Why is it that when a young hitter shows power and signs of breaking out, or a young pitcher is lights out over a few starts, that fantasy owners run to the waiver wire to stake their claim? Yet when an older player who either has had a few disappointing years, or even one that was productive but started off the season slow, starts to show signs of life, those same owners hesitate and allow that production to sit on waivers?
I know we all covet the young guys; they have upside and potential. While those older players may not have the same upside as their younger counterparts, they can be just as productive, and possibly even more stable and dependable with their production. That’s what today’s theme is all about. The following players are all older guys (for the most part) that may have started off slow, but lately they have picked things up. This production may not last all season, but every point counts in fantasy so cast aside your prejudices and take advantage of what they’re doing now – while you can.
C.C. Sabathia (Yankees): I know what you’re thinking. Sabathia has been a train wreck for the past three years, and his April numbers coincide with that. That doesn’t mean we should ignore what the man has done lately. Over his last four starts (26 innings) Sabathia has allowed a total of three earned runs, against the Blue Jays (twice), Baltimore and Oakland. For the season he has allowed only two home runs; that’s extremely lucky considering his 37.3% fly ball rate. The line drive percentage is 18.7, and it’s the first time below 20% since 2010 – this helps explain the .233 BAA.
While his BB/9 may be over three, it was 1.73 for the month of May. Also the K/9 in May was 8.65 – right around where he was before his collapse after the 2012 season. The FIP (3.13) says his season is for real; the average BABIP (.289) and strand rate (75.2) don’t point to any luck; plus his hard, medium and soft contact numbers are in line with his dominant years. But the xFIP (4.33) and SIERA (4.24) say he’s pitching over his head.
Maybe there has been luck with the home runs, and maybe the low walks from May won’t carry over through the rest of the season. There could be some regression coming, but until that day comes I would advise you to ride the Sabathia train until it derails. Damn the age and past; look at what he’s doing now.
Available in 44% of CBS, 70% of Y! and 75% of ESPN leagues
Logan Morrison (Rays): Yup, I see the .239 batting average with just three home runs, 11 RBIs, 14 runs scored and four stolen bases. Not very pretty, but you might be surprised to know that over the past two weeks (44 at bats) Morrison has two home runs, eight RBIs, eight runs scored and three stolen bases. That’s basically his entire line of production. Oh, and there’s the matter of a .386 batting average. He’s crushing lefties in limited at bats (.368) and away from Tampa (.307), and he does have an unimpressive yet healthy track record for home runs.
Morrison is a streaky hitter, and right now he is on a tremendous hot streak. If your corner infield slot is hurting or you need a quick fix at your utility spot, you could do a lot worse than Morrison as a band-aid for the next few weeks (or longer if you’re lucky).
Available in 86% of CBS, 92% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
Chase Utley (Dodgers): His line for the season isn’t bad: .283 average, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 31 runs scored – good enough for a rank of 18 on the ESPN player rater. Over the past two weeks he hasn’t been overly impressive with the batting average like some on this list, but his counting stats have taken a bump. During that time he has 2 home runs, nine RBIs, and 11 runs scored. Combined with a .277 average, those numbers rank 8th on the ole’ ESPN rater.
Utley is only good versus righties now a days (.315), and is much better away from Dodgers Stadium (.309) – two things to keep in mind when setting your lineup. If Dozier is sinking your batting average, you’re still waiting patiently for Kolten Wong or Matt Duffy to come around, or you just need a stable player to plug into your middle infield slot, Utley isn’t a bad option for that. He won’t win you a championship, but he won’t sink your chances either.
Available in 61% of CBS, 84% of Y! and 74% of ESPN leagues
Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals): So much talent – so many disappointments. As someone who has owned and kept Ryan Zimmerman in the past I have been through the good times and bad. What I have come to learn is that Zim is good for about two solid months, and the rest of the time he is no better than a replacement player. Take April for instance. He hit .219 with one home run and seven RBIs – that right there is enough for owners to cut their losses, and nobody is going to blame them or rush to put in a claim. But like I said, he is good for some hot streaks, and right now we are in the midst of one.
Over the past two weeks he has four home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored. Over the past week he has picked things up in the batting average department hitting over .300, and from May 28th to June 1st he went 9 for 20. According to the ESPN player rater he was the seventh best first baseman over the final two weeks of May, and there should be some more left as his streaks tend to extend beyond a few weeks. Those that play on CBS are out of luck, but if you play on ESPN or Yahoo I would grab Zimmerman now and ride this one out. The streak may last through June, or it could go longer health and luck permitting. Just don’t get too attached, and remember to throw him back (or trade him) once things start to cool.
