MLB Week 14 Hitting Waiver Wire: Is Steven Duggar For Real?

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Joc PedersonOFChicago Cubs53.3
C.J. Cron1BColorado Rockies50.7
Taylor WardOFLos Angeles Angels8.1
Willy AdamesSSMilwaukee Brewers16.3
Steven DuggarOFSan Francisco Giants12.4

1. Joc Pederson | OF | Chicago Cubs

It’s becoming progressively more and more difficult to ignore Joc Pederson. For starters, despite the cold start, his season numbers are starting to take shape. He owns a .243/.303/.456 slash line with 27 runs, 11 home runs, 32 RBIs, and a 63-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strikeout numbers are still a concern, as his 27% strikeout rate is higher than his career average. However, he’s been trending in the right direction. In April, Pederson had a 32.7% strikeout rate, and it has dropped down to 25.7% since the beginning of May when he returned from the IL. In fact, over that same stretch of time, Pederson has slashed .277/.317/.529 with 22 runs, 10 home runs, and 28 RBIs. For a career above average OPS hitter, who currently has an OPS+ of 110 hitting at the top of the Cubs’ lineup, you could do much worse. Take a look at your outfield and ask yourself if you are getting that type of production from your other hitters.

2. C.J. Cron | 1B | Colorado Rockies

We might as well have put C.J. Cron on the waiver wire list week one and left him there all this time. Many were excited when Cron signed with Colorado, as mixing his pop with Coors field left fantasy players intrigued at the possibilities. So far on the season, Cron is slashing .271/.372/.489 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs, 30 runs, and a 53-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Looking more recently, Cron has been solid in June. He’s slashing .266/.347/.578 with eight runs, five home runs, 11 RBIs, and a 15-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Other than slightly high strikeout numbers, Cron has become a pretty dependable fantasy asset playing for Colorado and his peripherals indicate that he can keep this up. He walks a ton and his Expected wOBA and Expected Slugging are both in the 80th-percentile or higher. If you’re still hanging on to an underperforming first baseman on their name value alone, consider making the switch to C.J. Cron.

3. Taylor Ward | OF | Los Angeles Angels

If you haven’t noticed a trend yet with mid-June waiver wire hitters, I’ll point it out. I’m recommending a hitter who has shown some pop in his bat but has a tendency to strike out a little too much, limiting his ceiling and fantasy production. Sound familiar? That’s the trend in baseball right now, and when you’re sorting through the waiver wire, it can be difficult to weed out the hitters that have the potential to rise above the aforementioned ranks of baseball’s average. Ward, drafted out of high school in 2012, has long since passed his window of hype surrounding his potential. Having debuted back in 2018, Ward has been more or less disappointing in his approximately 300 plate appearances in the big leagues prior to this year. However, he does have a solid track record of plate discipline and production in the minors and there’s reason to believe that Ward may have taken a step forward in 2021. Through 172 plate appearances, Ward is slashing .233/.322/.427 with 24 runs, seven home runs, 27 RBIs, one stolen base, and a 43-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While he is striking out a bit more than he ever did in the minors, he’s still generating walks and is closer to average in terms of his Whiff% and Chase Rate. In addition, his Average Exit Velocity and HardHit% are both slightly above average. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Ward is how he has improved since getting called up in 2021. In May, Ward slashed .215/.292/.405. However in June, Ward has slashed .254/.354/.451. All signs indicate that he will be an average hitter going forward, which in deeper leagues has enough value to be worth adding.

4. Willy Adames | SS | Milwaukee Brewers

Imagine what would happen if every Rays hitter didn’t have to play half of their games at Tropicana Field? Last year, Willy Adames slashed .165/.233/.278 at Tropicana Field and .330/.403/.632 everywhere else. Is it possible that Adames is the hitter that we all wanted him to be, but that he just needed to get out of Tampa? Since joining Milwaukee on May 22nd, Adames is slashing .270/.331/.468 with 14 runs, four home runs, 18 RBIs, one stolen base, and a 30-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 121 plate appearances. Keep in mind, Adames is just 25 years old and still seems to carry a relatively high “prospect” pedigree. Although he’s by no means a prospect, the hype around Adames has somehow not disappeared over his first three years in the league. If he continues to improve with Milwaukee, his ownership percentage is only going to climb. If you’re missing production from the shortstop position, consider rostering Adames as long as he’s playing well.

5. Steven Duggar | OF | San Francisco Giants

You can throw Steven Duggar into the group of outfielders above that include Taylor Ward and Joc Pederson. Steven Duggar is showing a great ability to hit the snot out of the ball, but has limited his production with way too many strikeouts. Through 135 plate appearances, Duggar is slashing .325/.385/.577 with 25 runs, six home runs, 22 RBIs, and five stolen bases. So far, he’s been a contributor in all five major categories. However, this comes with 44 strikeouts as well, which means he is striking out in over 32% of his plate appearances. It truly remains to be seen if he can keep producing enough to remain valuable. While he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify, there are some promising peripherals. His Average Exit Velocity and Max Exit Velocity are as high as they have ever been, and while his Expected Slugging of .481 indicates that his production might come down, it shouldn’t plummet. Once again, the only question is the strikeouts. The disparity between strikeouts and walks will catch up to him eventually, as it always does. Keep in mind, he also plays excellent defense. As it stands, he’s likely a lock in the lineup for the foreseeable future.

Zach Boeder is a high school math teacher that has a passion for sports and data journalism. Zach received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Arizona. He currently teaches in Saint Paul and Lives in Minneapolis with his partner Sarah, their dog Dozier, and cat Remy. Zach plans to argue for a very long time that "2020 would have been the Twins' year if baseball hadn't been shut down."

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