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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A hitter who should be rostered in every league is available in more than half of them

Max Kepler headshot
Max Kepler
RF - MIN - #26
2024 - false season
119
AB
.286
AVG
4
HR
1
SB
.844
OPS

Kepler is batting .434 with a 1.247 OPS and more walks than strikeouts over 16 games since returning from injury. He’s destroying left-handed pitching this season, so there’s no fear of a platoon (Kepler has started every game but one since coming off the IL).

Despite a 1-for-20 start at the plate while trying to play through a leg injury, Kepler owns a 169 wRC+ that would rank top-10 among qualified hitters. His max exit velocity is in the top 2% of the league, and he’s currently hitting cleanup in the Twins’ lineup. Kepler won’t run, but he can hit.

Kepler remains available in far too many fantasy leagues.

A.J. Puk headshot
A.J. Puk
RP - MIA - #35
2024 - false season
17.2
IP
1
SV
8.66
ERA
13
K
19
BB

Puk worked on back-to-back days recently in the minors and could rejoin Miami as soon as this weekend. He failed badly as a starter after a dominant spring (1.32 ERA) but is expected to return to the bullpen. Puk was strong in that role last season, recording a SIERA (2.66) and a CSW (35.3%) that both ranked top-five among 162 qualified relievers.

Puk has the stuff of a closer, and the Marlins have one of the league’s worst bullpens with a collective 4.74 ERA. Tanner Scott has improved after a rough start and remains the current favorite for saves in Miami, but he has the second-worst BB% (21.2) among 200 relievers this season and is also a trade candidate.

Grab Puk now before he becomes Miami’s closer.

Chris Paddack headshot
Chris Paddack
SP - MIN - #20
2024 - false season
55.1
IP
4.39
ERA
1.39
WHIP
50
K
10
BB

Paddack looked good during his brief return (out of the bullpen) from Tommy John surgery at the end of last season, but he underwhelmed in spring training and owned an 8.36 ERA after three starts to open 2024. Since then, Paddack has won four straight starts, recording a 1.93 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with a 28:3 K:BB ratio over 23 1/3 innings. He ranks top-10 among starters in K-BB% over the past three weeks.

Paddack had a 0.98 WHIP over 26 starts as a rookie, and he has introduced a slider this season. While his innings will be capped and we are buying a four-start sample here, pitching for the Twins in the AL Central is a real advantage.

Paddack’s recent stretch makes him worth adding in deeper fantasy leagues.

Tommy Pham headshot
Tommy Pham
CF - CWS - #28
2024 - false season
119
AB
.294
AVG
3
HR
3
SB
.772
OPS

Pham is off to a strong start (137 wRC+) despite missing spring training. His K% (18.0) is a career best, and he has been moved to leadoff in Chicago’s lineup. He totaled 38 homers/stolen bases over just 426 ABs last season while playing more than half of his games in one of the league’s best pitcher’s parks (Citi Field). Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago is favorable for right-handed batters, and Pham’s expected batting average is in the top 2% of the league right now.

Pham is an underrated hitter who’s capable of going 20/20 and shouldn’t be available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues.

Luis García Jr. headshot
Luis García Jr.
2B - WAS - #2
2024 - false season
159
AB
.264
AVG
5
HR
8
SB
.729
OPS

García has improved his launch angle and nearly doubled his Barrel% this season. His expected batting average, expected slugging and Hard Hit% are all in the top 10% of the league. García has been hitting third against righties, and he’s perfect on stolen base attempts. García has a 1.330 OPS so far in May, and he’s quietly on pace to record 90 RBI and 32 steals while ranking top-15 in batting average this season.

García needs to be rostered in all fantasy leagues.

Brenton Doyle headshot
Brenton Doyle
CF - COL - #9
2024 - false season
190
AB
.263
AVG
5
HR
14
SB
.749
OPS

Doyle totaled 32 homers/steals in fewer than 400 at-bats last season despite posting a ghastly 43 wRC+ (Tim Anderson had the lowest wRC+, 60, among qualified hitters) and not taking advantage of Coors Field. Doyle has lowered his K% (still high at 29.2) this season while continuing to provide power/speed (eight HR/SB). He has a .960 OPS and a 140 wRC+ in Colorado this year, and Coors Field will become even more hitter-friendly when it heats up in the summer.

Put differently, Doyle’s pace at home would translate to 18 homers, 27 steals and 108 runs scored with a .333 batting average over a full season. Doyle’s strong defense will keep him in Colorado’s lineup, and Coors Field remains by far the most favorable hitter’s park in baseball.

Doyle is worth rostering even in shallow fantasy leagues if you can play him exclusively at home.