Available in 26% of CBS, 63% of Y! and 59% of ESPN leagues
Adam Lind (Mariners): Lind is right there with Zimmerman. He hit a paltry .234 in April with one home run and three RBIs. Even those that play on CBS tossed him back on the scrap heap. But it now looks like the man we’ve grown accustomed to getting 20 home runs with 70 or so runs and RBIs has found his swing. Over the final two weeks of May, Lind hit .375 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. That’s even better than Zimmerman as Lind ranked 5th on the ESPN player rater.
Just like Zimmerman, Lind is someone to pick up and plug-in your lineup Now. If you wait too long you could miss your chance. And if you take the wait and see approach and delay for a few weeks, you’ll only get in on the tail end of his streak – maybe. The cold start was in the past; look to the future.
Available in 71% of CBS, 79% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues
Joe Mauer (Twins): We were down this road earlier in April when Mauer was flashing an impressive (but empty) .321 batting average, but when the calendar flipped to May the hits stopped coming. Those hits returned at the end of May, and this time there was some power behind them. Over the final week Mauer hit .350 with three home runs. Granted all three were against the Mariners so it could be a coincidence, but they were also in Seattle so you know they had some distance to them. And he did hit another home run the week prior at home versus Kansas City and another the week before in Detroit.
His ISO for the season is .142 so he is more than capable of reaching double digits for the season. The walk and strikeout percentages are the best we’ve seen since 2012, and his hard hit rate of 38% is the second best of his career. Not to mention his soft contact percentage is the fifth best in the league. Now the FB% does play against him here (20%), but he has been lucky with the HR/FB ratio, and that luck could continue given his hard hit rate. Mauer isn’t a must add and is not an option for first base. He is, however, an intriguing player for corner infield or your utility slot (more so in H2H leagues) as long as he’s hitting for average. For leagues with more than 12 teams he is a must own right now, provided Zimmerman or Lind are not available.
Available in 53% of CBS, 81% of Y! and 60% of ESPN leagues
Aaron Hill (Brewers): Hill has been on sleeper lists for years, and each year he hits the snooze button. He was available almost universally by the end of April with a .169 batting average. But just when you thought Hill was worthless he put on a May hitting display. That .169 average is now up to .275. I’d like to say that the .353 he hit over the final two weeks was the sole reason, but he hit .357 the entire month so it wasn’t just a little streak that gave him a boost. He hit five home runs last month, but I’m not sure we can read too much into that. All five were against the Reds and the Reds like to give up homers, but he does have a .157 ISO and a 40.8% fly ball rate so he is more than capable. Plus Hill plays half his games in Miller Park – the home of the homers.
For the month of May, Hill ranked 14th on the ESPN player rater for third basemen, but he ranked 10th for second base which is where his true value lies. Second base has a lot of average talent in the middle, so there is a lot of competition, and maybe he won’t cut it as a starter in your league. As far as middle infielders go, you could do a lot worse than Hill. I just hope his hot hitting continues through June.
Available in 77% of CBS, 87% of Y! and 85% of ESPN leagues
Corey Dickerson (Rays): OK, Dickerson isn’t old, but he does have a horrifically cold start in common with the above players. C.D. hit .214 in April and was even worse in May with a .195 average. The power has been there (primarily on the road) which is nice, and with a 35.5% hard hit rate, .250 ISO, and obscenely high 48.6% fly ball rate you can expect the home runs to continue regardless of the batting average. But that average is what has caused his ownership levels to fall below 50% on Yahoo and ESPN, and they are even going down on CBS. Well, now is the time to pounce (I think).
After only three multi-hit games in April and just one through the first two weeks of May, Dickerson had three of them from May 26th to the 31st, and he hit .320 over the final week of May. Maybe he was just due for a good week, maybe riding the bench in three of the previous four games lit a fire under him, or maybe it was a sign of things to come. The multi-hit games came against three different clubs so he wasn’t just honed in on a specific team. He still had his share of swings and misses in between so it’s not like he’s fixed. But this is the first real time he has shown some life, and sometimes all a player needs is a few little things to go right to get things going.
We knew Dickerson would struggle away from Colorado, but he isn’t this bad. Even away from Coors he was still a .250 hitter. The power is there, and if these few hits get his batting average going; this is stock I want in on. In CBS you may have to trade for him, but it shouldn’t cost you much. If he is available, pick him up and stash him on your bench for a few weeks (it can’t hurt). Maybe it’s nothing, but if it is something – you’re getting in on the ground floor of it.
Available in 27% of CBS, 62% of Y! and 55% of ESPN leagues
Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners): Last season Gutierrez was the man to own against lefties in the second half. He held his own against righties too, but he mashed lefties to the tune of a .317 batting average with eight home runs over 104 at bats. Overall he hit .293 with 14 home runs in the second half over 140 at bats and looked primed for a breakout in 2016. A cold start, combined with the fact the Mariners had multiple options for the outfield, pushed Gutierrez into a backup roll. With Leonys Martin now on the DL, Gutierrez has been given a chance to shine.
