Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds: Week 1
Welcome to the 2017 fantasy baseball season once again, gang!
Every Monday, right here in this space, you season-long fantasy players will get a list of usually five or isx waiver wire adds, all of whom are players owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN standard scoring leagues.
There's no doubt the draft is the most important way for you to have a successful fantasy season. But even if you nail your draft, in every life, a little rain must fall. Injuries, underperformance and demotions happen.
There will be times this year when a player comes out of nowhere (paging Trevor Story, Trevor Story please report to the waiver wire page) and becomes a must-add on fantasy rosters. And there will be promotions, with stud prospects like Gleyber Torres and J.P. Crawford coming to the Majors, that will require you to be aggressive in free agency.
This weekly column is designed to help identify which guys are must-adds to your fantasy rosters.
With that said, here are the players to add for Week 1.
Tommy Joseph, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 49.9%
Tommy Joseph, owned in slightly less than half of all ESPN leagues, just barely qualifies, and now is your chance to grab him. He's Philadelphia's everyday first baseman and in his rookie season last year belted 21 home runs in 347 plate appearances. More importantly, Joseph showed significant improvement in the second half, increasing his walk rate from 3.7% to 8.6% and decreasing his strikeout rate from 24.7% to 18.9%.
He smoked the ball in the spring as well and could be a 30-homer guy who can be had on the cheap.
Yulieski Gurriel, 1B/3B, Houston Astros
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 49.2%
Yulieski Gurriel qualifies at both first base and third base but will be the Houston Astros' regular first baseman in 2017. The Cuban import got a 36-game cup of coffee with the 'Stros last season, and the team is hoping he's poised for a big year.
After all, the guy can do this.
Gurriel hit .344/.365/.541 this spring, with 2 bombs and 6 doubles in 61 at-bats, but he also walked just once this spring with 6 strikeouts.
Ideally you'd like to see a little more plate discipline from a player you're adding to your fantasy team, but he's a guy worth rolling the dice on.
Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 38.1%
The San Diego Padres are going to be very bad this year. Any team that attempts to carry three Rule 5 picks knows they aren't going to have anything close to resembling a winning record. They are a franchise committed to playing their young players here in 2017, and center fielder Manuel Margot certainly qualifies.
The speedy outfielder is projected to be the team's starting center fielder, and although he didn't have a great spring (.242/.265/.364 in 33 at-bats), he is a potential impact player and Rookie of the Year candidate. In 124 games last year in AAA, Margot batted .304/.351/.426 with 98 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.
He is one of the game's most highly-touted prospects and has the ability to be a top-of-the-lineup cornerstone for years to come.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 34.1%
The reason you want to own Aaron Judge is because he can do this.
Judge's power is for real, and thanks to a spring in which he slugged 3 bombs and batted .333/.391/.540 for a .931 OPS, he will open the season with a starting spot locked up in the New York Yankees' outfield.
Judge is going to strike out a ton, although it won't be at the 44.2% clip he whiffed at in his 27-game cup of coffee with the team last season. But he might strike out in about a third of his plate appearances, which is acceptable as long as he approaches 30 home runs and has an on-base percentage of around .320.
He's a stud power prospect who you should at least want on your bench to start the season.
Cam Bedrosian, RP, Los Angeles Angels
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 47.6%
Cam Bedrosian was named the Los Angeles Angels' closer late last week, making him a decent grab off the waiver wire as we get ready for the first week of the MLB season. He emerged as one of the better relief pitchers in the American League last year, with an ERA of 1.12 and a SIERA (skill-interactive ERA) of 2.77 in 40.1 innings.
He struck out 11.38 batters per nine last year and walked 3.12, excellent numbers for a pitcher who will move from being a set-up man to the team's closer. Bedrosian should be able to lock up a bunch of saves this year for an Angels team that might be a bit better than it has in previous years.
Addison Reed, RP, New York Mets
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 41.6%
Addison Reed is a terrific set-up man for the New York Mets and will get the opportunity to close during Jeurys Familia's 15-game suspension, which means he should be able to pile about half a dozen saves until the Mets' regular closer is back. So, he's a temporary plug-and-play.
But if you're in a deeper league, there's room for a reliever who had a 1.97 ERA and a 2.56 SIERA last season, striking out 10.55 batters and walking just 1.51, all career-bests. And if you play in a league that uses the "hold" statistic, there may be no better relief pitcher in baseball for that stat than Reed.
Jerad Eickhoff, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 42.1%
The Phillies' starting rotation holds some interesting names for fantasy. Aaron Nola's elbow injury and struggles in the second half last year give one pause, but if healthy, he's a potential top-of-the-rotation stud. Vincent Velasquez is capable of a double-digit strikeout game every time he takes the hill, but he has trouble going past the sixth inning.
Enter Jerad Eickhoff, a human metronome of a pitcher, who will almost certainly give you six to seven innings of three runs or fewer every single time out. Last year he put up an ERA of 3.65 and a SIERA of 4.05, striking out 7.62 batters per nine and walking just 1.92.
He's not sexy, but he's a reliable starting pitcher with strikeout upside who makes a lot of sense as a back-up starter to ride your bench and plug in against the right opponent.