Today we take a look around the diamond for the best available players at each position. OK, maybe they aren’t the best players, and there may be a few previous recommendations more worthy (which are listed at the bottom), but these players are hot Now. Some are short term additions while a few could turn into long term solutions, but all of them could provide a quick boost in stats for your roto league or help get you a few more H2H wins. As Forest Gump would say, that’s all I got to say about that.
C – Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners: I gave you a number of catchers last week to choose from, but if you are still looking, why not kick the tires on Zunino. The former first round pick has picked things up the past two weeks; batting .263 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs. It’s easy to forget this is the guy the Mariners took with their third overall pick in 2012. He’s the same guy that hit 24 home runs in 96 minor league at bats as he was fast tracked through the minors. Catcher’s bats take longer to catch up once promoted to the majors. I’m not saying Zunino is there yet and doesn’t have any growing pains left. He is hitting now and in a 2 catcher league, it’s something to take advantage of. I know it’s hard to get past that .180 average, but if you click on his split stats and just look at May; you’ll feel much better about things.
Available in 85% of Yahoo, 84% of CBS and 53% of CBS leagues
1B – Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: Howard’s batting average may leave something to be desired and with a lack luster offense around him he isn’t scoring many runs, or driving many in either for that matter. What Howard brings to the table is power. You may not see 7 home runs as a lot, but that total ties him for 21st in the majors and 9th among first basemen; right there with Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer and Joey Votto. Last season Howard hit 23 homers and drove in 95, but few noticed his accomplishments; unable to look past the .223 batting average (by the way, the 95 RBIs put him 9th in the majors last season).
Over the past 7 days Howard is batting .273 and .293 for the month of May. It may just be a hot streak, maybe he has a hot month or maybe it continues a little longer (he did hit .266 in 2013). In an age where power is at a premium given the youthful power arms on the mound, fantasy owners have to take advantage of every trend. I can’t blame you for not rostering Howard, but you should at least consider the option before turning your nose up at him.
Available in 87% of Yahoo, 82% of ESPN and 70% of CBS leagues
2B – Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks: It’s been a rollercoaster ride for anyone who has owned Hill in the past. He has carried or killed your team depending on when you owned him, and last season was the latter. This year he appears to be back to his normal hitting ways with a .284 average, .452 with 3 home runs and 9 RBIs over the past 14 days. Hill doesn’t have a middle ground when it comes to hitting. Since 2009 he has either hit .284 and higher or .246 and lower so it appears we’ve got the good Hill this season.
Judging by the ownership levels though, either nobody has noticed, he has burned enough owners that nobody trusts him, or everyone is content with their current 2B/MI options. If you didn’t know what he was doing, now you do. If you’ve been burned by Hill in the past, get over it. And if you’re satisfied with your current 2B or MI options, injuries happen and a good backup can be hard to find as the season draws on. Hill is a decent source of power, runs, RBIs and batting average; most guys you pick up now will only help in a few categories so having a 4 category contributor is nice.
Available in 88% of Yahoo, 83% of ESPN and 75% of CBS leagues
3B – Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers: Alex Guerrero isn’t the only deserving member of the Dodgers fighting for playing time. Turner ranks just outside the top 20 for third basemen due to the limited number of at bats, but the important thing is what he does with those at bats when he gets them. Look at his numbers compared to some of the top name brand players at the position.
All of these players are owned in 92% or more of leagues, yet Turner’s production is equal to all of them (in half the at bats) and his availability is in the ballpark of their ownership levels. I understand he’s a part-time player, but his part-time numbers combined with whoever you put in there for the other 60 at bats equals more points for your roto or points league, right? Even subbed in for H2H leagues can mean the difference between a win and loss in a category on any given week. If you have weekly lineups I understand not wanting to own him, but the rest of you don’t have an excuse. Remember what Steve Pearce did last year with limited at bats; take that knowledge and apply it here. A bonus for you Yahoo players, Turner qualifies for 2B and SS as well.
Available in 82% of Yahoo, 94% of ESPN and 87% of CBS leagues
SS – Yunel Escobar, Washington Nationals: All of the shortstops worthy of a roster spot should be owned, but if you’re hurting at the position Escobar could make a nice Band-Aid. He’s batting .320 for the season (.340 over the past 14 days) with 12 RBIs and 18 runs scored. 12 RBIs are about average for shortstop right now, but 18 runs ranks just outside the top 5. With a batting average better than most starters (you can count on one hand the qualified number of shortstops hitting higher) and an elite run total you can clean up in two categories and keep afloat in a third with RBIs. If you have power and speed covered in your lineup, Escobar could make a sneaky play right now. He is a career .278 hitter so the shine will wear off eventually, but for now you could do much worse.
