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Waiver Wire Report: Thinking Outside the Box

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We are almost at the midway point of the season; time flies when you’re having fun.  At this point you should have a pretty good idea of where your team is and what your needs are.  It is time to stop looking on waivers for that perfect player and start looking for players that can help you where you really need it.  Joe Panik, who is one of the players graduating from the waiver wire this week, was overlooked and passed over early on simply because he doesn’t have much power or steal bases. 

Sadly, people only focus on the big picture when it comes to fantasy players.  Sure he doesn’t have power or speed, but he is 7th among second basemen for scoring runs and is 4th among qualified second basemen for batting average.  That’s two categories he will give you top 10 numbers in.  He is also just outside the top 20 for RBIs so you have a third category he will contribute to.  Panik’s ownership levels have spiked over the last month so the chances of landing him for free are slim, at least on ESPN and CBS (still available in 40% of Yahoo).  While you may have missed your chance on him and several other worthy players, there are others still out there than can help you in specific categories if you just narrow your focus on what you need.  One of them is directly below. 

Luis Valbuena (3B – Astros): Michael Frost made mention of Valbuena the other day in his Upside versus Production article, but I am going to expand on the numbers here. Among third basemen, Valbuena is 9th in runs scored, tied for 3rd in home runs and tied for 15th in RBIs.  If by some chance he qualifies for second base in your league he would rank 6th in runs scored, 1st in home runs and 5th in RBIs.  That’s production!  I know there is a little matter of batting average and the fact he hasn’t hit his weight, but Adam Dunn received more love in past years hitting just as bad, right?  A .161 BABIP says he might just be having some bad luck and a correction is coming so this might be the prime time to pick up or acquire Valbuena.  Even if the average doesn’t come up, you’re still getting solid contributions in 3 categories; elite numbers if he qualifies for second.  Ignore the average, pick up Valbuena and keep your fingers crossed for a .250 average over the final 3 months.

Available in 78% of Yahoo, 71% of ESPN and 56% of CBS leagues

JJ Hardy (SS – Orioles): Guess who is hitting .341 in June?  OK, that was rhetorical obviously.  Hardy has rejoined the land of fantasy relevance and has hits in all but 2 games this month with three multi-hit games this week.  The power has not returned and I would not depend on it, but he is hitting, scoring runs and batting 5th or 6th which isn’t a bad place for RBIs in this lineup.  Despite the lack of power, Hardy has been a top 12 option at SS for the past two weeks.  With a career .260 average I don’t know how much longer this will last, but if you need a quick boost at shortstop I would consider Hardy.

Available in 73% of Yahoo, 88% of ESPN and 70% of CBS leagues

Markk Canha (1B/OF – A’s): He got off to a decent start in April and faded in May, but this month Canha has been red-hot.  For the month of June, Canha is batting .353 with 2 home runs, 2 stolen bases, 6 RBIs and 8 runs scored in just 34 at bats.  He is not a full-time player yet so you will have to check your lineup daily, but he mostly sits against lefties and rightfully so (.125).  He holds a .315 average against righties which is where his power lies as well.  While I can’t recommend Canha as an everyday starter, he is a nice option off your bench for 1B,OF, CI, UTIL to fill-in when players are off and even play over some of your existing starters when they have a tough matchup.

Available in 90% of Yahoo, 87% of ESPN and 72% of CBS leagues

Rougned Odor (2B – Rangers): I’m throwing a dart at the board here, but Odor was on a lot of sleeper lists coming into the 2015 season.  Things started off rough and Odor was banished to the minors, but the time away from the majors seemed to do the trick.  Odor hit .352 in AAA with 12 doubles, 5 homers and 3 steals in 108 at bats.  The more impressive number is 12 walks to 10 strikeouts, albeit a small sample size.  Since being recalled he is 5 for 10 at the plate so you could catch lightning in a bottle.  There are so many good second basemen out there I would be hard pressed to tell you to sit one over Odor, but if you use a MI slot he could be worth stashing on your bench just to see what happens here.

Available in 77% of Yahoo, 87% of ESPN and 67% of CBS leagues

Brandon Maurer (RP – Padres): The waiver wire has probably been picked clean of worthy middle relief pitchers; even if a decent one was available, most teams have limited RP and P slots so you might not be able to play him.  That’s what makes someone like Maurer special, he is a SP eligible relief pitcher so you can play one more reliever than your opponent.  For the season, Maurer has a 1.59 ERA and 0.76 WHIP over 34 innings.  That’s like 5 starts from a super ace pitcher and numbers that can easily help any teams ratios.  Maurer only has 26 strikeouts, but his K total has increased each month so you can expect more going forward.  He also has 4 wins under his belt and there is a chance for a few more given the offense for the Padres keeps the games close.  Maurer is a sneaky play to plug into a SP slot on days you have no starters going; take advantage.

