Over the years the number of friends I have that I speak to regularly, that actually play fantasy baseball, have dwindled, so when I received a phone call the other day I was granted a rare opportunity to talk about the subject. We discussed our teams (obviously), trades, injuries, and of course, free agents. One of the players I brought up was Melky Cabrera.
I had lost A.J. Pollock prior to the start of the season, a player that I, like many of you, were counting on to anchor the outfield. Melky was one of those waiver guys I took a flyer on in the hopes that he could be a stable option as a fourth outfielder, and so far I am somewhat pleased. The mention of the name though was met with a scoff. “Dude, that guy sucks”! I argued my case; pointed out the advantages of getting 70 or so runs and RBIs along with double-digit power and a decent average. I was countered with the low home run totals, how the run and RBI totals weren’t great, and how there are a ton of guys out there that can hit for more power with better numbers.
We went back and forth on the issue before something occurred to me and I asked the question. “How many outfielders do you start in your league?” Three. Three? Really!?! Nothing else needed to be said at that point. He has played in the standard 1990’s format with three starting outfielders for far too long to understand the value a player like Melky Cabrera can have. I have been playing in leagues that use four or more outfielder for so long that, in my mind, I just assumed that everyone does.
I then asked if they used a corner and middle infield slot. “Nope, we have two utility slots“. Again, back to the barbaric caveman standard league format. Right there I knew this refreshing baseball conversation would not be going into the depths I had hoped it would. The conversation soon changed topic as we caught up on other things in life (no need to bore you with the details) and we soon said our farewell’s. While it was nice to discuss even baseball in general, I was left wanting afterwards.
I was left thinking about the rest of the fantasy baseball minions out there. How many of them play with only three outfielders? How many of them don’t use a CI or MI slot? How much wasted talent is sitting out there on waivers that should by all rights be rostered? Other topics came to mind as well like quality starts over wins, OBP over batting average – things like that, but those were secondary in comparison to the actual size of the active roster.
I went online afterwards and looked at his Yahoo league, and what I saw was horrifying. Carlos Gomez and Anthony Rendon were on waivers. Really, true story; both players are free agents along with Kolten Wong, Corey Dickerson and Adam Eaton. Yea, in comparison to what was available in his league, that guy Melky Cabrera sucks! I sorted his waiver wire by best player available and there was Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and D.J. LeMahieu. I would kill for one of those guys (literally in one of my leagues).
So today I am making a plee to all those people out there that play in 10 team leagues, that only use three active outfielders, that don’t use a CI or MI slot, and in general anyone that plays by the same standard format that we all started with back in the day. Stop it. Just Stop It! Expand your horizons and move up to a 12 team league (or larger). Increase the number of outfielder and active players in general that you use. If you do these things (at a minimum) I guarantee you will enjoy the game more, and in turn earn a greater appreciation for the Melky Cabrera’s of the world
Oh, and if you currenlty play in one of these league and you are reading this, the guys below suck (spoiler alert)! LeMahieu on waivers…. unfreakinbelievable!
Derek Deitrich (Marlins): Fantasy owners were taken aback when Dee Gordon was suspended, and the initial response was to grab the best available second baseman off waivers – a correct one I might add.Now there is a potentially better player available as Deitrich qualifies for the position.
Over the past two weeks he has amassed 34 of his 51 at bats, along with most of his counting stats. He displayed enough power in the minors to hit 20 home runs along with a .280 average, an average walk rate and a manageable strikeout rate. Last season he displayed some of that potential by hitting .256 with 10 home runs in part-time work. This season he is batting .314 with two home runs and 11 RBIs over 51 at bats. The average will come down some given the slightly inflated BABIP, but that will probably settle into the .280 minor league range. He batted leadoff on Friday and fifth the day before so run and RBI opportunities will be there for him.
Nothing is more powerful than a player who is finally given a shot at a full-time job. Some collapse under the pressure, but some excel. I think this case will be the latter. Deitrich makes a great add dart throw, and his versatility (2B, 3B, OF) only adds to his value.
