MLB's fifth no-hitter of 2021 and fantasy pickups with Mike Trout hurt

·6 min read

Spencer Turnbull tossed MLB’s fifth no-hitter this season Tuesday night, when Seattle went hitless at home for the second time already this year. Turnbull remains available in nearly 90% of Yahoo leagues despite now sporting a 2.88 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, although he’s likely to be scooped up in many after Tuesday night’s heroics. This is just the second season in MLB history with five no-hitters before June, and the last time occurred in 1917. The league-wide K rate (8.96) right now is the highest in major league history, and the league-wide batting average (.236) is the lowest ever.

The other big story Tuesday was Mike Trout hitting the IL with a calf injury that’s going to sideline him 6-8 weeks. It’s obviously brutal news, as Trout is tied for the MLB lead in WAR (with Byron Buxton, who has nearly 50 fewer plate appearances!) and carrying fantasy teams with a career-high .333 batting average. Trout will turn 30 soon, yet he’s somehow also sporting career-bests in OPS and wRC+. 

Let’s take a look at 10 possible waiver wire options for those searching for an outfielder — a fantasy position I’d argue is second-thinnest behind only catcher.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 14: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on May 14, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
You won't find a 1-for-1 replacement for Mike Trout on the waiver wire, but there are some suitable options to help fill a hole on your roster. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Tyler Naquin, Cincinnati Reds (63% rostered)

With the Reds willingness to eschew infield defense, Joey Votto hitting the IL and Nick Senzel continuing to struggle (and unable to stay healthy), Naquin has many paths to continue seeing regular at-bats despite a crowded looking Cincinnati outfield. He’s hitting either first or cleanup in the lineup lately and in a home park that’s increased HR for lefties an MLB-high 32% over the last three seasons. Naquin’s average exit velocity is in the top 6% of the league, and THE BAT X projects 17 homers and four steals rest of season. He should be added in all fantasy leagues.

J.D. Davis, New York Mets (46% rostered)

Davis could’ve been dropped while on the IL, but he’s due back soon and was starting to tear the cover off the ball before going down. His Statcast numbers were through the roof, and Davis should return batting in the middle of the lineup. He’s another no-brainer add in all fantasy leagues.

Adam Duvall, Miami Marlins (30% rostered)

He’s settled in Miami’s cleanup spot, right in front of OBP machine Jesus Aguilar, resulting in a pace to finish with 115 RBI. Duvall remains a BA problem, but his low mark is closer than ever to league average, and he’s hitting the ball harder than ever. Duvall is in the top 10% of the league in Barrel% and Hard Hit% and should continue to provide cheap power.

Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs (23% rostered)

While he’s off to a slow start with his new team, Pederson has also already tripled last year’s AB total versus lefties. The more consistent role should lead to more counting stats, as should a normalized HR/FB rate. Wrigley Field has actually boosted homers for lefties so far this year, and THE BAT X projects 21 homers and 60 RBI rest of season.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees (23% rostered)

Frazier had an ADP of 183 in NFBC’s Main Event — 10 spots ahead of Mitch Haniger. With a .151 batting average and an average exit velocity in the bottom 3% of MLB, he’s been dropped in many leagues since. Frazier is still just 26 years old with a clear everyday role with Aaron Hicks on the IL, and he posted a 149 wRC+ last season. For whatever reason, Yankee Stadium has oddly played tough on right-handed batters to open 2021, something that figures to change as the weather does.

Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants (10% rostered)

He hasn’t enjoyed the same success at the plate as many of his teammates this season, but hopefully his three-run homer Sunday was a sign Dickerson is fully recovered from his shoulder injury. Dickerson will remain an injury risk, but he has a .284 expected batting average despite the slow start/sore shoulder. Dickerson was a popular late-round fantasy sleeper after posting a 150 wRC+ last season, and he remains a regular in the middle of San Francisco’s lineup. Oracle Park has continued its 180 degree transformation from historically tough on lefty power to now boosting it, making Dickerson far more attractive.

Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals (8% rostered)

He’s injury-prone but healthy now and producing with a clear everyday role in St. Louis’ outfield. Bader has walked nearly as many times as he’s struck out, helping lead to a .299 expected batting average. THE BAT X projects 19 homers and 10 steals rest of season, which is quite bullish for someone available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues. His excellent defense should also keep his bat in the lineup moving forward.

Khalil Lee, New York Mets (2% rostered)

Lee is more of a deeper league option, but if you’re looking for steals, here’s a sleeper. He swiped 53 bags in fewer than 129 games in Double-A as a 21-year-old during the last minor league season. Lee also isn’t a zero in the power department, and he should get an opportunity in New York’s outfield with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo both on the IL.

Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (2% rostered)

He’s looking at regular playing time with Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton landing on the IL and is worth adding in deeper leagues. Gardner is one season removed from swatting 28 homers with 10 steals in fewer than 500 ABs and hits in a home park that continues to boost HR for lefties.

Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels (1% rostered)

Ward was already seeing regular playing time since Albert Pujols was released, and he’s now the team’s center fielder with Mike Trout out. Ward has moved into the leadoff spot recently, and while he’s off to a slow start at the plate, he posted a 145 wRC+ with 27 homers and 11 steals in Triple-A during the last minor league season and held his own (98 wRC+) over 100 at bats with the Angels last year. Ward won’t turn Trout into Wally Pipp, but he’s a deep sleeper.

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