We are deep into the season now and injuries and ineffectiveness have taken a toll on our rosters. If you’re anything like me (and let’s face it, I hope that you are not), you are churning the bottom of your roster to stay competitive in your leagues. Let’s take a look at some hitters who could provide you a lift this week; you will see some names you have seen in this column before, as well as some new names that might pay dividends for you. Happy hunting on the waiver wire! It’s Sunday morning so let’s get to it.
Deep (15 teams) 15% rostered or less: Oscar Gonzalez OF (10%, 5.1 grade)
Besides the fact that he has the greatest walkup song in the land right now (the theme from Spongebob Squarepants), Gonzalez has provided a lift to the Cleveland Guardians in the last two weeks. He’s hitting .364 over 33 at-bats while playing daily, granted a small sample size. Gonzalez is a big man, 6’4″, 240 pounds, but is fast and has hit for some power in his minor league career. He won’t walk much (only 3.3% thus far in AAA), but he also won’t kill you with strikeouts (12.1% thus far in AAA). He has been batting sixth in the lineup consistently, which isn’t ideal but still works from a production standpoint. I am willing to make a small claim on him and hope for the best; potentially a good replacement for the Ben Gamel spot on your roster.
Standard (12 teams) 30% rostered or less: Alek Thomas (17%, 5.5 grade)
I mentioned Thomas two weeks ago in this space. He is still low-rostered at this point but should intrigue you. Here’s why: Thomas mentioned last week that he was in the process of making an adjustment to his swing to work through the shifts he experiences while hitting. He’s hitting .247 right now after a hot start, but had a two home run game earlier this week. I say it often in this space and I will say it again: he’s guaranteed everyday at-bats right now, and has five home runs in 92 plate appearances. Thomas has elite sprint speed (93rd percentile in MLB) but has yet to steal a base. Thomas profiles as a double-digit home run and stolen base guy, and that could still be in play this year. He’s rostered in only 17% of leagues, and I expect that to change soon. Grab Thomas now and use him based on matchups knowing he could be a starting outfielder on your roster before too long.
Honorable Mention: Michael Harris II (20%, 5.0 grade)
Lots of FAAB spent on Michael Harris II last week, but he is still low rostered in many leagues. Harris is only 21 and ranked as the top prospect in the Braves’ system. Harris has nine hits so far, good for a .300 average. No home runs or steals yet, although like Thomas listed above, he has elite sprint speed (94th percentile in MLB). If his playing time remains, Harris would be a great source of stolen bases; the power is middling at best. He’s batting ninth and there doesn’t seem to be room in the powerful Atlanta lineup for him to move up in the order. We will need to watch the playing time here.
Shallow (10 teams) 50% rostered or less: Tommy Pham (34%, 8.2 grade)
One thing we know for sure: you do not want to play in a fantasy football league with Tommy Pham. However, it seems odd that he is only rostered in 34% of leagues, even in shallow leagues. His 8.2 grade for the week is one of the highest I have ever seen in Josh’s system for a player rostered this low, and he projects for 1.2/4.5/3.5/.7/.283 this week. Is there a team that doesn’t need that? Pham has six homers and three steals on the season, and his average exit velocity is in the 96th percentile this year. Keep in mind he’s also hitting in front of a resurgent Joey Votto, so he might start running more and scoring more runs too. Roster him now.
Honorable Mention Amed Rosario (35%, 6.4 grade)
Rosario seems to take many hits in the fantasy community for all the things people think he should be. Rosario is hitting only .234 with no home runs and three stolen bases. People seem to forget that for as long as it feels Rosario has been around, he’s only 26. Add in that in many leagues (although not NFBC)he has outfield and shortstop eligibility, and you have a fine plug-and-play bat in your lineup. Rosario hit .259 with five RBI and nine runs scored this month with a pair of steals. He’s known for going on small hot streaks, so a small bid tonight could yield profit down the road. Josh’s projected line for the week: .4/3.4/2.9/.6/.293. Those could be useful statistics for you.
What teams have “easy” matchups this week?
Atlanta versus Oakland, versus Pittsburgh
Baltimore versus Chicago Cubs, @ Kansas City
Cleveland versus Texas, versus Oakland
Houston versus Seattle, versus Miami
Milwaukee versus Philadelphia, @ Washington
Toronto @ Kansas City, @ Detroit
Teams with nine games this week: none
Teams with eight games this week: none
Teams with seven games this week: Arizona, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Kansas City, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego
Teams with six games this week: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago White Sox, Houston, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Texas, Toronto, Washington
Teams with five games this week: Chicago Cubs, Detroit