Welcome back to the deep league waiver wire. You must have missed my weekly Wednesday recommendations oh so dearly. This week, we focus on being proactive with a hitter and reactive with a new closer.
Jorge Bonifacio | OF KC | CBS 2% Owned
You may have totally forgotten that Bonifacio still exists. Last season, he enjoyed a surprisingly respectable debut, posting an 18.3% HR/FB rate and .177 ISO. That power did come with some warts, however, as he struck out 28% of the time having posted a 15.4% SwStk%. That said, heading into 2018 with a starting job made him an intriguing late round option. Then, it was announced on March 10 that he has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a PED. Because most leagues require a suspended player to occupy a bench slot instead of a DL slot, his ownership plunged.
Oddly, he’s eligible to return on June 27, which is just two weeks away, and yet his ownership rate stands at just 2%. That’s crazy for a guy who will almost surely slide into the starting lineup and possesses real power. While his minor league track record didn’t suggest a whole lot of home run power (his career high HR/FB rate in the minors sat at just 11.5%), xHR/FB does validate his spike with the Royals into the high teens. That mark stood at 17.3% (versus an 18.3% actual mark), driven by above average marks in all the components, Brls/True FB, Avg FB Distance, and FB Pull%.
Even his .324 BABIP was no fluke, as his xBABIP was nearly identical at .321. That’s because he hit a ton of line drives (which is likely unsustainable), and also never pulled a grounder into the shift.
I’m not going to expect a helpful batting average, but his minor league record suggests a better strikeout rate and he probably won’t hurt you severely. Combine that with the power and a possible spot in the middle of the Royals lineup, and his free cost makes him a no-brainer pickup.
Anthony Swarzak | RP NYM | 10% Owned
Incumbent Mets closer Jeurys Familia hit the 10-day DL on June 7th, which means it’s conceivable he’s back in just a couple of days, making this recommendation look silly. While Familia is on the shelf with a sore shoulder, Swarzak is likely to garner the lion’s share of save opportunities. He had his coming out party last year, as his fastball velocity surged for a second straight season, which boosted the effectiveness of the pitch, along with his slider.
Both pitches sported double digit SwStk% marks and you have to imagine that he could do it again if he could maintain last year’s velocity bump. Unfortunately, after returning from injury, his velocity has ticked down in literally every outing. So perhaps his ability to hold last year’s gains is a bit more in question. Interestingly, he has ratched up his slider usage, actually throwing the pitch 64% of the time in his last outing facing three batters. Of course, the sample sizes we are working with are tiny.
With shoulder injuries always a concern, who knows how long Familia will be out for. I don’t think Swarzak will be nearly as good as last year, or anywhere close really, but he should be plenty good enough to save some games in Familia’s absence, however long that is.
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.