Each Thursday, I’ll be looking at the top waiver targets who could be available in your deeper leagues. Every player who will be included in this series will have an ownership rate of 33 percent or lower in CBS and Fantrax leagues, which is a pretty good indication of these players being available in at least some mixed leagues with at least 15 teams.
Note: Ownership percentages are listed in parentheses, with CBS listed first and Fantrax listed second.
Franchy Cordero, OF, Padres (9/27): To be honest, I worried that by the time I wrote this, Cordero would be too popular to include in this week’s column. He is an industry favorite, probably in no small part because of the splash he made on Statcast leaderboards during his brief time up with the Padres last season. Both his barrels per batted ball event ratio (14.3 percent) and exit velocity on flies and liners (97.3 mph) placed Cordero in the top 20 for hitters with at least 30 batted balls.
Hype machines don’t live on Statcast data alone. Cordero also had a strong Dominican Winter League performance (.323/.393/.495 with six steals) and a great Cactus League (1.179 OPS). Now that Cordero has recovered from a groin injury and has replaced the injured Manuel Margot in center field and in the leadoff spot, a quick start with the Padres could catapult him towards the top of most-added lists. His home run at Colorado in Wednesday’s season debut could be the first building block of an even higher level of popularity. While high strikeout rates are a concern, there is too much power potential here to pass up.
Aledmys Diaz, SS, Blue Jays (13/26): At least as far as power hitting is concerned, whatever was ailing Diaz last season with the Cardinals seems to be behind him now. In 35 plate appearances this young season, he has clubbed three homers and two doubles for a .324 Iso. On his 28 batted balls, Diaz has produced an average exit velocity of 88.6 mph. That’s an increase of 3.7 mph over last season and nearly identical to the 88.7 mph mark he established as a rookie, when he hit 17 home runs in 460 plate appearances.
It’s hard to trust the small samples compiled by players over just two weeks of this season, but it’s reassuring that Diaz has hit with this type of power over a whole season in his recent past. It’s even more encouraging to realize that, as one might expect, Diaz was more of a home run threat away from Busch Stadium. His 2016 road HR/FB ratio of 17.9 percent was slightly more than double his ratio of 8.9 percent at home. Diaz’s new home — Rogers Centre — is a far better place for a right-handed batter to hit home runs than Busch Stadium has been.
Diaz may not be the right choice if you need help with batting average due to his pull tendencies and aversion to line drives, but a .250 Avg is a more realistic rest-of-season expectation than his current .206 mark. Also, playing time should not be an issue for the two months or more that Troy Tulowitzki is out, while he recovers from surgery on both of his heels.
Dixon Machado, 2B/SS, Tigers (7/20): With six doubles, Machado has one fewer than AL leader Xander Bogaerts, and with the Red Sox’s shortstop currently on the DL, he has a good chance to surpass him. Machado seems like an unlikely candidate to lead in any extra-base category, but the early returns suggest he is a late convert to the flyball revolution. The 26-year-old has increased his average launch angle from 3.9 degrees last season to 14.6 degrees so far this year, which in turn, has allowed Machado to increase his flyball rate from 24.4 to 43.8 percent and his line drive rate from 18.5 to 21.9 percent. Better yet, Machado isn’t hitting lazy flies; his average exit velocity on flies and liners of 97.7 mph places him in the top 15 percent of hitters with at least 10 batted balls.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals (7/21): If Adam Eaton (ankle) makes a quick return, Goodwin may not have much long-term value, but at least for next week or so, he should be in the Nationals’ lineup just about every day. Everyone can use a little power and speed, and as long as he is getting regular playing time, Goodwin can provide both. He already has two steals in his first 12 games this season. Though Goodwin currently has only one extra-base hit (a home run), last season he bashed 13 home runs, 21 doubles and a triple over just 278 plate appearances. In an injury-prone Nationals outfield, being the fourth outfielder is not a bad situation for potential playing time. Goodwin could be worth stashing when Eaton return.
Steven Duggar, OF, Giants (4/16): We’re all eagerly awaiting the arrivals of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Senzel, as it would appear that only service time concerns are keeping them down on the farm for now. Either could be called up any day now. Maybe the same can be said for Duggar, given the struggles of primary center fielder Austin Jackson. Only the Royals have scored fewer runs than the Giants’ total of 33, and Duggar would offer them a potential upgrade, allowing them to return Jackson to the platoon role he ably filled for the Indians last year.
Duggar hasn’t shown much power in the minors outside of the California League, but he has consistently demonstrated strong plate discipline. Last year, he improved his stolen base efficiency, nabbing 10 bases in 12 tries over just 44 games, and he already has a pair of steals with Triple-A Sacramento this year.
Note: All Statcast data are from Baseball Savant.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.