Fantasy Baseball

The Anti-Waiver Wire Report

All year I have discussed players you should pick up.  Everything from one week wonders, newly promoted prospects, speculative closer grabs, etc..,  You name it, I’ve listed it.  Today I’m going to take a reverse approach and examine some highly owned players that should be making their way to the waiver wire.  These players (for whatever reason) are owned in a large number of leagues, and yet they have done very little to help your fantasy team.  There is a slight chance they can still turn things around and give you a solid month of production.  Odds are though, the little they contribute will be worth the effort and more than likely, they’ll be on your bench when they do decide to go on a mini-run.  You might try trading them first as some may still have some supporters due to their name, but if you find no takers…do what you have to do.

Allen Craig is a name that I’ve heard mentioned numerous times throughout the season.  I knew before the season started that he would be lucky to get 20 home runs, but like everyone I assumed the batting average combined with his run and RBI totals would be enough to give him value.  We’re almost at the end of July and Craig isn’t even hitting .250.  7 home runs, 34 runs scored and 44 RBIs are replacement level numbers at this point in the game.  Chris Carter has had better production and yet his ownership is half of what Craig’s is.  His groundball percentage is almost 57% while his flyball and line drive percentage are both down (which is a shame with an average flyball distance of 290 feet).

Add on the presence of Oscar Taveras whom the club is high on and could take away at bats from Craig.  If this were 2013 they could slide him over to first but considering what Matt Adams is doing, there’s little chance of him moving back other than to give Adams a rest.  Finally you have the injury factor.  The DL bug hasn’t reared its ugly head but with Craig’s all or nothing play in the outfield, it’s only a matter of time.  If you’re a Craig owner and you can find someone like Chris Carter or Kevin Kiermaier on waivers, feel free to swap them for Craig.  I loved Craig coming into the season, but it’s all about what you can do for me now, not what you did for me last year.  Sorry Allen, back to Craig’s list with you.

Joey Votto may be a harder pill to swallow.  He was a late first round to early second round pick for many owners.  Just like Craig, we weren’t expecting immense power from Votto, but enough that combined with his other numbers he would equal a top 5 first baseman.  To date, all we have is a .255 average, 6 home runs, 23 RBIs and 2 trips to the DL.  Votto’s latest DL trip was for a quad injury which required several platelet-rich plasma injections.  The prognosis for recovery is positive, but it will be another 5 weeks before he returns (provided there are no setbacks).

In addition to the quad injury, Votto landed on the DL earlier this year due to knee injury.  When he returned, manager Byran Price stated that Votto would not be 100% for the rest of the season and would have to deal with the aches and pains in his knee for the remaining months.  A bad knee is one thing, throw in the quad injury, 6 weeks on the shelf and weeks to get his swing back (or find it all together since it’s been MIA all season) and you’re looking at 3 to 4 weeks of Votto for the remainder of 2014 (if you’re lucky).  You’d be better off picking up someone like C.J. Cron, Chris Carter who I mentioned above or even Adam Dunn (yes, Votto has been this bad).  Domo Arigato Mr. Joey Votto, we’ll try again next year.

Francisco Liriano broke out in 2010 only to squalor in mediocrity for the follow 3 years.  In 2014 he surprised owners again and the fantasy community once again hoisted him onto their shoulders and proclaimed he had arrived.  After 17 games started along with a DL trip, you would think people would realize their golden goose was nothing more than dirty pigeon.  So far only 4 of Liriano’s starts have been quality starts.  10 of those starts he failed to make it through the 6th inning and in 4 of those 10 he couldn’t even make it past the fourth.

Liriano has 47 walks in 88 innings (4.79 BB/9) and a .294 BABIP.  His xFIP & SIERA suggest the player you see right now is all you’re going to get, not much worse but no improvements are on the horizon.  Sure he’s still striking out players at a nice clip (9.48 K/9), but are all those K’s worth the price you’ll pay with your WHIP and ERA (not to mention the lack of wins).  Players like Chris Young, Charlie Morton and Rubby De La Rosa are owned in less leagues and yet have better overall numbers than Liriano.  Time to stop dreaming of a comeback and a return to last years form.  Liriano is doing you more harm than good and should be replaced regardless of what he did his last time out against the Dodgers.  Don’t let one good game erase the memories of the previous clunkers.

Carlos Beltran appears to be the victim of bad luck.  His walks, strikeouts, ISO and average fly ball distance are all in line with last season.  There has been some minor fluctuation in his plate discipline, but nothing that particularly stands out.  The only things that look out-of-place are his groundball rate (which has spiked) and his line drive rate (which is down to 15%).  Other than these two things, the only other thing besides bad luck that could contribute to his .227 BABIP would be his age.  In baseball, players don’t age the same and that cliff season could come at any time.  At age 37, are we seeing Beltran’s demise?  Considering he can’t crack a .250 batting average at home in a hitters paradise, it seems logical.

