Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Aaron Altherr is worth picking up

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Saturday May 13th, 2017

In last Tuesday’s Hitting Report, we called Aaron Altherr one of the hitters to watch this week. Here’s what we said about him then.

Altherr is going to force Pete Mackanin into a tough decision in about a week. Howie Kendrick is expected to return from the DL right around then after a rehab assignment as he works his way back from an oblique injury. Altherr has been starting in Kendrick’s absence, and it’s hard to imagine Mackanin taking him out of the lineup given the way he has swuing the bat. Altherr has started 15 games this season, slashing .333/.415/.561 with two homers, seven doubles, three steals and eight RBI in those contests. He has logged all his time in the outfield, which is true of Kendrick this season, as well. Altherr’s play could force Kendrick back to the infield, most likely to first base. Assuming Altherr remains a regular in the Phillies lineup, he’ll be worth a look in all fantasy formats.

Since publication of that column, Altherr has gone 4-for-9 with three homers, a double and seven RBI. In other words, he has already proved the first sentence of the above paragraph wrong. Mackanin doesn’t have a tough decision in front of him. Altherr is locked into the Phillies starting lineup.

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It’s tempting to call Altherr’s run a hot streak, but it’s basically right in line with his performance since taking over as the starting left fielder after Kendrick’s injury. Altherr has started all but one game since April 16. In that time, he’s slashing .364/.447/.758 with six homers, eight doubles and 19 RBI. He has struck out 19 times and drawn nine walks, a perfectly acceptable ratio for a hitter with his skill set, and has stolen three bases.

Altherr is a big guy at 6’5” and 215 pounds. He’s not in the same territory as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, but he’s just one rung down from them. As such, you don’t really want to throw him a pitch that lets him get his arms extended. Just as Sammy Solis.

via GIPHY

Or ask Dillon Overton, who threw this ridiculous hanging curve to Altherr earlier this week.

via GIPHY

That’s one of those homers that makes you immediately laugh when the hitter makes contact. Unless you’re Overton, I guess.

We all know it’s not going to be this easy for Altherr forever. Pitchers will adjust, he’ll have to adjust, pitchers will adjust again, and so on. It’s the story of baseball from time immemorial. Altherr, however, has done more than enough to earn the fantasy community’s trust. We know that he has earned Mackanin’s, and that’s half the battle. Now that he’s going to have an everyday spot in the lineup, it’s time for his ownership rate to spike. Altherr has the look of a top-30 outfielder.

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Keon Broxton, OF, Brewers

I detailed why I believe in Broxton’s turnaround earlier this week. Please click through to read my full thoughts. The short version is that he made a substantive change, which he himself highlighted, and is now standing farther away from the plate in the batter’s box. Since then, he has been mashing inside pitches that previously ate him up, which goes a long way to explain his .367/.433/.650 slash line over the last three weeks. This is the player we believed Broxton would be coming into this season.

Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, White Sox

If you’re in a league that allows you to stash minor leaguers while they’re still in the minors, and if Moncada is still available in said league, go grab him right now. The top prospect in baseball is hitting .352/.427/.544 with six homers, four doubles, 11 RBI and 10 steals in 143 plate appearances at Triple-A Charlotte. The Super Two deadline is on the horizon, and once that passes the White Sox will have secured an extra year of team control over the extremely talented infielder, which means they’ll no longer have an incentive to keep him in the minors. Moncada has little more to prove at the Triple-A level. It would be a surprise if he weren’t in a White Sox uniform sometime in June.

Logan Forsythe, 2B, Dodgers

Forsythe, who has been out since April 19 because of a fractured toe, is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. He would already be on the assignment, and might in fact be back with the Dodgers, had hamstring tightness not cropped up while rehabbing the toe injury. So long as there aren’t any more setbacks, Forsythe should return to the Dodgers lineup within a week to 10 days. He was hitting .295/.407/.341 with seven runs in 54 plate appearances before the injury.

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Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman’s resurgence is getting all the attention in Washington, but he’s not the only late-career veteran providing significant pop in the middle of the Nationals lineup. Werth has come back from the dead to hit .299/.395/.505 with six homers and 11 RBI in 124 plate appearances this season. This after hitting .235/.322/.404 over the last two seasons combined. Even if and when he slows down, run-scoring and RBI opportunities in this offense will be ample. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s time to buy into the Werth rebirth.

Domingo Santana, OF, Brewers

Santana continues to swing a hot bat, going 13-for-38 with two homers, two doubles and five RBI in his last 11 games. That translates to a .342/.419/.553 slash line over 43 plate appearances. Sure, the endpoints are as arbitrary as it gets, but we know this is the type of hitter Santana can be. He hit .256/.345/.447 with 11 homers and 14 doubles in 281 trips to the plate last year. He doesn’t turn 25 until the first week of August and hits fifth mostly every day for one of the most surprisingly powerful offenses in baseball. This should be an easy, lucrative addition for many fantasy owners.

Ryan Schimpf, 2B/3B, Padres

This is only a recommendation for owners in OBP leagues. Schimpf’s batting average, which sits at .165 in 132 plate appearances, is untenable in batting average leagues. He does have 21 walks, however, pushing his OBP up to .295. If he can improve that slightly, then his power becomes an attractive asset. Schimpf has nine homers and 18 RBI this season, numbers which rank first and ninth, respectively, among second baseman. Schimpf managed a .336 OBP last season across 330 plate appearances, so there’s hope that he can at least make himself an OBP neutral player. Even so, if you’re strong at OBP, getting a player with Schimpf’s power to play second base would be a real coup.

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Alex Wood, SP, Dodgers

Remember back in 2014 when Wood looked like one of the next great pitchers in the majors? He threw 171 2/3 innings that year, amassing a 2.78 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.14 WHIP and 170 strikeouts. He regressed the following season, and injuries interrupted his career last year, but the great version of Wood has returned. He has made five starts this season, pitching to a 3.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. Wood has earned a spot in the Dodgers rotation, and we have documented proof that he can be a top-30 fantasy starting pitcher. Players like that aren’t easy to acquire at this point, especially at the cost of the worst player on your roster. Go get Wood while you still can.

Tyson Ross, SP, Rangers

Ross’s two-inning simulated game last week was a success. Next up is a three-inning simulated game, during which he’ll throw about 45 pitches, on Saturday. The Rangers would want him to make one more simulated start before going on a rehab assignment. If all goes well, he should be set to rejoin the rotation in late May or early June. Stashing a player on your DL always makes sense if you have the space to do so. It makes even more sense when the player you’re stashing struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings across 391 2/3 frames in 2014 and 2015 combined.

Corey Knebel, RP, Brewers

Carl Edwards, RP, Cubs

Hector Neris, RP, Phillies

Kyle Barraclough, RP, Marlins

Adam Ottavino, RP, Rockies

Justin Wilson, RP, Tigers

Hector Rondon, Cubs

David Phelps, RP, Marlins

As always, we will keep a list at the bottom of our weekly waiver wire column of relief pitchers who are not closers, but can still be fantasy assets because of their strikeout rate, ERA and WHIP. The relievers are listed in order of fantasy value.

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