If you play in a generic 10-12 team league with 3 outfielder/2 Utility slots or 4 outfielders/1 utility, odds are you don’t need much help finding a replacement level middle infield player. If you only have a 23 man roster the talent pool available on waivers is even deeper. Now if you use a middle (and corner) infield slot and increase the roster size to 25 or more, that talent thins out a lot.
If you drafted someone like Alexei Ramirez, Jason Kipnis, Elvis Andrus, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, etc.., and have been riding them in hopes they will come around, you might want to (if you haven’t already) look around for a replacement to hold down the fort and give you some production. Over the past few weeks I’ve recommended a number of useful middle infield players. Devon Travis and Marcus Semien are still chugging along nicely and if by some miracle they are still available I would grab one of them. If not, why not kick the tires on one of the following. They could be useful to your team as either a short-term fix or potential long-term replacement.
SS – Wilmer Flores, Mets: Everyone worried that Flores would not stick at short. Fortunately his defensive shortcomings are masked in fantasy by his bat. Flores has come around in the past week and his average is up to .271 (.421 over the past 7 days). He’s hitting .250 against lefties this year (small sample size) which is a big improvement over the .119 last season. With 3 home runs in the books so far, it’s fair to assume Flores will reach the 15 home run mark most predicted for him, and if he continues to hit there could be a spot for him higher in the order down the road. Minus the speed, Flores has a similar upside to Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien.
Available in 90% of Yahoo, 65% of CBS and 95% of ESPN leagues
SS – Chris Owings, Diamondbacks: You wouldn’t know it by looking at his .220 average, but last year’s sleeper looks to be waking up. Over the past 7 days Owings hit .381 with a home run and 2 stolen bases. Last season Owings hit .261 and he holds a .291 minor league average (.324 in AAA) so it’s not unreasonable to expect the average to take a step forward. Just like Marcus Semien, Owings has a nice combination of power and speed so double digits in both are a realistic possibility. The one downside is that Arizona has a lot of talent at the top of the order so he may have to settle for batting sixth most nights. It’s only been one week of hot hitting so I can see owners being skeptical, but the numbers produced in just that one week have matched or exceeded what Alexei Ramirez has done since day one.
Available in 92% of Yahoo, 79% of CBS and 99% of ESPN leagues
2B/SS – Odubel Herrera, Phillies: He may play the OF but he qualifies for shortstop on ESPN, short and second base on Yahoo and second base for CBS. The speedster is currently hitting .291 (right in line with his minor league average) and can be found most night leading off for the Phillies. Herrera stole 34 bases in A ball, another 37 in A+ and another 27 in AA prior to his promotion. There is the potential here for 20+ stolen bases; 3 so far this season. As long as Herrera is making good contact he should be able to maintain a high average, coupled with a K/BB ratio of approximately 3/1 suggest his .349 minor league OBP should accompany him as well. You won’t find any power here and the RBI opportunities are limited, but you will get stolen bases and good number of runs (despite the bad offense). There will be growing pains here so don’t get too attached and be ready to bail if/when the shine wears off your new toy.
Available in 69% of Yahoo, 62% of CBS and 60% of ESPN leagues
SS – Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins: No promises here except lightning in a bottle. Hechavarria holds a career .272 minor league average, inflated some by the .327 posted in AAA (PCL). His batting average for the season is .311, most of which is from the past week of hitting .458. Hechavarria hits near the bottom of the order most nights, he has no power and very little pedigree. He is hitting now though so if all other options are gone and you need a quick spark plug, ride the hot hand – and dump him as soon as he cools off.
Available in 94% of Yahoo, 86% of CBS and 96% of ESPN leagues
2B – Jimmy Paredes, Orioles: After returning from the DL he was slated to be the right-handed platoon partner with Delmon Young at DH. With Ryan Flaherty slated to go on the DL, second base and more playing time has opened up. Paredes and his .292 minor league batting average have been bounced around the minors, and it wasn’t until his third try at the majors that he saw success (.302 last season). That success has so far carried over with Paredes batting .350 since his return to the lineup. Baltimore has him hitting second so run and RBI opportunities will be there as long as he’s hitting. There is enough power here to reach double-digit home runs along with stolen base totals of 15 or more. Strikeouts have always been an issue and like his teammate Adam Jones he is allergic to walks, but if he can continue to make solid consistent contact you’ve got a decent play for middle infield – at least until pitchers adjust to him and/or Flaherty returns from the DL (the DL trip is assumed by recent news).