Available in 77% of Yahoo, 62% of ESPN and 68% of CBS leagues
OF – Delino Deshields, Texas Rangers: He was supposed to lose playing time when Leonys Martin returned to the lineup, but just the opposite has happened. Deshields is currently batting .293, .533 over the past 7 days. He’s also stolen 3 bases in the past week and 9 on the season (tied for 8th in the league) in just 41 at bats. Lefties are an issue (.188) as with all young players, but he’s hitting righties well (.360) as well as home and away. Nobody saw this coming given his minor league track record and poor contact skills, but it’s time to take notice.
Texas is near the bottom of the league when it comes to batting average, but they are climbing in the runs column and are near the top in stealing bases. It makes sense to keep Deshields in the lineup right now, especially with bats of Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre coming to life. The Rangers have him slotted at the bottom of the order, but if Deshields continues to hit he could supplant the struggling Elvis Andrus. There is no telling how long this will last, but for now Deshields makes a great cheap option for speed, will contribute in runs and provide a nice batting average. Oh, and did I mention he qualifies for 2B on Yahoo and ESPN? Cha Ching!
Available in 90% of Yahoo, 86% of ESPN and 85% of CBS leagues
OF – Chris Colabello, Toronto Blue Jays: As long as the Jays have injuries and Colabello is swinging a hot bat, he’ll be in the lineup. He’s batting an obscene .471 right now which isn’t going to last, but he may not come crashing down as hard as some think. Colabello was a .300 hitter in the minors. Before the Twins signed him in 2012 he played for 8 years in the independent league where he was a .300 hitter. Prior to that he spent 4 years playing NCAA ball where, you guessed it, he was a .300 hitter. His first two tries in the majors didn’t go well, but you know what they say; third time is a charm.
Calabello has 58 minor league home runs in 1,130 at bats so there is some power here. His average has already been addressed. The biggest major league hurdle is strikeouts, and they are still an issue (11 in 34 at bats). At 31 years old we can’t expect him to change much, but the potential is there for some hot streaks. Hint – he’s on one now. This is not a long-term add, just a quick boost.
Available in 95% of Yahoo, 90% of ESPN and 93% of CBS leagues
DH/1B – Kyle Blanks, Texas Rangers: I’ve been a fan of Blanks for a while and had him as a sleeper last season for the Padres. Apparently I was one season and a few teams off, but better late than never. His numbers right now in Texas are basically a mirror image of what he was doing in AAA before getting the call which is nice to see (for once). Blanks was a .300 hitter in the minors, but up until the move to Oakland last season he was never able to replicate that success in the majors.
You would think a guy who started his minor league career in 2005 would be ancient, but Blanks is only 28 so maybe he’s just a late bloomer. He has the power to hit 20 home runs and hitting 5th in the lineup will provide him with ample RBI opportunities. As long as he can keep the average up you’ve got a sneaky play at the CI or Utility slot. While I am a fan, I’m also a realist and am not sold the average will hold. I am a believer of riding the hot hand though so ride this one for all it’s worth. You may only get a short burst of numbers, but you could get lucky.
Available in 94% of Yahoo, 87% of ESPN and 86% of CBS leagues
RP – A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins: In case you missed the news the other day, Steve Cishek is out as the Marlins closer. While the word “committee” has been thrown out there, Ramos received the first save opportunity and is the front-runner to take the job. The 2015 version of Ramos is a big improvement over the guy we saw last year; that guy walked 43 batters in 64 innings. He got away with that by allowing only 36 hits. This season the H/9 are even lower and his BB/9 is at 3. Home runs are not an issue either as Ramos has given up only 2 homers since June of 2013. You also get strikeouts here with a ML average over 10.0, 11.5 this season alone.
There are only 2 things that can rain on this parade. One would be Cishek figuring things out and reclaiming the job, the other would be the Marlins deciding they need a veteran and signing Rafael Soriano. The former isn’t going to happen anytime soon and until the latter happens, enjoy the saves, strikeouts and elite numbers.
Available in over 50% of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN leagues.
SP – Tommy Landseadel and Will Emerson: Who? I know they’re not players, they’re writers here at Fantasy Assembly and both write about pitchers each and every week. Will covers f/a streaming options in his Field of Streams column while Tommy goes more in-depth; breaking down the numbers in his Ace Analysis series. I recommend checking out Tommy’s article every Monday as well as Will on Friday and Sunday if arms are what you seek. I will still throw the occasional arm into the mix here on the wire.