Available in 96% of ESPN and 94% of Yahoo and CBS leagues

Vidal Nuno (RP – Mariners): Nuno is a SP eligible relief pitcher just like Maurer above, and I’ve already explained the advantage of starting a SP eligible relief pitcher so no need to rehash that.  For the season Nuno has a 1.77 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 20.1 innings.  The limited innings are due the fact he did not join the big club until May but he has been making the most of the opportunity.  Nuno is not just good for ratios, he also has 26 strikeouts under his belt.  I would not count on any wins from Nuno, but he could vulture a few as the season progresses provided he gains Seattle’s trust and they start using him in different situations.  I employ both Nuno and Maurer in several leagues on day I have no or limited number of starters, just as I do every year with SP eligible relief pitchers.

Available 99% of CBS leagues and virtually all Yahoo and ESPN leagues

Kendall Graveman (SP – A’s): The 4.02 ERA and 1.41 WHIP is why Graveman isn’t owned more, but over the last 30 days he has been a different pitcher.  Over that time (which spans 6 starts) he has allowed 3 earned runs or less in each game; four of those games he allowed 2 earned runs or less.  The ERA and WHIP for those six games: 2.27 and 1.16, and he tacked on 30 strikeouts to boot.  Home runs are still somewhat of an issue, but overall he has improved in limiting base runners and free passes so the damage has been manageable.  Graveman is a groundball pitcher (48%), plays in a cavernous home park and somewhat friendly division.  I would grab him now before your league-mates realize he is better than his bottom line says.

Available in 91% of Yahoo, 89% of ESPN and 77% of CBS leagues

Justin Turner (3B – Dodgers): Exactly one month ago I recommended turner as an add.  Since that time he has secured his spot on the field at third base and has hit .338 with 10 runs, 10 RBIs and a home run.  Those kind of numbers at least warrant a bench spot, don’t they?  They should; that is almost the exact same line Mike Moustakas has produced over the same time period.  Yet despite his accomplishments, ownership on ESPN has only risen 4% in the past 30 days.  Yahoo ownership has gone up 18%, but of the three sites it should be much higher on Yahoo considering the fact he qualifies for second base and shortstop as well.  Turner is a nice a reliable source of runs, RBIs and batting average, and he will contribute the occasional home run as well.  I try not to recycle previous recommendations, but occasionally I will make an exception. 

Available in 70% of Yahoo, 90% of ESPN (shame on you) and 69% of CBS leagues

Yahoo Special

Curtis Granderson (OF – Mets): Fun fact: Curtis Granderson has the same number of runs, home runs and stolen bases as Andrew McCutchen.  Granderson is 32nd in the league for runs scored; among outfielders he is 13th.  He is also just outside the top 25 outfielders for home runs so that’s two categories he can help you in.  The RBI and stolen base totals aren’t great, but he is making contributions to both.  The .243 batting average leaves something to be desired, but it is .266 against right-handers; that is where most of his counting stats come from as well.  I’ll admit Granderson isn’t the best outfield option, but the fact that he is available in 66% of Yahoo leagues is absurd. He is also under-owned in ESPN leagues, roughly available in half of leagues there.

Going Deep
Available in over 95% of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS leagues

Carter Capps (RP – Marlins): Relief pitchers with a high strikeout rate that don’t get saves (or holds) are so underrated and underappreciated.  So far this month Capps has pitched in 5 games (5.2 innings) but he has recorded at least 2 strikeouts in each appearance (13 K’s).  While his overall career numbers are nothing special, he did show improvements in walks last season; even more so this season and his K/9 each year has been over 9.0.  The 14% increase in his slider use might be the reason, he is inducing more swings outside the zone and the result has been a drastic drop in contact (50.9 down – 71.1% for his career).  Between the 84 MPH slider and a fastball which averages 97.6 MPH (you read that correctly), hitters are being kept off-balance.  A pitcher with a K/9 of 16.80 deserves your attention because if Miami increases his workload, we could be looking at a Wade Davis like second half.

Clint Robinson (1B – Nationals): Injuries have opened the door for Robinson to showcase his skills.  What skills? Glad you asked.

  AB  R 2B HR RBI AVG OBP BB K
A+  436  65 31 13 57 .298 .356 35 79
AA 766  131 55 40 141 .311 .393 98 136
AAA  1527  246 112 56 259 .303 .392 220 270

As you can see there is some decent power potential here supported by a high number of doubles.  The high and improving walk totals show discipline as does the low strikeout total  – below 17% at each stop with the exception his 2013 season in AAA.  The batting average has been consistent as well through each level.  So what’s the catch?  Well, Robinson isn’t your typical rookie and is 30 years old.  Just because he’s old doesn’t mean he can’t handle the majors, he just never received an opportunity other than a few games in 2012 and 2014.  So far this season he is holding his own and as long as Zimmerman and Werth are out and Michael Taylor is floundering at the plate, he will receive full-time at bats.  Time to roll the dice if you need a CI player or fourth outfielder.

Finding their way to the Waiver Wire

Each week I will feature players whose ownership levels far exceed that players value who you should consider dropping for someone useful. This week’s drop is none other than – Rick PorcelloOwnership has been going down, but it is still over 40% and that is a crime when you consider Porcello is owned in more league on Yahoo and ESPN than Chase Anderson.  The move to Boston obviously isn’t working out; it happens sometimes.  The ERA has been above 5.0 in each month so it’s not a bad month thing.  The strikeouts are on the decline for the third straight month.  After years of keeping his HR total below 18 for the season he has allowed 11 in the first two months.  I think the only positive thing I can say is he only walked 1 batter and has not allowed a home run in June, but that hasn’t stopped the runs from coming across the plate. 

Porcello has surrendered 4 or more earned runs in half his starts and has just 4 games with 2 or less earned runs allowed (out of 13).  His xFIP (3.95) says he has been unlucky, and while a 3.95 is better than a 5.0+ it is still bad.  It may not be all bad luck here.  His GB% which has hovered in the 50’s for his career is at 42.4% and the FB% which was normally in the mid 20% now sits at 36.5%.  I don’t see things changing anytime soon.  At this point you are better off streaming someone off waivers than starting Porcello.  Cut the cord and move on.

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.

Graduated

This is the last week Joe Panik, Leonys Martin and Mike Bolsinger will appear here. Their ownership levels are high enough that they should not be available with the exception of 10 team leagues. If they are on waivers, your window of opportunity is closing.

Continue to add

  • Joey Butler, Mitch Moreland, Maikel Franco, Carson Smith, Brock Holt, Adre Ethier, Kevin Pillar, Matt Duffy, Justin Turner, Adam LaRoche, Jung Ho Kang, Juan Lagares and Tom Koehler are all still solid additions if they are available. 
  • David Murphy, Nick Ahmed, Yunel Escobar, Wilmer Flores, Juan Uribe, Cory Spangenberg, Brandon Guyer, Gerardo Parra, Ivan De Jesus and Jace Peterson are good for larger and deeper leagues and could have use in 12 team leagues as well.
  • Jonathan Singleton, Peter O’Brien and Adam Duvall are minor league players to monitor and consider stashing.

Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet unless necessary

  • Delino Deshields moves down to hold with Ruban Tejada due to a trip to the DL.
  • Ben Paulsen, Ryan Howard, Will Middlebrooks, Chad Bettis and Kyle Gibson move down to hold since they have gone cold and should be on your bench (for now).
  • I may have jumped the gun recommending Vincent Velasquez, you can still add him if you like but I would only play the matchups right now.
  • Jarrett Parker was promoted but is not hitting or receiving full-time at bats.
  • Anthony Gose, Michael Taylor, Caleb Joseph and Miguel Montero from drop to hold after a solid week, temper your expectations.  Matt Wieter owners may want to roster Joseph and rotate them based upon who is in the lineup nightly.
  • Jake Lamb‘s playing time is still in the air and his bat hasn’t helped him make a push for more playing time.

Drop ’em

  • Just like the graduates above, this is the last time Aaron Hill and Chase Headley will appear here. If you have not dropped these players, now’s the time to do so.  This will also be the last time you will see Chris Heston and James Happ.  They are both streamer options in standard 12 team leagues and can not be recommended as anything else.
  • Odubel Herrera has fallen off and his use even in deeper leagues is limited.
  • Todd Cunningham was shipped back to AAA.
  • Jake Marisnick continues to slump so continue to drop.
  • Preston Tucker has 4 hits in the past 14 days.
  • Mike Zunino has 3 hits in the past 14 days.
  • Brandon Barnes is receiving limited playing time and isn’t doing much when in the lineup.

 

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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.