Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Ketel Marte and Jason Heyward keep hitting
Heath Cummings looks at the hot bats of Ketel Marte and Jason Heyward.
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I understand if you'd written Jason Heyward off.
He had a .669 OPS over two full seasons coming into this year. He wasn't stealing bases, he didn't have pop and his batting average was just .243 over that span. Some, including me, suggested he didn't deserve to be in the lineup regularly. Well, he's doing everything he can lately to make that talk look foolish.
Heyward collected four more hits on Thursday and now owns a .370/.407/.543 slash line since May 29. He's striking out less than he ever has this year (10.8 percent) and his hard-contact rate is back over 30 percent for the first time since 2012. While is batted ball data still isn't elite, it doesn't have to be when you put the bat on the ball as often as Heyward does. Maybe most importantly, he's cut his ground ball rate to 40.9 percent, which is the lowest mark of his career.
I'm not ready to proclaim that Heyward is back to being a top-30 outfielder in Fantasy, but he's well under-owned at 20 percent. Heyward should be owned in any league that requires five outfielders or is deeper than 12 teams.
Ketel Marte is another player who has seen a leap in his hard contact this year (35.3 percent) and cut his whiffs at the same time. He's one of 11 hitters this year with a hard-contact rate over 35 percent and a swinging strike rate below six percent. Those numbers have been masked for much of the year because of an extreme ground ball rate, but Marte may have fixed that as well.
After posting a ground ball rate above 55 percent in the first two months of the year, he's cut that to 44.4 percent in June. The result? Marte has 13 extra base hits and an 1.149 OPS in the month of June. He won't be that good the rest of the season, but his batted ball profile with a ground ball rate below 45 percent suggests a must-own player in virtually all formats.
Speaking of must-own, it's time to stop dismissing Kyle Gibson. Gibson owns a 3.25 ERA after another quality start on Thursday. Sure, his BABIP against (.254) is still fortunate, so is his strand rate (79 percent). But even normalizing those, his FIP is 3.89 and his xFIP is 3.95.
Thursday was Gibson's ninth quality start of the year and his fifth in his last six starts. In the one exception he gave up two runs over 5.2 innings and struck out seven. It's been nearly a month since he gave up more than two runs in a start. Gibson is pretty close to a must-start pitcher in quality start or points league, but he needs to be owned everywhere.
Much like the Austin Meadows situation, there was a lot of yawning over the call-up of Clint Frazier. After all, there's just nowhere to play in that Yankees outfield once everyone is healthy. Like Meadows before him, Frazier is trying to make those playing time questions look silly.
Frazier has at least one hit in all five of his starts and picked up two from the leadoff spot on Thursday. The most likely outcome is still that he returns to the minor leagues as soon as Brett Gardner is healthy. But I'm adding him in five-outfielder leagues as bench depth just in case.
Jeff Samardzija made another rehab start on Thursday and looks very close to returning to the Giants. Samardzija was awful early in the year, but I'm willing to give him one more chance just in case those struggles were all injury-related.
When he's right, Samardzija is a borderline top-40 starting pitcher in points leagues as an innings eater who pitches his home games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball.
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