Written by: Adam Ehrenreich (@mel_reich)
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The impact that a successful waiver add can have on fantasy player can be everlasting. Imagine the pure joy and elation when the player you took a chance on ends up being a huge-piece on your league winning team. There is also the despair of dropping a player who turns out could’ve lead you to the Promised Land. The waiver wire is an emotional roller coaster, and I hope to help you navigate it.
Personally, I spend time of the wire way too frequently. This year I lead my league in moves with 80+, which has become my norm. Sometimes I make a bad move, but sometimes I pick up players like Jimmy Nelson, Alex Wood, Yonder Alonso, Zack Cozart and Sean Manaea, all who have been entrenched in my starting lineup. The All-Star break is a time to see what your team needs and how you can improve on what you have built. Depth in the second half isn’t as important as polishing your lineup and filling those holes. One instance is ingrained in my head: I remember in 2012 reading an article about how Chase Headley was primed for big second half. At the time, the 28 year old Headley was playing for the Padres, batting .266 with 8 HRs, 42 RBIs, and 10 SBs. A rare, potential 20-20 guy at the third base position (which doesn’t produce many players with that stat line). He had gotten hot going into the break, started swinging a hot bat and that article was the icing on the cake for an easy pickup with a need at 3B. Little did I know Headley would go on to hit 23 HRs (yes you read that right) to go along with 73 RBI (in 75 games) and a .308 BA. His hot second half won me my league that year.
Now, I’m not saying everyone on this list will do that for you, but I am going to try and help you find one player at each position who is under 50% owned and can make an immediate and long lasting impact for your team in the second half. Happy wire hunting to all.
C – Stephen Vogt – Brewers (18% Yahoo; 10% ESPN)
One of my favorite indicators for a potential breakout year after year is a player coming over to the NL from the AL. Vogt gets to do that mid-season. He has done it in the past, with back to back all-star appearances for the A’s, but during a down year and a call for youth, the A’s sent the 32 year old late blooming catcher to Milwaukee. In merely 9 games, Vogt has batted .273 with 4 HRs and 8 RBI. So far, he hasn’t been playing every day, but the Brewers find themselves in contention in the NL Central and as they continue to climb, Vogt will continue to contribute.
Honorable Mention – Wilson Ramos – Rays (45% Yahoo; 35% ESPN)
1B – Lucas Duda – Mets (9% Yahoo; 7% ESPN)
Purely speculation, but at a position of strength in fantasy baseball, there aren’t as many players that fit the following mold. Duda may be traded at the deadline, potentially across the river to the Yankees. The two have made trades in the past, and after cutting Chris Carter, the Yanks are starting Ji Man Choi at first base. Duda would be a perfect, cheap addition for the Bronx Bombers, and with that short porch in right, the big lefty would have a chance to thrive. If a deal goes down and you need first base help, don’t hesitate.
Honorable Mention – Josh Bell – Pirates (30% Yahoo; 15% ESPN)
2B- Whit Merrifield – Royals (30% Yahoo; 42% ESPN)
Merrifield has been spearheading a Royals offense that has recently caught fire. With a .281 BA, 7 HRs, 33 RBI, 14 SBs stat line, he has been steady and reliable. Merrifield had a few hot months last year as well before slowly fizzling out, but he has hit career highs in all counting stats and when Raul Mondesi was demoted earlier this year, Merrifield seized the starting gig and hasn’t looked back. With the Royals now looking like buyers at the deadline for one more playoff run before the big names become free agents, Merrifield may be able to you in your run to the playoffs.
Honorable Mention – Hernan Perez – Brewers (37% Yahoo; 16% ESPN)
3B – Logan Forsythe – Dodgers (35% Yahoo; 20% ESPN)
Another hot bat on a hot team, Forsythe is primed for a very productive second half. The biggest knock on Forsythe has been his health. However, he’s currently healthy and is full-steam ahead. After a slow start in his return from the DL, Forsythe has hit his usual stride. Since June 30th, he is batting .460 with 1 HRs, 5 RBI and 10 runs scored. This is a professional hitter who knows what to do at the plate and should prove very valuable throughout the second half.