Beltran had a nice April, but it’s been all down hill from there.  Age isn’t the only factor here as the injuries that he has done a fine job avoiding the previous years seemed to have caught up with him.  Injuries are bad enough in a young player, but when it’s an older player who is potentially on the decline, it’s a recipe for disaster.  Seth Smith and Matt Joyce are widely available and have done more than Beltran despite sitting against lefties.  Hell, B.J. Upton has been more productive than Beltran this season and if that doesn’t wake you up…I don’t know what will.  Playoffs are approaching, time to start trimming the fat and solidifying your team.

Alfonso Soriano isn’t as widely owned as the players above, but he’s over owned for a player that a. doesn’t have a team, b. was batting .221 with 6 home runs before being released and c. turned 38 in January.  Not everyone can be Raul Ibanez and play into their 40’s.  Even if a team signs Soriano, how much do you think he will give you after he shakes the rust off.  Drop him like it’s hot if you’re still holding out hope, you can use that spot for something (anything) else.

Shin-Soo Choo has come out and said he should have gone on the DL back in April when he originally hurt his ankle.  He didn’t, he pushed the envelope and his stats have suffered because of it.  He’s also been limited to DH duties as of late, but wants to play the outfield as much as possible in the second half.  Problem is, his ankle has yet to heal properly so you probably won’t get many more steals out of Choo (if any).  He has struggled against right-handed pitching and hitting at home, neither of which should be an issue considering his track record and comphy confines.  The last time Choo struggled like this was 2011, and no surprise that was the year he tried to play through injuries as well.

It’s obvious the injury is hampering his stats, and Choo is too stubborn to accept the fact that he needs a break.  That stubbornness makes me wonder if there isn’t another nagging injury or two that Choo has failed to mention.  Speculation about additional injuries aside, Choo is damaged goods and is not doing his real life team or your fake team any good.  In fact, his numbers line up nicely with Gerardo Parra, yet Parra is considered waiver wire fodder judging by his ownership.  It’s time to start playing the stats and not the name on the uniform.

Shelby Miller was supposed to take a step forward this year, but that sophomore slump camped out in his locker had other plans.  With only 6 quality starts in 19 tries, Miller isn’t living up to the hype.  Comparing last year to present day, his BB/9 have gone from 2.96 to 4.50 and his K/9 went from 8.78 to 5.97.  Miller’s 4.88 xFIP and 5.06 SIERA suggest he’s even worse this year than his ERA suggests.  He has failed to make it through 6 innings 11 times leaving him at the mercy of his team as far as wins go (and out of contention for quality starts for leagues that use them).

Is Miller someone to drop?  Depending on who is on your waiver wire, yes.  Bartolo Colon is owned in half as many Yahoo leagues as Miller, but Colon has a lower ERA and significantly lower WHIP, not to mention more strikeouts a few more wins and 7 more quality starts.  Miller’s numbers compare to a number of pitchers owned in under 20% of yahoo leagues like Drew Hutchison, Tyler Skaggs and John Danks.  Now if you’re a Shelby Miller owner, would you consider owning any of those 3 men.  If your answer is no, then why are you holding onto Miller?  The bigger question is, what have you missed (or are you currently missing) on your waiver wire that can help you now?


A number of players could easily fall into the above category of players you’d love to drop.  Carlos Gonzalez is the first such player that comes to mind, but dropping Cargo would be a mistake in my view.  He was batting .280 in May before he was sidelined and I predict he will come around over the next few weeks as he shakes the cobwebs off.  To say Chris Davis has been a disappointment would be an understatement.  He’s still in line to match his 2012 numbers (minus the batting average) so don’t act rash.  If anything, I’d look to buy Davis if I had a team gearing up for the playoffs.  Clay Buchholz headlined the group of pitchers who have disappointed this season.  Fortunately for him, that trip to the DL was just what the doctor ordered.  Over his last 36 innings, he has an ERA of 3.28 with a 0.87 WHIP.  Due to his ugly start, there is a chance he may be on waivers in your league.  Bryce Harper shouldn’t even be considered a drop candidate and yet I’ve seen it happen.  He came into the league with the same fanfare as Mike Trout and was hitting well before his trip to the DL.  Give him another week or so to get back in the swing of things and he should reward you for your patience over the final 2 months.  Like Chris Davis, Harper is someone you may want to target if his owner is discouraged.  Jean Segura could easily be listed above and if you play in a 12 team league that doesn’t use a MI slot, I can’t fault you for dropping him.  For those in deeper leagues or that use a MI slot, Segura is one of the best SS options once the top 12 are off the board.  I know we all expected more (or at least close to a repeat), but right now you’ll have to settle for what you have.  Short of a September call up, it’s doubtful there is anyone better than Segura on waivers right now.

Do you disagree with any of the above suggestions?  Do you have a highly owned player not listed here that you’re unsure of?  That’s what the comments section is for, have at it Hoss.

By Jim Finch

The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.