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Low-Ownership Hitters to Add – Ramon Laurea-(k)no(ws) Best

All right fam, this is it! In many leagues, next week is Championship week or at last the Semi-finals. It’s now or never!  This will likely be my waiver wire article for hitters this season. I will be posting another starting pitcher streamer article on Sunday, so stay tuned. Also, follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats for helpful tidbits I’ll be throwing out there the final week of the season. Last week, I highlighted some guys and some of which are still widely available like Adalberto Mondesi (available in 70% of leagues), Harrison Bader (82%), Francisco Mejia (85%), Brandon Lowe (94%), and Ryan O’Hearn whom I lead with below.


Analyzing Low-Ownership Hitters – Last 30 Days

Ryan O’Hearn (KC – 1B)
I wrote about O’Hearn last week and his ownership has only jumped 3% from 7% to 10% in the past week. All he’s done in the last 30 days is hit .291 with 8 homers and 18 RBI. The Royals have 7 games next week, @PIT and @DET, not exactly the mecca for starting pitchers.  There’s no reason O’Hearn should be sitting on waivers for teams who are competing. I believe in this run for O’Hearn for a few reasons. As a young player, I love the patience, his 14% walk rate is fantastic and he’s providing plenty of power with a .365 ISO backed up by a 49.3% hard contact rate. It makes his 27% K rate more palatable. He’s a must add in all OBP leagues and should be owned in Standard 12-teamers and deeper.

Billy McKinney (TOR – OF), 7% owned
McKinney hasn’t been as hot lately, but over the last month, he’s been a hit machine batting .333 with 4 homers and 11 RBI.  McKinney likely won’t hit for a ton of power or steal many bases but all he does is hit. He’s sporting a 90% contact rate at balls in the zone (85% league average) and has always posted high line drive rates in the Minors. McKinney should provide a solid BA with great OBP and run into a few home runs. As long as the Blue Jays keep him near the top of the lineup, he’ll provide good run totals as well.

Dansby Swanson (ATL – SS), 18% owned
Swanson is not living up to his prospect hype early in his career but he’s made some positive changes recently. He’s been more aggressive at the plate attacking mistakes early and increasing his hard contact rate. In the last 30 days, Swanson has joined my 40-40-45 club. (That’s a club I’ve made up, still working on the name). That’s a 40% fly ball rate, 40% pull rate, and a 45% hard contact rate. That’s great and he’s produced 6 of his 14 home runs on the year in the last month. He’s also chipped in with 4 steals. Anyone in need of SS or MI help should add him immediately, especially with the Braves 7-game schedule next week. The power is starting to develop and the speed is a nice bonus. Swanson could be a potential sleeper next year with 20 HR 15 SB upside.

Ramon Laureano (OAK – OF), 15% owned
This previously unknown outfielder for the Athletics has a pretty solid .304 average with five homers and four steals over the last 30 days. His 49% hard contact in that span ranks him inside the top 15 in MLB. In the Minors, Laureano’s best skill was his speed, the power was just moderate but has really improved this year. His plate discipline is actually above-average despite a high-strikeout rate. His patience should provide some walks which is likely to lead to a few steals. Laureano is a great power/speed option I could see hitting a few homers and stealing a few bases down the stretch.


Greg Allen (CLE – OF), 6% owned
This is strictly a deep league speed option. Allen has stolen seven bases in the last month, tied for fourth in baseball. Allen is a very good defensive center fielder, but because of his below-average stick, he may only play 4-5 games a week. That’s OK, just add Allen to your bench for depth and throw him in there if you have the need for speed in your weekly match-up. Remember, with expanded rosters, teams are giving more players opportunities which means more days off for all players. I think it’s goidmove to expand your bench on the offensive side.

Adam Frazier (PIT – 2B/OF), 7% owned
Frazier is a high-contact hitter and has begun showing a bit of power with 4 home runs in his last 89 plate appearances with eight HR on the season. Over the last month, Frazier has displayed fantastic ball striking with a 49% hard contact rate, same as our man Laureano above. Personally, I prefer Laureano thanks to the speed but Frazier is eligible at 2B. If you’re looking for MI help, Frazier has a nice batting average floor and is showing some serviceable pop.

Statistics Last – 14 Days

Ji-Man Choi (TB – 1B), 5% owned
Choi is another first baseman owned in far too few leagues, but all he’s done is hit .324 with 4 homers and 12 RBI in the last two weeks. Choi is currently on the strong side of the 1B platoon with ice-cold Jake Bauers flanking the short side. The Rays have a 7-game slate next week against the Rangers and the Blue Jays who both offer weak pitching staffs and should see at least four to five matchups against righties next week. I don’t love Choi’s contact rates, but he’s another guy that hits the ball hard (45%) when he does make contact. Choi is hitting .296 with a .397 wOBA against RHP, so make sure he’s in your lineup against them next week.

