Last Word on Baseball is back with your fantasy baseball waiver grabs of the week. An Angel, Matt Thaiss, has picked up where he left off after a torrid spring training performance, a hot catcher may still be available, and more outfield depth is out there for the taking. At the bottom, see how last week’s targets have fared.
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). Slash lines are AVG/OBP/SLG. The list is in no particular order.
Matt Thaiss, LAA, 1B/3B (2% rostered)
Last 7 days: 17 AB, .412/.444/1.000, 4 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB
Los Angeles Angels rookie slugger Matt Thaiss made his presence known during spring training, with an absurd slash line of .372/.413/.674 across 43 at-bats. He had nine XBH to go along with nine RBI. Since getting regular playing time beginning July 3rd, Thaiss has carried his spring success into the games that matter, although it took some time to get going. His season numbers aren’t spectacular by any means, but it’s clear he’s found his stroke. The power numbers have been there (slugging .580), but only lately has the average picked up. He’s driving in runs and clubbing home runs, making a case for moving up in the batting order (so far this season he hasn’t batted higher than seventh). If you’re looking for 1B or 3B help to make your playoff push, Thaiss is probably waiting for you in the free-agent pool.
Adam Duvall, ATL, OF (17% rostered)
Last 7 days: 26 AB, .385/.393/.923, 6 R, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB
One of the league’s hottest hitters has seen a big spike in ownership, going from being on about zero rosters to 17% in the past week or so. Former All-Star slugging outfielder Adam Duvall enjoyed two successful seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He had back-to-back 30-home run seasons, but hasn’t had nearly the same success since the move to the Atlanta Braves. He’s shown he can slug at the pro level, and lately, he’s getting back to his old ways. This season in Triple-A, Duvall has hit 29 home runs and collected 84 RBI in 94 games. Since being called up, he has five homers and eight RBI in eight games. Those are serious power numbers. He’s clearly taking advantage when teammates are on base. It’s likely his average will regress given his career numbers, but the 30-year old has real pop. Look no further for an excellent source of HR and RBI on that potent Braves offense.
Bryan Reynolds, PIT, OF (24% rostered)
Last 7 days: 22 AB, .409/.536/.773, 10 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Bryan Reynolds has been on a tear of late. The Vanderbilt product was a 2nd-round pick in 2016, and he has since flown through the minor leagues. As the competition got stiffer, his numbers only got better. Reynolds is a pure contact hitter, never hitting worse than .302 at any level. His full line in the majors this year is a stellar .333/.408/.512 across 338 PAs. Over the past 30 days, he’s ranked 23rd in the majors in runs scored. He’s tied for first with teammate Starling Marte and Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler over the last seven. Reynolds isn’t known for his power, but he’s hit two homers this past week. He holds extra value in leagues that count hits, runs, and OBP. The runs have been piling up, even with MVP-hopeful Josh Bell struggling of late. Marte has been on fire, and if Bell can get back into form, Reynolds will reap the benefits.
Bo Bichette, TOR, SS (28% rostered)
Last 7 days: 25 AB, .407/.467/.667, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Highly-touted rookie Bo Bichette is finally here. Just called up by the Toronto Blue Jays this past week, Bichette is already swinging the bat extremely well. In six games, he has five XBH (four doubles, one homer). He joins fellow generational studs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio to make up an exciting trio for Blue Jays fans to cheer on for years. Bichette was a 2nd-round pick in 2016 straight out of Lakewood HS (FL). Baseball America has had him ranked as the #8 overall prospect for the past two seasons. Single-A ball was no problem for the then 19-year-old, where he slashed .362/.423/.565. Last year in Double-A, his line was a more modest .286/.343/.453. Bichette possesses some power and should develop more as he matures. His baserunning is a plus as well, having stolen 73 bags in 96 tries across his four-year pro career. The youngster is also an exceptional contact hitter. If he happens to be available in keeper leagues, go get him. Even in redraft leagues, he has value to carry you down the stretch.
Will Smith, LAD, C (21% rostered)
Last 7 days: 20 AB, .300/.364/.750, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB
Not to be confused with reliever Will Smith, the catcher Will Smith hasn’t looked back since taking over as the starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A catcher who can hit is a valuable commodity in fantasy baseball. Smith has been one of the better hitters in the league recently, let alone one of the best catchers. Extending his stats to the last 15 days, he’s sporting three home runs, 13 runs driven in, and a whopping 1.423 OPS. The 24-year-old has spent his entire career in the minors up until this point. He’s shown good pop, hitting 20 homers in each of the past two seasons. Smith gets on base at a solid rate as well. His high batting average has been great to see, but his career numbers don’t support that it will continue. Still, Smith is the starter on a great team. His job is his to lose. Grab his hot bat while you can.
Last week’s list and their performances over the last seven days:
Anthony Santander: 22 AB, .227/.320/.318, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB
Mike Tauchman: 12 AB, .333/.385/.667, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB
Oscar Mercado: 23 AB, .217/.240/.304, 5 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB
Miguel Sano: 21 AB, .286/.400/.524, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB
Renato Nunez: 26 AB, .154/.154/.154, 1 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Reynaldo Lopez: 0-0, 5.1 IP, 6 K, 4 BB, 3.38 ERA, 1.88 WHIP
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