Well, we’ve made it, friends — we’ve officially just passed the halfway point of the season. While we may still see a few Marcus Semien-in-2022-esque turnarounds, I think we’re beyond the point of being able to blame our teams’ struggles on a handful of players getting off to a bad start, and our team’s strengths and weaknesses should be getting more clear by the day. It’s a tricky time to try to re-build a roster, though, since in your everyday 5×5 league, it’s maybe still a bit too early to know exactly which categories you’re likely to have a surplus of stats in at the end of the year, and which you’ll need to be fighting for every last scrap you can get. Of course, in the deepest leagues there may not be anything we can do about it anyway, since if your AL and NL-only waiver wires look anything like mine do, any potential upgrades will be hard to come by. But grind on we must, which brings us to this week’s list of names that may not be on the most far-reaching radars of those in standard leagues, but could be of interest to those of us swimming on the adult side of the pool.
Drew Waters. Waters is likely owned in your deeper AL-only leagues, but at just 6% in CBS leagues, he makes it into today’s post. He’s basically been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last week: .364 average, .391 OBP, 2 homers, and a steal for good measure. Waters is 24 and carries some post-hype prospect-ness with him… I think many of us were skeptical of his long-term outlook when the Braves gave up on him, then were thinking he had some nice sleeper appeal heading into this season with KC, then forgot about him when he went down early in spring with the dreaded oblique injury. Now that he’s finally healthy, there’s no reason to think the switch-hitter won’t be a fixture in the Royals outfield for the rest of the season, so even once he cools a bit I’d say he has a shot at relevance in slightly shallower leagues or as a weekly/daily stream when the matchups look tasty.
Ronel Blanco. Blanco’s numbers for the Astros aren’t great, and he’s scheduled for what could be a brutal start in Texas on Friday. (Then again, I would have said Zach Davies’s start against the Rays on Wednesday was likely to be brutal and he ended up shutting them out for 7 innings, so… baseball!) I was impressed by Blanco’s ability to settle in against the Dodgers in his last start, however, where after giving up 3 runs in the first, he ended up going 6 innings without giving up so much as another hit and finished with 6 Ks. He may end up back in the bullpen sooner rather than later, but I’m keeping an eye on him from afar in case he stays in or returns to the rotation, especially if his matchups start looking more appealing than his latest double whammy of having to face the Dodgers immediately followed by the Rangers.
James Kaprielian. Nothing fresh or exciting about this pick I’m afraid, but in the midst of a disastrous season both in terms of personal stats and the A’s team performance, I feel I should point out that over the last month, Kaprielian has been pretty darn good. Well, decent anyway. In his last four starts, he’s pitched 23 innings, 3.47 ERA/1.24 WHIP, with 19 Ks while also managing to pick up 2 wins. Just saying, that’s better than I’ve gotten from (fill in this blank with almost every starter I drafted in every league) over the last month.
Mike Ford. Ford earns this mention by being the most productive 1% owned hitter in CBS leagues over the last week while starting at DH for the Mariners versus most righties. He’s hit 2 homers during that little stretch and has the always entertaining anomaly of a lower OBP (.263) than average (.278) in those 18 at bats. That .278 number is way over his head as he’s barely above the Mendoza line for his career, so he’ll always be an average liability… but perhaps this is one of those deep-league situations where less is more, since he can’t hurt you TOO much given that he’s not starting every day (and theoretically coming in to pinch hit only when the matchups favor him).
Blake Perkins. The 26-year old Perkins has found himself with some playing time in a Milwaukee outfield that has been banged up and depth-challenged from the moment the season started. Add to the injury issues Brian Anderson’s recent epic skid and some timely hitting from Perkins, and it’s not out of the question that he continues to see at least semi-regular playing time. Perkins had a grand slam earlier this month, and overall has just 56 at bats, but is now hitting .268 (.328 OBP) with 2 homers, 10 runs scored, 11 RBI, and 2 steals, so at least he’s shown the ability to chip in a little bit all over the board.
Bryan Hoeing. Hoeing is the latest new face in the Marlins’ rotation, for the moment at least as Edward Cabrera remains IL’d with a shoulder issue. We’ll see how the potential return of Johnny Cueto (forgot all about him!) affects things, and Hoeing is still getting stretched out so who knows how many innings they’ll want him to pitch, but he has acquitted himself well so far. In his last start against the Pirates he went five innings without allowing a hit (though he did have 3 walks to his 2 Ks), and for the season he now has 18 appearances (35 innings including 4 starts), with 29 Ks and an overall ERA/WHIP of 2.31/1.20. Hoeing is 26 so he’s not exactly the youngest or most promising pitcher in the Marlins organization, and the possible control issues don’t excite me, but he may still be a guy who can provide occasional help either now or in the near-ish future.
Nick Madrigal. Even after a recent stretch of excellent hitting, Madrigal remains who we thought he would be at his best: a guy who hits for a high but empty average, with little to no power or RBI production but who might steal an occasional base. That may be just enough to move the needle in a very deep league, so it should be noted that Madrigal has been playing an awful lot of third base for the Cubs lately after the most recent disappearance of Patrick Wisdom’s ability to hit a baseball, and he qualifies at second in most leagues as well.
Jared Triolo. Ending this, as I often like to do, with a 0% owned player, and in this case one I admittedly am completely unfamiliar with. What I do know is that Triolo is up with the big club for the Pirates, is a slick fielder, as they say, and should see at least part-time duty at third base after Ke’Bryan Hayes hit the IL. Speaking of which, we’ll turn this into a dual blurb and mention the 8% owned Rodolfo Castro, who has been incredibly inconsistent this year but who also should see more regular playing time in the Bucs’ infield to cover for Hayes. Okay, make that a triple blurb, since it should also be noted that Nick Gonzales is up and may play a fair amount of second base and/or shortstop; I’m skeptical that he’ll make an easy adjustment to hitting at the major league level given some shaky contact skills, but we shall see. Anyhow, Triolo was a second round pick in 2019 and is 25 now, and was having a solid if not spectacular year in the minors (.309 AVG/4.12 OBP, with just one homer but 8 stolen bases).