August 28, 2022, 1:13 pm
The primary focus of my writing (and my content in general) this season has talking about players to consider scooping up for your fantasy teams. It’s the content the community tends to put a spotlight on, and sometimes we can become too focused on the addition without taking time to look at who we will be subtracting.
I have been guilty of this myself a number of times. You see a player on waivers who has a juicy two-step coming up, or maybe a four game weekend series at Coors Field, and your eyes light up. That is, until it comes time to put out the torch a la Jeff Probst and decide who will be leaving your island.
I have been combing through my various leagues, and a couple of names stand out to me as being pretty strong candidates to be hitting waivers with the season now entering Act V. Some of these names will seem very obvious to some, but the roster percentages indicate that far too many people are still holding out hope. I’ll also mention a couple of possible replacements along the way.
Walker Buehler (52% Yahoo, 60% ESPN)
“Joe, Buehler had Tommy John on Tuesday and he’s gonna be out for a year and a half, he’s a pretty obvious drop.” You’d think so, right? but look at those roster percentages again. “But there are inactive leagues to consider.” Perhaps there is some truth there, but then how is Vaughn Grissom (called up August 10th) up to ~75% rostered? Both things can’t be true at once (at least not to the extent that we are seeing).
The ugly truth is the sunk cost fallacy. If Buehler is on your team, he was almost certainly drafted as your SP1 and the thought of dropping him is unbearable simply because of your preseason investment. This is where the human element of fantasy comes in, where we ignore the data and reality of the situation and continue to roster a player that is no longer an asset, but is now a straight up liability.
I promise, as someone who has dropped Buehler in three different leagues this year, you will feel much better when you do. That roster spot is much better served for streaming starting pitching, or to roster a high strikeout reliever such as Andres Munoz or Jhoan Duran.
Marcell Ozuna (43% Yahoo, 69% ESPN)
Ozuna has been a major disappointment, both on and off the field. Since his DUI on August 19th (and actually going back to August 14th) he has played exactly one game for the Braves. The only area this year where he has produced at all is his 20 home runs, and it doesn’t make up for his .213 batting average and relatively poor peripheral stats.
The Braves don’t lack for outfielders, with Ronald Acuna Jr, Michael Harris II and Robbie Grossman patrolling on most nights. I find it hard to see Ozuna getting much (if any) playing time down the stretch, and I would be looking to move on in all leagues.
In terms of replacing him, I would look at Randal Grichuk, Lars Nootbaar, or Tommy Pham. All are on roughly 50% of rosters and making the switch for Ozuna would be a wise choice while there are still solid options available.
Ty France (88% Yahoo, 94% Yahoo)
This is a sad one to write as France was one of the top producers through the first two months of the season, but he has been a liability for quite a while now. Let’s take a look at his performance in the first part of the season compared to what he’s done since June.
Opening Day – May 31st
49 games, .347/.420/.508, 7 HR, 23 R, 36 RBI 174 wRC+
June 1st – Now
57 games, .215/.279/.350, 7 HR, 21 R, 26 RBI 83 wRC+
People will have a hard time moving on from him because of how much he helped their teams in the early going, but he hasn’t been anywhere near as good since. In France’s defense, it has been an injury-plagued season in which he has dealt with a flexor strain in his forearm, a sore wrist, and most recently a calf bruise (although he has since returned to the lineup). It’s hard to have confidence that he will stay on the field these last few weeks, let alone contribute in crunch time.
There will be some deeper and AL only formats where you will have no choice but to hold on and hope for the best, but in a standard mixed league it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t a better option sitting on waivers.
If you need someone who can fill that corner infield spot, take a look at Yandy Diaz. You can plug him in at 1B and 3B and he has been on a little roll. He has gone 16 for his last 50 with a couple of bombs and a steal while also providing a lot of runs leading off for the Rays.
Brandon Lowe (74% Yahoo, 73% ESPN)
Lowe is in a similar place to France, but at least Ty was able to provide some strong early season value. Many people (myself included) were happy to draft Lowe in round 6/7 after a 39-HR, 99-RBI season, but injuries and a lack of power when healthy have been his downfall this year.
He injured his back in mid-May after a relatively unimpressive start to year, where he batted .212 with five dingers in 32 games. He was initially supposed to miss about three weeks, but we all know how unpredictable back injuries can be, and he ended up missing two full months. He has appeared in 29 games since his return, and while his .260 average is fine, he has only managed to hit three home runs and that is where we were hoping to see his value come from.
On top of all this, he was hit by a pitch in his right elbow and is currently sidelined, although not on the IL. At this point, we have to accept that this season was a huge bust for Lowe and move on to another target. If you need a fill-in at second base, consider Bryson Stott of the Phillies. He is eligible at 2B and SS and has shown a decent mix of power and speed this season. He’s also batting .310 over the past month.
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