Every year you hear the same things from multiple publications, that spring training numbers don’t mean anything and don’t buy into April averages. Part of me agrees with this, but hot springs have a tendency to carry over into April as a number of players have demonstrated already. Yet a large number of these hot players are still widely available depending on where you play. Using Yahoo as an example, Devon Travis is currently ranked #20 but is owned in only 35% of leagues. Ender Inciarte comes in at #21 with a 25% ownership. At #26 is Mike Moustakas owned in 47% of leagues. Kendrys Morales and Steven Souza are owned in 56% of leagues and rank 31 and 37 respectively.
Am I missing something here or do you people not want to win your league? You don’t have to like or believe in a player to recognize what he is doing. I am not a fan of Moustakas, but I still added him to one of my teams that already had Kyle Seager and Ryan Zimmerman. Did I need another 3rd baseman? Nope, but I did need a hot bat to pick my team up. Do I really care if Moose falls to pieces once May rolls around? Nope, I only care about what he can do for me now.
Too many times, fantasy owners sit and contemplate picking up a hot player instead of acting. I was guilty of doing the same thing in past years which is why I am here scolding you now. I know what you’re thinking, “This guy can’t keep this up”, “He has no long-term value”, “His track record doesn’t match his current production, it’s a fluke”. Sound familiar? If it does, ignore that little voice in your head and take a chance. If you only get a few good weeks out of a guy, so what. If the hot streak lasts a little longer, good for you. And when the streak is over and they come crashing back down to earth, jettison them back to the wire and find someone else. Pay attention and get those ownership levels up, or next time you’ll get the belt.
Hot Starts for cold starters
2B – Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: He got off to a slow start and seeing a player with a .259 average doesn’t exactly scream roster me. Over the past 7 days Schoop is hitting .333 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs. Right now he is producing better numbers than players like Brian Dozier, Kolten Wong, Jason Kipnis, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker and Josh Harrison; unlike Schoop, all those players were drafted. I would not drop any of those players mentioned, but I would drop my worst player for a temporary replacement that will help me now. I’m not a Schoop fan and do not trust him, but I do own him in one league for this very reason. The downside is he produces at the same level as your current slumping starter so there really isn’t much risk here, just reward.
Available in 84% of Yahoo, 69% of CBS and 93% of ESPN leagues
SS – Jed Lowrie, Astros: This one hurts to recommend after all my Lowrie bashing last season (ok, every season), but I cannot ignore the hot start. Before last night’s game Lowrie was a top 5 option for shortstop batting .286 with 3 home runs, 5 RBIs, 1 steal and 4 runs scored. This is what everyone was expecting last season; better late than never I guess. Most of his at bats are from the three hole so runs and RBI opportunities are there. If you own Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, Erick Aybar, Danny Santana or Asdrubal Cabrera, I would be looking for a replacement. Every single one of us here at Fantasy Assembly told you how thin the shortstop position was going to be this year so don’t look a gift horse in the mouth when it presents itself.
Available in 80% of Yahoo, 26% of CBS and 74% of ESPN leagues
OF – Alejandro De Aza, Orioles: Much like Lowrie above, Da Aza was a major disappointment in 2014 and didn’t come close to the 20/20 season many envisioned. The trade to Baltimore helped breathe new life into him as he batted .293 after leaving Chicago. This year is a continuation of 2014; going into last night’s contest De Aza was batting .314 with 2 homer, 1 steal, 4 RBIs and 8 runs scored. Those numbers are good enough to place him in the top 20, yet there are too many owners in too many leagues that are still skeptical.
Michael Brantley, George Springer, Starling Marte, Jason Heyward, Marcell Ozuna, Alex Gordon, Chris Carter, Shin-Soo Choo, Leonys Martin. This is a short list of players who were taken in the first half of the draft, are all owned in 80% or more of leagues, and should all be riding the pine until they come around. If you own one of these players, if they are still in your active lineup and De Aza is still on waivers, what are you waiting for? Some leagues would kill to have this type of talent available, even if it is just a short-term add.
Available in 73% of Yahoo, 71% of CBS and 61% of ESPN leagues
Players like Kendrys Morales, Billy Butler and Mark Teixeira have ownership levels above 50%, but if they are available in your league you should give them a look as well for CI help.
Act Now – before the rush.
SP – Danny Salazar, Indians: He was a late round flyer for many, undrafted in some leagues, and dropped in a good number after his demotion to AAA to start the season. If you dropped him, get him back. If he wasn’t drafted, it is worth throwing a dart his way prior to today’s start. If you look at his numbers pre and post all-star from 2014 you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
This is why Salazar was a sleeper, and his first game in AAA should give you an idea of what he is capable of: 6 innings, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, 0 runs. There is a chance he gets sent back down after the start, but if Salazar sticks you could have a decent arm for the back-end of your rotation that could be better than most of the streaming options available.
Available in 63% of Yahoo, 56% of CBS and 73% of ESPN leagues
Alex Guerrero, Dodgers: Don Mattingly told reporters the pecking order has not changed despite Guerrero’s fast start. This is equivalent to a manager giving his closer a vote of confidence to the press only to demote him several days later. Read between the lines people, the age of Guerrero is upon us – even Juan Uribe knows it. The Dodgers gave Guerrero a 4 year 28 million dollar deal. Four Million of that was for him to play minor league ball last year and look what he did.
