As we approach the halfway mark of the 2021 MLB season, many fantasy managers now know if they’re contenders in their league or not. And if you’re in the smaller group that is unsure, you better make your moves quickly if you don’t want to fall out of contention. One way to do that is via trade, but the easier method is attacking the waiver wire. And luckily, this week’s fantasy baseball waiver wire report is loaded with intriguing pickups to help you out wherever your teams might need a boost.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire
Akil Baddoo (OF – DET)
I’m honestly shocked that Akil Baddoo isn’t getting more love in fantasy leagues right now. The 22-year-old outfielder with the 80-grade name is currently slashing .282/.374/.506 with 21 extra-base hits, five home runs, and eight steals in 182 plate appearances this season. Yes, he’s currently in a platoon, which makes most shy away, but Baddoo is on the strong side of that platoon facing right-handed pitchers. That means, Baddoo will likely be in the lineup around 75+ % of the time and his all-around plenty of skills can help fantasy teams without question.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) June 24, 2021
Against right-handers this season, Baddoo is slashing .318/.407/.589 with a .271 ISO, .419 wOBA, and 20/30 full-season power/speed pace. Outside of the fact that he’s going to sit 1-2 times a week, I don’t see any negatives in adding Baddoo to your fantasy teams right now.
J.P. Crawford (SS – SEA)
The Seattle recommendations aren’t stopping this week. After having Jake Fraley and Logan Gilbert in last week’s report, shortstop, and former top prospect, J.P. Crawford has raked his way into this week’s piece. Over the last month, Crawford is hitting .330 with four home runs, two steals, 16 runs scored, and 15 RBI. I’ve admittedly never been a big Crawford guy, even back in his prospect days, but his performance right now cannot be ignored.
While the four homers and two steals are nice, Crawford isn’t one I’d count on for any significant power/speed the rest of the way. Or ever for that matter. Crawford has a 7th percentile average exit velocity and 15th percentile hard-hit rate, and doesn’t barrel up pitches often. Could he produce at a 15/10 pace? Sure. But don’t expect much more than that. But with that said, Crawford can produce a good AVG/OBP thanks to his contact profile and approach at the plate where he doesn’t chase or whiff often. He’s also hitting leadoff every single game which always helps. Crawford can help across the board while not hurting you in any one category.
Myles Straw (OF – HOU)
Hitting 8th or 9th in the order is usually looked at as a negative. Yes, it does mean fewer plate appearances over the course of the season, but in the case of Myles Straw, I’m considering his lineup position a positive. Just think about it. When Straw hits 9th, he has some combination of Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, and Kyle Tucker hitting right behind him. Hitting anywhere in this loaded Houston Astros lineup right now is a good thing as they lead the Majors in runs scored by a country mile.
Straw has been doing his part too, especially over the last month, slashing .329/.393/.452 in the month of June with two home runs, four steals, and 16 runs scored in 20 games. Those two homers are a pleasant surprise, but Straw shouldn’t be counted on for power. What he can provide is a solid AVG and runs scored with a 30+ steal pace thanks to his elite speed (96th percentile).
Abraham Toro (3B – HOU)
Remember, hitting in the Astros lineup is a beautiful thing. Just ask their newest third baseman, Abraham Toro. Toro will handle the hot corner duties with Alex Bregman on the IL and it sounds like Bregman won’t be back for a few weeks at least. Sometimes a waiver wire pickup is merely a short-term investment and that’s exactly the case with Toro.
Toro is another hitter that I’ve been lukewarm on in the past, but he can do enough to warrant a pickup in 12+ team leagues. In the minors, Toro showcased an average to above-average hit tool with similar power potential. Over a full season, Toro could be a .275/15+ type of bat. On top of that, his approach has been top-notch, recording an 11.2% walk rate and 17.4% strikeout rate in the minors. He’s off to a good start this season in Houston as well, hitting .282 with a .378 OBP, two homers, and a steal in 13 games with more walks (5) than strikeouts (4). If you need an injury fill-in for a few weeks, give Toro a look.
Chris Flexen (SP – SEA)
Once again, we have two Mariners in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report. Over the last month, Chris Flexen has been flexing his abilities on the mound. In 33.2 innings, Flexen has recorded a stellar 2.41 ERA, and 0.86 WHIP along with four quality starts and a 26/5 K/BB ratio. He’s never been a big source of strikeouts and has one of the lowest strikeout rates in the Majors this season, but Flexen limits walks incredibly well. He’s also seen an uptick in fastball velocity and whiff rate over the last month with opposing batters hitting under .100 against his changeup. I have my doubts that this level of production will continue much longer, but Flexen is worth picking up to round out your rotation while he’s pitching this well.
