Waiver Wire


Stock Watch: Switch the Power On (While You Still Can)

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a normal Stock Watch column, so let’s skip the intro (I’m pretty sure you do anyway) and get right to the good stuff. 

Trade For 

Cliff Lee is about to start his rehab assignment, which means it’s about time to start preparing trade offers for him. Trading for injured pitchers is always a risky move, but getting quality pitchers at a discount is a worthy investment.

James Shields continues to underperform, but he’s been such a good, consistent pitcher for so long that it’s hard for me to think it will last forever. Plus, he hasn’t been truly bad in real baseball (unlike a fellow AL Central ace we’ll see below)…just not helpful for his fantasy teams.

Jeff Samardzija remains a trade away candidate for the Cubs, so he remains a trade for candidate for you—his fantasy value would go up at pretty much any plausible destination.

Robinson Cano seems to have found his power stroke in recent weeks. It’s probably nothing more than catching up to the percentages, so your last chance to pry him from disappointed owners might already be slipping by. But you can make the deal more assured that he’s the Cano you know….

Joey Votto has not shown that he’s returning to his old self yet, and yeah, I am getting worried. But fantasy baseball is a game of gambles, and betting that as consistently excellent a player as Votto eventually returns to form seems like a bet worth making.

Mark Trumbo looks like he’s about two weeks away from a return. While he might encounter setbacks, his foot injury shouldn’t hurt his power. (‘Cause, obviously, that’s never been a problem for Albert Pujols.) But really, the scarcity of homers and Trumbo’s ability to hit them makes him a valuable commodity.

Trade Away

A good start against the Astros might earn you more bites on Justin Verlander, but it’s hardly enough to renew my optimism for the fallen ace. I'd still be shopping him.

Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle have been amazing. Let’s give them that. They’re very good real-baseball pitchers; let’s give them that too. But their strikeout rates are going to hurt your team in the long run. Sell high, especially to a team with a lot of innings to fill up before reaching the cap.

With Alex Wood making a triumphant return to the Majors and the Braves’ starting rotation, it’s probably time to consider dealing him if you play in a head-to-head league. Why? Because I suspect this isn’t the last time Atlanta messes with his playing time to keep his innings down. Maybe it is, but it seems like the chances of him pitching from the ‘pen or being shut down altogether in September seem fairly high—especially if the Braves either lock up the division or fall from contention. Not what you need in the playoffs.

Vague rumors have cropped up that Alex Rios—and every Ranger not named Darvish or Beltre—might be on the trading block this month. If you’re only counting on the steals from Rios, fine, but I’d be very worried about the rest of his production if he does move out of Texas. 

Matt Adams is still sporting a bloated batting average, and I still don’t believe in it. 

Gregory Polanco is off to a nice little start to his Major League career. So you know what to do: trade him before he hits the mostly-inevitable “downs” of a rookie season’s ups and downs.

Pick Up

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Josh Harrison (43%) is still hitting the ball and has IF/OF eligibility. I’m not really a Harrison believer, as he wasn’t that special of a prospect—but I’ll happily use a waiver claim to get him. Plus, he if keeps it up a little longer, he might have some trade value.

Mookie Betts (41%) isn’t off to the best Major League start ever…but how often do potentially-viable shortstops show up on the waiver wire? Pretty much never. Roll the dice (or place your bet) if you’re still trotting out the likes of Everth Cabrera or Jonathan Villar

Who is Jesse Hahn (38%)? Well, he’s pitching lights-out and plays for the Padres. You had me at Padres, Jesse Hahn.

Chris Johnson (36%) has managed to get his average to creep up over .280. A high-BABIP guy, he could be a nice boost in the BA category, plus he can sub in at first and third.

Speaking of middle infielders, Scooter Gennett (35%) keeps, well, scooting along with a .311 average. Is your MI player really better than that?

If Jose Quintana (34%) hits the trading block, he should get a nice boost in value—especially if he goes to a team with a real bullpen. 

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Adam Dunn (30%) has seemed stuck at about 12 homers for a long time now, so there probably isn’t a huge rush to pick him up. But his average really doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. If you’ve got a couple bench slots (which you probably don’t, seeing as this is the medium leagues section, but hang on for a second), he’s the sort of guy I like to platoon with an empty average type, or an all-speed guy, and just play the matchups. 

Andrew Heaney (28%) is off to a pretty rough looking start—but I’ll take a 12:3 strikeout to walk ratio any day. The Marlins prospect ought to be able to lower his ERA in a hurry. 

