Deep League Waiver Targets for 2021 Fantasy Baseball

Here we are with less than a month left of the regular MLB season, and when it comes to fantasy teams, if yours isn’t in the thick of a pennant race it can get a bit difficult to focus on the task at hand.  As I’ve mentioned before, though, I like to take this time of year to pay a little extra attention to under the radar players who are performing well, both in case they can help me close out the season, and to take an early look at who might be undervalued next year.  This week we’ll look at stats from the past 14 days to see which players (hitters, for this week) have provided the most standard 5×5 fantasy help while staying the least owned, and those numbers will lead us to two outfielders who’ve been outperforming most of the competition recently, without too many fantasy owners even noticing.  It’s interesting to see not just from a deep-league perspective, in my opinion, but also as a reminder that even in shallower and standard leagues, you never know what you might find on the waiver wire if you look in the right place and get a little lucky.

DJ Peters.  Peters has the most impressive combination of helpful stats and low ownership (he’s rostered on a mere 12% of fantrax leagues as I write this) over the last month, and it’s not that close. He’s ranked 7th out of all major league hitters in overall value during that time, and the only other player in the top 10 who isn’t close to 100% owned is Frank Schwindel at 52%. Only one player (it’s Salvador Perez, if you’re the curious type) in baseball has more than the 6 homers Peters has hit for the Texas Rangers in that two-week period. Grey blurbed about Peters the other day and told you he picked him up the week prior and was rewarded with a very, very good week.  While it’s hard to imagine he can keep this insane run going for much longer (Peters, that is, not Grey), if you have room I can’t see a reason not to pick him up in a league where he’s available — maybe keep him off someone else’s team, if nothing else. Peters is 25 and was DFAd by the Dodgers (off their triple A team) just over a month ago, and clearly has made quite the impression in the Rangers outfield since then. It should be noted that even with that impressive power display, he’s still only hitting .204, so it’s difficult to get terribly excited about his future yet. As for next year, I’m not going to be planning teams around the guy or anything, but depending on how his situation looks next spring I can see grabbing him at the end of a draft, especially knowing that most owners probably weren’t paying much if any attention to the successful extended cup of coffee that he’s currently experiencing.

Anthony Alford.  Alford’s presence on this post surprised me; I knew I’d seen him pop up in a highlight or two for the Pirates recently but had no idea how well he’d been hitting.  Over the last two weeks, he checks in as the 12th most valuable hitter in 5×5 fantasy, while remaining just 10% rostered in fantrax leagues.  During those 14 days, Alford is hitting .273 and in just 10 games has 4 homers, 3 steals, 5 runs scored, and 7 RBI. I actually drafted/grabbed Alford for a buck in a couple NL-only leagues this past spring, hoping he could make a deep league impact as the Pirates’ starting center fielder but (like the Pirates, who DFAd him to make room for K’ai Tom way back in April), gave up on him pretty quickly. Alford got past that, as well as a wrist injury this summer (after coming off elbow surgery in 2020) to finally make it back to the major league roster.  He’s 27 now, so once again we’ll have to temper our expectations.  No one ever questioned Alford’s speed back in his minor league years with the Blue Jays; is it possible we’re seeing some legit pop as well? Is he healthy for the first time in years, and finally showing us all his true potential in an extremely low-pressure environment?  Or are we just looking at a guy who’s going to start looking overmatched again very soon and has been facing the right pitching at the same time he’s in a stretch of seeing the ball particularly well? I’m putting him in the same category as I would Peters: a guy who might still be able to provide some sneaky help in 2021, and who might be worth an end-of-draft flier in 2022 depending on how things look for him next spring.