Fantasy Baseball 2021: Top Replacements for Injured MLB Players for Week 16
The All-Star break has reached its end, which means it's time for the dog days of summer.
Several teams find themselves in need of reinforcements. The Atlanta Braves responded to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s season-ending knee injury by acquiring Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees could have a greater urgency to make upgrades after their recent COVID-19 outbreak.
Fantasy managers should be wary of injuries and potential waiver upgrades as well. There have already been plenty of injuries, and more could follow down the stretch.
Here are three players fantasy managers could consider to replace injured players on their rosters.
OF Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals
There are reasons to be skeptical of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader given his track record as a guy who strikes out a lot. However, that hasn't been as much of an issue this season.
Bader has cut his strikeout rate nearly in half while boasting a walk rate over 9 percent. He might also be due for some better luck considering his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is five points lower than his actual average (.234).
Another reason to like Bader is his hot streak before the All-Star break. He hit .265 and slugged .500 in nine games before the pause, so he might just be finding something at the plate.
If Bader can continue to supply pop at the dish, he's a valuable player. The 27-year-old can hit the ball out of the yard and is a threat to steal any time he reaches base.
Bader is rostered in just 8.2 percent of ESPN leagues. He will almost certainly be available on any given waiver wire and has upside as a guy who can be a productive outfielder for fantasy managers.
OF Brian Goodwin, Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox keep rolling right along despite still being ravaged by injuries. The sum of the parts has been greater than the whole, but some early-season acquisitions have given the South Siders a big boost.
Chicago signed Brian Goodwin to a minor league contract after young center fielder Luis Robert went down with a torn flexor. Goodwin began his White Sox tenure in Triple-A but has made a major impact since coming to the bigs.
The 30-year-old has slashed .267/.353/.511 with four homers and a 137 OPS+ in 25 games with the White Sox. He was terrific before the All-Star break, posting a .936 OPS in nine games in July.
Some of Goodwin's slugging numbers might be slightly fluky. He has a .410 expected slugging percentage. That said, Goodwin's 90.2 mph average exit velocity is the best of his career (min. 50 batted-ball events) and his .336 xwOBA is the best mark of his career.
Goodwin is likely to keep getting at-bats in Chicago's lineup and might even hold down an outfield spot when Eloy Jimenez returns if the White Sox move him to the designated hitter spot. He can be had in more than 95 percent of ESPN leagues and has upside as a potential run-producer.
RHP Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
Logan Gilbert's first couple of MLB starts did not go as planned.
The Seattle Mariners right-hander gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in 6.2 innings of work. The M's stuck with the youngster, though, and the decision has paid dividends.
Gilbert has a 2.57 ERA in eight starts since May 25. He is striking out close to 10 opponents per game and holding hitters to a .189 batting average against. Those are pretty stellar numbers.
The rookie has given up some hard contact. He ranks in the bottom 20 percent in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. However, he has given out just 10 free passes in 48.2 innings and also ranks in the 63rd percentile in whiff rate.
Gilbert is starting to get a bit more acclaim among fantasy managers. However, he is still available in more than 50 percent of all ESPN leagues.
Managers needing some rotation depth would do well to scoop Gilbert off waivers before he is claimed by another squad.