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Top fantasy baseball outfield waiver pickups for Week 22

Chris Landers goes over their top fantasy baseball waiver wire targets in the outfield going into the week of Sunday, August 21, including Kerry Carpenter and Michael Conforto.

Kerry Carpenter of the Detroit Tigers celebrates a home run in the eigth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 12, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

The air is starting to get a bit crisper (well, in the north at least). The real-life and fantasy trade deadlines have come and gone. September is almost upon us. The marathon of the 2023 MLB season has become a sprint to the finish, and right now is winning time for those of you lucky enough to still be in contention in your fantasy baseball leagues. With precious few weeks to shore up holes and make up ground in the standings, smart adds become even more important: Hit on an under-the-radar free agent, and fantasy hardware awaits; miss, and you’ll spend the winter wondering what if.

Luckily, our weekly waiver wire recommendations are here to help, with position-by-position looks are players you should consider snagging off the waiver wire. Next up: the outfield.

Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 22 outfield targets

Kerry Carpenter, OF, Detroit Tigers

Roster percentage: 20.6%

We’ve been banging the drum on Carpenter for a while, and will continue to do so until his ownership rate climbs up where it should be — and as long as he keeps swinging the bat like this. The 25-year-old has been on an absolute tear in August, with a 1.215 OPS and nearly as many home runs (five) as strikeouts (seven). That’s raised his season-long OPS to a healthy .868, a number backed up by an elite hard-hit rate and average exit velocity as well as a seven-point drop in his strikeout rate. He’s making more contact than ever, and it’s contact geared to produce major power, with a .271 xBA and .494 xSLG. He’s a major contributor just about everywhere but steals, and should remain so for the rest of the year.

Michael Conforto, OF, San Francisco Giants

Roster percentage: 8.7%

Conforto had his 2023 resurgence short-circuited by injury — a familiar refrain over the former top prospect’s career — but he’s back healthy now and is just about the only guy thriving at the plate for the Giants in recent days. The 30-year-old has hit .302/.423/.488 with a couple of homers so far in August, numbers very much supported by the underlying metrics:

He’s always been a line-drive machine when healthy, and he’s finally getting consistent playing time again with his injury issues behind him. It wasn’t all that long ago that the former first-round pick was a legitimate 30-homer bat, and he could be tapping into that again down the stretch.

Ildemaro Vargas, SS/3B/OF, Washington Nationals

Roster percentage: 0.9%

To just about everyone’s surprise, it’s been Vargas who’s emerged as the Nationals’ every-day third baseman in the wake of the Jeimer Candelario trade, adding eligibility at the hot corner to his already versatile profile. The 32-year-old is taking full advantage of the opportunity, with 10 RBI, three homers and two doubles so far this month, and he figures to be in the lineup on a regular basis as long as he keeps that up. (Plus, the Nats aren’t exactly overflowing with options to replace him.) He won’t contribute much of anything in the speed department, but he’s the sort of player who can serve as fantasy glue, plugging several different holes while keeping you afloat during off-days and in the event of injury.

Lawrence Butler, OF, Oakland Athletics

Roster percentage: 1.0%

After conquering Triple-A, the former sixth-round pick — one of the A’s top prospects finally got the call up to Oakland for his MLB debut earlier this month, launching a Dakota Hudson slider 437 feet for his first career homer (with an impressive 111-mph exit velocity). Plate discipline is always going to be a question, but as the above numbers indicate, Butler’s physical tools are very much not. He has legitimate 20/20 potential if it all comes together, and it’s worth noting that he cut his K rate over the last couple of years in the Minors and has only struck out three times in 20 big-league plate appearances so far. Oakland has every reason to pencil him into the lineup every day, so if you’re looking for a big swing, look no further.