers don't wait. Ballers make moves. Money moves in fact, hat tip to Cardi B. Ballers don't care about the name on the back of the jersey. Ballers only care about the numbers next to the name. Let your competition go out of their way to acquire last year's studs. You're a baller, and you're too busy getting W's with guys your leaguemates have never heard of. Here are your week 7 outfield waiver wire targets.

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Week 7 Outfield Waiver Wire Targets

Max Kepler (OF, MIN) - 27% owned

Minnesota Twins’ outfielder Max Kepler has flown relatively under the fantasy radar this season, but the 25-year-old has made some encouraging signs of improvement. And while Kepler had a less than inspiring week, hitting just .190 with a home run, the season long production and projection forward is worth discussing.

Kepler has made gains in almost every relevant hitting metric. His line of .264/.348/.488 is up from .243/.312/.425 in 2017, and his ISO of .224 is up from .182. Kepler has raised his hard hit percentage by 11% while making significantly more contact, and is walking nearly as often as he’s striking out. He’s morphing himself into an OBP machine with above-average power, a truly valuable commodity in today’s game. The biggest hole in Kepler’s game continues to be a split heavily favoring working against left-handers, but he’s made strides towards becoming more effective against right-handers.

Kepler brings significant upside to the lineup, with true 30 home run potential. He’s also a lineup mainstay who figures to continue to receive the bulk of the work in right field. He’s an ideal candidate for the team in need of power and OBP, and if he’s owned in your league could be the kind of throw in to a trade that can swing the deal in your team’s favor.

 

Franchy Cordero (OF, SD) - 17% owned

Ok, seriously, this is getting a little nuts.

After weeks of touting Franchy Cordero’s credentials and performance, he’s still somehow owned in just 22% of all leagues. This is entirely unacceptable, and I blame all of you. Cordero, who still has the best name in baseball, has done everything in his power to impress you all enough to add him, even in your 10-team leagues. This week, he switched it up, hoping a little speed would entice owners to take off the wire. A pair of steals to go with three runs batted in and a .333/.379/.444 line on 29 plate appearances is just plain good. Yeah, he still strikes out a bit too much, but now we’re just picking nits. Franchy Cordero is a must add for all leagues. If you, dear Rotoballer, are in a league and don’t jump at the chance to add this delicious combo meal of power and speed, I question your dedication to your team. Now go and get Franchy this second!

 

Alen Hanson (OF/2B, SF) - 16% owned

When the Giants added former Pirates prospect Alen Hanson in the offseason on a minor league deal, no one batted an eye. Hanson had flamed out in Pittsburgh after sitting atop prospects lists for years. But the pop never developed, the hitting eye didn’t seem to translate, and the defense from both shortstop and second base left something to be desired. Hanson played out the remainder of the season with the rebuilding White Sox, producing a pedestrian line of .221/.262/.346 while striking out 22.2% of the time and stealing just 11 bases. By all accounts, Hanson had eclipsed his opportunity and would be left to catch on any roster he could in hopes of securing a bench role going forward.

Fast forward to week seven of the 2018 season, and the 25-year-old has been a revelation. From the second he stepped on the field with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, he looked like a different guy. Swinging the bat with authority, making better contact, and sporting an improved batting eye, Hanson collected three homers and six steals on a line of .403/.479/.661 with an ISO of .258 while walking more than he struck out. The Giants have now given him 52 major league plate appearances, and boy are they pleased. Four home runs, three steals, eight runs scored, and 12 runs batted in while hitting .298/.346/.638. Meanwhile, Hanson has produced an ISO of .340 while striking out just 15.4% of the time and raising his walk rate to 7.7%. Alen Hanson hasn’t just been producing like a good player, he’s producing like an elite player. Over the last week, he’s put up a pair of home runs with four runs, four runs batted in, a steal, a .304/.370/.652 line, and a 5-to-3 K/BB ratio.

There are legitimate approach changes to consider. Hanson is another proponent of the adjustment in launch angle, and after averaging a 33.6% flyball rate, he’s bumped that up to 42.5%. He’s also hitting the ball much harder, with a 40% hard hit rate versus a 23.4% career mark. Finally, the switch-hitter is pulling the ball like his life depends on it, with 55% of his hits going to his pull side. He’s also swinging outside of the zone less, making more contact overall, and has clearly benefited from being a touch more patient. There’s little in Hanson’s career production to suggest these stats are anything but fluke, but when you watch him and look a little more closely at the advanced stats on 2018, you see the possibility that this is for real. For me, he’s an add in all leagues on the chance that he’s figured something out, a speculative action worthy of a possible All-Star.

 

Jose Pirela (OF/2B, SD) - 12% owned

San Diego journeyman Jose Pirela came into 2018 as a popular sleeper, but has thus far disappointed. After punching 10 home runs on a .202 ISO in just 344 plate appearances. He was a surprise, effective middle infield/outfield option for fantasy owners down the stretch run, and draftees hoped the changes that spurred the improvements would continue into this season. Thus far, Pirela has provided none of the pop owners enjoyed a year ago, and his counting stats have led something to be desired. The 28-year-old has a line of .270/.328/.350, with the slugging in particular dropping precipitously from .490 in 2017. But, over the last couple of weeks Pirela has shown signs of life, hitting .370/.414/.444 over 29 plate appearances. The downside is that his BABIP over that stretch sits at a meaty .500 and his ISO at a miniscule .074, signaling coming regression. That said, Pirela does bring solid on-base skills and has a history of going on hot streaks. If you need some help with average or are in a dire injury situation, consider Pirela a good fill-in option with some upside. If he fulfills that upside, he may make a decent trade chip to acquire some better talent.

 

Johnny Field (OF, TB) - 0% owned

The official mascot of the Rotoballers outfield waiver wire is back, even though it was a quiet week for our favorite Create-A-Player. Field only accrued seven at-bats this week, collecting a pair of hits and a run. As such, Field is still a deep league option at the moment, but he’s still performing consistently whenever he gets into the lineup. The 26-year-old is actually showing elite hitting ability against left-handers, so the possibility that he becomes a primary platoon option remains. While it doesn’t really matter to fantasy owners, Field threw an inning of scoreless relief in a 17-1 drubbing at the hands of the Orioles. Always nice to know that your fringy player has a few extra tricks to help him stay in the majors.

 

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