Welcome to a brand new series of fantasy baseball coverage here at Last Word On Baseball. To start, we are taking a look at the top fantasy baseball waiver targets to help boost your team down the homestretch. For the sake of continuity, ESPN leagues are the baseline, and for a player to make this list, they must be rostered on no more than 50% of teams across the site (rounded to the nearest whole number).
1. Keston Hiura, MIL, 2B
2019 stats: .320 AVG, .977 OPS, 19 R, 9 HR, 19 RBI, 6 SB
Last 15: .439 AVG, 1.350 OPS, 9 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 SB
Rookie second baseman Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers has been tearing the cover off the ball for the past month, earning the status as our top pick for fantasy baseball waiver targets. Surprisingly, the University of California Irvine product is only rostered in 32% of leagues, despite having the highest PR15 (Player Rating over Last 15 Days) across the entire site for batters. He’s been an excellent source in all categories at a thin position. Go grab him while you can.
2. Danny Santana, TEX, OF/1B/2B
2019 stats: .316 AVG, .922 OPS, 45 R, 13 HR, 35 RBI, 11 SB
Last 15: .417 AVG, 1.281 OPS, 7 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB
Texas Rangers utility man Danny Santana has been a somewhat streaky player thus far in 2019, but right now he’s red hot again. He’s available in almost 75% of leagues. Santana is eligible at three positions and can provide outstanding value in all hitting categories. He’ll even steal a base every so often. The value of being able to slot this kind of production in multiple roster slots can’t be overstated.
3. Nate Lowe, TB, 1B
2019 stats: .315 AVG, .975 OPS, 15 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB
Last 15: .371 AVG, 1.349 OPS, 10 R, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB
The Tampa Bay Rays have surprised a lot of people with their success this season, getting production from unlikely places. The newest name to add to the mix is rookie first baseman Nate Lowe. Lowe was a 13th round pick out of Mississippi State University in 2016. He played some earlier this season but has been a regular this month. If you need help at first base, Lowe is very likely there for the picking (rostered in 9% of leagues). He should continue to provide very good power and contact numbers as long as he’s given the time.
4. Brandon Crawford, SF, SS
2019 stats: .240 AVG, .704 OPS, 38 R, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB
Last 15: .368 AVG, 1.218 OPS, 12 R, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB
In his ninth season, San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford hasn’t quite turned into the star-caliber player they hoped for. He does have two All Star elections to his name to go along with three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. Nevertheless, his 2019 campaign has been virtually irrelevant in fantasy. But that’s all changed within the past couple weeks. Only Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox has been better at the position in that span. Crawford has raised his average 31 points over the past two months, averaging exactly one hit per game. His PR15 is certainly helped by a massive performance recently at Coors Field — he went 5-for-6 at the plate, scored three runs, blasted two homers, and tallied eight runs batted in. Still, his July has been strong, and shortstop is a weak position overall. Crawford is available in 93% of leagues.
5. Tyler O’Neill, STL, OF
2019 stats: .322 AVG, .896 OPS, 12 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB
Last 15: .432 AVG, 1.258 OPS, 7 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB
The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the most disappointing teams from a fantasy perspective. Entering the season, the Cards seemed poised to provide value from top to bottom in their lineup. Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna provided some spark at times, but others like Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, and Mr. Fantasy Paul Goldschmidt have been more or less duds. Tyler O’Neill is finally getting a second chance after a poor April, and he has not disappointed. The Canadian slugger has found his power stroke. When he’s swinging the bat well, he’s one of the most prolific power hitters in the game. Maybe more importantly, O’Neill isn’t just smacking homers. In his current six-game hitting streak, he’s recorded multiple hits in all but one. Ride the hot streak while it’s in full force.
6. Travis d’Arnaud, TB, C
2019 stats: .241 AVG, .753 OPS, 28 R, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB
Last 15: .375 AVG, 1.272 OPS, 10 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB
Much like Crawford, yet maybe even more so, Tampa Bay Rays catcher Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t had the career many had expected. Lately, though, he’s turned the corner as fantasy’s best catcher over the past 15 days. Catcher is the thinnest position there is outside of household names like Buster Posey, Gary Sanchez, and J.T. Realmuto, to name a few. The former highly-touted prospect is available in 94% of leagues right now. The Rays offense has been a boon for fantasy owners this season, which bodes well for d’Arnaud’s continued success if that holds up.
7. Jeff Samardzija, SF, SP
2019 stats: 7-7, 6 QS, 3.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3.07 K/BB
Last 15: 2-0, 2 QS, 1.32 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 11.0 K/BB
Grizzled veteran Jeff Samardzija is the first pitcher to make our list. The San Francisco Giants are scorching hot so far in the month of July. Vintage Samardzija has helped spark the team, tossing three straight quality starts this month. In terms of PR15, Samardzija is currently ranked 10th among all starters. The long-time veteran is rostered in 16% of leagues, so there’s a very good chance he’s there for the taking. His value is higher in leagues that count quality starts, but with the way the Giants have been playing lately, the wins could come too.
8. Michael Pineda, MIN, SP
2019 stats: 6-5, 9 QS, 4.38 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 5.44 K/BB
Last 15: 1-1, 2 QS, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.0 K/BB
Another veteran starter rounds out our list of fantasy baseball waiver targets. Minnesota Twins starter Michael Pineda has had a great stretch recently, tossing four quality starts in his last five outings. It’s encouraging to see his strikeout numbers get back to what fans have become accustomed to in the past when healthy. The Twins have been playing great baseball all season long, so Pineda should continue to have nice run support as the season progresses. If he can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, he could provide sneaky value to your fantasy squad in the final few months of the season. He’s available in over three-quarters of leagues.
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