Roenis Elias (25%) doesn’t have amazing season stats, but playing half his games in Seattle ought to help you get more bang for your buck. Or less bang, since the term seems to suggest homers and runs scored. Either way, he looks like a useful half-time starter at a minimum. 

Colby Rasmus (25%) is pretty much like Adam Dunn, but younger and with longer hair. And you can play him in the outfield. Anyway, he’s healthy again, so pick him up if you need homers.

Denard Span (22%) should be owned in pretty much every five-OF league. And maybe he is, I guess. Decent speed and just good enough hitting skills to keep him from hurting you in average, maybe even helping in runs. My fifth OF’s aren’t better than that.

Steve Pearce (22%) once was a prospect (I think—it’s been awhile), and I’ve been kind of skeptical of him, but he just keeps hitting, so he should get the playing time. Go for it. 

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned) 

Omar Infante (18%) has shown some signs of life lately. Over the years, he’s been a consistently just-good-enough MI with decent averages, that I think he’s a good candidate to raise his current average to the level where it helps your team.

Juan Francisco (18%) is yet another all power, no average type. This article needs a theme, so I’ll go ahead and recommend him. Plus, he has dual eligibility. Maybe platoon him and Johnson?

For those who don’t hate the batting average category, consider Lorenzo Cain and James Loney (both 18%).

Lucas Duda (17%) might actually be a good player, so take him over the other options here just in case.

I’m surprised as anyone to recommend Chris Young (13%--the pitcher), but this article makes me willing to use him for his home starts. But only in leagues where I can spare the strikeout hit.

Conor Gillaspie (9%) still won’t agree to bring his batting average down to where no-namers without any home runs should be keeping it. So I’ll just keep mentioning him until he does. If he’s on your waiver wire, don’t complain about your place in the batting average standings.

James Jones (8%) is kind of a poor-man’s Eric Young. So take that or leave it, I guess.

Odrisamer Despaigne’s (7%) ERA and WHIP are both under one. He also has just three strikeouts. I’m sure all those numbers will normalize to a certain extent, but since he pitches for San Diego, he could be a sort of Chris Young-lite. Maybe that’s stretching  the terms of fantasy viability, but we’re talking deep leagues at this point.

Josh Rutledge (3%) plays for Colorado, is hitting okay already, and was once a promising middle infielder. Why is he available in 97% of leagues?



Stock Watch: In Case You Forgot—Plus Very, Very Deep Leagues

Editor’s Note: This author is traveling this week and is making an effort to produce content that might still be relevant after several days have passed. Hopefully it’s working.

Welcome to a Very Special Episode of Stock Watch, in which we depart somewhat from our usual format. Insofar as we actually follow it anyway. We’re focusing on two kinds of players today: the first are hitters who slumped so badly early in the season that you might have forgotten they can still play. We could have included pitchers, but we didn’t. The second is an oft-neglected group of players, those already owned in only the deepest of leagues. Instead of our usual waiver wire splits, we’ll jump right to players owned in fewer than 10% of leagues. In fact, we’ll limit that section to hitters too. Don’t worry, you know I can’t keep myself from talking about pitchers for very long, so I’m sure we’ll get back to them next time around.

Lest you shallow-leaguers out there get bored, remember that guys from both of these categories may have already broken out by the time you read this….

You forgot about us, didn’t you? 

Or at least you tried to. 

Let’s face it, unless he plays on your fantasy team, you don’t pay much attention when a player slumps in July or August and hits .180 for the month without any homers or steals. You might pause when you see his recent production if offered a trade, but you’ll look at his season numbers and conclude (usually rightly) that it was nothing but the sort of slump everyone goes through.

But when that horrific slump happens in April, it’s a lot easier to write those guys completely off. Especially if you didn’t think they were going to be any good this year anyway. Even in June, a terrible April can eclipse the next two months of perfectly normal production. 

Take the case of Curtis Granderson. I didn’t believe in him going into the year, so when he had a very, very bad April, (the lowest qualifying batting average in MLB at .136, with just one homer) I felt like my position had been proved. That was sloppy thinking, though, because a) I certainly didn’t predict Grandy to suddenly become the worst player in baseball, and b) small sample!

