Deep League Waiver Wire — Adrian Gonzalez & Niko Goodrum

Welcome to the first 2018 edition of the deep league waiver wire! This is where I recommend two players with ownership rates that don’t exceed 10% in CBS leagues. These recommendations are geared toward deep leaguers, which is mostly mono leagues (AL-Only or NL-Only). But, sometimes I feel they are worthy of shallower league consideration, and I’ll note when that happens.

Adrian Gonzalez | 1B NYM | 10% Owned

Boy, how the mighty have fallen! When the Mets signed Gonzalez, suggesting they didn’t believe prospect Dominic Smith wasn’t quite ready for the starting first base job, we all laughed. Since 2015, Gonzalez has missed significant time with back issues, and those aren’t the type to suddenly go away. This is especially true for a 35 year old. So after a career worst .275 wOBA over 252 plate appearances last season, we essentially left him for dead.

But he may have been revived! Tiny sample size caveats apply of course, BUT…

-He’s walking like crazy, posting a mark in the mid-teens, driven by his lowest Swing% since 2009 and lowest O-Swing% since 2010
-Welcome back power! Check out his fly ball exit velocity trend:

Adrian Gonzalez Fly Ball Exit Velocity
Season FB EV (mph)
2015 91.4
2016 89.8
2017 88.8
2018 95.2

Let me warn you — 2018’s mark has come from just four fly balls. That’s such a small sample, it’s almost not even worth mentioning. But given the downward trend heading into the season, any reason for optimism should be identified. His Hard% also sits at 45%, which would represent a career high.

We can’t be confident Gonzalez makes it through the entire season healthy, but for the time being, there’s a greater chance that his offense has returned than we had thought before the season started. That makes him worth adding in even 15-team mixed leagues.

Niko Goodrum | 2B DET | 1% Owned

Goodrum is exactly the kinda guy you end up picking up in your AL-Only league because you have few other choices. But, he may actually become a surprise contributor. He has been around in the minors since 2010 and is already 26, so this is no prospect. He does have some things going for him though.

First, he has started at least one game at every single position in the infield (sans catcher) and outfield. That means he could easily spell anyone due to injury or a day of rest. He has spent the most time at shortstop, then third base, and then second base. Jose Iglesias‘ strong defense at short should ensure he earns the majority of the playing time there. But Dixon Machado? He’s not elite with the glove, and he sports a career .275 wOBA, with a high rest of season projection of just .304. That raises the possibility that Goodrum could slowly cut into Machado’s time and ultimately steal the job.

Of course, Goodrum would have to hit well enough to steal that job. He’s generally displayed good plate patience in the minors, though he has struck out too much given his level of power. That said, he does own some power, as he posted low teen HR/FB rates at Double-A and then Triple-A in 2016 and 2017, and he possesses above average speed as well. He has swiped as many as 35 bases in a season. All the projection systems forecast him for double digits in both homers in steals if extrapolating his plate appearances to a full season. The batting average is ugly, of course, but you can’t have it all. He’s a worthy deep league addition as a utility player, with the potential to earn more playing time behind a weak incumbent.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Are we sure dixon machado’s hot start is smoke in mirrors? Statcast data show’s he’s hitting the ball harder than ever in a better launch angle. Could he be deep league useful instead of goodrum?