Over the final two weeks of May Gutierrez has hit .379 with four home runs and eight RBIs. Three of those homers came in the final week after Martin hit the shelf. If this keeps up he should easily garner more playing time once Martin returns. Gutierrez is hitting .283 against lefties, and while his average against righties only shows a .192, the sample size is small and he is hitting .263 against righties at home so don’t read too much into that. Worst case scenerio he is a matchup bat similar to Chris Young last season with the Yankees. That’s not the worst thing in the world; at least you’d have a virtual guaranteed bat on your bench when there is a lefty on the hill.
Available in 98% of CBS, 99% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Matt Shoemaker (Angels): I thought Shoemaker was turning the corner back in April as he had a 1.49 ERA and 0.90 WHIP not counting his first game against Texas, but that was just a teaser and Shoemaker collapsed, was sent back to the minors, and then recalled prematurely as an injury replacement. Anyone who has ever owned Shoemaker is well aware of his Jekyll and Hyde persona. Well, the Doctor is currently in.
Over his last three starts (22.2 innings against Baltimore, Houston and Detroit) he has allowed just four earned runs (1.62 ERA) and has struck out 31 batters. In those three starts he did not surrender a walk or allow a home run. The zero walks were nice to see since he struggled with them early, and his BB/9 is now down to 2.24. You could say the zero home runs allowed was luck given his 34.1% fly ball rate, but his IFFB% is 17.9 so less than half those flies are leaving the infield.
His contact rate for the season (72.2%) ranks seventh in the league, and his O-Contact% (50.7) is down 14 percentage points from last season despite the fact that the O-Swing% is up four percentage points – he ranks 13th in O-Swing% among qualified pitchers. Finally Shoemaker has a 3.58 FIP, 3.55 xFIP and 3.70 SIERA for the season, but all of those were below 2.00 during his last three starts.
I know his past meltdowns make him hard to trust, but Shoemaker is and can be a much better pitcher than we saw early on, and even last season. Pitching is usually picked clean at this point of the season so you’re left looking for players to take a chance on. Here’s one of them.
Available in 52% of CBS, 80% of Y! and 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 Nathan Eovaldi and Tyler Chatwood will appear here. Their ownership levels has reached a point to where both should be owned in all competitive leagues, but they are still available in enough leagues so check your waiver wire.
Continue to add
- Jonathan Schoop, Adam Duvall, Brandon Guyer, Michael Saunders, Matt Adams, Melky Cabrera, Kevin Gausman, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Andriese and Bartolo Colon.
- Mark Reynolds has seen his power fade and has now had an off week with the batting average. It may just be a glitch, or a sign of potential bigger issues.
- Devon Travis is off to a slow start, but given his power potential he should still be picked up in case he takes off. The same goes for Wilmer Flores who should see regular at bats with David Wright on the sideline and headed to the DL.
- Eduardo Nunez and Mike Napoli are both making a case to be mixed league worthy.
- Tim Lincecum and Jose Reyes are still interesting stashes.
Stash – Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion
- Alex Reyes, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trea Turner, Blake Snell, Alex Bregman
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Trevor Bauer continues to give up three runs a game and walk too many batters. He has gone six or more innings in four of his last five games and is getting K’s. Flip a coin.
- Trayce Thompson missed a number of games with back issues – this could stall the hot streak he was on so monitor him daily.
- Evan Gattis is almost eligible for catcher in Yahoo leagues, but his hitting is still questionable.
- Derek Dietrich and Jake Lamb each had a hot week, but I’m not sure that warrants picking them back up. Gauge their value in your league by what’s left on waivers.
- Melvin Upton continues to mix solid weeks in with the clunkers. I’d advise you to look for a more stable option if you own him.
- Matt Bush may be good for holds leagues and could be a future closer, but right now he’s a little too hittalbe to help with ratios.
- Mike Minor experienced fatigue in his shoulder, but it is said to be nothing serious. Hyun-Jin Ryu has also backed off his rehab assignment with soreness. Both will be reexamined.
- Jayson Werth is still worth a hold in leagues with 12 or more teams that use 5 or more outfielders, but everyone else feel free to jettison him.
- Homer Bailey and A.J. Griffin are worth a hold, but only if you have a DL slot for them. Don’t waste the bench spot if you don’t.
- Mallex Smith could be a worthy player to own down the road, but right now he’s just taking up a valuable roster spot. Keep your eye on him though; he could have Ender Incarte type value in the second half.
- Javier Baez can be safely dropped, but feel free to stash him if you believe he can improve and work his way back into the lineup.
- Brandon Moss isn’t even worth being a CI player at this point – it was fun while it lasted though.
- Rubby De La Rosa is out with a sprained UCL. While there is no official word, a consultation with Dr. Andrews tells me all I need to know.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown