MLB Week 18 Hitting Waiver Wire: Dual-Eligibility Catchers Galore

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Daulton VarshoOF, CArizona Diamondbacks32.6
Eric HaaseOF, CDetroit Tigers52.1
Harrison BaderOFSt. Louis Cardinals42.7
Rowdy Tellez1BMilwaukee Brewers7.6
Brent RookerOFMinnesota Twins1.8

1. Daulton Varsho | OF, C | Arizona Diamondbacks

The first of two dual-eligibility catchers in this week’s post is the red-hot Daulton Varsho. The University of Wisconsin product is just 25 years old and has a mere 247 plate appearances under his belt at the major league level across 2020 and 2021. Last year he finished with a slash line of .188/.287/.366 in 115 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks. Needless to say, he didn’t turn any heads. His call up earlier in the season wasn’t great either, as he slashed .171/.227/.244 in 44 plate appearances mostly in the month of May. Most recently, however, Varsho has 88 plate appearances since returning to the majors on June 20th and has slash line of .222/364/.458 with 13 runs, five home runs, 14 RBIs, three stolen bases, and an 18-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his last 36 plate appearances, Varsho has a .379/.500/.862 slash line with 10 runs, four home runs, nine RBIs, two stolen bases, and a 6-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As you can see, he’s been trending in the right direction and most of his production since returning to the majors this season has been quite recent. While Carson Kelly may return soon, he’s had issues of his own and Varsho has been too hot to leave out of the lineup. Considering he can also play in the outfield (in real life and in fantasy), his versatility and recent production make him a must-add.

2. Eric Haase | OF, C | Detroit Tigers

Haase is the second of the two dual-eligibility catchers in this week’s waiver wire post. For Haase, this is not the first time he’s made my waiver wire recommendations. He was on the list just a few short weeks ago, and he continues to swing a good bat. While he doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify, he’d be amongst the league leaders in Barrels Per Plate Appearance. He’s tied with Bryce Harper at 11th in baseball with a 10.3% clip, with the leader being Shohei Ohtani at 15.1%. His Average Exit Velocity and HardHit% are both in the upper-echelon of the league as well. He’s producing counting stats too, despite being in the Tigers’ lineup. In the month of July, Haase has 15 runs, eight home runs, 26 RBIs, and a 24-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Yes, the strikeouts are concerning. In fact, if he wasn’t striking out so much, his numbers would be absolutely absurd and he’d be owned everywhere. Needless to say, this level of production from a catcher also eligible in the outfield, just like Varsho, is too much to pass up.

3. Harrison Bader | OF | St. Louis Cardinals

I apologize if you have already been burned one too many times by Harrison Bader. For those that have not, let’s jump on the train together! At age 27, this is Bader’s fifth year in the league and he’s putting up his best numbers to date. He missed April, slashed just .217/.304/.420 in May, and missed June. In July however, Bader has been on fire. In 84 plate appearances, he’s slashing .364/.417/.649 with 12 runs, five home runs, 16 RBIs, three stolen bases, and a 13-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s also got a few metrics to back him up as well. His 15.6 strikeout percentage is rather healthy, and it’s his personal best. In addition, his Expected Batting Average and Expected Slugging Percentage of .257 and .446 respectively are both solid enough to believe he’ll contribute the rest of the way. It appears as if he is finally healthy and has found his stroke. The time to wait on other players has long since passed, it’s time to jump on players producing now for the final stretch of the season. Pick him up and ride this out.

4. Rowdy Tellez | 1B | Milwaukee Brewers

Much like Bader, Tellez has been around for a bit, is entering his “prime years,” has shown flashes of being a good hitter in the past, but simply has not been able to put it together for an extended period of time. Starting off his career in Toronto, Tellez was traded to the Brewers earlier this season and the change of scenery seems to have served him very well so far. Despite playing rather consistently with Toronto, Tellez slashed just .209/.272/.338 in 151 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this season prior to being traded. Since then? Tellez has a .344/.450/.656 slash line in 40 plate appearances dating back to his first game with Milwaukee on July 7th. With Milwaukee, he has six runs, three home runs, 10 RBIs, and a 5-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in a nearly everyday role. It’s not a large sample size, but he’s played really well for multiple weeks now and he’s out-producing a lot of other first baseman that are likely starting in lineups still (Eric Hosmer, Nate Lowe, Ty France, Miguel Sano, etc).

5. Brent Rooker | OF | Minnesota Twins

Here’s the waiver wire pick up for much deeper leagues. Owned in less than two percent of leagues, Brent Rooker is not somebody most people are rushing to add to their roster. That being said, he could be a very sneaky addition down the stretch. Rooker made his first appearance in the majors last year, hitting well before breaking his forearm. He narrowly missed the opening day roster in 2021 but was called up shortly after the season started. Over 30 plate appearances, Rooker was less than inspiring. He slashed .103/.133/.241 with one run, one home run, two RBIs, and a 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, there’s some prospect pedigree here that we need to consider. He was one of the best hitters in college baseball coming out of Mississippi State and has absolutely crushed minor league pitching so far as a professional. He sported a 1.088 OPS in three college seasons, a .870 OPS in four minor league seasons, and has a career .829 OPS in just 78 major league plate appearances. Since getting called up after the departure of Nelson Cruz, Rooker has slashed .348/.444/.826 with three home runs, three RBIs, six runs, and a 5-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 plate appearances. The guy can hit bombs, has found his stroke as of late, and should see a nearly everyday role in the Twins lineup with the departure of Nelson Cruz and the season-ending injury to Alex Kiriloff. If you’re league has you truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, pick him up and see what he can do for you over the next few weeks.

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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