As our own Zach Sanders astutely pointed out recently, the current state of the waiver wire, relative to quality hitting, is pretty grievous. Indeed, I find myself playing far more platoons with my offense and frequently scouring the rough in desperate search of that proverbial diamond. With this in mind, I wanted to highlight a couple players readily available in most standard formats that might be able to help your squad out: Ben Revere and Chris Johnson.
With Denard Span still on the disabled list and reportedly still feeling a tad woozy from his concussion, Ben Revere has stepped into the leadoff role and started to look a heck of a lot like, well, Denard Span. Whether that’s a compliment or not is largely based on the depth of your league, but Revere is currently sitting at .281/.317/.326 with nine stolen bases and 16 runs scored in just 40 games.
Revere doesn’t walk much, but he has very good plate discipline (21.5% O-Swing%). He also doesn’t swing and miss much either, making contact nearly 92% of the time when he swings. When he does make contact, he’s putting it on the ground about 68% of the time allowing him to utilize his wheels.You might look at his .311 BABIP and think he’s getting a few lucky hops on those worm burners, but based on his current hit trajectory, his expected BABIP is fully .345.
He has often been compared to Juan Pierre (the good Juan Pierre) as they both have tremendous speed, zero power, great command of the strike zone, and a knack for getting on base and scoring runs. If he got anything resembling regular playing time for the rest of the season, he could probably steal better than 30 bags. He’s playing well enough right now to stick even when Span comes off the DL, so if you could use an infusion of steals on your squad, Revere is a great option. He’s owned in just 3% of both Yahoo and ESPN leagues, so chances are pretty good that he’s available.
Yes, Chris Johnson. Perhaps more of a deep league choice, but considering all the teeth gnashing over third base, it’s worth noting that Johnson has come on awfully strong recently after laying a big fat Texas-sized egg in April.
In June, Johnson posted a .298/.333/.468 line with a home run, nine doubles, two triples, nine RBI, and 11 runs scored over 25 games played. He has stopped lofting the ball as much as he did earlier in the season and his line drive rate over the last two months is better than 27%. Yes, his June BABIP is .370, but his hit trajectory projected his expected BABIP to be .378, so June wasn’t entirely full of grace.
He continues to eschew the free pass at a rate that it almost seems like an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive tick to swing at everything, but over the course of the year, his strikeout rate has come down from almost 30% to a more reasonable 21%. His HR/FB rate is lower than you’d expect at 8.8%, and in June it was particularly stingy at 5.3%, so some additional long balls might be on the horizon should that rate normalize.
He’s owned in just 7% of Yahoo and 2% of ESPN leagues, so he’s likely there for your third base experimentation. If he can continue to replicate his recent contact rate and cut down on the strikeouts, his batting average should continue to climb, or at least remain north of .265 for the remainder of the season.
He’s still relatively young at 26 and we only have about the equivalent of a full season of at bats to analyze, so we can’t necessarily say we know what Johnson’s true talent level looks like, and considering the good work of Pizza Cutter, Johnson doesn’t even have enough plate appearances as a professional to have a reliable batting average. It’s possible there’s more 2010 Johnson in there than there is the 2011 version. The next few months will be very telling, and if his trends continue, he’s a player that could actually help your fantasy team.