Waiver Wire: It's time to place your faith in the underrated magic of Shin-Soo Choo

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Saturday July 8th, 2017

For more than a month now, we have included Shin-Soo Choo among the best fantasy baseball players to pick up off the waiver wire. The phrase “one of the most underrated fantasy players of his generation” has appeared next to Choo’s name in some form or fashion in each of those columns.

The fact that he was never the focus of one of those columns, however, only served to drive home how underrated he is. Even a column that regularly sang his praises didn’t give him his just due. That ends now.

Heading into play on Saturday, Choo is the 26th-ranked outfielder and 65th-ranked overall player in standard 5x5 fantasy leagues. He has a better OBP than Charlie Blackmon, more homers than Buster Posey, more runs than Francisco Lindor, and more RBI than Kris Bryant. Choo is one of 24 players with at least a .367 OBP, 12 homers, 45 runs and 40 RBI at the All-Star Break. Add in six steals and he’s one of the few players in the league who makes substantive contributions to all five standard categories.

Choo occupies a great spot in the Rangers order, hitting first or second in 63 of his 76 starts this season. The last time he hit anywhere other than first or second was on May 8, so it’s safe to say he’s locked into the top of the lineup, which makes a ton of sense given his on-base abilities. Choo will continue to be a major run-scoring asset, and should push up toward 15 steals by the end of the season.

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The more you look at Choo’s numbers, the harder it is to understand why he’s so widely available in fantasy leagues. Sure, he doesn’t have quite the same value in batting average leagues compared with OBP leagues, but, as we’ve documented before, you have bigger problems than Choo’s value if you’re still praying to the false idol of batting average. Choo is somehow owned in fewer Yahoo leagues than Randal Grichuk, Hunter Pence and Kevin Pillar. That’s just silly. Choo is a top-30 outfielder. Go get him while you can.

Curtis Granderson, OF, Mets

Here’s another outfielder owned in more leagues than Choo. While that wouldn’t be the case if ownership rate were based on merit, Granderson is still worth a look in all formats. Before suffering a minor hip injury that cost him a few games earlier this week, he was swinging one of the hottest bats in the league. Granderson hit .316/.442/.711 with eight homers in June, and he homered in a pinch-hit appearance on Monday in a game he didn’t start because of the hip injury.

Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cubs

Happ continues to play mostly every day for the Cubs, and is really starting to figure some things out at the plate. He has at least one hit in 14 of his last 16 games, a stretch during which he has gone 23-for-67 with four homers and 13 RBI. He’s up to a season-long slash line of .264/.333/.552 with 12 dingers and 29 RBI, which translates to a 162-game pace of 39 and 95, respectively. Numbers like that will play at second base in all fantasy formats.

Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF, Pirates

Harrison is quietly putting together a nice season in Pittsburgh. He’s slashing .275/.356/.424 with nine homers and 10 steals, earning his second career trip to the All-Star Game. Like Choo, he does a little bit of everything, and is more palatable in batting average leagues. Add eligibility at three positions to the mix, and you get a versatile, valuable contributor, no matter your league format.

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Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees,

Hicks’s ownership rate has dropped in the wake of his oblique injury, which landed him on the 10-day DL at the end of June. He was initially given a prognosis of returning in three to four weeks, and nothing has changed that to this point. That would put him back on the field around July 20, which is basically right around the corner. Hicks is hitting .290/.398/.515 with 10 homers, 40 runs, 37 RBI and seven steals in 242 plate appearances this year. If he was dropped in your league, stash him now.

Josh Reddick, OF, Astros

Reddick has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since returning from the concussion DL on June 20. He has played 15 games in that time, 11 of which were starts, going 22-for-48 with three homers and 17 RBI. The torrid run has his season-long slash line up to .314/.367/.519 to go along with nine jacks and 41 RBI. He mostly hits second in the Astros lineup, which just happens to be one of the most potent in all of baseball. Even at the deepest position in the fantasy game, Reddick is worth a look in all formats.

Wilson Ramos, C, Rays

Forget about Ramos’s stats for a second. It’s true that he hasn’t really gotten going since coming off the DL late last month. Still, this is a catcher who hit .307/.354/.496 with 22 homers in 523 plate appearances last year. It’s still worth betting on his potential, especially with the catcher position having such a low barrier to entry. Ramos doesn’t have to do much to be a top-10 catcher the rest of the season, and he has the ceiling to be among the very best at the position.

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Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox

Rodon was electric in his last start, striking out 10 A’s in 6 1/3 innings in a 7-2 White Sox win. He does have nine walks in his first 11 1/3 innings this year, and that’s likely an issue his fantasy owners will have to deal with all season. Still, his ability to miss bats makes the walks a problem worth having. Remember, he’s just 24-years-old, and has the look of a future frontline starter. He should be owned in nearly all fantasy leagues.

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

Carl Edwards, RP, Cubs

Hector Neris, RP, Phillies

Archie Bradley, RP, Diamondbacks

Will Harris, RP, Astros

Brad Hand, RP, Marlins

Darren O’Day, RP, Orioles

Arodys Vizacaino, RP, Braves

David Phelps, RP, Marlins

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