Available in 99% of Yahoo, 98% of CBS and 97% of ESPN leagues
Man does not live by middle infield alone, so I have a few more non middle infield players for you to consider this week.
1B – Ike Davis, A’s: If his current batting average could talk, it would say that Ike likes Oakland. Davis doesn’t have to worry about left-handed pitchers here, only righties which he is owns to the tune of .340. He hasn’t been below .300 since April 11th so this isn’t a 2-3 game hot streak that inflated things, but it is unexpected considering Ike holds a career .243 ML average. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery and new outlook. Maybe this is just a hot April and things will come crashing down in a week or two. Maybe hitting (badly) against lefties messed with his psyche. Or maybe he is just slow to blossom. Whatever the case may be Davis is hitting now; only one home run so far but overall a very good Billy Butler impersonation. I would not want Davis as my primary first baseman or in any league that has weekly roster changes, but if you need help at the corner you could do a lot worse.
Available in 95% of Yahoo, 81% of CBS and 98% of ESPN leagues
1B – Yonder Alonso, Padres: Alonso has been above .300 since the second day of the season. Like Davis above, he only has 1 home run but is contributing everywhere else. Alonso started out at the bottom of the lineup but has been hitting 5th lately which means RBI opportunities when Upton isn’t clearing the wall. He’s also walking more than he is striking out; something we have not seen since his NCAA and low minor league days. I threw many maybe scenarios at Davis and most of them apply here too. I can’t explain why Alonso has suddenly improved, but quite honestly I don’t care. He is hitting now and batting in the heart of the order for a team that is in the top 10 for runs scored, home runs, RBIs and batting average. Ride him as long as he’s hitting.
Available in 91% of Yahoo, 70% of CBS and 89% of ESPN leagues
OF – Jake Marisnick, Astros: Considering he is one of the few Astros players actually hitting, I’m surprised Marisnick is still taking a seat to the likes of Colby Rasmus on occasion. He’s currently batting .350 with 1 home run and 4 stolen bases. The power/speed split is what you should expect moving forward considering he hit 1 home run for approximately every 5 steals in the minors. The batting average will eventually come down (.279 minor league average) and strikeouts and lack of walks could become an issue once pitchers adjust. That’s something you don’t have to worry much about for at least another month. For now just enjoy an outfielder who ranks just inside the top 25 for the position.
Available in 88% of Yahoo, 71% of CBS and 79% of ESPN leagues
OF – Sam Fuld, A’s: Fuld has never been much for batting average (.239 career average), doesn’t have any power (10 homers in 1,122 at bats), will not drive in many runs (94 career RBIs) and has never been a full-time player. Two things have changed in the early goings of 2015. The first is Fuld is playing full time and the second is he is hitting for average. Fuld is not just hitting, he is leading off for the A’s. Because of this, Fuld is tied for second in the league in scoring runs; just one behind league leader Wil Myers. He has some speed too, 60 steals in 1,122 at bats – averaged out that comes out to 30 steals for 550 at bats. I would not expect 30, but 20 are easily within reach.
I know there is little reason to trust Fuld given his track record, but it’s not like you’re proposing or bringing him home to meet your mom. All we care about in our fake world are the numbers, and Fuld can contribute to runs, steals and batting average. If you have power covered there is little reason not to pick him up for now. Obscure players like this have a tendency to outperform their abilities under Billy Beane, so there is a chance Fuld remains useful for the majority of the season.
Available in 92% of Yahoo, 77% of CBS and 73% of ESPN leagues
3B – Eric Campbell, Mets: A David Wright injury opened the door for playing time. Campbell’s numbers profile more as a middle infielder. He has modest power and speed; enough to reach double digits in each but not much more. His career minor league batting average is .287 (.335 in AAA) and the career minor league BB/K ratio is exceptional (315/388). Campbell has the talent and the opportunity, now the only question is can he capitalize on it. He’s off to an average start (.250) which makes him worth a speculative add in larger and deeper leagues. There is a chance you’ll be dropping Campbell in a few weeks if can’t handle major league pitching, but it might be worth dropping your worst player to see if you can catch lightning in a bottle. The Mets are hot right now so maybe some of that will rub off on Campbell.
