The fantasy baseball season has been a whirlwind, and it's hard to believe we're already on the 'back nine' with the excitement and unpredictability still in full swing. A quick glance at the standings reveals many familiar names among the top players, but there are certainly some unexpected ones near the top as well. While most of the current top 20 in points leagues were among the first 20 taken in drafts, pleasant surprises like Ranger Suarez, Jarren Duran, and Jurickson Profar have emerged despite being ranked well outside the overall top 50 before the season.

Profar gave us a bit of a scare earlier this week when he sat out with a sore knee, an issue he's battled for years. Fortunately, his MRI came back clean, and he's currently listed as day-to-day. Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker still hasn't returned to the lineup, and according to manager Joe Espada won't be back on Friday as initially anticipated. In other outfield news, Joey Gallo of the Nationals left Tuesday’s game in the seventh inning with a pulled left hamstring and ended up going on the IL.

Despite this, it’s not all doom and gloom, as many upper-echelon pitchers are making their way back from injury. Robbie Ray and Jeffrey Springs are progressing well from Tommy John surgery. Additionally, perhaps most encouraging of all, Gerrit Cole will make his third rehab start on Friday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If all goes well he could return to the majors next week, which would be a massive boon for the Yankees and fantasy managers alike.

As always, we'll do our best to cure your fantasy ails by offering some intriguing waiver options while they're hot. To qualify for this list, a hitter must be less than – or around – 50% owned in Yahoo! Leagues. Additionally, a player will appear on this list more than once only if they continue to rake from previous weeks. Let’s get into it.


Willi Castro, 2B/3B/SS/OF - Minnesota Twins (53% Owned)

Twins utility man Willi Castro hasn’t exactly stood out in any category, but has been a decent all-around contributor. At this point however, Castro is probably a better bet in points leagues. While the steals haven’t been nearly as present as in the past, he has ticked up his walks a bit more over the last few weeks and has scored six runs over his previous four games.

Ideally I’d like to see a bit more lineup consistency as he’s hit in just about every slot from 1-to-9. However, the positional versatility is excellent, keeping him in an everyday role. Also, It currently seems as though he’ll hold down the keystone position for Minnesota for the time being with the demotion of Edouard Julien to Triple-A. Therefore, if he hasn’t yet garnered second-base eligibility in your league, it should happen quickly. 


Ryan O’Hearn, 1B/OF - Baltimore Orioles (49% Owned)

Orioles 1B/OF Ryan O’Hearn has been one of the best hitters in baseball against righties this season, and being in a platoon hasn't affected that at all. O’Hearn is batting .364(!)  thus far in June, and while he’s not walking much, is barely striking out at all. His minuscule 9.9% K% is in the 98th percentile of batters, and there are currently no signs of him slowing down anytime soon. 

Platoon players can get easily overlooked due to their inconsistent playing time, but we shouldn’t let O’Hearn get lost in the shuffle. He regularly hits at the top of a potent Orioles lineup, and the home runs should start falling if he gets hot again as he did early in the season. Now is an excellent time to get ahead of it.


J.P. Crawford, SS - Seattle Mariners (31% Owned)

Seattle SS J.P. Crawford might be your saving grace if you need help at shortstop. A brief look at his overall season line – .211/.298/.669 – won’t inspire much confidence, but if we dig a bit deeper, there’s reason to believe that it will vastly improve. First, Crawford is locked into the top slot of the Mariners’ lineup. I’m always targeting players that hit in the top three spots – particularly in points leagues – because volume is king and that’s a good metric for counting stats.

Second, he’s raised his hard-hit ball rate for a third consecutive season, and while Statcast has him pegged with an xBA of .244, we should expect that to continue trending up. Crawford’s current BABIP is sitting at .235, and that’s relatively low considering we’ve never seen him below .275. For context, his career BABIP is .297. As a result, there’s some positive regression coming his way, and I like him as an add in points leagues because his 99th percentile chase-rate should stop him from being a drag in the K department. He should even be a nice boost in category leagues too if he keeps scoring runs.


Andrew Vaughn, 1B - Chicago White Sox (29% Owned)

White Sox 1B Andrew Vaughn’s production has really begun to tick up over the last two weeks. Until this past Wednesday Vaughn was in the middle of an 11-game hit streak, with five multi-hit games and nine runs scored during that span. If you’ve read my column before, you know my propensity to favor post-hype prospects, and the former third-overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft certainly fits that bill.

