Week 20 Waiver Wire Adds – 15% Rostered Or Fewer

These four players can bring added value in deeper leagues.

Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players rostered in less than 15% of fantasy leagues who you should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in deeper leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position. This week it’s Albert Pujols, Lars Nootbaar, Jake McCarthy, and JP Sears who are worth your time as potential additions in deep leagues.

All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Sunday afternoon.


Albert Pujols – 13%


Playing in a part-time role, Pujols struggled initially in his first 102 plate appearances this season.

The future Hall of Famer hit just .202 with a .324 on-base percentage, four home runs, a stolen base, and a .167 ISO in 102 plate appearances through a June 4 matchup with the Chicago Cubs. There was probably some positive regression on the way as the slugger logged a solid 41.4% hard-hit rate and a 7.1%-barrel rate to go along with a .197 BABIP during that span.

As it happens, there was some positive regression in Pujols’ stat line. Some significant positive regression. Perhaps more than anyone expected.

In 128 plate appearances since June 4, the veteran’s numbers are very much reminiscent of the metrics he posted earlier in his career in a Cardinals uniform.

Albert Pujols Since June 4

Among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances during that time frame, only 10 have a higher ISO than Pujols’ .293 metric, which checks in better than the respective ISOs of Nolan Arenado, Rafael Devers, Teoscar Hernández, Julio Rodríguez, and Juan Soto – among others – during the same span.

The 42-year-old has been decidedly more productive against left-handed batters this year, with a .381 average, nine home runs, and a 1.196 OPS in 97 plate appearances. His recent hot streak, which includes four multi-hit games in his last eight contests, has him playing more regularly for St. Louis. But even if he only gets starts against left-handed pitchers, he’s going to be fantasy relevant in deeper leagues.


Lars Nootbaar – 8%


Staying in St. Louis with the Cardinals, Nootbaar, like Pujols, has made a significant impact at the plate recently for Oliver Marmol’s team.

After batting just .239 with a .317 on-base percentage and five home runs in 124 plate appearances in the Majors last season, Nootbaar has improved notably at the plate, particularly with his quality of contact.

Lars Nootbaar in 2021 and 2022

That improved contact has helped the outfielder make a much more significant impact with the Cardinals this season. His ISO has risen .010 points and his wRC+ is up from 100 last season to 126 this season.

Crucially for fantasy managers, he’s hitting .242 with a .357 on-base percentage, six home runs, and three stolen bases in 196 plate appearances this season as of the beginning of play on Sunday. Like Pujols, he’s been particularly effective as of late.

In his last 104 plate appearances, the outfielder is hitting .304 with a .442 on-base percentage, three home runs, nine total extra-base hits, a pair of steals, 21 walks, and 17 strikeouts.

All that success has helped establish Nootbaar as the Cardinals’ full-time right fielder, a position he doesn’t look likely to relinquish any time soon, especially with Harrison Bader in New York playing for the Yankees and Juan Yepez in Memphis playing for St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate. In other words, there should be plenty of plate appearances to be he had for Nootbaar moving forward.


Jake McCarthy – 10%


An underrated source of stolen bases – with some over-the-fence power potential as well – McCarthy entered play Sunday hitting .273 with a .332 on-base percentage, four home runs in an even 200 plate appearances.

Ranking in the 99th percentile in terms of Statcast’s sprint speed metric, the 25-year-old has put his speed to good use, stealing nine bases so far.

Since May 20, the day before he stole his first base of the season, McCarthy is one of just eight players in the Majors who’ve hit at least .290 with a minimum of nine stolen bases. Of the eight, he’s one of just three full-time outfielders.

There might be some unsustainability here, with a .341 BABIP and only a 36.4% hard-hit rate, but McCarthy has been productive enough outside of his stolen bases to merit consideration for fantasy managers in deeper leagues.

What’s more, just as with Nootbaar, McCarthy and fantasy managers should benefit from the events of the trade deadline. With David Peralta now in Tampa Bay, the 25-year-old should continue to get plate appearances in the Arizona outfield moving forward.


JP Sears – 14%


Moving from an overflowing rotation picture in New York to a decidedly less crowded one in Oakland has done wonders for JP Sears’ fantasy upside this season.

After making only two starts in seven appearances for the Yankees, the left-hander has already made three starts in an Oakland uniform.

He entered play Sunday with a 1.95 ERA and a 3.12 FIP in 32.1 innings of work this season, striking out 20 batters while surrendering just eight walks.

Then, in a home start Sunday against the Seattle Mariners, Sears gave up six hits, a walk, an earned run, and a homer in five innings while striking out three.

The left-hander’s three-pitch mix includes a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup. It’s the slider, with a 23.3% usage rate, that’s been the most effective this season both in terms of missing bats and limiting quality contact with a 33.3% whiff rate and a .219 xwOBA.

And while Sears’ overall strikeout numbers leave something to be desired, he should be set up for plenty of success with the A’s, at the very least when he’s pitching at home.

The 26-year-old gave up just 24 total home runs in 282 career minor league innings and now will make half his starts at the Oakland Coliseum which, per Statcast, has the second-lowest park factor in terms of home runs in the league over the last three seasons.

Moving forward, he should be a useful starting option for his home starts. Starting with a four-game series against the Miami Marlins on Monday, Oakland will play 22 of their last 40 games at home.


Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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