This year Guerrero will make 6.5 million; this is the same amount that Juan Uribe will earn, but the difference is that Uribe is in the final year of his contract and I’m sure the Dodgers would like to see more of what they have purchased sooner rather than later. If Guerrero continues to hit, he will force their hand and garner full-time at bats. You’ll want him on your roster before that happens. Guerrero qualifies for the OF on Yahoo and 2B on ESPN so on those two sites, you get the added bonus of dual-eligibility. Like the title says, Act Now!
Available in 88% of Yahoo, 70% of CBS and 90% of ESPN leagues
OF – Kevin Kiermaier, Rays: Ownership levels on CBS and ESPN are over 60%, but Kiermaier is available in almost 75% of Yahoo leagues. Last night’s O’fer dropped the batting average down to .306; that puts his overall numbers in line with those of Alejandro De Aza above (minus a stolen base). Yup, another top 20 option available on Yahoo. Kiermaier was on several sleeper lists coming into the season, and his current level of production is not far off from what you can expect going forward. He has enough power to reach double digits and the speed to steal 15+ bases. This is a potential long-term add here, and one that deserves a little more respect. *I’m talking to you, Yahoo owners*
OF – Nori Aoki, Giants: His ownership continues to grow on CBS and ESPN, but on Yahoo – Aoki is available in 75% of leagues. I can see the hesitation for some, he doesn’t offer much power (8 if you’re lucky) and his RBI totals are nothing to write home about. What you should keep in mind though is that Aoki is leading off this year so there will be plenty of run scoring opportunities (even more so when Hunter Pence returns). He also has some speed to him, enough to steal 20 bases (3 so far this season). Finally we have the batting average which has been between .285 and .288 for three seasons now. In essence you’re looking at a poor man’s Denard Span, and you yahooligans loved Span last season. If you play with at least four outfielders in a league with at least 12 teams, odds are there is a team that can use Aoki.
OF – Chris Young, New York Yankees: There is power here, some speed as well, and since he is hitting up and down the lineup runs and RBI opportunities. What has held Young back all these years from being truly fantasy relevant is a playable batting average. Other than the .282 he put up in 2014 after being traded to the Yankees, Young’s best average was .257 in 2010 with Arizona. That is also the only year his batting average for the season was above .250. So far his brief stint with the Yanks has agreed with him. Young is batting over .300 and has a couple of homers. With Beltran slumping and New York wanting to keep Ellsbury fresh, there will be at bats for Young. I can see a final line very similar to 2013 with the exception of the batting average. That I believe will be above .250 for the second time in his career.
Available in 97% of CBS and 99% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues
Cheap Speed Deep League Combo
OF – Jarod Dyson & Paulo Orlando, Royals – Dyson was the odd man out when Yost made Lorenzo Cain the full-time center fielder. An Alex Rios injury opened the door again for playing time, but Dyson will still have to share his toys. Dyson will platoon with Orlando for now with Dyson getting the lion’s share of work against righties. Last season Dyson stole 36 bases over 120 games in just 260 at bats. 27 of those steals came against righties along with a .274 average. Orlando has been in the minors since 2006; just like Dyson, he doesn’t offer much other than an acceptable average and plus speed. Last season in AAA he stole 34 bags with a .301 average and he hit well enough this spring to earn a spot on the big team.
It is a lefty/righty speed dream here; total nightmare for contributions from the other stat categories, but very good speed. If speed is what you need and can change your lineup daily, maybe roster both these men for now. In larger leagues, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Dyson is available in 95% of Yahoo, 89% of CBS and 99% of ESPN leagues
Orlando is available in 99% of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN leagues
Saves on the wire – That shouldn’t’ be
- Joakim Soria is available in 30% of CBS and Yahoo leagues. If this is one of your leagues, smack yourself in the head *do that now* and then go pick him up.
- Brad Boxberger is another under-owned commodity on CBS (40% availability) and he is also available in 32% of Yahoo leagues (obviously none of mine).
- Adam Ottavino, Miguel Castro and Jeurys Faimila are available in roughly 40% of CBS, ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
- If all those players are gone in your league, Bobby Parnell is close to returning and is available in over 75% of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN leagues; stash him now before the rush.
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
- Mike Moustakas, Marcus Semien, Adam Lind, Jake Lamb, Anthony Gose and Devon Travis are ALL still worthy of a waiver wire add if they are still available in your league.
- Ender Inciarte was recommended for deep leagues last week but has now jumped to relevancy for all league sizes. Chip Hale stated yesterday that Inciarte will play almost everyday. If you didn’t jump last week, do so now.
- Like I stated last week, Michael Taylor‘s usefulness is coming to an end with Denard Span returning. He is still worth owning, but if you can flip him to an unsuspecting owner for anything of use – now is the time to do that.
- Maybe Justin Masterson hasn’t improved upon last years disaster – oops. Hold him for one more start if you own him, but don’t pick him up if he’s available.
- Luis Valbuena, Casey McGehee, Will Middlebrooks and Lonnie Chisenhall were all speculative adds to replace Anthony Rendon but have not done anything since to warrant being owned anymore. Same goes for Jace Peterson and Micah Johnson given how deep second base is, but keep them on your watch list in case they heat up.
- Chase Headley should still be held or monitored (as much as it pains me to say that) along with Nick Castellanos. If neither improves in the next few weeks, do what you will with them.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.