I’m sure most of you came away from your draft feeling pretty good about your team, right? I was feeling pretty confident, that is until A.J. Pollock went down and left me with a season-long hole to fill in my outfield. Then, just the other day I lost Tyson Ross; those two players are in addition to drafting Jung-ho Kang whom I figured I could easily stash for a month. I should have known better — things rarely go according to plan. At least I avoided Schwarber in the draft– my condolences to those of you who took that plunge.
Fortunately the waiver wire is full of potential short-term fixes, and if you’re lucky one or two of them could transform into roster mainstays. While I believe it is important to look at a players possible long-term value, sometimes all you need is a quick fix to get you through a rough patch. That is the fun part about waiver wire pickups, you can never really be certain what that player you are picking up will be for you.
Almost one year ago today I recommended picking up Mike Moustakas, Adam Lind and Ender Inciarte. Each had questions, but for those in need those questions were unimportant. The only thing that mattered was that they were hitting now. That’s the name of the game, and that is why you are here today. With that said, let’s take a look around the diamond and see what help is available at each position.
Wilson Ramos (Nationals): Healthy and hitting are two words that are rarely mentioned in the same sentence when talking about Ramos. He’s off to a hot start with the batting average, and sometimes a catcher with a high average and regular playing time is all you need. Ramos has reached double digits for homers in four of the past five seasons. The crux has been health, and after being listed as a sleeper for so many years many of us have given up.
I own Posey universally this year, but if I needed a catcher I would have no issue picking up Ramos right now. There are a number of potential good catchers available on waivers so if you don’t like (or trust) Ramos I’m sure your league will have someone else available — maybe Nick Hundley.
Available in 53% of CBS, 66% of Y! and 70% of ESPN leagues
Joe Mauer (Twins): I rolled my eyes enough for everyone while writing Mauer’s name, so now that that’s out of the way let’s focus on the numbers. Mauer is batting .300 and has an OBP above .400 for the first time since 2013. He’s also drawing more walks than strikeouts, another attribute he’s been lacking in the past few seasons. The power won’t be returning any time soon, but as long as he’s producing a high BA and OBP there should be run and RBI opportunities. That makes Mauer a potential three category threat, and he will chip in about a dozen homers.
All that sounds nice, but it remains to be seen if the average is truly back. I’m skeptical just like the rest of you, but if I needed a corner infield player right now I’d be willing to roll the dice short-term to see how long it lasts.
Available in 72% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 71% of ESPN leagues
Tyler White (Astros): The Window is closing quickly on this one, especially after Friday’s 3 for 4 performance and yesterday’s home run. White showed in the minors he is capable of hitting between .280 and .300, and he drew more walks than strikeouts. He has enough power to hit at least 15 home runs, and given his current pace I wouldn’t be surprised to see 20. Finally, White is batting fifth in the order so he will see plenty of RBI opportunities. As a bonus he is eligible at third base on Yahoo and ESPN.
Often times it is those little talked about players that produce big for us. White could be this year’s waiver wire MVP.
Available in 57% of CBS, 58% of Y! and 81% of ESPN leagues
Scooter Gennett (Brewers): He took a step back in 2015, but there were signs last season that the potential was still there. Gennett batted .239 in the first half of the season, but in July (.310), August (.299) and September (.275) we saw definite improvements, and the run production doubled because of it. This year he’s showing more patience, already drawing four walks after totaling 12 all of last season. He’s also showing more power; while I don’t expect him to hit 20+, he should easily reach double digits given his ISO in 2013 and 2014.
Considering the depth of the second base position it’s hard for fantasy owners to get excited. If you’re an owner of someone like Odor, Kipnis or Pedroia though, you may want to check the dead weight at the bottom of your roster. Gennett could make a nice plug and play option until your primary option picks things up.
Available in 85% of CBS and 94% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Jake Lamb (Diamondbacks): Jake will not be silenced by Doctor Lecter. Despite dealing with injuries, Lamb showed some improvements over his 2014 debut. The walk rate, batting average, OBP and LD% all took positive steps. The injury took away his power stroke, but the FB% was there so a healthy Lamb could produce 15 home runs over 500 plate appearances – a pace he was on for in 2014.
Lamb isn’t hitting for average, but to be fair, not many third basemen are. The rest of his game looks good so far, and Yasmany Tomas isn’t moving back to third so the job is Lamb’s to lose. At the very least Lamb deserves a spot on your watch list, and if you see the power or average take a tick upwards maybe find a bench spot for him.
Available in 68% of CBS, 91% of Y! and 86% of ESPN leagues
Nick Ahmed (Diamondbacks): He’s off to a hot start and is currently a top 10 shortstop — after one whole week. Still, the production cannot be ignored. What fantasy owners should pay attention to is his batting average versus righties. Ahmed is batting 100 points higher against them than he did in 2015. He also has a 1-2 BB/K ratio. All small sample sizes, but encouraging ones early on.
If you want a quick boost in production at shortstop then Ahmed is your man, as long as you keep in mind that things could go south at a moment’s notice. Enjoy it while you can, hope for the best, but don’t get too attached.
Available in 93% of CBS, 86% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
Joey Rickard (Orioles): This guy wasn’t even a blip on the Orioles outfield plans at the beginning of spring training. Captain Rickard isn’t a power hitter so don’t expect more than a handful of home runs this year. Up until 2015 he was only an average option when it came to batting average. And while he does have the speed to produce 20 steal season, the success rate has fluctuated.
Rickard’s long-term value is tied to his spot in the batting order, and that in turn is tied to his batting average. Short-term he is hitting for average, batting 1st or 9th so run potential will be there, and hopefully he will start attempting some steals. Ride him while he’s hot and cross your fingers his value doesn’t fade when the calendar changes.
Available in 85% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
Michael Taylor (Nationals): I’m sure you’re wondering why I would add a guy who has not gotten a hit to the waiver wire report. It’s a fair question. Last year Taylor had 30 combined home runs and stolen bases. His average was below the Mendoza line, and considering the strikeout rate and Contact% I’m not surprised. His LD% was strong though, the hard hit rate was just above league average, and with an average fly ball distance of 293 feet I’m guessing there could be a few extra homers.
The more days Taylor goes without a hit, the further off the radar he goes. If you have an extra roster spot I would add him now before we see a spark. If your bench is full, monitor his production closely. This is the cheapest you’ll get a player that will come just short of a 20/20 season.
Available in 65% of CBS, 82% of Y! and 93% of ESPN leagues
I try to stay clear of recommending pitchers early. Things are so unpredictable early on that even the most dependable guys can’t be fully trusted. If you’re looking for a hot waiver wire pitcher, I would keep track of all the streaming reports. Will Emerson writes Field of Streams right here every Friday and Sunday; yours truly handles streaming options and 2-start pitchers for Today’s Knuckleball each Saturday; Fantasy Rundown posts links daily and there will usually be at least one or two each day that will cover this topic.
Any one of those one-week wonders you pick up for a single start could turn out to be more than a short-term solution. As of right now, the sample sizes are too small and it is anyone’s guess. Sure, you could say I’m guessing with the hitters as well, but at least we have 20 or so at bats to analyze as opposed to just one start. I’m sure by next week I’ll have a few favorite front-runners to recommend, and I’m almost positive one of them won’t be Jeremy Hellickson.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown