Keon Broxton & D.J. Stewart: Deep League Wire

An all-Orioles edition of the deep league waiver wire?! YOU BETCHA! While stinky teams are no fun to root for, there are certainly benefits to following them as a fantasy owner. That’s because a stinky team is likely composed of a slew of stinky players, and those stinky players are likely to get replaced by other, hopefully better, players. That time has come, as two new arrivals have made their way to Baltimore with an expectation of every day at-bats in the near-term.

Keon Broxton | OF BAL | CBS 7% Owned

I have never been able to quit Broxton. Ever since his first full half-season back in 2016, in which he displayed an exciting blend of power and speed, I’ve yearned for bigger and better things. With a career 23.9% HR/FB rate and .189 ISO, we know he has power. With 55 career steals, we know he has speed. Over a 600 plate appearance season, his career marks average out to about 24 homers and 38 steals. WOAH.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows, as there had to be some reason Broxton has bounced around. The elephant in the room is his strikeout rate and ability to put the bat on the ball. A career 36.9% strikeout rate is high in any era, even though strikeout rates keep rising. You could make it work by hitting a ton of fly balls and a third of those flying out of the park. But Broxton isn’t quite at that level, so despite that power and speed, along with a double digit walk rate and inflated BABIP, he sports just a .310 career wOBA.

Deep league pickups don’t need to be for the long-term. Over the rest of the season, it’s hard to envision Broxton not destroying your batting average, unless he learned to make contact overnight. But over a couple of weeks trial with the Orioles while they see if they found lightning in a bottle, a bunch of homers and a couple of steals are more than worth the speculation. We know batting average jump around, so it’s not like he couldn’t help your team’s mark over a three week stretch.

The Orioles have nothing to lose to see if he could rediscover that 2016, so roster the potential mix of homers and steals Broxton could provide.

D.J. Stewart | OF BAL | 3% Owned

When you look at Stewart’s page, you find the RotoWire news blurb as follows:

Stewart, who has a 143 wRC+ at Triple-A, is currently blocked at the big-league level, but the Orioles hope to figure out a way to make room for him sooner than later, Nathan Ruiz of The Baltimore Sun reports. “It’s just hard to find an easy way to get him here, but we would love to have him join this team,” general manager Mike Elias said Wednesday. “I’m hopeful we can figure out a way to do that on the sooner side.” (5/22/2019)

True to Elias’ word, Stewart was indeed recalled less than a week later and was immediately installed in the starting lineup. The odd thing is that Stewart actually entered spring training as a favorite to grab a starting outfield job, but the “what the heck are they doing?” Orioles demoted him to Triple-A to begin the season instead. Perhaps they knew what they were doing, as Stewart enjoyed his most productive run in the minors yet.

Stewart has posted respectable strikeout rates in the minors, while always walking at an above average clip. To go along with the solid plate discipline, he has displayed both power and speed. In his second tour of Triple-A this season, he cut his strikeout rate to a career low, which boosted his wOBA above .400 for the first time. Hit knocked eight homers and swiped four bases, for a 26 homer, 13 steal pace. That’s not quite as dynamic as Broxton, but Stewart’s performance comes with significantly fewer strikeouts, giving him a chance to at least be a neutral to your batting average.

As one of the team’s top prospects, Stewart should get a long leash. With all around solid skills, he has a chance to fly under the radar as a respectable fantasy contributor.

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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