Welcome to the hitting streamers column for the week of 5/6 - 5/12. Whether you're looking to maximize the number of games played, exploit favorable matchups, or fill in for injured players, streaming hitters can be a fruitful strategy for those willing to put in a little work every week.
Keep in mind that this column highlights players owned in approximately 50% or fewer of Yahoo leagues who could present nice streaming options for the upcoming week. This applies to any league but specifically is geared toward head-to-head weekly leagues where matchups are more critical.
If the following names aren't available, don't hesitate to check our famous waiver wire pickups list to find some appealing alternatives. Let's get to it.
Bats to Stream and Start in Week 7
Seven-Game Weeks: BAL, DET, MIL, MIN, PHI, PIT
Only seven teams play seven games this week, when 16 played seven games a week ago. That means there are fewer volume options on waivers this week, so the ownership cutoff has been raised to 60% to help identify the best options, even if they're only available in shallow leagues. There will still be a healthy amount of deep league streamers this week as well.
Streamer of the Week
Dwight Smith Jr. (OF, BAL) – 58% Owned
Smith has quietly been a solid contributor this fantasy season, putting up an .816 OPS and .201 ISO through 145 PA. Smith has found success by leveling out his swing and getting more line drives, as his line drive rate is up 13% thus far. He also improved production on fastballs by lowering his launch angle four degrees, improving his xBA from .232 in 2018 to .334 this season. Smith can provide a little of everything for owners this week; he can hit for power, provide batting average, put up runs and RBI, and can throw in the occasional stolen base.
Baltimore has seven games this week, three in New York against the Yankees and four in Cleveland. Those matchups would’ve been more daunting at the beginning of the year, but injuries have ravaged both of those rotations. The Orioles avoid facing pitchers like James Paxton, Corey Kluber, and Mike Clevinger for Triple-A fill-in arms. They also face just one lefty this week, which is great news for Smith. With his matchups and early season improvements, Smith is in a great position to produce this week.
Behind the Plate
Mitch Garver (C, MIN) – 37% Owned
Jason Castro is currently dealing with an elbow injury, and Willians Astudillo is on the injured list, leaving Garver as the only healthy catcher on Minnesota’s roster. Maybe that will open Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli’s eyes as to how good Garver’s been. Garver has a 1.147 OPS and .385 ISO in 71 PA, yet is still forced to split time with Jason Castro. It makes senses from a real baseball perspective, Castro is one of the best pitch framers in the league, but at the same time Garver has the highest wRC+ among catchers this season (min. 70 PA). So let the man hit. With the Twins other catchers on the mend, Garver will get his chance to prove his legitimacy this week, and makes for the perfect streaming catcher.
At the Corners
C.J. Cron (1B, MIN) – 19% Owned
The Twins draw three left-handed starters during their upcoming seven-game week, which means it’s time for Cron to shine. The powerful first baseman has a .959 OPS and .462 ISO against southpaws this season, and had a .930 OPS and .247 ISO against them in 2018. Cron has also cut his strikeout rate to 19.3% this season and upped his hard hit rate to 40.7%. He’s no one’s long term answer at first base, least of all the Twins, but this week is perfect to deploy a player like Cron. He’ll get enough volume and enough exposure against lefties to make it worthwhile.
Danny Santana (1B/2B/OF, TEX) – 31% Owned
First basemen with wheels are hard to come by, but Santana offers a unique skillset at his position. The 28-year-old utility man has taken over as the Rangers’ primary first baseman, and he’s swiped six bases with a .311 batting average and a .230 ISO. His track record would suggest that this is just a hot streak for Santana, and it may well be, but he’s made a few legitimate improvements at the plate. He’s increased his hard hit rate to 50%, and raised his average launch angle to 15.2 degrees, which has translated to a 27.8% line drive rate and .294 xBA. He’s also improved his contact rate by 7%, and for the first time in his career Danny Santana is an above average contact hitter. Texas only has a six-game week, but they’re scheduled to face one weak lefty (Danny Duffy) and get three games at home against right-handed starters, which should translate to production for Santana.
Update: With Ronald Guzman activated from the IL, Danny Santana has sat now in three of the last four games including against a right handed pitcher on Friday night. It's an interesting development to monitor.
Chris Davis (1B, BAL) – 1% Owned
Before you hit Alt-F4, hear me out on this one. Since busting his historically bad slump, Chris Davis is hitting .288 with an .870 OPS and .231 ISO. He cut his strikeout rate to a manageable (for him) 28.1%, and he’s increased his hard hit rate to 44.4%. Davis has recently moved up to fifth in Baltimore’s order, and he should be up for solid production with just one lefty on the slate this week for the Orioles. Look, I’m not telling you to sign Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161 million dollar contract, putting your cellar dweller team over the luxury tax, and then deferring payments so that Davis earns seven figures annually until the year 2037. That would be ridiculous; no one in their right minds would do that, least of an MLB front office. But, Davis is a perfectly viable one-week option given his matchups and recent performance. As a bonus, his name is so tainted in the fantasy baseball community that you won’t need to fight for him on waivers.
Up the Middle
Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, DET) – 31% Owned
Goodrum’s performance has been underwhelming as of late, but it’s hard to quit a quint-eligible player with his underlying peripherals. Goodrum is hitting just .226 with a .717 OPS, but he’s improved on just about everything. He’s cut his strikeout rate by 3%, upped his walk rate 5%, has a 43.6% hard hit rate, and a monster 32.1% line drive rate. His .625 BABIP on line drives is nearly 50 points lower than the league average, which is a big reason for the discrepancy in his xBA (.286) and actual BA (.226). With seven games ahead of him, now is the perfect time to pick up Goodrum up and see if his good performance can translate to results.
Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI) – 55% Owned
Hernandez is hitting .303 with a 13% strikeout rate and .821 OPS this season, and yet is available in 45% of Yahoo leagues. Sure, he doesn’t provide much power, but with his chip-in steals and superb batting average Hernandez presents owners with a unique skillset that’s hard to find on waivers. The Phillies have seven home games this week, and Hernandez plays in basically every game, meaning he should have plenty of volume this week.
In the Outfield
Jose Martinez (1B/OF, STL) – 57% Owned
Martinez continues to get regular playing time for St. Louis, and most importantly, he continues to hit. He has a .343/.387/.471 triple slash on the season, and his .346 xBA and .556 xSLG suggest Martinez could be even better. He’s an interesting stream this week because the Cardinals play three games in Texas. Outside of Coors Field, there is no ballpark I target players in more than Globe Life Park in Arlington. Not only is Globe Life an amazing hitter’s park, but the Rangers pitching staff has the third-highest ERA in the league at 5.20. Martinez should be able to produce plenty in six games this week, and playing in Texas has the added bonus of allowing him to DH, ensuring he won’t sit or be pulled for a defensive replacement.
Melky Cabrera (OF, PIT) – 5% Owned
Cabrera has been a pleasant surprise for Pittsburgh, putting up a .350/.387/.500 triple slash in 106 PA this season. Even at age 34 Cabrera is an excellent contact hitting, putting up an 86% contact rate and 12.3% strikeout rate this season. While Cabrera won’t maintain a .381 BABIP, his 27.6% line drive rate and 90.4 MPH average exit velocity will keep his batting average around the .300 mark. The Pirates have seven games in pitcher-friendly ballparks this week. They have three games in Arizona and four in San Diego, but that won’t affect Cabrera too much since he’s more of a singles hitter. He’s in the lineup virtually every day for Pittsburgh and should be a good volume play this week.
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