2B – Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres: The lightly talked about former first round pick is quietly making a name for himself in deeper leagues and could be on his way to 12 team mixed league relevance. Spangenberg hit .296 in the minors, .290 last year during a cup of coffee and is at .293 this season. Talk about consistency. He has some nice speed to with that average, 104 steals over 374 games. Playing time is there for him as well, splitting time between second and third displacing Gyorko and Middlebrooks respectively. There were issues in the minors with walks (Spangenberg doesn’t like them), but he has 7 so far this season in 65 plate appearances so there is hope. With full-time at bats he has a chance to be a 3 category contributor, especially if he sticks near the top of the order. For now he makes a nice play at MI for larger and deeper leagues, but if he continues to hit – who knows?
Available in 96% of Yahoo, 98% of ESPN and 92% of CBS leagues
OF – Gerardo Parra, Milwaukee Brewers: Most of us have been on this train before so there’s no need to go into much detail here. Parra plays against right-handed pitchers. He may have a few early hits against lefties this year, but don’t take that as a sign things have changed. He holds a career .234 average against lefties as opposed to .286 against righties. He has enough power and speed to maybe total 10 in each which is nothing really, but he can go on tears that make him look phenomenal. Over the past 14 days Parra is hitting .429 with an 1.169 OPS. That’s a hot hand to ride in 12 team leagues, but in larger and deeper leagues that a score.
Available in 97% of CBS and 98% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues
Finding their way to the Waiver Wire
Each week I will feature players whose ownership level far exceed the players value that you should consider dropping for something useful. So far I’ve recommended Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, Brandon Belt, Shin-Soo Choo, Devin Mesoraco and Jered Weaver. I’ll admit to maybe jumping the gun on Choo. He has come around the past few weeks so owners should give him a little more leash, maybe even pick him up if he’s available (apologies to those that dropped him on my say so). The same goes for Byrd but to a lesser extent. The man can’t hit righties and has morphed into a lefty specialist with a full-time role. If you can play the daily shuffle with him against lefties then hold him, but if there is a worthy candidate on waivers who can be just as productive then consider making the move. As for the other 4 drop candidates, I’ll stick to my guns (for now). On tap for this week:
Adam Eaton: I have to say I’m not surprised at Eaton’s early production, or lack there of. Last season’s average was fueled by an unsustainable .359 BABIP, a number that has come crashing back down to earth this season to the tune of .275. That .275 is not far off his 2013 BABIP of .294; that year Eaton batted .252. Considering he is currently hitting .227 it’s safe to say that is where his average will be if he picks things up. Right now his BB, K, GB, LD and FB percentages are all in line with last season. His O-Swing% is up slightly but his overall Swing% is in line. Contact is up outside the zone and down inside the zone, but the overall contact is the same. Pitchers are even attacking him the same. He’s seeing a few more fastball and a decrease in curveballs and slider (which should be good for a young hitter), yet his numbers are still in the toilet.
So what changed? Nothing but that overinflated BABIP. Eaton is not getting the same luck as last season and those balls are not falling in for hits; plain and simple. The White Sox on a whole are struggling which is probably why he’s still batting leadoff, but once the other bats start heating up Eaton could find himself moved down in the order. That means even fewer runs that he has now and fewer stolen base chances – and he’s 1 for 2 in this field. Eaton is 26 so he could still be productive on year, it just will not be this year. Even if the average comes up to the .250 range and he produces the numbers we saw in 2013, is that Adam Eaton worthy of a roster spot? You probably didn’t spend much to get him on draft day so you’re not losing a major piece of your team. Time to cut bait and find something useful.
Steve Pearce: This is what happens when you put your faith into a 32-year old career journeyman bench guy who had a career year. Seriously, look at his career going back to 2007 and tell me what you see? A lot of nothing, that’s what I see. Looking into his 2015 numbers I see a lot of the same things I saw with Eaton. Pitchers are throwing the same percentage of pitches at him; at most a 2% change but overall the same. His swing and contact percentages are in line with the previous 4 seasons. Walks are down some and K’s have inched up again, but neither can be held responsible for what we’re seeing. His LD% is up almost 9% which should be a good thing for his batting average but that hasn’t helped. The FB% is down, the ISO is below 100 and his average flyball distance is 255 feet. That’s 30 feet less than 2014. At this rate Pearce will be lucky to hit 12 home runs let along come close to 21 again.