Kevin Kiermaier (TB – OF), 26% owned
Has everyone forgotten about the power/speed combo of Kiermaier? He hasn’t shown the speed since he’s been back off the DL but he’s hitting a blistering .452 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in the last two weeks. Forget the season stats for KK, it’s been a lost year but he’s actually healthy coming off an illness this week that has caused him to miss a couple games. But, he’s back, hitting his fourth triple in the last month. He’s being ultra-aggressive, so watch him and make sure he doesn’t start getting out of control with his strikeouts. If that happens, go ahead and drop him. I’ve already mentioned the seven-game slate next week for the Rays, so he’s a great add.

Alex Gordon (KC – OF), 4% owned
This is a blast from the past! Gordon has been nearly useless for about two seasons now. Yet, he’s hit 2 homers and has 4 steals in the last two weeks with 8 steals in the last month! He’s only hit .230 the last month, but he’s been sporting a near 47% hard contact rate this month. Is this for real? I believe that it is, kind of, at least for the rest of this season. He’s actually been a bit unlucky with a .254 BABIP despite the consistent hard contact and a 29% line drive rate. With his strikeout and walk rates looking healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit .275 the rest of the way. The Royals are obviously letting him run wild and are batting him in the #3 spot behind Merrifield and Mondesi who have been on fire. Gordon is my favorite deep-league add next week.




Robbie Grossman (MIN – OF), 1% owned
This is more of a speculative add for super-deep 15-team and AL-Only leagues. He’s hitting .359 with a 20% walk rate and only a 6% strikeout rate in the last two weeks. He’s also been playing every day, good things are coming. His 36% hard contact in that period isn’t anything special (still just above league average), but it’s an improvement from his 32% hard contact thus far in 2018. If you’re in contention, and the waiver wire looks barren AF, give Grossman a look, he could turn a nice profit down the stretch.

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September Moves for the Stretch Run

No, this isn’t a weekly rundown, but I feel that this type of article is more valuable to fantasy owners at this point in the season. Let’s jump right in to some hitters that I think can help you win your league.  I also cover some hitters who’s ownership’s are too high and can be let go. I will have an article out on Sunday highlighting starting pitchers to stream for the upcoming week. Don’t worry, pitchers won’t be left out.

Hitters Under 40% Owned to Add

Trey Mancini (BAL – 1B/OF), 39% owned
Mancini is literally the same player he was last year just without the BABIP luck. The difference in BABIP from 2017 to 2018 is a drop of 70 points. However, since the All-Star break, Mancini is hitting .292 with nine home runs with a more respectable .320 BABIP. He’s also bumped his hard contact up to nearly 40% without changing his approach. Unfortunately, Mancini does not provide speed and hits too many balls on the ground for significant upside. He’s a solid batting average/power replacement for someone like Yonder Alonso whom I’ll discuss later.

Colin Moran (PIT – 3B), 3% owned
OK, so the launch angle increase I predicted from Moran didn’t exactly happen, or did it? It’s actually somewhere in between, sorry to be so anticlimactic. Moran’s ground ball rate has dipped to 45% and his line drive rate is up. He’s also a guy who makes a lot of contact with an 88.5% zone-contact rate. Previously, Moran was on the strong-side of the 3B platoon with my brother from another mother David Freese, but Freese has been shipped to LA. Moran should get just about every start at the hot corner moving forward with a prime lineup spot. Unfortunately, Moran isn’t hitting for power, but has hit .329 since August 1st and should help in batting average, runs, and RBI the rest of the way. Moran is strictly a deep 15-team and deeper league add.

Adalberto Mondesi (KC – 2B/SS), 18% owned
Finally, someone who is actually exciting!  Mondesi is somehow owned in under 25% of leagues and is capable of power and elite level speed. Mondesi is a guy I’ll be all over in drafts next year because of the upside he possesses. For the final month of the season, taking a chance on a guy who could win you the stolen base category without hurting you in the power department is gold. I realize he hasn’t been overly productive recently, but with six home runs and 18 steals in less than 200 at-bats, what more do you need to see? I liken him to a Jonathan Villar-type player whose ownership finally got his well-deserved Mass Appeal, so here’s the next best thing! There’s going to be a ton of helium going into 2019, so keeper league owners should be all over him now because, in dynasty, he’s long gone.

Ryan O’Hearn (KC – 1B), 7% owned
Another Royal, come on now! I’m going with O’Hearn over Brian’s brother Hunter Dozier (they are not brothers) for these reasons: the walk rate and the plate discipline. Both O’Hearn and Dozier have very good power with strikeout issues but O’Hearn does not expand the zone as much as Dozier. I can actually envision a strikeout rate drop to below 25% for RO. Combine that with an 11% walk rate and an incredible 50% hard contact rate and you have…. Rhys Hoskins from 2017! Sure, Hoskins has come down to earth and I don’t expect O’Hearn to go full 2017-Hoskins, but we are talking about only three weeks of baseball. If he stays hot, he could help boost average, home runs, and RBI before the season is over.

