The theme of this week is power. You’ll find four hitters listed below, each of whom is capable of slugging 30-plus home runs over a full season. Two of the four are new to the fantasy scene, one toys with us for a few weeks every season, and the other is a high-upside youngster who has lost a few fights with the injury bug so far in his career. Sharing the spotlight with them this week is a potential closing option from the NL East, because someone is always looking for saves, right?
You won’t see some of the recent prospect call-ups like Ronald Acuna or Gleyber Torres below. If thos guys are still available in your league, you might want to find a new league next season that is actually competitive.
David Dahl (OF – COL)
Ownership: Fantrax 77%, Yahoo 31%, ESPN 18%
Finally, after a full season and most of April, David Dahl is back in the majors. Not having him last season was a pain in the butt for his fantasy owners and a pain in the ribs for him. A pesky rib injury sidelined Dahl for the entire 2017 season, when expectations for the young outfielder were high coming off a season where he hit .315 with seven homers and five steals in 222 at-bats. But that’s the past now, so let’s focus on 2018 Dahl.
A strong showing in spring training gave fantasy owners false hopes that Dahl would make the opening day roster as one of Colorado’s three starting outfielders. That hope was shattered when the Rockies decided they weren’t quite ready to end their relationship with Carlos Gonzalez and trade him in for a younger model. Dahl didn’t do himself any favors, missing a week with an illness earlier this month, but all he needed was an injury with the parent club to get his shot. Gonzalez gave him that chance by going on the DL with a strained hamstring. CarGo got injured? Shocking, I know. A Gerardo Parra four-game suspension came at a great time for Dahl, too.
Since his call-up, Dahl has five hits in 16 at-bats with three triples, three RBI, and three runs scored. The upside here is immense. In the minors, as well as his 2017 rookie season, Dahl showed that he could hit for a high average and contribute handsomely in the power and speed categories. Playing half his home games at Coors Field is basically the equivalent of a video game cheat code. If Dahl continues to hit well, Parra will likely move to a fourth outfielder role when Gonzalez comes back. The upside here is too much to leave on the waiver wire.
Mac Williamson (OF – SF)
Ownership: Fantrax 36%, Yahoo 11%, ESPN 9%
“Welcome to the waiver wire, may I take your order?”
“Yes, I’ll have one Giant Mac with extra cheese.”
The extra cheese is a no-brainer, and soon enough Mac Williamson will be, too. After some gaudy minor league numbers and a great showing in spring training, Williamson has mashed three taters in his first 19 at-bats with the Giants. I’m not exaggerating with the word gaudy, either. In 83 combined at-bats between spring training and Triple-A, Williamson slugged 10 home runs and drove in 30 while hitting .398.
So, what has changed and why should you trust Williamson on your team? He’s no spring chicken anymore as far as prospects go and he’s never had sustained success at any level of the minors. Sure, he displayed some power but nothing to suggest this type of surge was coming in 2018. The big change for Williamson has come with his swing, and so far the returns have bee incredible. Some would even say mouth-watering from a fantasy perspective. Williamson has never been mistaken for a speedster, but as long as he’s given regular playing time, he should contribute nicely in the other four standard scoring categories. Don’t screw this one up, San Francisco. Hunter Pence isn’t the answer anymore.
Tyler Austin (1B – NYY)
Ownership: Fantrax 46%, Yahoo 30%, ESPN 11%
Bird might have been the word at the start of the season, but it sure isn’t anymore. Greg Bird has yet to make his 2018 season debut after undergoing ankle surgery in the spring, and Tyler Austin has seized the starting first baseman role and thrived, to say the least. In 59 at-bats, Austin has five dingers and 16 RBI to go along with a .290 average and .990 OPS. He now has 12 home runs in his first 185 career at-bats. Just ignore the fact that he struck out in all three of his at-bats yesterday. That’s beside the point.
AUSTIN POWERS: Tyler Austin keeps making the most of those at-bats. pic.twitter.com/gAZ0oyqmtA
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 26, 2018
Austin has significant offensive upside and a starting spot in one of the most potent lineup in the major leagues. Bird’s eventual return next month could cloud things a bit, but if Austin continues to hit like he has so far, Aaron Boone would be foolish to take him out of the lineup. We can worry about all that when Bird returns. For now, Austin is worth rostering in all standard fantasy leagues even if Joe Kelley did whoop his a**. I’m a Red Sox fan, you knew I had to mention that.
Austin will begin serving a four-game suspension today but is still worth an add for when he returns to the lineup early next week.
C.J. Cron (1B – TB)
Ownership: Fantrax 49%, Yahoo 18%, ESPN 16%
I’ll fully admit that I was hesitant to include C.J. Cron in this article. I mean, who hasn’t been burned by this guy at least once over the last few seasons? Every year, usually more than once, Cron will get on one of his hot streaks that makes fantasy owners think he’s finally realizing his potential as a 30 home run, 100 RBI threat. Then, as quickly as it started, that hot streak is over and no one hears from Cron again for months. He’s finished with exactly 16 home runs in each of the last three seasons and has never had more than 69 RBI. Granted, he’s never had more than 407 at-bats in a season, either.
All of that makes me wonder if this is just another of his short-lived hot streaks or finally time for Cron to establish himself as a worthwhile fantasy option for an entire season. With his two-run ding-dong last night, Cron is up to six home runs and 17 RBI through his first 22 games. That’s a 44 home run and 125 RBI pace. Obviously, that’s not going to continue, but what have you got to lose by adding him and seeing if this hot start is for real? One caveat is that he’s struck out 25 times with just two walks so far. Cron has never had great plate discipline, but if this continues, his average will likely be capped in the .250 range.
A.J. Minter (RP – ATL)
Ownership: Fantrax 50%, Yahoo 15%, ESPN 7%
Does anyone fully trust Arodys Vizcaino? I don’t even think the Braves trust him after how up and down he’s been in his career so far. But luckily for Atlanta, if Vizcaino falters, A.J. Minter has the stuff to step right in and succeed in the closer role. Minter throws in the 95-97 mph range from the left side and mixes in a plus cutter and plus slider, both of which can frustrate the bleep out of left-handed batters.
The problem for Minter has been his lackluster control, and that hasn’t changed this season with eight walks in his first 12 innings. Fortunately, Vizcaino has been just as wild and looks to have pitched his way into a timeshare of sorts with Minter. Vizcaino was brought on to close it out last night, but Minter was given the opportunity the night before. If I was a betting man, I’d bet on Vizcaino having more save opportunities over the next few months, but the fact that Minter is at least in the mix now makes him a solid pickup in fantasy leagues. If Minter ever takes over full-time, we could be looking at a borderline top-10 RP.
Have a question about a player who wasn’t covered here? Ask below or hit me on Twitter @EricCross04. Check back next Friday for more waiver wire recommendations.