Honorable Mention – Rafael Devers – Red Sox (5% Yahoo; 3% ESPN)
SS – Brandon Crawford – Giants (36% Yahoo, 36% ESPN)
Our first identical ownership in both Yahoo and ESPN! No, that’s not the reason to own Crawford, but the track record is. We’re talking about a bat that has produced middle-of-the-lineup totals in back-to-back seasons heading into 2017. Crawford’s RBI total of 45 at the break is not too shabby, and with a batting average that should rise to his career .250 clip, expect the home runs and overall production to rise as well. While the Giants are mired in a slump of a season (it’s an odd year), they have reiterated that Crawford is not going anywhere. The Giants have instilled their confidence in him, and shortstop is a thin position in the fantasy world. If there’s a need, take a flier on Crawford.
Honorable Mention – Paul Dejong- Cardinals (37% Yahoo; 26% ESPN)
OF – Max Kepler – Twins (21% Yahoo; 19% ESPN)
Kepler has been batting in the heart of the Twins lineup all season and has been producing. So why is he so overlooked? It probably has to do with the immense amount of productive outfielders. In 5 OF leagues, he is probably owned, but he should be widely available in other formats. After a rocky June, Kepler has batted .417 with 1 HR and 7 RBI to start off July. Kepler bats behind Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano, who all have a knack for getting on base. Dozier was last year’s second half darling, so there is a good chance his numbers will be on the rise as well. Kepler is in a prime spot to expand on his 39 RBI total to date, and his hot start to July is convincing enough for me to give him a long look.
Honorable Mention – Manny Margot – Padres (18% Yahoo; 18% ESPN)
Tommy Pham – Cardinals (31% Yahoo; 28% ESPN)
SP – Mike Clevinger – Indians (50% Yahoo; 39% ESPN)
The Indians rotation has been through so many bumps and bruises this year that it’s amazing they find themselves in first place at the break. Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar have all spent time on the DL. Salazar was even demoted to the minors. The big surprise has been Clevinger, whose consistency has had a lot to do with the team’s overall success. After a rocky rookie campaign, Clevinger has turned it around in a big way in 2017. He currently sports a 3.00 ERA and 1.15 WHIP through 11 starts this season. He has really turned it up a notch since June 22nd, only allowing 4 earned runs in 23 innings over 4 starts, lowering his ERA from 3.86 to 3.00 in the process. I think he will continue this recent success into the second half, so grab him while you still can.
Honorable Mention – Patrick Corbin – Diamondbacks (21% Yahoo; 20% ESPN)
Vince Velasquez – Phillies (36% Yahoo; 9% ESPN)
RP – *Trade Deadline Looming*
This section is geared toward helping you stash a potential future closer. As the deadline approaches, there could be closers or relievers on the move that may open up opportunity. Keep your eyes and ears open if you’re in the hunt for saves.
Kyle Barraclough – Marlins (13% Yahoo; 5% ESPN) – A.J. Ramos and David Phelps are all over the rumor mill lately. Barraclough is the heir apparent once a potential trade happens; he has the strikeout rate to make it be effective and useful, just watch out for that WHIP.
Keone Kela – Rangers (12% Yahoo; 12% ESPN) – Kela was in line for save opportunities in Texas before landing on the DL. Possessing elite stuff, he should be able to seize the gig once he returns.
Tommy Kahnle- White Sox (13% Yahoo; 7% ESPN) – David Robertson has been a popular candidate to be traded the past two years, so I am a bit skeptical. But if it were to happen (with Quintana already moved, it sure looks likely), the impressive Kahnle may find his 15.09 K/9 in a closer role. Look out for Anthony Swarzak as well.
Ryan Madson – A’s (35% Yahoo; 10% ESPN) – My gut says him or Pat Neshek will be closing for the Nationals by the end of the month. I trust my gut.
This is the first installment of what hopes to be a weekly column here at prospects-365.com. Stay tuned for more hot bats, live arms and updates on the closing carousel as the trade deadline approaches.
Thanks for following along!
Featured image courtesy of the Kansas City Star