Harrison Bader (STL – OF), 19% owned and Brandon Nimmo (NYM – OF), 25% owned
I will forever link these two players who have similar skill sets. Both and high energy athletes who are all-out maximum effort. Bader certainly has more speed and but I think Nimmo can provide more power and OBP. Nimmo has missed a little time in August, but since the beginning of the month (August), Nimmo has been on fire. He’s slashing .351/.432/.636 with 3 homers, a steal, and 14 extra-base hits in only 88 PA! Bader hasn’t been as hot but has the higher SB upside. He’s compiled 10 homers and 13 steals in only 349 plate appearances. Depending on your team needs, grab at least one of these guys.

Francisco Mejia (SD – C), 15% owned
His ownership is sure to jump up after a two-homer performance last night. In Yahoo! Leagues, he does not have catcher eligibility yet, but in ESPN league, he does. Fear not! Only four more starts at catcher will earn him the big “C” next to his name in Yahoo leagues which should happen by early next week. If you’re rostering Tucker Barnhart or Robinson Chirinos, go ahead and make the switch. Mejia projects to be a high contact, high average hitter with moderate power. These days, moderate power means around 20 homers over the course of a full season. I do not see how he doesn’t perform as a top 12 catcher ROS.

Brandon Lowe (TB – 2B/OF), 5% owned
There are three Lowe’s in the Rays system and Brandon isn’t the one I’m most excited about, that would be Nate. However, he’s the only one up with the big club. B. Lowe has been hot hitting .414 with three homers and two steals in the last two weeks. Lowe graded out moderately across the board with slightly above-average power and speed. He’s patient which is great for OBP leagues but may elevate his strikeout rate a bit. I like him in deep leagues to help out with runs and provide some power and speed. OBP leagues, he’s a must add down the stretch.

Over 50% owned: hitters to drop

Eric Hosmer (1B – SD), 75% owned
Depending on what type of scoring your league has, Hosmer likely falls outside the top 300 overall. Most 10 to 12-team leagues roster less than 300 players. Do yourselves a favor and let him go. Hopefully, you’ve been able to find a viable replacement and are still in contention for the championship. I won’t bore you with all the poor numbers on Hosmer, but I will list off the areas where he’s under-performing compared to previous years: walk rate is down, strikeout rate is up, ground ball rate is up, soft contact is up, infield fly rate is up, chase and Swstr rates are up, and contact rate is down. Yup, that’s a lot. Stop owning him for name value, I’d even take teammates Mejia or Franmil Reyes over him right now.

Yonder Alonso (CLE – 1B), 50% owned
Coming into the season I thought Yonder Alonso had some solid value with an ADP well after pick 200. I projected Alonso to provide solid power numbers with a solid batting average as a floor while hitting 5th or 6th in one of the better lineups in the league. While the power has been relatively consistent, his batting average has fallen off the map which currently sits at .241 and is .214 since the All-Star break. It has nothing to do with a change in launch angle, his 22% line drive and 42% fly ball rates in that time frame mirrors his profile over the last 2 years. The issue for Alonso is his lack of hard contact, just 27.3% since August 1st and his chase rate, 35% in the month of August. Alonso will continue to be a batting average drain while providing poor power upside given his recent poor batted ball profile and plate discipline.

In redraft leagues, it’s safe to drop Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez as the team’s brass have decided to hold both down for the remainder of the season. No, they are not owned in over 50% of leagues, but in the playoffs, you need all the roster spots you can get. It’s unfortunate, but maybe they will both come at a bit of a discount next year. Clearly, both are ready to be up with the big club and no longer need refinement. Depending on service time, both could be held down for a couple weeks to a month to start the season similar to Acuna this year and Kris Bryant a few years ago. This would further decrease their ADP and I think they can both provide between 5th and 7th round value next year. It’ll be interesting to see their ADP’s coming into 2019 and I still see them as Star-Boys.

Odubel Herrera (PHI – OF), 70% owned
Over on the Sports Degens, I told you to sell Herrera back in early July before the All-Star break. At the time, he was on fire and ranked inside the top 75 overall. Since then, he’s hit .237 with seven home runs and 1 steal in 186 plate appearances. The power numbers are OK, but the lack of stolen bases and batting average has really hurt his value. Herrera’s hard contact is only 25% since July 5th and his plate discipline is a mess. The weak contact combined with an aggressive approach is the reason I was staying away from Herrera in the second half. There’s no reason for him to be owned in so many leagues. Drop him for one of the outfielders I highlighted above.

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