Available in 78% of CBS, 97% of Y!, and 94% of ESPN leagues
Marcell Ozuna(Marlins): He was drafted as a sleeper after Miami moved the fences in. Since then he has been dropped in a good number of leagues due to an ice-cold start. Over the past two weeks though Ozuna has started to fulfill that power promise with three home runs along with seven runs and RBIs and a .333 average. That gives him five home runs and a .260 average which puts him on pace to at least match his 2014 season. Now is the time to jump and take advantage of those impulsive early drops and roster Ozuna before it’s too late.
Available in 57% of CBS, 72% of Y!, and 85% of ESPN leagues
Jason Werth (Nationals): Once a player passes 35 years old prejudice takes over as we all want the new hotness over old and busted. Last season Werth struggled with injuries and turned in his worst season since 2005. Despite the bad average the power was still present, and it is still there this year with six home runs. Half of those have been over the past week along with 10 RBIs, eight runs scored and a .308 average. His average against righties has been the main culprit, but that is slowly improving as well.
A healthy Werth playing every day is a legitimate power source. Since he is injury prone, more so now with the advanced age, you need to take advantage of his health and hot streaks as they occur. If you need outfield assistance I would grab Werth and ride him until he breaks… again.
Available in 53% of CBS, 81% of Y!, and 86% of ESPN leagues
Brandon Moss (Cardinals): I’m not going to deny that Moss is putting up a really bad batting average, but look at the rest of his numbers. Seven home runs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs scored; that’s basically what Chris Davis is doing right now, and Moss is batting .223 which is a few points better than Davis.
In 2014 Ryan Howard batted .223 and most fantasy owners dismissed him for this. Howard went on to hit 23 homers and drove in 95. The RBI total ranked in the top 10 among first baseman, and his home run and run totals ranked just outside the top 12. Moss is showing more power than Howard did that year, and he is scoring more runs as well. As long as he keeps this pace up, you’re looking at top 10 numbers in three categories. Batting average be damned; Moss needs to be owned more.
Available in 70% of CBS, 77% of Y!, and 79% of ESPN leagues
Eduardo Nunez (Twins): Nunez started the season as a backup for basically the entire infield, but his bat has forced the Twins to find him more playing time. He’s batting .371 for the season and .333 over the past two weeks so it wasn’t one hot week that inflated his total. A majority of his at bats have been out of the leadoff position which gives him the best shot to score whatever runs the Twins manage. The leadoff spot will also help with the stolen bases – five so far this season, and he has shown in the past he can run.
The average will come down, and it will be interesting to see where it lands. Over his career we’ve seen years where he hit .250, .260 and .265, and then there were the .280, 282, .292 years. The inflated BABIP says it will be the former, but the speed and LD% over 20 hint at the latter. That’s a long term problem; we’re talking the here and now, and right now Nunez is hitting and that is all you need to know. He qualifies for third base, shortstop and potentially second base in some leagues. Multi-eligible players are great to own when they are hitting – just sayin’.
Available in 73% of CBS, 73% of Y!, and 82% of ESPN leagues
Danny Santana (Twins): The 2014 waiver wire darling collapsed in 2015, but it looks like he’s trying to put together a comeback tour. Over the past two weeks Santana has batted .279 with a home run and four stolen bases. His season average is .255, but he’s batting .275 out of the leadoff position. For some odd reason he has only been given six at bats versus lefties after hitting .301 against them in 2014 and .253 last season. Expect that to change as the season progresses.
As an outfielder his value, despite the potential to steal 20+ bases, relies on his ability to hit for average. A high average, a spot at the top of the lineup to score runs and steal bases – that makes Santana a three category threat who can also chip in the occasional home run. If the average continues to climb and you use four or more outfielders I might be inclined to see if the comeback tour measures up to the original.
Available in 87% of CBS, 94% of Y!, and 96% of ESPN leagues
Mallex Smith (Braves): Speaking of players that need to maintain a high batting average to have value. Smith started off slow, but over the past two weeks he has batted .310 with a pair of steals and his first home run. In case you need a reminder of what Smith is capable of, last season he stole 57 bases between AA and AAA while hitting .300. In 2014 he stole 88 bases between A and A+, and again was a .300 hitter. Tack on another 64 steals in 2013 and it’s safe to say this guy has some speed.