Available in 97% of CBS and 99% 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.
Chase Utley: The 36-year-old played his first full season last year since 2009. What are the odds of that happening again at his age with two bad knees? In just under 600 at bats he managed to hit 11 home runs and steal 10 bases. If he does miss time again, that will cut into what are already mediocre power and speed totals. Most of last year’s average came from a hot start, .345 in April followed by a .293 May. The other four months were .263 or lower which is replacement level. The Phillies are at or near the bottom for every major count stat in fantasy baseball and there is little chance of things improving. The days of Utley being a useful fantasy commodity are a thing of the past, so stopping living in it. If you are an Utley owner; even if you are not playing him currently, I’m confident you can find something else on waivers to use that spot on. Cut your losses and move on.
Marlon Byrd: While his overall numbers looked good in 2013 and 2014, there were several warning signs that a collapse was coming. In 2013 Byrd’s strikeout percentage shot up to 24.9; that went up to 29% in 2014 and this year it stands at 31.6%. It’s the same story with the swinging strikeout percentage, from 14.7 to 16.5 – this year it is 19.9%. His BABIP in 2013 and 2014 was an unsustainable .353 and .341 respectively and this season it has come crashing down to .162. The groundball percentage was below 40% those two years, someplace it hasn’t been since 2005 (50% this season). HR/FB% practically doubled for those two years. Contact% was down (both in and out of the zone) and overall it was just over 71% after being 80% or higher the previous years. And while the contact% has gone down, the swing% has gone up (again, both in and out of the zone).
Byrd admitted he made mechanical changes before 2013 to adjust for age and a slowing bat, but those changes were only a short-term fix to prolong the inevitable. Bryd is now a swing for the fences guys, something many aging players turn into late in their career. Unfortunately it looks like last season might have been the last hurrah.
Saves on the wire – That shouldn’t’ be
- Last call for Joakim Soria who is available in 20% of Yahoo and 16 % of CBS leagues. Jeurys Familia‘s availability is very similar; squat or get off the pot.
- Brad Boxberger’s ownership on Yahoo has not changed since last week (68%) which is the same as Adam Ottavino. Both players are available in close to 35% of CBS leagues as well.
- Miguel Castro and Joel Peralta are the two with the highest availability, but that could/should change by next week.
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.
Continue to add:
- Mike Moustakas, Ender Encarte, Danny Salazar, Devon Travis, Kevin Kiermaier and Marcus Semien are all still worthy of an add if by some chance they are available in your league. Everyone except Devon Travis (25%) is available in over 40% of Yahoo leagues.
- Alex Guerrero, Nori Aoki and Chris Young are good for larger and deeper leagues but are gaining attention in 12 team leagues as well.
- Anthony Gose is still worthy for now, but watch the matchups since Detroit will sit him in favor of Rajai Davis against lefties.
- Nick Castellanos was on hold status last week but is now back up to add. I have a feeling that it will be like that all season.
- Luis Valbuena is a volatile commodity to own, but if he qualifies for second base in your league I still like him as an add (not so much though for third base).
Hold: Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if you own them
- Adam Lind and Alejandro De Aza have slowed down but can heat up at any time. Give them another week.
- Will Middlebrooks looks to be off life support for now. Consider adding if he continues hitting into next week, but don’t drop anything worthy for him.
- Chase Headley hasn’t done anything to warrant being added or dropped. If you don’t use a CI slot, I would dump him.
- Micah Johnson is losing playing time to Emilio Bonifacio (against lefties for now) and has cooled off after a hot start. Give him another week (or two in deeper leagues), but feel free to drop him if you do not use a MI slot.
- Jake Lamb hit the DL and may not have a job when he is healthy if Tomas is hitting. Hold him if you have room on your DL, but do not fret over releasing him if you don’t.
- Lonnie Chisenhall, Jace Peterson and Casey McGehee should all be on waivers excepted in deep and AL/NL only leagues.
- Shame on me for recommending Jed Lowrie last week, it was a moment of weakness.
- Johathan Schoop was an add last week, but a grade 1 PCL tear in his left knee make him worthless now.
- Unless you play in a keeper league Michael Taylor can be dropped, but keep him on your watch list as injuries can happen at any time.
Do what you will – Caveat Emptor
- Justin Masterson is on the border between own, hold and stream. I honestly don’t know what to make of him at this point.
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