You thought Justin Upton and Joey Votto were done as Fantasy Baseball commodities? You thought Brendan Rodgers' and Jake Fraley's opportunities had passed them by? You're still wondering what to make of Tucker Davidson and Max Stassi?
Well, then, Monday's edition of Waiver Wire is for you.
What makes the wire so worth playing throughout the year is that players constantly find ways to surprise us. Not every recommendation amounts to something, of course, but there never comes a point in the year when all the talent is tapped out.
In fact, oftentimes the challenge is getting people to believe in what they're seeing.
- We break down rough starts from Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes and Trevor Bauer, falling spin rates, Logan Gilbert, the latest on Jacob deGrom and more on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
SEA Seattle • #18 • Age: 30
He's only still available in shallow leagues, of course, but by now, everyone should be aboard the Yusei Kikuchi bandwagon. His velocity made a big jump last year, and he has continued to refine his arsenal this year with improved spin, whiff and walk rates. Just looking at his past eight starts, he has a 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 9.9 K/9, with a 15.1 percent swinging-strike rate that would rank 11th among qualifiers, ahead of Gerrit Cole.
Justin Upton LF
LAA L.A. Angels • #10 • Age: 33
Between his big September last year and his big March this spring, it looked like we may have been too quick to write off Justin Upton. And then when his batting average dipped below .200 in May, we may have been too quick to write him off again. With a three-hit game Sunday, he has hit safely in nine of 10, batting .371 (13 for 35) with four home runs during that stretch. His xSLG is his highest since 2017, when he hit 35 homers with a .901 OPS.
ATL Atlanta • #64 • Age: 25
Tucker Davidson is one call-up who has carried over what he was doing in the minors, where he had a 0.90 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 across three starts. I suspect he's not an ace in the making, but he does a good enough job keeping the ball on the ground with a slider that coaxes enough whiffs. You may not be ready to trust him yet for his upcoming two-start week, but if the first one against the Red Sox goes well, you may not get another shot to pick him up.
Joey Votto 1B
CIN Cincinnati • #19 • Age: 37
First base has been a tricky position to fill even in 12-team leagues, which is why Joey Votto's return from a fractured thumb should be a welcome sight in spite of his overall numbers. The expected stats paint a much rosier picture, buoyed by the hardest contact rate he's ever had, which is noteworthy since he said at the start of the year that he's adapted his approach for more power. It actually began last year with eight home runs in his final 28 games. Since returning, he has already hit two home runs in six games.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 24
Brendan Rodgers lost his rookie eligibility between impotent showings in 2019 and 2020, but finally, his potential is beginning to shine through. Over his past nine games, he's batting .391 (9 for 23) with three home runs (the first three of his career), and most of that stretch has come away from Coors Field. The increased production has resulted in increased playing time -- he has started six of the team's past seven games -- and with the Rockies heading back home, the former third overall pick may have even more in store.
LAA L.A. Angels • #33 • Age: 30
Max Stassi appeared to break out last year, hitting seven homers with an .886 OPS, but he played barely half of the already limited number of games, which made the performance extra suspect. Between a sprained thumb in April and a concussion in May, he's only now getting his 2021 going, and the results so far would seem to confirm the 2020 breakout. It's too early to say for sure, of course, but you can only be so picky at catcher. At least we're seeing him get the lion's share of the work over Kurt Suzuki.
CLE Cleveland • #44 • Age: 25
Play in a league so deep that even Votto is already stashed? Bobby Bradley might be worth a look even though he was up to his usual all-or-nothing ways at Triple-A, batting .196 with nine homers and 35 strikeouts in 97 at-bats. Remember, though, he was on a mission to win a job this spring and looked much more composed with seven strikeouts in 33 at-bats. Might he have just been going through the motions after the bitter pill of a demotion? Look at his strikeouts since the call-up. The power is enormous if he can put the bat on the ball consistently.
Jake Fraley LF
SEA Seattle • #28 • Age: 26
Jake Fraley is more widely available than even Bradley even though I'd consider him the more attractive pickup of the two. Taking over for Jarred Kelenic in left field, he has flashed enough power and speed to attract attention in Rotisserie leagues, and his plate discipline has so far yielded a .464 on-base percentage. He won't sustain any of it to quite this degree, but he was also off to a good start at Triple-A and hit .298 with 19 homers, 22 steals and a .910 OPS in the minors two years ago.