Over a week is in the books for this 2019 season of baseball. Drafts are over and now the grind begins after an off-season of preparation. Part of that grind is scouring the waiver wire to pick up injury replacements, ride a hot bat, or get the league winning pick-up you’ll keep all year on your way to a championship run. Beginning with this article, we’ll be bringing you our top adds of the week that you won’t want to be late on.
Yandy Diaz (3B – Tampa Bay Rays)
Ownership: Yahoo 14% ESPN 7% CBS 31%
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz is quickly making his way into mixed league relevancy early this season. Playing every day and hitting anywhere from leadoff to fifth in the order, he’s been a pleasant surprise early on with a slash line of .333/.440/.619 with two home runs and three doubles. Diaz displayed a growth in his ability to hit the ball hard last year and is continuing that trend this season with a 61.1% hard hit rate while also lowering his strikeout rate in each of the last three seasons. If he can get some more lift in his swing, he may be in for a big power breakout. Diaz could be a valuable contributor in any league 12 teams or deeper and could be a great third base replacement if you lost Miguel Andujar or need a corner infielder.
Christian Walker (1B – Arizona Diamondbacks)
Ownership: Yahoo 19% ESPN 24% CBS 40%
Continuing the trend of potential late twenties breakouts is Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker. Walker was slated to platoon at first base with Jake Lamb, but a shoulder injury to Lamb and a hot start by Walker may have altered those plans. Walker has taken full advantage of the opportunity collecting seven hits in his first 25 at-bats including three home runs and two doubles. Walker is hitting the ball extremely hard with an average exit velocity of 97.4 mph, good for fourth best in the league thus far. If Walker continues to get regular playing time I can see a 2018 Trey Mancini type of year with about 25 home runs, a .250 average, and 130 runs plus RBI. I’m not sold on the season long viability of Walker just yet but if you need a first base replacement for Daniel Murphy or want a hot bat to start at a corner infield or utility spot, take advantage of Walker’s hot start and pick him up.
Franmil Reyes (OF – San Diego Padres)
Ownership: Yahoo 40% ESPN 12% CBS 56%
Franmil Reyes was a name a lot of people were high on coming into this year after hitting .280/.340/.498 with sixteen home runs in only 285 plate appearances last season. A logjam in the outfield raised playing time concerns but of the Padres first eight games of the season, Franmil has started six of them, and hit cleanup in every game he’s started. Franmil has gotten off to a slow start so far with only two hits in twenty-three plate appearances. The underlying numbers say that better days are ahead for the young slugger and better days for his fantasy owners. Franmil has only struck out four times and with an elite average exit velocity of 96.1 mph, has a hard hit percentage of 60%, good for tenth in baseball so far. Franmil has one of the biggest differences between his average (.105) and expected batting average (.347). Much better days are coming for Reyes. It’s hard to count on any Padre’s outfielder in a weekly league other that Myers but if you play in a daily lineup league 12 teams or deeper I would hold Reyes and pick him up if he was dropped.
Ketel Marte (2B/SS – Arizona Diamondbacks)
Ownership: Yahoo 47% ESPN 67% CBS 81%
If you are reading this article and haven’t picked up Ketel Marte yet, its probably too late. I was surprised to find him available in a twelve team league on Yahoo. Perhaps no one is raising in ownership percentage faster than Ketel Marte. Marte began the year slated to play the outfield but was positioned back to second base once Adam Jones was signed. Marte has always displayed well above average sprint speed so the potential for stolen bases has been there. Now with two on the year, he’s well on his way to surpass the six he stole last year to go along with some power he displayed. I can see Marte hitting .270 with 20 home run and 15 steal potential. If he’s available even in shallow ten team leagues I would recommend picking him up given his positional versatility.
Jay Bruce (OF – Seattle Mariners)
Ownership: Yahoo 27% ESPN 56% CBS 50%
Seattle seems to be the team of 2017 bounce backs with Domingo Santana and Tim Beckham leading the way. But don’t forget about Jay Bruce. The veteran slugger has six seasons with at least 25 home runs and a .250 average. Last season he struggled mightily hitting only nine home runs and a .223 average while hampered by plantar fasciitis. This season he looks to be making a healthy return to his power hitting ways with four home runs through the first week of the season. With streaky players like Bruce, it’s hard to know when to get on a hot streak and when to back off. So it’s difficult to play them in head to head leagues, but in a roto league that typically uses five outfielders you could be getting over 30 home runs and plenty of RBI with that offense as hot as its been.
Matchups of the Week
Atlanta goes to Colorado for three games before going home for a four game set against the Mets. You always want to take advantage of a team going into Colorado, getting a full seven games is a plus. Nick Markakis is a good play this week, especially in points leagues.
The Orioles also have a full slate of seven games, getting four at home in hitter friendly Camden Yards against Oakland before going to Boston for three games against the Red Sox struggling rotation currently sporting the third worst team ERA in the majors. In addition, six of those games should be against right handed pitchers. Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini have both hit right handed pitching very well so far with a .368 and .444 average against them respectively.
The team visiting Camden Yards this week, the Oakland A’s, also get a full seven games. After the four game set in Baltimore, the A’s travel to Texas for three games against the Rangers. The Orioles and Ranges are both teams in the bottom ten of the league in team ERA, and both parks rank in the top six in FantasyPros park factors for home runs. Expect a big week for the Oakland offense.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay has been off to a hot start this season, and I expect that to continue with six games this week against the White Sox and Blue Jays. The Rays start the week in Chicago’s hitter friendly Guaranteed Rate Field and to face the White Sox staff with the sixth worst team ERA in the MLB. After an off day Thursday, they travel to Toronto. Five of the six games are slated to come against right handed pitching. Make sure to get Austin Meadows in your lineups as he’s lead off against right handed pitchers.