MLB Week 17 Hitting Waiver Wire: Outfield Help Is On The Way

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Luis RobertOFChicago White Sox74
Dominic Smith1B, OFNew York Mets64.1
Hunter RenfroeOFBoston Red Sox62.5
Jarred KelenicOFSeattle Mariners45.6
Jonathan India2B, 3BCincinnati Reds60

1. Luis Robert | OF | Chicago White Sox

First it was Eloy, now it is Luis Robert. I understand that he’s not available in roughly 75% of leagues, and that this number will only climb, but he’s worth adding to the waiver wire list for that 25% of leagues out there that still has him available. Pick him up! The White Sox lineup is coming back together for the end of the season, and you want to be on that train! Robert played just a few days into May before suffering his hip injury. Through those 27 games, Lou Bob slashed .316/.359/.463 with one home run, eight RBIs, 11 runs, and four stolen bases. He lacked in the home run department a bit, but we still saw flashes of the five-tool player that Robert can be. Sure, the strikeouts and walks can be an issue. Through 330 career plate appearances, Robert has struck out in over 30% of them and walked in less than 10% of them. That’s…not good. He started off 2020 red hot and cooled down towards the end of the season when his bad plate discipline reared its ugly head. His 28-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 103 2021 plate appearances wasn’t much of an improvement, but it still came with a .316 average and .359 on-base percentage. Regardless, he’s one of the most hyped players in recent years and should be rostered everywhere given his potential. He’s currently in a rehab assignment and should be back up with the White Sox in the near future.

2. Dominic Smith | 1B, OF | New York Mets

It seems the baseball gods simply refuse to let the Mets be great. They entered the season with an absolutely stacked roster and were nothing but massively underwhelming to begin the season. Overshadowed by the struggles of Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith started the season abysmally as well. It was a bit of a disappointment, considering the hype he generated for himself after his 2019 and 2020 seasons where he slashed .299/.366/.571 in 396 combined plate appearances between the two seasons. So far in 2021, Smith is slashing .257/.327/.410 with 36 runs, 11 home runs, 43 RBIs, two stolen bases, and a respectable 78-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 336 plate appearances. Despite his extremely bad April, his numbers are pretty dang respectable. He’s clawed his way back to an OPS+ of 104, indicating he’s a slightly above average hitter overall in 2021. Part of it has been his red-hot July. So far in the month, Smith is slashing .305/.373/.627 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, 14 runs, and a 15-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strength and consistency of his contact is around league average, and he’s in the 60th-percentile or higher both Expected Batting Average and Expected Slugging. With the Mets lineup coming around a bit, Smith could be a valuable fantasy piece down the stretch, particularly considering his dual-eligibility at first base and as an outfielder.

3. Hunter Renfroe | OF | Boston Red Sox

I think we all know what Hunter Renfroe is at this point, don’t we? He’s a streaky power hitter that is limited by his plate discipline. However, he’s been pretty good in 2021 and it’s hard to argue with his numbers. So far he’s slashing .260/.316/.463 with 49 runs, 15 home runs, 53 RBIs, and a 73-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Why wouldn’t anyone want to roster a player that is both playing for the Red Sox in 2021 and sporting an above average OPS? In addition to providing home runs, Renfroe has been an awesome contributor in both runs and RBIs, thanks to the awesome Red Sox lineup. Sure, he hit .167 in April. Then again, what hitter didn’t struggle in April? Since then, Renfroe is slashing .283/.337/.517 with a 55-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 264 plate appearances. 264 straight plate appearances of good production is nothing to scoff at, and it’s enough for me to believe that he’ll be a solid contributor down the stretch for anyone’s fantasy team.

4. Jarred Kelenic | OF | Seattle Mariners

Ahh, yes. I remember distinctly how excited I was when I picked up Kelenic “prematurely,” only to find out a few days later he was being called up. I felt like a genius. I remember jamming him into my lineup every day for the next month or so as well, going crazy in that second game of his and obsessively following his exit velocities on each at-bat thereafter. I, along with the other Kelenic owners, were finally put out of our collective misery when he was sent back down to the minors after slashing 0.96/.185/.193 with seven runs, two home runs, six RBIs, and three stolen bases across 92 plate appearances. His 26-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio was also pretty alarming. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. He’s back up, however, and getting another chance further down the lineup. It’s only been five games, but he’s picked up pretty much right where he left off. Through 20 plate appearances, he has just three measly hits and no other counting stats to show for it. Even worse is he has struck out in nine of those plate appearances without walking once. All of that being said, it’s Jarred Kelenic, one of baseball’s best prospects. He’s absolutely raked in AAA and will likely figure it out at the major league level sooner rather than later.

5. Jonathan India | 2B, 3B | Cincinnati Reds

He might not hit home runs with the likes of Hunter Renfroe, or carry the name-pedigree with players such as Luis Robert or Jarred Kelenic, but why do we continue to throw Jonathan India down the drain? Through 345 plate appearances in 2021, India is slashing .273/.404/.421 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs, 47 runs, seven stolen bases, and a 77-to-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s got an on-base percentage north of 40%! His .825 OPS puts him well-above league average, as well. He has followed up an amazing June with an awesome July so far. In 74 plate appearances, India is slashing .321/.514/.528 with two home runs, eight RBIs, 10 runs, and a 19-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Did you read that correctly? He’s reached base safely in over half of his 53 at-bats in the month of July. To stretch it back to the beginning of June, he’s reached base safely in almost half of his 152 at-bats over that stretch. Again, you can knock him for the lack of power, which always makes a fantasy player less appealing. However, he’s outproducing a lot of other players right now that are still getting plugged into lineups.

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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