Ross Stripling (SP – TOR)
Everyone, please welcome Ross Stripling back into our fantasy lives. It’s been a tough time for Stripling since leaving the Dodgers, but he appears to be righting the ship here recently. Over his last six starts, Stripling has posted a 2.29 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 6.7% walk rate, and a 26.7% strikeout rate across 35.1 innings.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 23, 2021
Stripling has shown an improved arsenal this season, mainly with his four-seamer which was a well below-average offering in 2020. He’s also continued displaying a good changeup that hitters are hitting well under .200 against. And while the breaking balls can be inconsistent and don’t miss as many bats as one might like, the xBA and xSLG on both is considerably lower than the surface BAA and SLG. Is Stripling going to be a key cog for you down the stretch? Probably not. But he can certainly be a solid piece to round out your rotation that is pitching very well right now.
Jose Alvarado (RP – PHI)
Is it weird that every time I say Jose Alvarado’s last name, I say it like the song Desperado? Yes? Okay, moving on. If you’re looking for some additional saves, Alvarado is your guy this week. Joe Girardi recently named the left-hander as the Phillies closer moving forward, taking over for Hector Neris who hasn’t even pitched that bad this season. And oddly enough, Alvarado blew a save in the first game of the doubleheader yesterday while Neris secured the save in the 2nd game. Still, Alvarado is at least in the saves mix moving forward and warrants a pickup in all 12+ team mixed leagues.
On the season, Alvarado has posted a 2.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 30.6% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, that has also come with a 19.4% walk rate which has caused his WHIP to look a little bloated. Alvarado isn’t a major strikeout guy when compared to other closers, but he’s posted a decent 28.4% strikeout rate during his career and generates a ton of groundballs (55.2% in 2021) thanks to his heavy sinker usage (76.7%, 99.3 mph). He’ll also mix in a cutter that has a 62.2% whiff rate this season and the occasional four-seamer and curve.
Maybe They’re Available: CJ Cron (1B – COL) & Jonathan India (2B/2B – CIN)
Both CJ Cron and Jonathan India are available in around 50% of fantasy leagues right now and that number needs to come down. Both players are performing at a high level right now and shouldn’t be sitting on waiver wires because of it. Here are their numbers over the last month for India and the last two weeks for Cron.
- Jonathan India: .330/19/3/9/4 (Last Month)
- CJ Cron: .317/7/5/11 (Last two weeks)
India has appeared to find his footing in the Majors and is contributing across the board as he did at the University of Florida and in the minor leagues. His blend of across-the-board stats and multi-positional eligibility makes him a valuable asset in all fantasy leagues. As for Cron, if you need power, he’s your guy. His level of power at Coors Field is a beautiful thing, and the Rockies aren’t messing with his playing time either. Both are great pickups if available in your fantasy leagues.
Stash if Possible: Jarren Duran (OF – BOS), Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA), & Vidal Brujan (2B/OF – TBR)
I’m not going to go in-depth on these guys here as I will in my upcoming Prospects to Stash article, but all three are must-stash options in 12+ team leagues and maybe even 10-teamers if you can afford to use a bench spot on one of them.
- Jarred Kelenic (92 PA): .306/.365/.624, 12 XBH, 7 HR, 6 SB, 9.4 BB%, 16.7 K%
- Vidal Brujan (183 PA): .248/.333/.466, 17 XBH, 9 HR, 14 SB, 11.5 BB%, 15.3 K%
- Jarren Duran (165 PA): .294/.382/.615, 20 XBH, 13 HR, 8 SB, 10.9 BB%, 23.6 K%
Brujan has been struggling a bit of late, but is still showing an elite plate approach and has run wild on the bases. After his underwhelming first MLB stint, Kelenic is back to his old ways, hitting for average, power, and stealing bases in Triple-A. He’s going to be just fine. And finally, the Jarren Duran power binge hasn’t slowed down at all. Duran is absolutely mashing and should join Boston’s top-5 lineup very soon. If you can only stash one, I’d rank them Kelenic, Duran, Brujan for 2021 value. I’ll leave you with footage of a baseball that Kelenic hit straight across the Pacific Ocean and into Russia a few nights ago.
Jarred Kelenic 🚀 pic.twitter.com/q6jgWAE4th
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 25, 2021
Others to Consider Adding if Available
Jake Fraley (OF – SEA), Adam Duvall (OF – MIA), Tony Kemp (2B/OF – OAK), Steven Duggar (OF – SFG), Willy Adames (SS – MIL), Luis Urias (2B/3B/SS – MIL), Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN), Jake Odorizzi (SP – HOU), Tejay Antone (RP – CIN), Michael Fulmer (RP – DET)
Media Credit: Steven King/Icon Sportswire, MLB Pipeline, Bally Sports Detroit, Toronto Blue Jays
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