The waivers in any league can be a beautiful place full of potential. More often than not, that potential goes awry at the time when you need it the most. So as we inch closer and closer to the middle of the season, let me take you through some of the hottest names available in your league right now and tell you why you ought to think twice before clicking that add button.
Obviously every team has different needs. Every league has varying degrees of depth. Across all platforms, these five names are ones getting added with the most frequency and there’s some reason to be a tad skeptical.
Five Waiver Claims to Avoid
1. Jack Suwinski – OF – PIT
(.230 / 11 HR / 19 RBI / 3.7% Owned)
There are two things that are for certain when it comes to the most recently added waivers – people love trying to be first on a rookie and people love multi-homer games. With Jack Suwinski, he just so happens to check both of those boxes. His number shot up everybody’s lists when he went for three dingers, including a walk off, on Sunday. However, let’s chat a little bit on why we might need to pump the breaks on the young Buc.
When new to the majors, the pitchers usually take a bit to get a good scouting report. Minor league stats only carry so far and the level of competition is always a factor. Now that Suwinski has been up for awhile, we can see that he’s having a bit of trouble on the fastball. In the smallish sample, he has a wFB (runs above average on fastballs thrown) of -3.6. He’s also not good on splitters, with a wSF of -1.1. In order to have success, he’s been much more successful on other pitches. The crazy thing, is he’s not seeing a lot of heat.
So far, he’s seen fastballs less than half of the time. That rate is slowly creeping up, which does seem to suggest pitchers are starting to realize that he has trouble making quality contact on the heater. If they ramp up the amount of heat he sees, we could see a decrease in productivity. The fact that he is walking less than ever (7.8%, which is less than half of last year’s rate), won’t help him if they come with more high heat either.
2. Christian Walker – 1B – ARI
(.199 / 18 HR / 36 RBI / 39.7% Owned)
I’m sort of surprised that I even have to rebuke the addition of a guy who is hitting below .200. However, as I said before, people love multi-homer games. On Sunday, he went for two dingers, which have been his only hits in his last 21 at bats. Yet the homers still have people heading to their waivers to add the first baseman.
Honestly, if you’re in a categories league and just need the dingers, Walker might be worth something. There does seem to be some signs that he could regress though and definitely some signs that his average isn’t going to suddenly pick up.
He appears to have made a conscious effort to lift the ball more this year. As a result, he’s picked up his launch angle and gotten his Bar/PA% up to 10.6. That puts him in absolutely elite company (12th in the league). Just behind Bryce Harper and just ahead of Ronald Acuna. I personally don’t think he’ll be able to maintain that.
In the meantime, his line drive rate fell by 7% from last year, which is obvious fallout from lifting it more. He also is hitting far less balls solid (solid% down to 6.6% from 8.4 last year). So there’s reason to believe that average will stay down here under the Mendoza line.
3. Luis Garcia – 2B/SS – WAS
(.360 / 2 HR / 10 RBI / 8.5% Owned)
We go from a low average guy on waivers, to one that doesn’t appear to be able to make an out. Luis Garcia is on fire for the Nationals, with a .360 average in just a small sample size. However, his batted ball profile does not seem to suggest that he’s that type of hitter at all.
Baseball Savant has a feature that allows you to see players from other seasons with similar batted ball profiles. They take into account the trajectories, frequencies and speed of the balls they’re putting (or not) into play. For Garcia, the most common player is 2021 Maikel Franco – a guy who hit just .210 last year. Second most common comparison is 2021 David Peralta – who hit just .234.
While there’s a lot to take in with these numbers, the bottom line is that people generally don’t have this profile and hit for a high average. Even with a small sample size, Garcia is an anomaly likely to come back down to Earth.
4. Luke Voit – 1B – SD
(.239 / 9 HR / 31 RBI / 42.7% Owned)
I have to start the Luke Voit rundown by getting right to his BABIP. Voit has a BABIP of .324 which is good for 34th among qualified hitters. This is absurdly high for a guy who sits in the 9th percentile in sprint speed. The guys sandwiching him on that BABIP leaderboard are Starling Marte and Jeremy Pena. Those guys currently rank in the 84th and 97th percentiles in sprint speed (just to give you some context).
On top of all that, Voit already has a low actual batting average. If his BABIP regresses, even slightly, we could see his numbers fall down towards the Christian Walker range. Plus, it’s not like he’s giving you a lot of power. So maybe he’s not one of the guys on waivers you should be running to snag.
5. CJ Abrams – SS – SD
(.172 / 1 HR / 4 RBI / 4.6% Owned)
Well, I did mention before that people like to be the first on a rookie. You may have had to be second of Abrams, who already had a stint in the majors fail already. After being sent down to the minors for a month, the Padres are ready to give him another try – and apparently so are those scanning the waivers.
The big problem with Abrams is that he’s swinging a lot. The stats look like a guy who may be pressing to try to get things correct. His Z-Swing% (swing rate on pitches in the zone) is 71.4%. The league average hovers right around 65%. His swing rate outside the zone (O-Swing%) is even more off the mark at 41.2% compared to roughly a 30% league average. Although being a free swinger isn’t the end of the world, when it didn’t work the first time and it’s only producing a 25.5% hard hit rate, there’s less room for optimism.
Make sure to check out all the great MLB coverage we have to offer and be sure to listen to the MLB Gambling Podcast, which airs multiple times a week. This week the guys are breaking down all the best plays for the coming days, including some info that might make your waivers easier to navigate.