Sure enough, Granderson is still only rocking a .226 average. But if he was dropped and you snagged him off the wire, you were able to live through his .253 average in May (with five homers), and now you’re enjoying his .340 mark in June (and the three homers, not to mention the three steals or the fact that he has more walks than strikeouts this month). So, Grandy’s given us two fantasy-productive months and one awful one. But that bad month is dominating his stat line. Makes him a pretty nice trade candidate, if you ask me. Actually, he’s the one that inspired this article, so let’s take a look at a few more April busts who might be turning things around—or who already have.

Did you know Carlos Santana grounded into seven double plays in March/April? Okay, that’s not very fantasy relevant, since those don’t count double against his average, but still, it kind of typifies the kind of April he had. He batted under the Mendoza line (way under) in both of the season’s first two months, but in twelve June games, he’s smacking the ball with some serious authority. Between his history of success and the fact that he’s still walking nearly as much as he’s striking out, I like Santana’s chances of returning to your fantasy good graces. 

I recently tried to swing a trade for Jason Heyward, but I guess his owner didn’t need this article to realize his value. (But, hey, Hyun-jin Ryu seems fair, right?) Heyward hit just .206 with two homers and 26 strikeouts in April, but he’s hit .284 since then, with six homers and 30 strikeouts. (In 76 more at bats, remember.) His season-long OBP is already up to .340, but offer your trades before his slugging catches up (it’s at just .388 for the season, but .478 so far in June).

Asdrubal Cabrera was, like Granderson, another victory for my preconceived notions of his lousy-ness. He batted just .220 in March/April, depressing his season total to .255. Since then, however, his average has been .275 in May, and .281 in June. His power has ticked up just a bit, too. If you’re looking for alternatives at short (like, say, to a certain other Cabrera), Asdrubal is probably better than he looks.

Allen Craig lives by his batting average, so when he buried himself with a .220 mark for April, I (yet again) felt vindicated. He’s raised his average up to .260 by now, with steady hitting since the first month. He still doesn’t do much else, but it’s not like you were asking him to anyway. Interestingly, though his March/April BABIP was just .239, and his May BABIP rocketed up to .360, he’s now evened almost exactly out, to a neutral .301. Not that he’s ever had a neutral BABIP over a full season…so there's a decent chance that average is moving on up.

Pablo Sandoval is actually having a pretty decent year. I wouldn’t have guessed it, since his April batting average of .177 is dragging his season number down to .265, but yeah. Since the end of April (still very cold in San Francisco, I note, suggesting a simplistic, yet tangible explanation without offering concrete evidence for its role as a cause), Sandoval has batted about .317. If you need a third baseman, I’d make an offer relatively soon.

Very Deep Waiver Wire Pickups

Conor Gillaspie (8% owned) still has no power. And he’s still hitting for average. If you’re hurting at 3B or CI, give him serious thought.

Tommy La Stella (8%) is off to a pretty good start as Dan Uggla’s replacement. He’s probably more of an emergency fill-in than anything else, but in leagues as deep as yours must be, any hot streak is worth checking into. 

Lucas Duda and Oswaldo Arcia (both 7%) are showing some modest power in the last month, with five and four homers respectively.

Rougned Odor (6%), aside from having an awesome name (I pronounce it “Roughened” in my head, but that probably isn’t right), is hitting the ball well for Texas. He could stick on a team decimated by injuries and ultimately help out fantasy squads.

J.D. Martinez (5%) who, I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know was on the Tigers now, is absolutely killing the ball (1.026 OPS, five homers) in 60 at bats in the last month. It’s a niche market, but if you have room for a part-timer and want to take advantage of a “streaky” player on a hot run, go for it. At the least, it could end up giving him more playing time.

Luis Valbuena (5%) kind of inspired this section of the article, when I read about him last week and gave him a quick mention. In Yahoo!, he’s eligible at second and third, and he’s been batting .330 in the last month. Yes, he’s BABIP-fueled, but he’s also changed his approach to generate more line drives. 

Jon Jay (4%), who I almost skipped by because he’s, well, Jon Jay, is hitting .360 on the month. If I’m gonna mention Martinez, I’d better mention Jay too. I guess.

Josh Rutledge (4%) has sweet 2B/SS dual eligibility and he’s smacking the ball hard (.925 OPS) since returning to the Majors in place of Nolan Arenado. (No, he isn’t playing third, the Rockies just shifted DJ LeMahieu.) It’s totally worth speculating on the chance that he capitalizes on his early-career promise, even though it’s not incredibly likely.



