The key to winning your fantasy baseball league is not how well you draft, but the players you add off waivers. This is extremely important because securing hidden talent and call-ups could replace those late-round selections, even mid-rounders, that aren’t having the best season. Here at NFS, we provide the best picks for players you should grab off waivers now before it is too late. As always, both opportunity and performance are taken into consideration for these players. All players listed are rostered below 40 percent on ESPN. Learn to think like a NERD!
Cedric Mullins, OF, Baltimore Orioles
No doubt the biggest waiver wire surprise of them all comes from the Baltimore Orioles where Cedric Mullins is putting on an MVP-caliber season. After three below-average seasons, Mullins has now become one of the most entertaining players in the league. From consistent hitting to flashy catches, he can basically do it all. Mullins currently leads the league in hits with 105. But he also adds 16 home runs with 36 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Mullins is currently slashing .313/.380/.543 and a .923 OPS. Mullins now becomes a future franchise cornerpiece for the Baltimore Orioles as they continue to build a roster from their farm system that can compete in the postseason again.
Jesse Winker, OF/DH, Cincinnati Reds
For the past three seasons, Jesse Winker has been on radars to be primed for a breakout season but hasn’t quite achieved that until 2021, when most were lucky if they picked him in the last round. His power is what’s most impressive, as he already has two games with three homers to total 19 in all with 50 RBIs. But he’s also slashing .303/.385/.585 and a .929 OPS which is just as impressive. Winker will be headed to Colorado for the All-Star game but he is also highly considered in the MVP conversation along with teammate Nick Castellanos. The two will have the tall task of helping the Reds go to the postseason for back-to-back seasons despite losing stars like Trevor Bauer and other key members.
Brandon Crawford, SS, San Fransisco Giants
Another major surprise is the resurgence of Brandon Crawford for the San Fransisco Giants. At 34 years old, many thought that Crawford was on the backend of his prime days and wasn’t bringing much production as he used to. However, he’s had a complete turnaround that’s earned him an All-Star appearance in Colorado. Crawford has already 18 homers along with 58 RBIs. He’s having a career year in all percentages, currently maintaining a .282/.359/.553 and a .912 OPS. Crawford’s surprise play has helped the Giants be one of the biggest shockers team-wise in the entire MLB.
Adolis Garcia, OF, Texas Rangers
After some serious struggles with the St. Louis Cardinals, Adolis Garcia went to the Dominican Winter League and Pacific Coast League to rework his game. When he came back to the Texas Rangers, he looked like a completely different player and that has resulted in Garcia becoming a major surprise in 2021. Garcia already has 22 homers along with 62 RBIs. He’s also currently slashing .273/.313/.532 and a .846 OPS. Garcia’s one struggle is the ability to draw walks, but he will have plenty of time to work on that. Along with being an all-star, Garcia is in the frontrunner position for AL ROTY on top of being a major piece for the Texas Rangers in the future.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
After a 2020 season where he struggled greatly where he finished with an ERA over eight, Carlos Rodon has had a complete turnaround in his career. Through 15 starts, he’s earned a 7-3 record while maintaining a 2.31 ERA. He’s done a great job managing a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio this season. Rodon has helped the White Sox round out an excellent trio along with Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn. Once the team gets healthy, they should be able to make a deep run in the postseason with the talent they have. Rodon is the likely frontrunner for AL Cy Young. If he can keep up a solid second half of the season, Rodon could be in for a major payday this offseason.
Trevor Rogers, SP, Miami Marlins
After an excellent spring training in 2021, many saw a surprise season from Trevor Rogers, but no one expected him to be in the conversation for NL Cy Young and NL ROTY. Through 18 starts, Rogers has earned a 7-6 record while managing a 2.31 ERA. Rogers now joins a loaded rotation even without their best prospect in Sixto Sanchez after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Rogers is already looking like a future ace for the Marlins at only 23 years old. His second-half production will be key if the Marlins want to punch their ticket to the postseason in a still wide open division in the NL East.
Freddy Peralta, RP/SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Freddy Peralta has been on the radar for a breakout season for the Brewers but hasn’t taken that stride until 2021. Peralta in 2020 was mainly utilized as a bullpen piece but he did put up career numbers. He only improved once he moved back to the rotation. Peralta has earned a 7-3 record with a 2.39 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio is also at a career-high in 2021. Peralta has not only helped the Brewers be a surprise team in 2021 but also round out an elite trio in the rotation. Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta will be the focal point in Milwaukee’s success the rest of the season.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, San Fransisco Giants
In his first season with the San Fransisco Giants after spending five with the Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani has had a great ascension along with great team play. DeSclafani has earned a 10-3 record along with a 2.68 ERA. He also leads the National League with two complete-game shutouts after only having one in his career before 2021. His consistency could use some improvement as he has put up some poor outings. DeSclafani joins a rising rotation with Kevin Gausman and Alex Wood. DeSclafani’s role will be key in maintaining the Giants’ success through the second half of the season.