6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 20
As we get closer and closer to the fantasy baseball playoffs (finally), it's time to get a little weird. You want to win it all? Let's embrace some risk, homies.
In general, I hate heavy variance in my season-long leagues. I want to draft guys who I know will give me consistent output on a week-by-week basis.
If I'm going for a championship, though, I'm willing to take more risks. I'll roll the dice on someone who could end up totally sucking if they present the possibility of a high ceiling. Some of the guys below meet that criteria.
As always, I have limited these to people who are owned in around 30 percent or fewer of ESPN leagues. Some of the guys we touched on last week are still in that ballpark, so check out those recommendations as well. Now, let's get it popping.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Not going to lie: this snuck up on me. I've been staring at the Orioles' stats all season, but I've been so transfixed on Manny Machado's sweet sauciness that I totally overlooked how dope Jonathan Schoop has been. My bad, brudduh.
After going a modest 3-6 yesterday, Schoop's slash through 152 plate appearances is up to .305/.342/.532 with eight home runs. For a second baseman in his age-23 season, that's crazy production. And it appears as though a good chunk of that production is sustainable.
Schoop's slash numbers have been inflated by a high BABIP, but they've also been kept afloat by his 33.6 percent hard-hit rate. That's a full five percentage points above league average and seven percentage points above the league average for second basemen. Now that he's seeing himself hit higher and higher in the order, I'm becoming more and more comfortable with saying he's an asset to be desired down the stretch.
Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Boston Red Sox
I kept teetering back and forth between Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Bradley has been murdering baseballs for the past week, but Castillo generally hits higher in the order. I ended up settling the debate by looking at hard-hit rate, and, like the baseballs, Bradley crushed it.
Although it's only over a sample size of 94 plate appearances, Bradley has a 33.9 percent hard-hit rate this season with a soft-hit rate of just 11.9. Castillo, on the other hand sits at a hard-hit rate of 24.0 percent and a soft-hit rate also at 24.0 percent. We don't have a lot off of which to draw conclusions for either batter, but Bradley has been the clear runaway on the season. If he keeps smacking it like that, I could easily see he and Castillo switching spots on the lineup card.
Now, hitting balls hard has never been an issue for Bradley. He had hard-hit rates of 31.3 and 35.0 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The issue has been the high strikeout rate. While he hasn't fully eradicated that, he did see his strikeout percentage drop to 13.8 percent in Triple-A prior to his promotion. That was the lowest mark he had posted at any level since High-A ball in 2012. It may not fully translate into the big leagues, but there are at least reasons to believe this could be legit.
Enrique Hernandez, 2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
I have swung and missed on a bunch of Dodgers players this season because the distribution of playing time is so hard to predict. That's one of the downsides (fantasy-wise) of focusing on a team that is so stupidly deep. However, it looks like Kike Hernandez is in line to rack up the plate appearances until Howie Kendrick returns in a few weeks, so let's pounce.
Hernandez -- when he has been granted the opportunity -- has been hitting the lights out this season. He has a .301/.354/.521 slash with a 34.8 percent hard-hit rate. A big chunk of that is because of how good he has been against lefties and the playing time reflecting that strength, but he's at least good enough against righties where he should remain in the lineup.
One of the big attractions for Hernandez is his shortstop eligibility. If you look at the shortstop waiver wire in your leagues right now, it's probably not pretty. You may see the straggling Addison Russell or Francisco Lindor (both of whom I endorse), but it's a pretty barren fantasy abyss. Hernandez can serve as a good little stop-gap until your main boo gets healthy or you find another alternative. And you never know; if he plays well enough, that window might be just a bit wider than we thought.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
This is roughly the 30th time that Carlos Rodon has appeared on this list. It seems my sentiments on him reflect those of all of y'all in that we really have no idea what we're going to get. That, to me, is enticing right now.
Rodon has his really, really bad starts where he walks six guys and gives up 15 or so runs. Those are the types of starts that make you want to toss your laptop through a wood chipper. (I'm doing a great job on selling his value, right?)
On the other hand, Rodon has starts like he did his last time out: seven innings, only one walk, 11 strikeouts. Those starts are the reason you wake up in the morning. They give meaning to life and make you think that maybe every decision you have made up to this point has been the right one. That's his ceiling. If you can get that as a ceiling from a waiver wire guy, that's pretty freaking sweet. His floor is balls gross, but that ceiling -- if you're making a late push and need a Hail Mary -- is a truly alluring proposition.
Raisel Iglesias, SP, Cincinnati Reds
(This is best read in a 30 for 30 voiceover tone. Ya dig?) What if I told you... there was a pitcher with a 3.45 SIERA and 24.0 strikeout percentage available in over 90 percent of all ESPN leagues? The Raisel Iglesias story. Soon to be seen on your telly. If they get super desperate for content or something.
Iglesias has only made 10 starts and thrown 59.1 innings in the majors, but it looks like he has the ability to miss bats. He has a 10.7 swinging-strike percentage and a 77.2 contact percentage, indicating that he should be able to sustain at least an above-average strikeout rate. If he can keep his walks low (currently at 6.7 percent), then he should continue trucking.
Iglesias is another guy similar to Rodon: super high ceiling with some decent risk involved. It's possible that the league will eventually catch on to Iglesias's repertoire, rendering him less effective. For right now, though, he's definitely at least worth a look down the stretch.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
This one is only applicable if you have plans of being in contention late in the season, as Marcus Stroman only received clearance to start throwing from a mound about a week ago. But if he gets back on the field before the end of the season, you could be licking your chops with this lil pup.
Stroman channeled his inner Adrian Peterson in coming back from a torn ACL rull quick. His numbers last year -- his age-23 rookie season, no less -- were drool-worthy. He had a 3.17 xFIP and 3.18 SIERA with a 20.8 strikeout percentage, 5.2 walk percentage and 53.8 ground-ball rate. He had higher strikeout rates in the minors, so I'd assume that's just around the corner, too. He. Is. Good.
This could very much fall flat on its face. First, Stroman might not make it back until the playoffs, in which case you wasted a roster spot. Second, he might be stuck in the bullpen, though the Jays have said they will stretch him out as a starter before deciding that. It's a risk where you could come up empty. But the upside of potentially having him on a championship team is too tantalizing to pass up.