Stock Watch: Great Players and Early Disappointments

This article is about playing the percentages. All the hitters I suggest trading for this week are stars you invested heavily for—and are dragging you’re their teams down. It’s a lot more common for stars like these to have lousy month (or three) than a lost entire season, or to regress to retirement age all at once. On the whole, expect most to bounce back. Unfortunately, I can’t give any guarantees about them individually…. 

Trade For

Buster Posey and Joe Mauer haven’t done their owners many favors at catcher this year, but unless you drafted Jonathan Lucroy, that’s probably true for your catcher too. As the top talents at their position, this pair is more likely to bounce back than the Wilin Rosarios of the world. 

David Wright and Evan Longoria haven’t seemed to put anything together either, but both have such long track records of excellence that they should fix it up and power your lineup in the second half. Longoria is the better target of the two, since he’s younger and therefore less likely to be underproducing due to suddenly-advanced-age.

Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis—like Posey and Mauer—are just two of several disappointments at their position. Like their catching counterparts, Pedroia and Kipnis still have the most overall talent* at their position and, therefore, make the best buy-low candidates.

*I have no more idea than anyone else where Robinson Cano’s power went. But as long as he’s hitting over .320 it’s hard to really call him slumping. And as long as the power's out, it's hard to advise you to trade for him.

Matt Holliday and Shin-Soo Choo were once extremely stable producers, but both have seen their power fall off a cliff, and their averages are following. Choo isn’t even stealing. I always worry when I don’t know why a player is underperforming so badly (which is pretty often, to be honest; I’m not a scout and I’m not the players’ trainer), but both of these players have track records long enough to bet on in principle.

Cliff Lee is showing good progress from the DL and stands a decent chance of being traded away from the struggling Phillies (again). Any pitcher who’s already injured is a huge risk, but the potential rewards from Lee are significant. Especially on a good team…. 

Speaking of getting traded, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are on the block. You can be pretty confident that any team that trades for them will be better for the wins than the Cubs. While there’s always the worry of getting traded to the AL East, Samardzija has been linked with the Giants and Hammel with the Mariners. Also, Hammel has pitched well for about two and a half months longer than I expected, so I’ll give him some credit for that.

I was going to put Johnny Cueto on my “Trade Away” list, ‘cause, you know…he’s just too good to be real. Well yeah. But the thing is, Cueto has beaten his FIP every season of his Major League career—since 2008. (It wasn’t super-pronounced in the beginning, but still.) So he’s got a 2.76 FIP right now, and a history of putting up even better ERA’s…I want to be on the buying side of a sell-high trade, I think. He can regress a bit and still work out very, very well for whoever ends up with him.

Trade Away 

I have nothing against Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton’s production this year. But it’s been pretty much forever (since 2011, which we all barely remember) since Bautista was healthy all year. Trading him now, when his production is off-the-charts-awesome, is purely a risk-mitigation strategy. Hamilton is just now back from (this) injury, but there could easily be more coming down the road. I’d rather deal these guys too early than be stuck with nothing—at least if I’m near the top of the standings.

Jean Segura and Everth Cabrera are managing sub-.600 OPS’s. So how do you get anything of value out of them? From owners who are desperate for steals, of course! It might not be much, but they should return something better than what you can find on the waiver wire, or at least sweeten a larger deal. Neither one is hitting well enough to keep around if you aren’t speed-starved. 

George Springer may not have a higher point in his trade value this season. Rookies always have their ups and downs, and as good as it is to get them off the waiver wire in time for the ups, it’s even better to trade them for a high price before the downs. (Note: sometimes the rookie is Mike Trout and never ends up having downs but becomes the best player in baseball. Life is tough that way.) Gregory Polanco is off to a hot first week in the Majors, and that means I’d start dangling him in trade offers right away. You can’t count on a 10-homer month for every prospect you want to trade….

Josh Beckett, like Bautista and Hamilton above, is actually a player who’s production I believe in. You know I spent half of this season urging everyone in the world to pick him up. But like his hitting brethren, Beckett has a long and varied history of injury and carries, therefore, more injury risk than most. That’s the sort of thing it’s better to mitigate while you still can.

I have no idea what’s up with Justin Verlander. And neither does he. He just got lit up again and isn’t generating strikeouts. I’m starting to think the bold play here is to cut bait and try to get something playable for him if there’s anyone left willing to take the risk. Note that this goes against the percentage-playing theory of most of this article, but combined with last year, there does seem to be a trajectory here and it isn’t towards continued excellence.