Most assumed Smith would be sent back down when Ender Inciarte returned, but that hasn’t happened and he was in the lineup last night. If the average continues to climb I can see a dynamic duo of Inciarte and Smith at the top of the lineup which will be a glimpse of the Braves future. You may want to snatch up Smith while he is showing a .227 average on waivers; as that climbs, so will his ownership levels.
Available in 86% of CBS, 93% of Y!, and 95% of ESPN leagues
Josh Bell (Pirates): It’s time to start stashing rookies before the super-two deadline, and that hype train rolls into the station. Currently Bell is hitting .297 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. He batted over .300 in A+ and AA as well as in his first taste of AAA last season. The strikeouts have improved greatly since his time in A-Ball, and his K/BB ratio during his time at AAA is 1/1. The batting average will get him to the show; how quickly his power develops will determine his long-term value though. While he only had seven homers last year, he did hit 24 doubles and nine triples.
Eventually the Pirates will want or need more than John Jaso at first, and when that day comes it will be Bell getting the call. I don’t think he has enough power yet to be a starting first baseman in fantasy, but he could easily finish the second half as one of the better corner infield options. If you’ve the room I would stash Bell – that is if you need a boost in offense.
Available in 88% of CBS and 98% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Trea Turner (Nationals): The Nationals are in first place so there is no immediate need to add Turner, but he is forcing the issue with his minor league numbers. He is currently batting .336, is 12 for 12 in stolen base attempts, has 14 walks to 18 strikeouts, and he has even chipped in a few home runs. After batting .314 with 14 steals over 48 games last season in AAA it has become obvious that Turner has nothing left to prove.
Standing in Turner’s way is Danny Espinosa who lost all relevancy after his 2012 season. Espinosa is batting .176 so he’s not even batting his weight (206). While the Nat’s can afford to carry the bad average for now, I’m betting their patience will be lost, coincidentally mind you, right around the super-two deadline date. If you need help at shortstop or could use a boost of speed from your MI slot, Turner is another great stash.
Available in 44% of CBS, 79% of Y!, and 85% of ESPN leagues
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 and adjust the players accordingly.
This is the last week Nick Castellanos and Odubel Herrera will appear here. Their ownership levels have reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Brandon Drury, Javier Baez, Steven Wright, Joe Smith, Mark Reynolds, Jake Lamb and Michael Saunders are all still solid adds.
- Joe Mauer is still hitting, but the rest of his numbers haven’t increase. He’s still good for larger leagues and maybe a CI slot for 12 team leagues.
- Melky Cabrera is an underowned solid fourth outfielder.
- Mike Napoli is hitting well enough to be owned in leagues with more than 12 teams.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Sean Rodriguez moves down to hold not because he is slumping, but because the return of Jung-ho Kang complicates the whole playing time issue.
- Aaron Blair is an add in my mind based upon the potential to be a solid pitcher, but he needs to show us a little more before owners added him more.
- A.J. Griffin went on the DL today. Hold him if you have an open slot, but he is safe to drop if your DL is full.
- Melvin Upton hit .250 over the past week so there is still life. Let your waiver wire dictate what to do with him.
- Jeremy Hazelbaker is making the most of the at bats he’s getting, but they are not enough to be reliant. He’s worth stashing in case there is an opening though – if you’re able.Ben Paulsen
- Joey Rickard, Nick Markakis and Eddie Rosario have all fallen off the past two weeks. I’d say drop them if there is a better option, but I can see holding them if you play five or more outfielders.
- Both Ben Paulsen and Chris Owings hit a wall last week, going 4-26 combined and both losing at bats. Another week of that and it back to the waiver wire (or sooner for some of you).
- Jose Ramirez has cooled as well and is losing at bats, but his versatility affords him a little more patience.
- Blake Snell has had two rough starts since returning to the minors, but he still has some future value if you can afford to hold him though.
- Homer Bailey had a setback – so much for stashing him for his imminent return.
- Michael Fulmer was roughed up in his second start. I still think he is a solid add, but I might not rush out to pick him up.
- The Angels put Matt Shoemaker and fantasy owners out of their misery by sending him back to the minors.
- The Red Sox did the same with Henry Owens. He does have upside though so monitor his progress in the minors.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown