Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: O'Hurry to O'Hearn

Here are this week’s pickups. Check back in next week for the first in-season rankings column of the year... I’ll be posting a top 300 and position rankings for the rest of the season in the Strike Zone.

Wilyer Abreu - OF Red Sox - Rostered in 35% of Yahoo leagues

As the favorite to open up as Boston’s right fielder, Abreu was an interesting sleeper going into the spring, but a bad March followed in which he was thoroughly outplayed by Ceddanne Rafaela. The Red Sox would have been justified in sending him down prior to Opening Day or two weeks later after he opened up 2-for-18 with nine strikeouts. Abreu, though, got a reprieve when Trevor Story and Tyler O’Neill landed on the IL, and he’s gone 13-for-28 with two homers, eight RBI and just three strikeouts in his last seven games, giving him an excellent .306/.389/.516 line for the season. He’s also swiped four bases, which is a nice little surprise.

To be fair, Abreu’s Statcast numbers don’t measure up with his actual line. His exit velocity numbers are pretty good, but his high strikeout rate makes Statcast believe he should be hitting about 80 points lower. Still, that’s where Fenway Park comes in; it helps with batting average more than any park besides Coors Field. Abreu surely won’t be a .300 hitter, but with the potential for 15-20 homers and 15 steals, he’s definitely worthy of a spot in mixed leagues right now. If his playing time falls off later, he can always be dropped then.

Ryan O’Hearn - 1B Orioles - Rostered in 37% of Yahoo leagues

No one is complaining about O’Hearn’s .938 OPS through 18 games, but here’s something crazy; the Orioles’ first baseman and designated hitter has been baseball’s unluckiest hitter to date, according to Statcast. His xwOBA is ridiculous .530, which tops Marcell Ozuna and Shohei Ohtani for the best mark in the majors. Statcast thinks he should be batting .382 and slugging .833, but just four of his nine barrels have turned into homers and his .255 BABIP is 30 points lower than his career mark.

O’Hearn can’t be feeling too unlucky, though. This is a guy who had a career OPS of .683 in five years with the Royals before being plucked out of obscurity and being dropped into a great situation on one of baseball’s top teams a year ago. He broke through in batting .289 with 14 homers in 112 games then, and he’s currently hitting the ball harder than ever, even though he’s struck out just six times all season. That he doesn’t play against left-handers really cuts into his fantasy value, but maybe the Orioles will give him a chance there if he keeps producing... it’s not as though they have a lefty masher complementing him in those situations. Even if not, he seems worth playing anyway. The ribbies are sure to start coming soon.

Trevor Megill - RP Brewers - Rostered in 5% of Yahoo leagues

In the aftermath of Devin Williams’ back injury, the guess here was that Megill would get the majority of the save chances in the Brewers pen to start the year. Instead, Megill took a backseat to Abner Uribe for the first few days and then suffered a concussion after fainting, putting him on the injured list for three weeks. Back now, he earned his first career save Thursday, pitching the ninth with a two-run lead. He’s not assured future chances over Joel Payamps, but he’s a good enough bet to be worthy of a roster spot.

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Megill broke through with the Brewers last season after the Twins gave up on him. When he arrived in the majors in 2021, he averaged 96.4 mph with his fastball. Last year, he was all of the way up to 99.2 mph, and he struck out 35% of the batters he faced. It was the 12th-highest K rate in baseball among pitchers who threw 30 innings. He is a flyball pitcher, and he’ll probably give up the occasional homer. In truth, he’s probably not a better bet than Payamps, but Payamps is the guy you want to be able to bring in with men on base in a tough spot if needed. Megill should get enough chances in the ninth to contribute until Williams returns.

Quick hits

- It’s probably jumping the gun a bit, but I was tempted to give one of the three slots this week to Christian Scott. The Mets prospect has a 34/4 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings over his first four starts in Triple-A, though he has given up six homers in the process. I think he’ll be worth grabbing right away if the Mets decide to give him a chance in Adrian Houser’s spot, though since they still have Kodai Senga on the way back, I assume they’ll hold off.

- TJ Friedl appears to be about three weeks away from returning from a fractured wrist and will likely go right back to being the Reds’ primary center fielder and leadoff hitter. Wrist injuries can continue to have ramifications in the long run, but it seems pretty crazy that he’s currently available in 58% of Yahoo leagues.