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Welcome to week 7 of the fantasy baseball season. We’re continuing our mission to find you the best and brightest players with second base and shortstop eligibility. As is always the case, we will say hello to three new names, while this week we bid adieu to three players all by way of the Cut Bait section (there were no graduates this week).

As noted last week, the own percentage of players are beginning to settle in, so this list may begin to have a bit less turnover, allowing us to go back and focus on a few of the names we wrote about in-depth earlier this season. This week we’ll still focus primarily on the three new names with updates on the returning eight.

Friendly reminder, we are using Yahoo ownership percentages and position eligibility. On to the middle of the infield!

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Week 6 Middle Infield (MI) Waiver Wire Targets

Neil Walker (NYM, 2B): 33% owned

Walker got off to a slow start this season, and owners were quick to flee, leading to a 34% ownership that allows him to be eligible for this list. Walker had an outstanding 2016 season, hitting .282 with 23 home runs, but owners were worried (with good reason) that his numbers might slide back a bit in 2017. So when he started slow, owners weren’t afraid to drop the 31-year-old. It will be interesting to see just how much potential owners buy into this new, hot-hitting Walker. Walker hit a pair of home runs last week and has had six multi-hit games just this month. With this recent hot stretch, his slash line and batted ball profile are quite similar to 2016 when he hit .269 with 16 homers for Pittsburgh. That’s a fair prediction for what to expect from Walker in 2017, and definitely still has value at the middle infield spot.

Devon Travis (Tor, 2B): 29% owned

Travis generated a lot of buzz before the season, and it is much more likely due to that buzz rather than his recent hot streak that he is still owned in over a quarter of leagues. Although, the recent hot streak is why he makes the list today. Travis has brought his slash line from .130/.193/.195 at the end of April to .195/.231/.317 after Monday’s game. That slash line still leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s easy to see that there has been lots of improvement in May. Travis has five multi-hit games in May, and his ten extra-base hits this month are already more than three times the number he had in all of April. Travis was bound for a fair amount of positive regression and it seems to be kicking in strong right now. Pick him up while he’s a hot bat, but keep him around after when he settles into the top-15 second baseman we thought he would be before the season.

T.J. Rivera (NYM, 1B/2B/3B): 7% owned

Rivera has carved out some nice playing time for himself in New York, thanks in part to an Asdrubal Cabrera injury (more on that in the Cut Bait section), but thanks in larger part to some nice success early on in his career. Rivera is hitting over .300 in his 23 games with the team this season, and with the bit of pop he has shown, his wRC+ is an impressive 131. While Rivera’s batting average has been propped up by a lofty BABIP, his line drive rate (24.2 percent) is elite and suggests that the future regression might not be that sharp. Imagining Rivera as a .285 hitter isn’t hard to do. Rivera should also get a bit luckier on his home run total sooner than later, as he has had just one of his 25 fly balls leave the yard this season. He’s not going to be a 20-HR hitter, but he should hit around a dozen if he sticks around for the season. Think of him as Joe Panik East. There’s great value there, especially in the oft-ignored batting average category.


Keep Adding

Tim Beckham (TB, 1B/2B/SS): 33% owned

Beckham had an almost the exact opposite week of what owners should expect from him going forward. Beckham had a strong batting average, but no home runs. Given his 8:1 strikeout to walk ratio, but his over 50 percent hard hit ball rate, expect the batting average to drop but the home runs to maintain his value.

Didi Gregorius (NYY, SS): 34% owned

Gregorius has been pretty solid in his return from a shoulder injury that kept him out until April 28. He has hit .297 with one homer and one steal, but more importantly he has been in the lineup each and every day, as the Yankees clearly have faith that he has no rust to shake off post-injury.

Jed Lowrie (Oak, 2B): 6% owned

One of these days fantasy baseball players will realize that Lowrie is healthy (37 of 38 games played) and thriving (wRC+ over 125), and when that day comes, his ownership will skyrocket. For now, I am content with my designation as captain of the S.S. Lowrie.

Kolten Wong (StL, 2B): 9% owned

Wong slips a bit in these rankings thanks to a 3-for-19 week, but he is still hitting the ball hard and managed to score four times last week despite the low hit total thanks to a strong St. Louis offense.

Ryan Schimpf (SD, 2B): 24% owned

Schimpf only had one homer among his four hits last week, a relative rarity seeing as nine of his 18 hits in 2017 have been of the home run variety. The continued long balls allow him to stay on rosters, especially in OBP leagues (more walks than hits this season for Schimpf).

Joe Panik (SF, 2B): 15% owned

Panik has really settled back into his “very good batting average, solid RuBins, decent pop, not-going-to-kill-you-but-also-not-going-to-win-you-a-league” archetype from seasons past. He’s a great value in deeper leagues as you can just set him and forget him in your starting lineup.

Taylor Motter (Sea, SS/OF): 10% owned

As noted in Monday’s Waiver Wire piece, Motter is back to getting more regular at bats, which is a good sign after a few weeks of lighter plate appearance totals. He’s still hitting the ball hard and should produce enough for a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Christian Arroyo (SF, 3B/SS): 9% owned

Arroyo didn’t exactly set the league on fire last week, but there’s still a fair amount to like with the young shortstop, especially in keeper leagues. He just needs to work on elevating the ball like he was at Triple-A.


Cut Bait

Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM, SS): 29% owned

Cabrera has a torn ligament in his thumb, and while he hasn’t officially been put on the DL as of this moment, he’s been in and out of the lineup while trying to play through it. That type of injury really concerns me about how much it can sap hitting abilities.

Andrelton Simmons (LAA, SS): 12% owned

Simmons was in the Last Chance category last week and all he did was go 3-for-24 with a run, one RBI, and a steal. The steal wasn’t enough to keep him on this list. He’s worth a spot on Al-only rosters thanks to the guaranteed playing time that his glove earns him, but you don’t need him in any leagues shallower than that.

Steve Pearce (Tor, 1B/2B/OF): 5% owned

Pearce was not long for this list, as he went 3-for-16 and landed himself on the DL since his debut on last week’s list. It’s a right calf strain, so he may be back among the ranks at some point in 2017, but for now there’s no need to have him on your radar.


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