He’s seemingly found a groove, as have a few others in the Chi Sox lineup, so his counting stats should get a nice boost in the coming weeks. His xBA of .242 is nearly 20 points off his actual average, and his rolling xWOBA is trending in a positive direction. I like Vaughn as a speculative add if you need help in the average department, and it’s a positive sign that his average exit velocity is a notch up from last year (91.2MPH) and almost in the 80th percentile (79th).


Paul DeJong, SS - Chicago White Sox (17% Owned)

I’ve been following Chicago SS Paul DeJong for a few weeks now, and he’s finally doing enough to warrant a spot on this list. He has nine runs in his last ten games and four multi-hit outings over his last six contests. In fact, he’s hit six of his 13 home runs on the season over his last 13 outings. That’s six long balls over his prior 41 at-bats – meaning it took him 162 at-bats to hit his first seven.

This pace is obviously unsustainable, as he won’t hit a home run every other game, but this has been his statistically best season since 2020. To that end, he's currently producing nice value. When parsing through his data, I was encouraged to see that he has dropped his groundball percentage by nearly ten points from a year ago and, in turn, hit more fly balls and line drives. His hard-hit ball rate is way up to 45.9%, and he’s barreling the ball great, too (11.3%, 77th percentile).


Deep League Options


Gavin Sheets, 1B/OF - Chicago White Sox (14% Owned)

White Sox 1B/OF Gavin Sheets might be the most exciting White Sox player on this list right now, as he’s seemingly turned a corner. His underlying batted-ball metrics are the most impressive of this list, and I don't expect him to remain here much longer. Sheets has dropped his K% slightly from last year, but I love that he’s walking more, and his 13% walk rate qualifies him for the 93rd percentile in the league. Snag him now before he really blows up.


Tyler Soderstrom, C/1B - Oakland Athletics (4% Owned)

After his early-season struggles, A's C/1B Tyler Soderstrom has turned it on over the last seven days. He’s begun to creep up in the batting order, hitting as high as fourth since his move to first base. The batting average isn’t there – but Soderstrom is hitting the ball uber-hard, raising his average exit velocity three points from a season ago to 92 MPH and registering a hard-hit ball 50% of the time. He’s of interest if he still qualifies as a catcher on your platform, as he’s seemingly overtaken J.D. Davis in the A's first base pecking order.


55% Discount – 1-year DFS Optimizer: Cutting edge features, multiple projections sources


Pitching/Streaming Options


Cal Quantrill, Colorado Rockies (22/34% Yahoo/CBS)

Sans a start against the LA Dodgers two weeks back, Rockies starter Cal Quantrill has been nothing short of spectacular since early May. He’s 6-1 over that span with seven starts, allowing two or fewer runs. Three of those have been shutout appearances, and while I’d like to see him strike out a few more batters, it’s hard to argue with the results.

He’ll unfortunately face those same Dodgers in his first start this week, but gets a much more enticing matchup against the Washington Nationals for his second. It’s a risky proposition to start him against LA but I’m willing to roll with him through both starts. His 1.71 ERA in May and 2.35 ERA thus far in June have been stellar and more than enough reason for me to chase the output in points leagues.


Jonathan Cannon, Chicago White Sox (1/2% Yahoo/CBS)

White Sox starter Jonathan Cannon has been pretty good since being recalled. He recorded a three-inning save last Friday and then returned to the rotation this past Wednesday – registering seven strong innings of work against the Mariners, allowing four hits and one earned while walking one and striking out seven.

His two middle-of-the-road matchups this upcoming week against the Astros and Tigers are neither super-scary nor super-juicy, but if I’m right about the Chi Sox’s bats, they should provide him with enough run support provided he pitches well. His rolling xWOBA certainly paints the picture of someone intriguing.


As we navigate the second half of the fantasy baseball season, it's clear that surprises and strategic plays will continue to shape the landscape. Players like Ranger Suarez, Jarren Duran, and Jurickson Profar have shown that value can be found in unexpected places, rewarding managers who took a chance on them. Meanwhile, key injuries and comebacks, such as those of Profar, Kyle Tucker, Joey Gallo, and Gerrit Cole, highlight the ongoing need to stay vigilant and flexible with our rosters.

The players highlighted here, from versatile hitters like Willi Castro and Ryan O’Hearn to emerging talents like Andrew Vaughn and Paul DeJong, offer intriguing options for boosting your fantasy team's performance. Keeping an eye on deep league options like Gavin Sheets and Tyler Soderstrom, as well as strategic pitching adds like Cal Quantrill and Jonathan Cannon, can provide the edge needed to climb the standings. As we delve deeper into the season, staying proactive and informed will be key to maintaining a competitive edge and securing that coveted championship victory.