|Name||Position||Team||ESPN Own %|
|Alex Kiriloff||OF, 1B||Minnesota Twins||38.8|
|Joc Pederson||OF||Chicago Cubs||45.8|
|William Contreras||C||Atlanta Braves||22.4|
|Brendan Rodgers||2B||Colorado Rockies||6|
|Danny Santana||1B||Boston Red Sox||4.9|
1. Alex Kiriloff | OF,1B | Minnesota Twins
One of my first waiver wire posts of the year included Kiriloff as a prospect stash, and I felt like a million bucks when he got called up and cranked four home runs in the span of a week back in early May. Unfortunately, a wrist injury put Kiriloff on the shelf and he missed a few weeks before returning to the Twins’ lineup just recently. In 62 plate appearances, Kiriloff has three doubles, four home runs, 14 RBIs, a 16-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .237/.258/.492 slash line. The power numbers are encouraging, but the rest isn’t great. His strikeout-to-walks, along with his on-base percentage, needs to be better than this for him to be a must-own in fantasy. For somebody with a sprint speed near the 70th-percentile, he also does not have stolen bases in his repertoire. Perhaps most encouraging is his Average Exit Velocity. Although it is a small sample, Kiriloff has an Average Exit Velocity of 95.5 mph! He’s shown a remarkable ability to hit the ball hard to all parts of the field. He now just needs to improve the plate discipline a bit and he’ll be a monster in fantasy, particularly considering both his dual-eligibility and consistent spot in the middle of the Twins batting order.
2. Joc Pederson | OF | Chicago Cubs
Joc Pederson’s tenure with the Cubs did not get off to a good start. Poor performance followed by an IL stint left Cubs nation wondering if the organization had made a mistake bringing in the former Dodgers outfielder. Prior to the IL stint, Pederson was slashing .137/.262/.235 with one home run and four RBIs across 61 plate appearances. Since returning on May 4th, Pederson is slashing .350/.397/.467 with one home run and 8 RBIs across 68 plate appearances. His Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, and Average Launch Angle all indicate the power is still there as well. Expect more doubles, home runs, and plenty of runs from Joc Pederson going forward batting leadoff in the Cubs’ lineup.
3. William Contreras | C | Atlanta Braves
It’s not often that catchers find themselves on waiver wire posts a few months into the season. In Atlanta, however, there is a catcher worth taking a look at. An injury to Travis D’Arnaud left a vacuum at the catcher position and William Contreras has stepped in nicely thus far. If you’re not getting production from your catcher spot, consider rostering Contreras. The 23-year-old younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, William is slashing .222/.323/.500 with four home runs, 13 RBIs, and a 19-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 62 plate appearances. While it’s a small sample, his Average Exit Velocity and HardHit% are an encouraging sign that could indicate we can expect this type of power from Contreras, despite the fact that his brief minor league history does not indicate that will be the case.
4. Brendan Rodgers | 2B | Colorado Rockies
How many times can we keep being fooled by Brendan Rodgers? As far as I am concerned, it might be at least one more time. Once again, I am buying in. The once highly regarded prospect struggled in his 2019 debut, looked worse in his very small 2020 sample, and is once again getting a crack at the MLB at the age of 24 here in 2021. So far in just eight plate appearances, Rodgers has two hits (both singles), two RBIs, and two strikeouts. Keep in mind, while he’s no longer considered a prospect, the 24-year-old slashed .298/.354/.504 across six seasons in the minors with an intriguing mix of both solid power and plate discipline. By no means should you be dropping Jazz or Cronenworth for Rodgers, but he’s certainly worth a flyer if you have not been getting production from second base (we’re looking at you, Jeff McNeil and Cavan Biggio).
5. Danny Santana | 1B | Boston Red Sox
Did anybody place any bets on Danny Santana making waiver wire lists in 2021? It’s not absurd, considering the numbers he posted in 2019, cranking 28 home runs and OPSing .857 across 130 games for Texas. Then again, everybody cranked 28 home runs and OPSed .857 in 2019. In addition, the rest of Santana’s career numbers certainly indicate that 2019 was the outlier year. That being said, he is hitting in the Red Sox lineup and Bobby Dalbec hasn’t necessarily locked himself into an everyday role at first base. So far in just three games since getting called up, Santana has cranked two home runs and has a five strikeouts to one walk. This is more of a flyer pick than Rodgers is even, and is recommended only in deeper leagues, but it might be worth a precautionary add just in case.