Fantasy teams are built during the draft, but they are filled out and supported through the waiver wire (and trades, but that’s another column). Over the past month, undrafted players like Chris Colabello & Charlie Blackmon have performed like first round draft picks. Devin Mesoraco is the number one catcher in the league but was nothing more than a late round flyer (if that). Trevor Plouffe hasn’t hit for power, but his average, runs and RBI totals have been a godsend for those with injuries or a slumping third baseman.
Overall you probably could have built a winning team from the waiver wire this April, but we all know those April averages won’t last and the stock will eventually plummet on most of these guys. Some of these early pickups could go on to have a very productive season (or at the very least another good month), but if you want to continue winning you must be on the lookout for the next big thing or hot bat available. This becomes tougher to do as the season goes on; lineups become set and players numbers start to stabilize, but there are always a few nuggets out there just waiting for you to pick them up. So who’s up this week?
1B James Loney (Rays) – While nobody was paying attention, Loney has gone on a hot streak. Since the 18th he’s gone 12 for 26 with 6 runs and 9 RBIs. More encouraging is that he has only 4 strikeouts to 9 walks. The power hasn’t shown itself yet, but it has a tendency to do so during these hot streaks so jump on board while you can. Currently available in 66% of CBS, 89% of Yahoo and 50% of Fantrax leagues
Honorable Mention to Jon Singleton who is hitting .325 with 8 home runs and 25 RBIs in AAA.
2B Danny Espinosa (Nationals) – Espinosa is like the B.J. Upton of second baseman. In 2011 & 2012 he finished 3 short in either stolen bases or home runs to a 20/20 season, scored a high number of runs, average RBI totals and an abysmal batting average. He’s hitting for average now (.293), the power and speed look to be intact, and he has another month to present his case for playing time while Zimmerman heals. The Nationals might have a tough decision when Zimmerman comes back, but until that time enjoy the production Espinosa is giving you (especially the average). Currently Available in 89% of CBS, 97% of Yahoo and 75% of Fantrax leagues.
3B Brock Holt (Red Sox) – There isn’t much power here and not much speed either. What Holt can do is hit for a high average (at least for now). Holt brought his hot start in AAA to the majors so you might want to jump and take advantage before it disappears. He does hold a career .309 minor league average so when it does fall off, he should be able to hold his own. Plus batting somewhere in the Boston lineup should give him run and RBI chances (depending on where he bats that night). If you’re struggling at 3rd or CI, this could be a nice short-term fix. Just don’t get too attached, a high minor league average is no guarantee in the majors. This is just a band-aid, rip it off when you’re done. Currently Available in 95% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo and 91% of Fantrax leagues
SS Alcides Escobar (Royals) – The batting average has always been his Achilles Heel, but that wasn’t the case this past week. Batting .391 and scoring 7 runs has shown some signs of the player we saw in 2012. He only has 4 walks, but at this rate he will top his high of 36 BB set in 2010. As long as the average is there he should continue to deliver solid run production and throw in some steals. Currently available in 64% of CBS, 73% of Yahoo and 50% of Fantrax leagues.
OF Corey Dickerson (Rockies) – With Michael Cuddyer on the DL, the Rockies recalled Dickerson. This may only turn out to be a short-term add, but it could be lightning in a bottle. For the first two weeks of May The Rockies have home games against the Mets & Rangers and road games at Texas & Cincinnati. Add on 3 games at the end of this month at Arizona (and their horrid pitching staff) and Dickerson could make a sneaky pickup. He’ll most likely be sent back down once Cuddyer comes back, so enjoy the hit parade while you can. Currently Available in 87% of CBS, 96% of Yahoo and 82% of Fantrax leagues
Honorable Mention to Dayan Viciedo who now has full-time at bats with Avisail Garcia on the shelf. He’s batting .354 for the year and .393 over the past 7 days. Also Gregory Polanco who is batting .420 in AAA with 4 home runs and 4 steals. Eventually the Jose Tabata/Travis Snider experiment will come to an end, don’t be the guy who waited until the call up actually happened.
