The following are a couple of observations on a list of position players who have recently been surging on the waiver wire charts and other players who I’m “scouting” in fantasy leagues. A lot of these players have ownership rates below 70 percent at CBS Sports.
It’s early on in the season and there are many players off to a hot start and two players in particular, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, have been on fire, proving once again you cannot count out the Cards, no matter how many roster obstacles they must overcome.
Jeremy Hazelbaker owns a triple slash-line of .394/.421/.818. But the high percentages are largely due to a high BABIP of .455 (BABIP–Batting Average on Balls in Play). However, where it gets interesting for the 28 year-old rookie is in the fact that he has posted BABIPs above .350 in the minors on numerous occasions.
Hazelbaker’s high BABIP is aided by a pretty consistent Ground Ball Rate (45.8 percent) and has one of the highest Hard Hit Rates among our list of free agents (11th overall), along with the ability to hit the ball to the opposite field (fourth overall).
He has a very aggressive approach at the plate as he owns a Swing Rate of 53.5 percent and a Strikeout Rate of 25.6 percent. Both factors might play a role in hindering his long-term success, but for now, he appears to make enough contact to hold his own against major league pitching.
The other hot player for St. Louis is Aledmys Diaz. Diaz owns a slash line of .406/.441/.813 with a BABIP of .393. Unlike his teammate, Diaz has not shown a very consistent past when it comes to post BABIPs above .350 in the minors (doing it once at Triple-A in 2015 in only 58 plate appearances).
Another distinction that Diaz has over Hazelbaker is that the former has shown some ability to limit strikeouts. Even more remarkable, the younger Diaz has shown some potential to walk as much as he strikes out.
Diaz’s success has come by way of constantly pulling the ball (50 percent) and having one of the highest Hard Hit Rate in this group (sixth overall on this list of 71 players). Nevertheless, Diaz has shown to be a fly ball hitter early on and that is a concern as he really doesn’t have a track record in terms of power and his BABIP might suffer because of it.
Diaz is a patient hitter owning a Swing Rate of 46.0 percent. But he does a good job of picking and choosing his spots as he has generated a high contact rate of 91.2 percent.
So we have two Cardinals’ players who are finding success in very different methods, but if one must make a choice, it would appear that the smart play would be Hazelbaker just because it appears he can easily streamline his game from the minors to the majors, plus his aggressive style might bode well in today’s pitching-dominated environment.