Matt Bishop | June 3rd, 2019
We all know that owner. The owner that just can’t stop making add/drops and needs to be slapped. While it is annoying to watch another owner deplete the player pool of useful resources and use the waiver wire as a means to fill their roster, you really can’t fault them. Let’s face it. Most of us are bitter that we missed out on Tommy La Stella or Caleb Smith, but we keep it together and keep plugging along hoping for the next Hunter Dozier. There are more of these players out there and by paying attention to recent trends, you most likely won’t find one, but you could. Here are a few players that may be available on your waiver wire that could have huge value for the rest of the season:
KOLE CALHOUN, LAA OF (55% CBS, 27% ESPN, 16% Yahoo)
You know the name and you have had him on your team. But Kole Calhoun is a name you normally don’t hear until summer. Currently carrying a .232/.316/.353 career slash line in May, Calhoun is prone to heating up in June. But something has changed and it could be worth your time:
MAY 2019 (105 PA):
.299/.394/.552 (.946 OPS) 4 HR 18 R 15 RBI
.389 wOBA 149 wRC+ 41.4% Hard Contact
If you compare Calhoun’s numbers this May to the rest of the league, he is pretty much a Top 30 hitter in every statistical category across the board. But when you compare his 2019 May to his career numbers, it’s easy to get excited:
I believe that one sign of a breakout hitter is a drastic decrease in pull percentage. This shows that a hitter is less reliant on pulling the ball and is spraying the ball to all fields. This should also lead to a higher BABIP and better production. Calhoun is clearly having a career month, but is this a flash in the pan?
His statcast metrics are encouraging, as his barrel percentage is at 12.2%, which is up from 9.3% last season. While his exit velo is down 1 mph from 2018, his launch angle is up quite drastically to 15.3° from 12.0° in 2018. His xStats support the production and I support the revolution. Pick him up if he’s still available.
RENATO NUNEZ, 3B BAL (38% CBS, 16% ESPN, 42% Yahoo)
Renato Nunez is a masher and a guy who probably won’t help you in the average department (.246 career average), but Nunez may have found his swing. Even with his walk rate down more than 2% and his strikeout rate up almost 2%, his plate discipline metrics look intriguing:
While his 35.2% chase rate is a career low (but still high compared to 30% league average), his contact rates are career highs across the board. He has also raised his hard hit percentage to 42.5% in 2019 from 27.3% last season. That is a pretty drastic change.
2019 SEASON TOTALS (215 PA)
.244/.293/.498 (.791 OPS) 14 HR 30 R 34 RBI
5.1% BB 25.6% K .329 wOBA 105 wRC+ 42.5% Hard
LAST 17 GAMES
.304/.371/.804 (1.175 OPS) 8 HR 13 R 16 RBI
6.5% BB 16.1% K .472 wOBA 201 wRC+ 56.5% Hard
I know 17 games is a small and weird sample, but it’s long enough to show a trend and growth. While he has done most of his damage with his 8 HR in 17 games, his strikeout rate continues to decline, while his hard hit percentage is ranked 12th in the league (56.5%) and his wOBA ranks 11th in baseball (.472) in that time frame.
Nunez has legit power and is showing it with his 15.1% barrel rate, which is Top 7 in the league and was up from 8.5% in 2018. His exit velo is up almost 2 mph from last season, while his launch angle is up more than 3 degrees. Nunez is clearly heating up and worth grabbing to see where this production can lead. If it doesn’t pan out, at least he can help you with home runs.
DYLAN BUNDY, SP BAL (30% CBS, 24% ESPN, 11% Yahoo)
(2 – 6) 4.58 ERA 1.24 WHIP 59.0 IP 60 K
Strap in. Because I’m about to tell you to pick up Dylan Bundy and that he may be a serviceable starting pitcher for the rest of the season. Even with his 1.98 HR/9, which is the 6th highest rate in the league, Dylan Bundy has pitched relatively well this season and even better as of late. He is currently maintaining a career low .255 BABIP, which has been guided by his career low 19.3% line drive rate. His ground ball rate is up almost 3% from last season, while his fly ball rate is down 2%. What’s more impressive is his 25.9% hard contact is down almost 10% from 2018, while his pull percentage is up. The rise in pull percentage could indicate he is keeping hitters off balance more and his pitch mix is working:
Even with his velocity down almost 1 mph since last season, his plate discipline metrics are surprising. While his o-swing, or chase rate, and his swinging strikes rates are at career high levels, his contact percentages are almost all career lows across the board:
Bundy’s fastball is hot garbage, fetching a -9.0 pVAL this season, which is actually up from -13.7 last season. Opposing batters are also hitting .316 against his heater. But we all know about this slider, which is elite. Opposing batters are currently hitting .137 against his slider, which is also inducing a 25.0% swinging strike rate and a 4.0 pVAL.
He is also carrying a 53.27 Whiff/Swing on his slider, which is the 2nd best rate in baseball:
While Bundy’s season stat line doesn’t look impressive, he has been incredible in May so far:
LAST 5 STARTS:
(2 – 2) 2.64 ERA 0.98 WHIP 7.6 K/9 2.3 BB/9
21.3% K 6.6% BB 21.8% Hard Contact
While Bundy’s peripherals indicate he may be getting a little lucky (2.64 ERA 4.03 FIP 4.33 xFIP), his slider has been incredible, yielding a 27.4% swinging strike rate in these 5 starts and a .067 batting average against. His strikeout rate is down significantly, but he is throwing less pitches in the strike zone and inducing less contact. If Bundy can get his fastball in order, this could be the turn we have been waiting for. Fingers crossed.
BRYAN REYNOLDS, OF PIT (33% CBS, 14% ESPN, 25% Yahoo)
Bryan Reynolds appears to have solidified himself as the everyday Left Fielder in Pittsburgh. A second round pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur draft with a plus hit tool and above average plate discipline, the switch-hitting Reynolds would outperform his draft stock and show that he could rake at every level of the minor leagues (.312/.373/.472 career minor league slash). And after getting the call to the Majors at the end of April, Reynolds has been nothing short of spectacular:
FIRST 37 GAMES (128 PLATE APPEARANCES):
.345/.406/.569 (.975 OPS) 5 HR 20 R 17 RBI
9.4% BB 21.9% K .411 wOBA 158 wRC+
22.7% LD 33.0% Pull 48.9% Hard Contact
While is .345 batting average is 3rd in baseball among hitters with at least 120 plate appearances, he is firmly solidified in the Top 20 in almost every major statistical category.
In fact, according to Statcast, his .416 wOBA is in the Top 5% of the league, while his 50.6% hard hit rate is in the Top 7% of baseball. While his xStats clearly don’t support his production, who cares. Reynolds could be special, so you may want to grab him now.
Questions and comments?
Follow Matt Bishop On Twitter @Bishphat
Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images