Every week from now until the end of the season, we will be looking at players who are rostered in fewer than 15% of leagues (according to Fantasy Pros as of Sunday afternoon). Normally, these would be players to consider mostly in deeper leagues, but in 2020 we know nothing is normal so there is a good chance you will have to look deep into the waiver wire in your leagues to fill your lineups on a weekly basis. I’ll do my best to highlight players from multiple positions as well each week.
We have a small sample size to look at so far as the season just started, so a lot of this will be projections and looking at players who likely went undrafted. I’ll add that two of the players I had initially identified (and planned to write about) for this article were Tommy La Stella and Kyle Lewis, but they have already shot up above the 15% threshold (Lewis is already rostered in 30% of leagues as of Sunday) so that, as they say, escalated quickly.
Kole Calhoun, OF, ARI (11%)
Kole Calhoun signed a two-year deal with the D-backs in the offseason after hitting 33 home runs with the Angels last year and he seems to have picked up where he left off as he already hit a dinger in the season-opening game. The D-backs lineup looks deep this year, so one detriment to Calhoun is that he batted sixth in the first two games, although he did move up to the fifth spot on Sunday (he also is likely to get some off days against lefties). Still, he is hitting .333/.500/.667 so far with three walks (good for a 25.0% walk rate) which could bode well for his chances of sticking in the Arizona lineup on a regular basis.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, BOS (9%)
Jackie Bradley Jr. had a really nice start to the season with .636/.667/.818 triple-slash along with four runs, two doubles, and a walk. Alright, it was against the Orioles and those numbers clearly won’t stay that high but JBJ is going to be a starter for the Red Sox and might be worth looking at while he is hot. I would add that his uptick in power last year (21 homers with a .196 ISO) is something that would need to stick for him to be relevant all season and his current position in the bottom third of the Sawx batting order is also something that could hurt his RBI and run totals.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM (9%)
I’m going to be a Brandon Nimmo truther until it hurts so I am glad to see that he has been in the Mets starting lineup for every game of the opening weekend. He went 2-for-4 in the opening game but 0-for-3 in Saturday’s contest before closing out the weekend 1-for-3 with a double, walk, and a RBI in Sunday night’s game. He has battled various injuries in the last couple of years including a neck injury that kept him out of all but 69 games last year, which is probably why he went undrafted in most leagues. He is another player that could be greatly affected by his spot in the batting order as he led off the opener but hit ninth in the last two games (although this is likely due to the Mets facing Braves lefties Max Fried and Sean Newcomb in the last 2 games). He’s going to get on base, as he has a career walk rate above 15% and OBP of .387 (.455 OBP so far in 2020), so if he continues to lead off against righties he should be in line to score plenty of runs this year.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/3B, WAS (6%)
Everyone who thought Carter Kieboom would be starting for the Nats this year is going to have to wait on Asdrubal Cabrera to cool down as he is off to a nice start. He went 3-for-4 in Saturday’s win over the Yankees, with a homer and a double among his three hits in that game. His .444/.500/.889 triple-slash over the season’s opening weekend probably means he is in line for more playing time in the Washington lineup (he also has yet to strike out in 2020). It seems like a player that is always undervalued but delivers above-average power (.189 ISO over the last 2 seasons).
Jose Peraza, 2B/SS/LF, BOS (6%)
Jose Peraza is another Red Sox hitter that enjoyed a solid start to the season, going 4-for-5 in the season opener against Baltimore and finishing the weekend with a .308/.308/.462 triple-slash (albeit he didn’t get a hit in either of the final two games of the weekend). Peraza regressed in 2019 after enjoying a breakout 2018 with the Reds. His positional flexibility brings some appeal if he can regain some of the form that he had in his breakout season. He would be able to provide you with a solid average and a low strikeout rate (career K% of 12.6%). The Red Sox expect him to be their starting 2B for the season, so playing should not be an issue—it will just depend on if he can take advantage of it.
Leury Garcia, SS/OF, CHW (4%)
Leury Garcia had a massive day as part of the Pale Sox’ offensive explosion Saturday against the Twins, going 3-for-4 with two homers. He has a .300/.417/.900 triple-slash to go along with a 16.7% walk rate to start the season and is another player that provides some positional flexibility (which I always find appealing). Historically, he doesn’t have much power (career .104 ISO) but he is capable of providing you a decent amount of stolen bases (12 in ’18, 15 last year) and at the rate the White Sox offense has been racking up runs, he might be in line to contribute even more runs scored as well (93 runs scored in ’19).
Tyler Heineman, C, SF (2%)
I wanted to highlight at least one catcher on this list and was hoping it would be Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but he has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and there haven’t been any updates on his return as of Sunday afternoon. The market for catcher below the 15% threshold is scarce if you are looking for an everyday player but Tyler Heineman has at least held his own out of the gate with a .500/.571/.500 triple-slash through Saturday and should be in line for plenty of playing time sharing the Giants catching duties with Rob Brantly. The best you can hope for from a catcher if you are looking for one this early in the season is a guy that can provide you something in one or two categories and Heineman is showing a nice average so far.
(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)