Week 4 Waiver Wire Hitters and Matchups of the Week

Framil Reyes makes a return in this week’s waiver wire column along with some matchups to take advantage of for week four.

Franmil Reyes (OF– San Diego Padres)

Ownership: Yahoo 41% ESPN 15% CBS 55%

A beast of a man at 6’5″ and 275 lbs, Reyes hits the ball with authority. Two weeks ago, Franmil Reyes made it onto my waiver wire pickups after starting off to the slow start. Reyes, a popular sleeper pick during draft season, had been hitting .105 and looked to be getting falling behind teammate Hunter Renfroe. The underlying stats showed that Reyes had been getting unlucky to start the year, while hitting the ball hard and showing good plate discipline. Reyes’ average now sits at .212 with an expected average of .346 via Baseball Savant and an expected slugging of .750. Both metrics are among the highest differentials in actual vs expected so far this season. His 21% barrel rate is among the top 3% in baseball. The batted ball profile and plate discipline hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Padres, who have started Reyes in eight straight games batting him as high as second in the order. Given consistent playing time, Reyes should be owned in all formats as fantasy owners are sure to benefit from the coming regression toward the expected outcomes. As hard as he is hitting the ball and as often as he is hitting it in the air at 45.2%, much better power numbers are on their way for Franmil Reyes.

Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – Kansas City Royals)

Ownership: Yahoo 39% ESPN 27% CBS 37%

It has taken a while for Kansas City Royals first baseman Hunter Dozier to break into the big leagues as an everyday player. The former 2013 first round pick looks to finally be in the midst of a breakout the Royals have been waiting for, slashing .279/.366/.557 with five home runs in 17 games this season. Four of those home runs have come in the last two weeks along with a .366 average, good for the fourth best average in that span among hitters with at least 40 plate appearances. While this could be a flash in the pan for the Royals longtime prospect, the underlying metrics support what Dozier has done at the plate with a 44.7% hard hit rate and 46.8% fly ball rate. His 94.1 mph average exit velocity ranks in the 95th percentile in the league. Dozier is a good bet to continue his hot steak this week with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are expected to employ their opener strategy in all three games. The Royals then get three games at home against the Los Angeles Angels, facing three underwhelming right handers in Jaime Barria, Matt Harvey, and Chris Stratton. Dozier is hitting .304 with four of his five home runs against right handed pitching. Dozier could be a pickup in all 12 team leagues and deeper.

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B – Colorado Rockies)

Ownership: Yahoo 29% ESPN 9% CBS 67%

Ryan McMahon had possibly the best spring training in baseball hitting .424/.470/.763. While spring training numbers may not mean much, it came in the middle of a position battle for the second base job with Garrett Hampson, another popular draft season sleeper. The Rockies gave McMahon the job and he soon found himself hitting fifth in the order. McMahon was a disappointment last season  after he hit only .232 in 202 plate appearances while starting 37 games. Its reasonable to believe that the lack of playing time hurt McMahon’s development as he wasn’t able to get into a rhythm one would normally get with every day at bats. So far this season McMahon has cut down his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate, showing a more advance approach, while doubling his launch angle and hitting the ball hard at a 52.4% rate, something you love to see from a hitter playing half his games at Coors Field and hitting in the middle of the order. McMahon flashed some of his potential last night with a two home run performance at home. Given his positional versatility, especially in Yahoo where he is 1B, 2B, and 3B eligible, he should be picked up in all twelve team leagues.

Jose Martinez (1B/OF – St. Louis Cardinals)

Ownership: Yahoo 25% ESPN 41% CBS 46%

A journeyman in the minor leagues for most of his career, Jose Martinez burst onto the scene last year, leading the St. Louis Cardinals in both batting average (.305) and hits (163). Martinez had limited playing time in 2017 but had also hit over .300 that season. The hit tool has never been in question for Martinez, he can hit, a statement supported by his 26% line drive rate and 40% hard hit rate. But his defensive deficiencies have kept him off the field this season. Injuries to Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neil have opened up playing time in the outfield for Martinez, and a week ahead facing the Milwaukee and Cincinnati rotations at home could get his bat going. He could give fantasy owners a boost in batting average this week in deeper 15 team roto leagues, and a move to the AL at some point this season could ultimately make him relevant in all formats.

Dwight Smith Jr. (OF – Baltimore Orioles)

Ownership: Yahoo 16% ESPN 18% CBS 31%

Someone I admittedly knew nothing about coming into the season, Dwight Smith Jr. has been a welcome addition to the Orioles lineup after signing over from the Toronto Blue Jays where he had mostly been stuck in the minor leagues. Smith never had a spectacular season or had ever been a highly touted prospect, but only 26 years old, he’s made the most of his opportunity with the Orioles hitting .276 with 3 home runs and 3 steals. Smith has been hitting in the top third of the Orioles’ lineup. Most of Smith’s damage has come in the last ten games in which he has all three of his home runs, two steals, and four walks to only six strikeouts. Smith can be an accumulator this season in deeper roto leagues which double digit home run and steal potential. This week could be beneficial for Smith as he faces the Chicago White Sox for three games at home before traveling to Minnesota for a three game series in which they won’t face Jose Berrios.

Matchups of the Week

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees make a trip out west for a four game series against the Los Angeles Angels before going up the coast for a three game set against the San Francisco Giants. If the Yankees won’t play at home for a week, at least they’ll have a full seven games in which the best pitcher they face might be Derek Holland. With Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton still a ways off, Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier should continue to get full playing time and both have faired better against right handed pitching, Frazier in particular is hitting .385 against right handed pitchers and the Yankees face six of them this week.

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox get a full seven games at home this week with the Detroit Tigers coming in for four games followed by the Tampa Bay Rays for three. The Tigers rotation has been surprisingly good, but aside from Boyd, I’m not sure how much I buy it considering the how weak AL Central division is. The Red Sox are the sixth best team in the league at avoiding strikeouts. Six of the seven games should come against right handed pitching. Look for Andrew Benintendi and the rest of the Red Sox lineups to get on track.

Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have six games this week, but all will come in hitter friendly environments. They start the week off on the road with three games against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. The Orioles currently have the second worst team ERA, third worst strikeout rate, and eight worst ground ball rate. Put these all together and you  have a recipe for the long ball. The White Sox end the week with three games at home against the Detroit Tigers.

Jorge Montanez

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