Pick Up

That’s a lot of trade talk, so we’ll make the waiver wire suggestions quick. Real quick.

Shallow Leagues (30-50%)

Collin McHugh (37%) and Jose Quintana (32%--he’s back!) are your pickup pitchers this week.

Marlon Byrd (48%), Kendrys Morales (41%), and Adam Lind (35%--yes, still) all pack some punch for you shallow-leaguers needing a hitter. 

Medium Leagues (20-30%)

Juan Francisco (25%) is looking like a real power source and Eric Young (20%) is off the DL and ready to steal.

Jaime Garcia (25%) looks like a Wins and WHIP helper, but I say that every week, don’t I? Well, that’s what happens when you have a 0.96 WHIP for the Cardinals. Jake Arrieta (21%) is the opposite, having been helpful in strikeouts and ERA thus far. He’s also been mentioned in the Cubs’ trade talks. (Same link as Hammel, above.)

Deep Leagues (Under 20%) 

Denard Span (19%) could be a steals source who actually hits occasionally. Brandon Crawford (17%) has been a lot better than most shortstops this year, especially if you play in an OBP or SLG league. (But he’s still kinda good in regular formats too.) Matt Dominguez (12%) may offer more power than your current CI player. I said bad things yesterday about Luis Valbuena (5%) and his chances of keeping his average up, but I read this article that suggests maybe he can be useful after all. Good for you, Luis Valbuena!

Kevin Gausman (14%) and Josh Tomlin (11%) have little in common…except that they can both (probably) help your fantasy team. 

Hey, for me, this counts as really brief!



Stock Watch: Waiver Wire Special Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot about trading for the last couple weeks—in fact, I think it’s been on everyone’s mind here at RotoAuthority. Nothing wrong with that—there’s no more significant way to improve your team than by swinging a trade—but maybe you need a break from constant advice about how to get rid of the few players you drafted still on your roster. So today on Stock Watch, we’re going to take a short break from trade advice and look a little deeper into the waiver wire.

Oh, and if he’s somehow available in your league…pick up Gregory Polanco!

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Jon Singleton (48%) has two homers and a .200 average so far. So…not much has changed since he took over first for Chris Carter, I guess. It’s a good thing that he isn’t hitting that well, because if he was he wouldn’t still be grabable. Grabbable? You couldn’t pick him up. 

Marlon Byrd (47%) isn’t the most beautiful bird in the sky (I had to), but his numbers (nine homers, .263 average) stand out next to those around him. Of course, if you don’t like him, there are plenty of fish in the sea of shallow leagues. (fish…Marlon…marlin…ooookay.) Puns aside, Byrd does look better than his immediate contemporaries.

Tanner Roark (46%) has been a pretty solid all-around contributor for Washington. Chances are he can help your WHIP and Wins, in particular. 

Dexter Fowler (44%) is still doing a little of everything. I’m gonna make the early call that the Astros won the trade that brought him in, since it looks like he can hit .280 outside of Coors. 

Speaking of Astros, I normally make a point of ignoring their pitchers, but Collin McHugh (42%) has 60 K’s in 54.1 IP, and Houston isn’t so bad that they haven’t been able to manage any wins for him. Like Dallas Keuchel before him, McHugh looks like he might have some real fantasy value. Where do the Astros find these guys?

If your format makes it easier to stash minor leaguers than DL players, Taijuan Walker (41%) definitely needs to get picked up. Actually, he should probably be picked up anyway. 

Adam Lind (40%) still seems to deserve more ownership, though even I’m starting to wonder if he’s going to hit for any power.

Kendrys Morales (34%) must’ve been working out, or playing t-ball, or something, because he’s already got a game played and a batting average. He was always fantasy-viable, so hurry and pick him up while your opponents assume he’s playing extended spring training or something. Just because he didn’t land with Texas doesn’t mean he shouldn’t land in your CI slot (at which he is eligible, at least in the ever-flexible Yahoo! format). 

Garrett Jones (34%) is playing pretty good baseball too, proving that shallow leaguers everywhere already have their 1B, CI, and Util slots already filled. Actually, leagues this shallow probably aren’t using that CI position, are they? That’s why they’re shallow…. 

Juan Francisco and Adam Dunn (both 32%) are useful as homer-only players off your bench, though if you’re relying on them to play everyday, your league is probably deep enough that they’re already owned…by you. 