SP Trevor Bauer (Indians) – He hasn’t been recalled, but it’s a matter of when and not if. That When could be very soon given the struggles of Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Corey Kluber. He’s gone at least 6 innings in his 3 minor league starts racking up 21 strikeouts and an ERA under 1.00. At one point Bauer was the crown jewel of the Arizona minor league system, and if he has truly figured things out he could be that top pitcher we’ve all been waiting for. If you have an empty roster spot and a pitching staff that is in need, this could be your short and long term answer. Lock em up before it’s too late. Available in 93% of Yahoo and 67% of CBS and Fantrax leagues
Honorable Mentions to Josh Beckett who is more of a matchup guy now, but could be a useful part of your pitching staff down the road. Beckett is available in over 65 % CBS, Yahoo & Fantrax leagues. Vidal Nuno deserves a mention as he looks to take over for Ivan Nova of the Yankees. Don’t let his current numbers fool you, Nuno could turn into a real sneaky pick for mixed leagues and is available in over 90% of leagues.
RP Joe Smith (Angels) – Mike Scioscia may not be looking for a new closer, but Ernesto Frieri is forcing him to rethink things. I said before the season started the only reason Frieri was still the closer was because there were no other viable options, enter Joe Smith. The name doesn’t reverberate excitement and he’s not a big strikeout guy, but average Joe is a pretty good relief pitcher. Smith abandoned his fastball after the 2011 season, relying on his sinker for his primary pitch. Despite the lack of heat, Smith has been able to locate his pitches quite well.
So far this season, he’s only allowed runs in 1 of his 11 appearance (a four run clunker against Oakland) and just 3 walks (2 of those were in that Oakland game). Other than the Oakland game he looks to have picked up where he left off last year. Scioscia gave his endorsements to Frieri the other day, if you follow baseball you know that means very little. The writing is on the wall and closers are a volatile group, I suggest a preemptive strike here and pick up Joe Smith. Currently Available in 83% of CBS, 79% of Yahoo and 74% of Fantrax leagues
The party is over. These guys were hot pickups at one time, but it’s time to abandon ship.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was a hot pickup, but back problems and the imminent return of Adrian Beltre have deemed him worthless. Back to the waiver wire with him.
It turns out it was just Smoak & Mirrors for Justin and the party is officially over. If you were holding out hope, don’t bother and move along. There’s nothing to see here until his next hot streak.
Grady Sizemore has been weighed, measured and found wanting. I know everyone was hoping he would be this year’s feel good comeback story, but right now it doesn’t seem like it was meant to be. If there is a Boston or Grady fan in your league, they might be willing to give you a small token for his services. If not, it’s time to send him back to the land of misfit players we call the waiver wire.
Adeiny Hechavarria was a nice plugin at SS, but the average is coming down now and there isn’t enough power or speed to make this one worth your while. If he can’t hit for average there is no value here, so if you own him, start looking for a replacement.
Hold on a second. These guys are being dropped, but their loss could be your gain.
Khris Davis has been dropped in 9% of CBS leagues this week and his ownership is down to 43% in Yahoo. Over the past 7 days Davis had hit .296 with 2 home runs. If he was dropped in your league or is available, now would be the time to grab him. If he’s owned in your league, I would make an offer quickly before the asking price goes up.
Nick Swisher is off to a slow start batting .214 with only 2 home runs. What people overlook is the fact that he’s hit 21 or more home runs every single year, that’s the kind of consistency you want in your OF. Don’t drop him just yet, Swisher batted .296 last week so things could be turning around. Now’s the time to pick him up if he’s available, and you can probably get him for cheap if he’s owned.
Sergio Santos hit a rough patch, but keep this in mind. Janssen was only brought back for one year and he was only brought back to help transition Santos into the closer role. Jansen had a rough first few months with the Dodgers last year, but look how he finished. Santos has that same big strikeout ability, and you don’t want to see that on your opponent’s team.
Kyle Seager’s last two seasons were almost identical. Yes he’s off to a horrid start and a .179 batting average is the last thing you want at third. He did go 2-3 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs on Wednesday so it looks like he could be snapping out of it. Hold on a little while longer here, pick him up if he’s out there and buy low if you’re in need at third. He shouldn’t cost you much and he’ll deliver solid unimpressive numbers that pay the bills.