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Week 26 Deep League Waiver Wire – 9/23

These four players can bring added value in deeper leagues.

Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players who fantasy managers in deeper leagues should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in larger 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 Matt Wallner, Chris Stratton, Nelson Velázquez, and Trent Grisham 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 Friday afternoon.

 

Matt Wallner – 5%

 

This is all about Matt Wallner here but pretend for just a brief moment that Kyle Schwarber was available via waivers in your league this late in the year, particularly in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. You’d probably want to add Kyle Schwarber to your team, right?

A bit more on Schwarber shortly, but let’s seamlessly transition to focusing on the instant impact Wallner has made in Minnesota. Appearing in 68 games for the Twins so far this season, he’s batting .246 with a .363 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases. That production alone, in a nutshell, makes Wallner a must-add for fantasy managers in search of outfield reinforcements late in the year, regardless of scoring format. And while he’s hit a bit further down the lineup in Minnesota, it’s also hard to ignore the kind of impact he’s making at the plate.

Matt Wallner In 2023

The outfielder is sporting a 47.5% hard-hit rate, a .365 xwOBA, and a 16.7% barrel rate to go along with a .481 xwOBAcon. He’s also walking 10.2% of the time, which certainly doesn’t hurt where his on-base percentage is concerned. He doesn’t have quite enough plate appearances to qualify for Statcast’s percentile rankings, but rest assured those metrics are decidedly above average. And while he’s also striking out 31.4% of the time, the real key here is what happens when he does put the ball in play.

And now, here’s where Kyle Schwarber re-enters our story.

Because despite the difference in plate appearances, Wallner has essentially produced like Schwarber at the plate in terms of quality of contact this season. In fact, it’s eerily similar. Even the strikeout rates are in close proximity to each other.

Just like Kyle Schawrber would be, Matt Wallner is a must-add for fantasy managers for the last week of the season.

 

Chris Stratton – 0%

 

Quietly enjoying a breakout season on the mound, it’s hard not to like what Stratton is doing from an underlying peripherals standpoint so far.

The veteran has logged 61 appearances between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, throwing 81.2 innings in the process, striking out 80 batters, and surrendering 23 walks and eight home runs. He’s also added seven holds, two pitcher wins, and a save while pitching to a 3.53 ERA and a 3.49 FIP.

What’s more, despite reasonably solid, though not overwhelming strikeout metrics (namely a 24.6% strikeout rate and 8.82 strikeouts per nine frames) Stratton ranks 11th in Pitching+ among all qualified relievers, per FanGraphs, as well as logging a 7.1% walk rate, which ranks in the 70th percentile league-wide.

And while Stratton hasn’t logged an overabundance of saves or holds so far either, he’s established himself as a key late-inning option in Texas. Since his debut with the Rangers on August 2, Stratton is tied for third on the team in high-leverage appearances. And while those haven’t translated to holds yet, they very well could to a degree down the stretch, especially considering seven of Texas’ final 10 games are crucial division matchups against the Seattle Mariners. Entering play Friday, the two teams were tied at a half-game behind the Houston Astros for first place in the American League West.

Rangers’ High-Leverage Appearances Since August 2

 

Nelson Velázquez – 11%

 

Stepping into a role replete with significantly more Major League plate appearances in Kansas City with the Royals than he was getting with the Cubs following a mid-season trade for reliever Jose Cuas, Velazquez has made the most of an increase in playing time.

After appearing in 13 games and logging 32 plate appearances with the Cubs, the outfielder is up to 33 games and 118 plate appearances with the Royals. For the season, he’s batting .244 with a .313 on-base percentage and 15 home runs. Though like with Wallner, his quality of contact metrics are all plenty encouraging.

The 24-year-old is sporting a .383 xwOBA this season, as well as a staggering 20.8% barrel rate, an even 50.0% hard-hit rate, and a .496 xwOBAcon.

For context, Shohei Ohtani at 19.3% is the only qualified batter with a barrel rate north of 17.5% this season, and only 15 qualified batters have a hard-hit rate north of the 50.0% mark. With that in mind, it’s probably best to take the Royals’ rookie outfielder’s production with a slight grain of salt given the small sample size, but if anything, his ability to do significant damage at the plate shouldn’t be in question. What’s more, he’s doing it at the right time, at least where the fantasy playoffs are concerned.

Case in point, the former Cub has home runs in three of his last six games entering play Friday, registering four barrels in 16 batted ball events in the process.

 

Trent Grisham – 4%

 

One of a number of San Diego Padres hitters enjoying a productive run of form at the plate as part of a resurgent September by the club, Grisham is batting .214 with a .353 on-base percentage in 51 plate appearances with a home run, two stolen bases, a 106 wRC+ and a walk rate (17.6%) that is fast approaching his strikeout rate (19.6%) in helping the National League West club to a 13-5 record this month.

For the season, he’s batting just .200 with a .314 on-base percentage in 533 plate appearances, though there’s plenty to suggest he’s been better than those metrics would suggest, both from a real-life standpoint and a fantasy standpoint. Furthermore (and first and foremost in terms of fantasy production) despite the lower average and on-base percentage, he’s provided plenty of power and stolen base production as evidenced by 13 homers and 14 stolen bases.

The outfielder is also sporting a 12.5% barrel rate so far, to go along with a 13.0% walk rate and a 41.0% hard-hit rate. If the season were to wrap up today, the barrel rate and walk rate would both be career highs. The hard-hit rate is percentage points (0.8 to be exact) away from tying his career-best in the Majors.

Elsewhere, Grisham is making better quality contact against fastballs than he ever has, at least in a full season. The 26-year-old’s .340 xwOBA against fastballs this year is his best in a full season in his career.

The flip side (to a degree) is that he’s struggled more against breaking stuff more than he has in years past, both from an xBA and xwOBA standpoint, but the outfielder looks like a quality outfield addition for fantasy managers in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring given his ability to get on base and contribute home runs and steals in a quality San Diego lineup that’s scored the fourth-most runs in the league this month.

Trent Grisham Against Breaking Stuff In His Career

 

Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx 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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