The O’s are trying anything and everything to snap some life into him including trying him out at second base. Even if Pearce gains second base eligibility in your league, his numbers are unplayable. It’s time to face reality. Pearce had a career year, nothing more. I gave him a generous ranking prior to the start of the season (74 out of 75) just for the outside chance he could repeat. Sorry fantasy owners, there will be no encore performance, the honeymoon is Over!
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations
so I will monitor my hits
and misses from the previous weeks.
This is the last week Adam Lind will appear here. With the exception of 10 team leagues he should be owned by now in any competitive league.
Continue to add
- Josh Reddick, Ender Inciarte, Alex Guerrero, Jake Marisnick, Jimmy Paredes, Ike Davis, Hector Santiago are all still solid adds if they are available. Editors note: Ike Davis was placed on the DL Sunday, he is now a hold.
- Miguel Montero, Yasmani Grandal and Nick Hundley join the add club but given their ownership levels they should be available much longer. A.J. Pierzynski joins them, but if you’re a Pierzynski owner I would handcuff Christian Bethancourt who has been heating up. Caleb Joseph is also worthy of a roster spot, but he usefulness may be coming to and end with Wieters returning soon so have a backup plan (maybe trade him to the Wieters owner?)
- Noah Syndergaard is still an add until the Mets hand down official word on what they are doing with their young stud pitcher.
- Andre Ethier is heating back up again, but the crowded OF situation in L.A. clouds his playing time. Use only if you can make daily roster moves.
- Dan Haren and Nori Aoki have stumbled but are still worthy of a roster spot assuming their skid doesn’t continue.
- Chris Heston, J.A. Happ and Danny Salazar bounced back from their previous bad outings. They are not automatic starts but they can be more than just streaming options.
- Chris Young, Rajai Davis, Juan Lagares, Anthony Gose and Odubel Herrera are good for larger and deeper leagues. Young and Davis can be good for shallower leagues if you can set your lineup daily.
- New additions Blake Swihart, Austin Hedges and James McCann join the going deep club. Any one of them could be downgraded to hold or drop though depending on their performances over the coming weeks – stay tuned.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if you own them
- Alex Colome was Hammered by the Yankees, but he’s not the first pitcher they’ve done this too. Reevaluate things after his next start.
- Kevin Kiermaier and Delmon Young continues to slide but could bounce back. One more week of this though and it’s back to waivers.
- Wilmer Flores, Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Maxwell have come around some; enough to warrant a hold but not enough to deserve increased ownership. The same goes for Alejandro De Aza, but his playing time has been cut in half.
- Jake Lamb is a few weeks away and has done enough to warrant a ML job. The question is will the Diamondbacks have room for him? Hold him on your DL but drop if you really need the spot.
- All of the previous drops are still in effect. Just like the graduates above, this is the last time these players will appear here. Lonnie Chisenhall, Jed Lowrie, Will Middlebrooks, Casey McGehee, Eric Campbell and Sam Fuld.
- Jarrod Parker was recommended as a DL stash but is basically toast – even in dynasty leagues.
- Justin Masterson was placed on the DL because he sucks, that tells me all I need to know.
- Travis Wood should be placed on the DL for the same reason as Masterson, but I do have faith that Wood will figure things out at some point this year; something I can’t say about Masterson.
- Chase Whitley left the game last night with an elbow injury. He didn’t seem happy about coming out so maybe it’s nothing, but he hasn’t been great anyway so off you go to the waiver wire hotel.
- Brandon Morrow and Yonder Alonso are two more DL drops, but owners with an extra DL space can feel free to stash them for now if they so choose.
- Micah Johnson was demoted to AAA. Unless you have a deep bench I wouldn’t bother holding him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jace Peterson is joining him soon. The Braves may stick it out since they’re in a rebuilding mode, but fantasy owners do not need to show the same loyalty.
Do what you will – Caveat Emptor
- Chase Headley is an add one week, a drop the next and a hold on most others. I wouldn’t own him but I can’t in good conscience recommend releasing or adding him. The same goes for Luis Valbuena and Nick Castellanos who are both volatile week to week players. Use your leagues waiver wire depth as a guide.
- Michael Taylor has become an interesting player stuck in an Alex Guerrero situation. He’s good enough to play and own, but there is no room for him in the field. Taylor could immediately jump back up to add if Jayson Werth doesn’t pick it up soon or reinjures himself.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.