Waiver Worthy: OBP Edition: Three Players Who Have Been Overlooked, But Deserve Your Attention (Kipnis & More)

by Stephen McFadden

Do you play in a league that utilizes OBP, as opposed to Batting Average?  While in many cases a player’s value doesn’t change dramatically there are some who have a great disparity.  A high-end player is likely going to be a high-end player, but what about the mid-to-lower tiers?  With that in mind, let’s take a look at three players who may be sitting on your waiver wire and determine their potential value for those in OBP formats:

Jose Bautista – New York Mets – 3B, OF
13% ownership in CBS leagues, 9% ownership in Yahoo leagues

It’s quite easy to look at the options on the waiver wire and skip right over Bautista. When the Braves discarded him after a failed experiment at third base earlier in the season, it looked like the end of the road for the aging slugger. However the Mets decided to give him a chance and the 37-year-old has found the fountain of youth in New York, slugging 4 HR with an OBP .387 over the last 3 weeks.

Bautista has a .367 OBP for the season, buoyed by a gaudy BB% of 18.9%. His calling card has always been on-base ability and power, and he has 6 HR in 184 plate appearances. Like most power hitters he has a high FB%, checking in at 47.4%. His HR/FB% of 13.3% has some room for growth, considering how hard he is hitting the ball. Bautista got off to a slow start in May, slugging .379, but with the Mets deploying him regularly in the outfield, he slugged .536 in the month of June.

Bautista’s success is backed by impressive batted ball numbers.  He is scorching the ball with a Hard% of 43.2% and minuscule Soft% of 14.7%. While the Mets may eventually opt for a youth movement in the second half of the season, he is forcing his way into the lineup every day (he recently started 13 consecutive games). He is a solid short-term option that you can plug in at third base or the outfield to bolster your OBP with some home runs.

Jesse Winker – Cincinnati Reds – OF
31% ownership in CBS leagues, 17% ownership in Yahoo leagues

In case you missed out on Winker the first time around, now is your chance to pounce on him (he was  featured in this same space 2 weeks ago). All he has done in the last 2 weeks is get on base on over half of his plate appearances (.512 OBP) and slug .694 with 2 HR. His CBS ownership has jumped to 31% from 21%, while in Yahoo it increased from 5% to 17%.

Winker is thriving in his first full season as a starter, leading a resurgent Reds lineup that has scored the 4th most runs since the beginning of June. For the season he boasts a .398 OBP and 7 HR. More power should come as his HR/FB has climbed to 10.1% on the season, after sitting at 8.1% only 2 weeks ago.

Winker is acrushing the ball this year, registering a Hard% of 43.9%. His exceptional plate discipline and contact ability continue to impress with an O-Swing% of 21.7% and a SwStr% of 5.7%, both slight improvements from 2 weeks ago.

I fully expect his ownership numbers to keep climbing as he showcases elite on-base ability with some power. He is a must own in all deep leagues and should be owned in all 12 team leagues.

Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians – 2B
33% ownership in CBS leagues, 32% ownership in Yahoo leagues

Kipnis is another name that is easy to overlook on the waiver wire. He has always teased us with the potential of double digit home runs and steals, but in 2017 he played only 90 games due to injuries. After an experiment in CF last year, he’s back to playing exclusively at second base and is putting up solid numbers.

In the last 4 weeks Kipnis is getting on-base at a clip of .441, slugging .588 with 5 HR and 1 SB. His season marks (.314 OBP and .366 Slugging%) are weighed down by a disastrous start to the
season in March/April (.254 OBP and .243 Slugging%). He has improved steadily as the season has gone along in several important measures:

  • He has reduced his K% of 25.2% from March/April to 19.7%
    while increasing BB% from 9.2% to 10.9%.
  • He is hitting more line drives, bringing his LD% for the season up to 21.1%
    after posting a meager 18.4% in March/April.

The power has gradually developed as well. After hitting 0 HR in March/April, his HR/FB% has progressed in linear fashion (March/April 0%, May 7.9%, June 14.8%, July 25%) while reducing the number of automatic outs (IFFB% of 8.8 in Mar/April; that mark now sits at 7.5% for the season). This portends well for the future as Kipnis has a 44.2% FB% and will put up solid HR numbers, with excellent on-base ability and some speed as well (3 SB this season).

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