Loading scores...
Points League Waivers

Alek Thomas is worth a look

by Micah Henry
Updated On: May 17, 2022, 1:07 am ET

Editor’s Note: Now, all our premium tools for Fantasy, DFS and Betting are included in one subscription at one low price. Customers can subscribe to NBC Sports EDGE+ monthly for $9.99. Click here to learn more!

Because it’s still May, there are a plethora of players who are still trying to find their rhythm at the plate or on the mound. Whether it’s the result of a mental roadblock, a shortened spring training, or another type of hurdle, players sometimes get off to slow starts. It happens, but it doesn’t mean that players who start slow will continue to perform inadequately during the entire season. 

Picking up players who’ve had slow starts could make you look like a genius as the season progresses. It’s important to remember that the MLB season is a true marathon, and so is the fantasy baseball season. Simply understanding this and practicing patience could be the difference between winning and losing your league. In this week’s points league waiver wire piece, I’ll be diving into several players who could help your points league rosters. 

Points League Options

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of ESPN leagues)

Brendan Rodgers 2B, Rockies (32 percent rostered)

After years of waiting, Brendan Rodgers finally gave us a glimpse of his potential in 2021. Across 415 plate appearances, he slashed .284/.328/.470 with 15 home runs. He finally had a clear path to playing time and with the added experience, he flourished at the plate. However, over his first 51 at-bats of 2022, he had just four hits. His overall profile didn’t look too different when compared to 2021 and it now looks like he’s heating up at the plate. 

Since the beginning of May, Rodgers is 17-for-46 (.370) with two home runs and five doubles. He’s been making more contact, chasing less pitches that are outside of the strike zone, and maybe most notably, his quality of contact metrics looks much improved when compared to his April sample size. Over 39 batted ball events, he has a 17.9 percent barrel rate (seven barrels) and a 59 percent hard-hit rate. 

Now, in total, he’s only at 97 at-bats to begin 2022 – a small sample size. A lot could change as we get deeper into the season, but Rodgers has always had the tools to succeed at the plate, hence his former top prospect status. Because of this, I have a feeling that his recent success is a sign of things to come. Sure, he’ll likely have more poor stretches. What batters don’t? But Rodgers has the upside to hit .280+ while challenging 20 home runs. He’s an easy – borderline priority – pickup if you need a cheap middle infield option. 

Alek Thomas OF, Diamondbacks (14 percent rostered) 

What makes Alek Thomas special is his ability to impact the game in many different ways. He possesses a plus hit tool, well above-average speed, a mature plate approach, and a considerable amount of raw power that’s being hindered by a swing plane that results in a lot of ground balls. The outfielder had a lengthy minor league career and over 1,388 plate appearances, he finished with a .309/.386/.495 slash line, 34 home runs, a 61.4 percent steal rate (43/70), a 10.2 percent walk rate, and a 18.5 percent strikeout rate. 

The Diamondbacks called him up on May 8th after placing Carson Kelly on the injured list and through seven career games, he’s 7-for-19 with a home run and three doubles. He’s already showcasing his ability to make hard contact and his speed is clear (93rd percentile sprint speed). Sadly, his tendency to hit ground balls at a high rate has predictably continued. A swing and plate approach that’s geared towards making contact above all else will help a batter hit for average, but their ability to hit for power could be negatively affected. For Thomas, this could very well be the story of his rookie season. And at the same time, he may surprise us and start to hit for more power than expected. Regardless of what could happen, he makes for a very intriguing waiver wire option in points leagues.

Ryan Helsley RP, Cardinals (16 percent rostered)

It doesn’t feel like it’s an exaggeration to proclaim that Ryan Helsley has been the best reliever in baseball so far. Of course, there are plenty of relievers who are dominating right now, but let’s take a look at the numbers. Over 11 ⅔ innings, Helsley hasn’t surrendered a run, has only allowed two total baserunners, and he has a sparkling 21/1 K/BB. Moreover, he has a career best 50 percent ground ball rate and 21.4 percent hard-hit rate. What’s changed?

Helsley’s been throwing his high-spin four-seam fastball harder than ever before. The pitch is averaging 99.2 mph and it’s topped out at 103.1 mph. On top of this, he’s been walking less batters with his fastball and all of a sudden, his fastball has gone from very hittable to literally unhittable. Giovanny Gallegos remains the preferred ninth inning option in St. Louis, but Helsley looks like the best reliever in that bullpen. For now, most of his value comes from his strikeouts, holds, and maybe an occasional win. But I personally believe that he’ll be earning saves for the Cardinals before the season ends. Helsley looks like a brand new pitcher and he could soon be one of the best closing options in fantasy. 

Ramón Laureano OF, Athletics (12 percent rostered)

Back in early-August of 2021, Ramón Laureano was suspended for 80 games for using a banned substance. Because he received the suspension in August, his 2021 season ended abruptly and he was forced to miss the first month of the 2022 season. He’s back now after making his season debut on May 8th and through 10 games, he’s 6-for-34 with two stolen bases. 

In past seasons, Ramón Laureano has proven to be a legitimate five category contributor. I’m not sure if he’ll ever have a 20/20 season, but we all know of his capabilities. Beyond that, his slow start to the season shouldn’t surprise anyone given the circumstances surrounding his delayed season debut. He’s already attempted three steals and once he finds his groove at the plate, he could finish with double digit stolen bases and home runs by season’s end. A player with his pedigree and upside should not be just 12 percent rostered. If you see him out there in your league, make sure you add him if you have the space. 

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

Deep Points League Options

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of ESPN leagues)

Royce Lewis SS, Twins (7 percent rostered)

When the first home run of your MLB career is a 105.1 mph grand slam, it just feels like a sign of things to come. The former first overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft has always had a tantalizing power/speed combo and to begin his MLB career, he’s already showing flashes of these above-average tools. Through nine career games, Lewis is 9-for-32 with a home run. He’s already hit a ball 114 mph, and his 78th percentile sprint speed bodes well for his future as a major league base stealer. 

He’s played exclusively at shortstop to begin his MLB career and he’s hit safely in seven of his first nine career games. When Carlos Correa returns, Lewis will likely lose a significant amount of playing time unless he’s absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. But for now, Lewis is well worth an add in deep points leagues. He’s the type of player who could become a very popular 2023 draft selection with a strong showing in his rookie season. 

Brian Anderson 3B, Marlins (2 percent rostered) 

Back in 2019, Brian Anderson hit 20 home runs and 33 doubles, stole five bags, and hit .261 over 459 at-bats. Modest, not flashy, production. His quality of contact metrics were encouraging, his plate discipline skills were respectable, and he finished the 2019 season as a nice fantasy bargain. In 2022, he could once again be a dirt cheap source of fantasy production who’s currently available in the vast majority of points leagues. 

To start the season, he’s slashing .260/.372/.425 with two home runs and a stolen base. His overall profile looks similar to past seasons and I can envision him reaching double digit home runs, stealing about five bases, and hitting around .260. You’re not adding Anderson because you want the next big breakout, he’s simply a widely available fantasy option who should be a useful floor play for deep points league rosters. 

Micah Henry

Micah Henry is a student at Temple University who’s seeking a B.B.A in Finance. Micah also writes for Fantrax, NewLifeFantasy and Rotoranks. You can find Micah on Twitter @FantasyCentral1.