If you ever have been to the beach, there is a good chance you’ve seen a random guy walking around wearing headphones while constantly waving his metal detector around hoping to find gold buried in the sand.
Sometimes you watch him stroll aimlessly up and down the beach finding nothing while ticking off beachgoers as he waves his magic wand over their belongings. Other times, he will discover seashells, popsicle sticks, hypodermic needles or a few nickels.
Then there are the rare times he finds something of value, but he might have had to dig deep to find such treasures. Scouring the fantasy waiver wires is no different, and sometimes the deeper you dive, the more goodies you find.
Garrett Cooper started his season on the wrong foot, going 0-for-8 before landing on the injured list. In his first two games back (May 11 and 14), he went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts. The 28-year-old, however, rebounded over his next 25 games — hitting .320 with six homers, 20 RBIs, 21 runs and a .935 OPS. That includes Wednesday night’s 3-for-5 effort when he was a double shy of becoming the first Marlin to ever hit for the cycle.
Cooper is hitting second in Miami’s order, and it doesn’t look like he will be giving up that spot any time soon. In his first 22 games in that spot, he batted .326 with six homers, 20 RBIs, 19 runs scored and .962 OPS. In his first 10 games this month, he hit .395 with three homers, nine RBIs and 1.173 OPS.
So, why is Cooper owned in just 7.1 percent of ESPN leagues? Injuries don’t help. Not only did he miss a big chunk of time this season, but two wrist injuries derailed his 2018 season. The worst part was the fact he was coming off a 2017 season in which he pounded Triple-A pitchers (.366, 17 HRs, 82 RBIs, 1.080 OPS).
Cooper is striking out 20.8 percent of the time, making more contact than ever, and has a career-high 44.6 percent hard-hit rate, which ranks between Khris Davis and Javier Baez. His .338 BABIP shows he has had some good fortune at the plate, but that shouldn’t deter fantasy owners from picking up a player who is showing he is capable of solid offensive production.
Other things to love about Cooper? How about the fact he is eligible at two positions (first and outfield)? How about the fact he finally is healthy and getting consistent playing time?
Cooper has flown under the radar a good portion of the season, partly because he was injured and partly because he is on a bad team. If you’re looking for versatile depth for your roster, dig deep and you’ll find Cooper waiting for you.
Here’s a look at some other players who are widely available and worthy of being added:
Ramon Laureano (21.4 percent) raised his average from .216 to .260 after going 37-for-121 (.306) with six homers, 16 RBIs, 19 runs scored and five stolen bases over 33 games between May 8 and Thursday. His .352 BABIP in that span indicates he has had some good luck, but the 24-year-old is a cheap source of power and speed while not killing your average.
After giving up 10 runs over three innings on May 10, Miami’s Pablo Lopez (11.8 percent) was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, .183 opponent average and 27 strikeouts over his past five starts before taking the mound Saturday. He is striking out 24 percent of the batters he faces while walking just 5.9 percent, and his 3.61 FIP indicates he has been getting unlucky.
With the Twins leading the league in average, runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS, Minnesota’s pitching staff is getting run support. Michael Pineda (6.8 percent) has not lost since May 5, going 2-0 with a 4.04 ERA, 27-4 strikeout-walk rate and .212 opponent average over his past six starts. He has a 3.38 ERA so far this month.
Arizona’s Merrill Kelly (11.8 percent) is 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA, .156 opponent average and 18-2 strikeout-walk rate in his first three starts this month, lasting seven or more innings in each. His 4.31 FIP indicates there will be regression, but he is a solid matchup play (especially at home, where he is 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 35-4 strikeout-walk rate).
Not only is David Bote (6.4 percent) eligible at second and third, he is getting regular playing time with Ben Zobrist out of the picture (Bote has started 43 of the first 60 games he has played in). His 24.5 percent strikeout rate isn’t great, but it doesn’t hurt that he entered Friday hitting .276 with eight homers, 27 runs scored and 32 RBIs.
Kyle Schwarber OF, Cubs
Entered Friday hitting .238, but was 15-for-48 (.313) with five homers, 12 RBIs, nine runs, a stolen base and a 1.046 OPS in his first 12 games this month.
Nick Pivetta SP, Phillies
Before taking the mound Friday, he was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, 21-2 strikeout-walk rate and .171 opponent average in his first three starts since returning from his demotion to Triple-A.
Yasmani Grandal C, Brewers
Raised his average from .258 to .283 in 25 games between May 13 and Thursday after going 28-for-89 (.315) with nine homers, 22 RBIs, 16 walks, 14 runs and a 1.157 OPS.
Starling Marte OF, Pirates
Entered Friday with a hit in 10 of his previous 12 games, going 22-for-55 (.400) with four homers, 12 RBIs, three stolen bases, 12 runs and a 1.076 OPS.
Matt Strahm SP, Padres
After allowing just 12 runs over eight starts from April 7-May 21, he has allowed 16 earned runs over his past three starts (13 ²/₃ innings), all losses. He had a 10.54 ERA and .310 opponent average in that span.
Dexter Fowler OF, Cardinals
After going 2-for-4 with a homer on June 1, he was 4-for-24 (.167) with one RBI, seven strikeouts and a .408 OPS in the following 10 games.
Mike Zunino C, Rays
In his first nine games after being activated from the IL, he went 2-for-31 (.065) with no homers or RBIs, 11 strikeouts and .244 OPS.
Edwin Jackson SP, Blue Jays
Picked up his first win on Wednesday, but the veteran has allowed 34 runs (28 earned) over his first 24 ²/₃ innings (10.22 ERA). Opponents are hitting .364 against him.
The last time Jake Odorizzi lost a game was on April 10. He allowed just seven runs over his past 59 innings (10 starts) before taking the mound on Saturday. He owned a 1.07 ERA in that span, while opponents have hit .199 against him with 63 strikeouts and 13 walks.
Edwin Encarnacion, who was traded to the Yankees on Saturday has certainly found his power stroke this month, hitting eight homers in his first 15 games. He also struck out just 10 times in his first 53 plate appearances and owned a 1.196 OPS. He had at least one hit in 12 of those games, and at least one RBI in 11.
Shohei Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player in MLB history to hit for the cycle on Thursday, and the seventh Angel to hit for the cycle, the first since Mike Trout in 2013. He is also just the sixth to accomplish the feat as a DH (first since Jeff DaVanon in 2004). He remains available in more than 25 percent of ESPN leagues and was hitting .438 with five homers, 12 RBIs, 11 runs, a stolen base and 1.517 OPS in nine games before Friday.
Team Name of The Week
Greene New Deal
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