No, there are no middle infielders or catchers that I want to pick up at this level of ownership. Why? Because in shallow leagues you don’t have any business relying on players from the weaker positions. Also, there aren’t any good middle infielders, and I pretty much assume that shallow leagues are one-catcher affairs and that you've got that one covered on your own.

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Trevor Bauer (29%) is generating serious strikeouts (35 whiffs in 28.2 IP) without completely destroying your WHIP (1.29). If that’s the category you need, make this move.

Bartolo Colon (29%) may not have attractive season stats, but you have to love his control. 

Brad Miller (29%) has shown some recent signs of improvement. He’s worth keeping an eye on if you’re hurting at short. If you’re really hurting.

Danny Santana (27%) is off to a red-hot start. I have no idea if he’s for real, but he plays three positions and I’m willing to drop a fringy player to keep him on my team just in case he keeps producing at anything close to this level. Actually, he doesn’t even have to come all that close, since he’s hitting a ridiculous .364 in 77 AB.

B.J. Upton (27%) has provided some of his old power and speed (5 homers, 10 steals). If you want to take chances with your batting average, you could do worse than Upton.

Corey Dickerson (25%) should be getting more playing time. He’s worth a chance, though most people expect him to be overexposed in a full time role.

Gerardo Parra (23%) does a little of everything. I mean, really, a little. But still—it’s better than doing none of anything, right?

I actually just dropped James Loney (21%), who hasn’t been helping my batting average like he’s supposed to. (Mostly because I had Joey Votto come off the DL, actually.) But he’s been a pretty consistent batting average guy, and I do expect him to pick it back up over the course of the season. He’s still hitting about .280, and ought to end up between there and .310 by season’s end.

Marcus Stroman (20%) pitched quite nicely against St. Louis last time out, and Toronto seems willing to trust him to work things out at the Major League level. Could be a real gem. 

Denard Span (20%) is holding his average up still, and with nine steals, is managing some decent speed too. Better than your fifth OF, almost guaranteed.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

In deep leagues, decent pitchers on good teams are hard to find, but if you need wins, I still suggest Jaime Garcia (19%) because he fits just that description. 

Kolten Wong (19%) has turned up his game since returning to the Majors, and he’s contributing eight steals on the season. Probably worth your MI slot.

Brock Holt (16%) has been hitting very well in replacement of Will Middlebrooks. So far, it’s mostly come in batting average, which may or may not be believable. But at this level, you know you can’t wait to believe a player is for real to pick him up. 

Josh Harrison (15%) has also been putting up some very nice numbers, with a little power, a little speed (really, a little), and a solid average. As a bonus, he’s eligible at second and third in Yahoo! leagues, as well as his OF position. How much playing time he continues to receive now that Polanco is coming up is, however, still uncertain.

Tommy Milone (14%) isn’t going to be a strikeout pitcher anytime soon, but he’s decent, and comes with the help of a good team and a friendly ballpark. Expect decent Wins and ERA. 

Mike Aviles (13%) plays all three premium infield positions and doesn’t hit that badly. 

Chris Owings (12%) stubbornly refuses to become bad: he could approach a 15/15 season. At shortstop. 

Josh Tomlin (11%) is still rocking a sub-1.00 WHIP. Always good with control, so far he’s managed not to allow too many hits either. He could be a nice pickup.

Jacob deGrom (10%) keeps pitching well, with nearly a strikeout per inning and a decent WHIP.

Kevin Gausman (7%) is finally looking like he might be able to deliver on his promise.



Stock Watch: Short-Term Gains

Sometimes you need to look at the big picture with a player, to see his numbers in the context of his current season, his recent-years trends, and even his entire career arc. 

Specifically, that time is draft day. It isn’t today. That’s why—like last week—we’ll be putting on some short-term blinders and looking at short-term trends, hoping for short-term gain. Basically, we’re taking the title of this column literally and playing the fantasy stock market. Fortunately, we (probably) can’t tank the world economy if we screw up. 

But to be on the safe side, we’ll emphasize the waiver wire instead of telling you to trade every player on your team for Edwin Encarnacion

Trade For 

Albert Pujols looked like he was back in April—but he’s rocking just a .216 average for (essentially, it’s the last 30 days anyway) May. I’m still more encouraged by Pujols showing us good play than I am a lousy average, but his owner might be getting antsy. Looks like a good opportunity to me.

What’s up with Buster Posey? I almost tried to trade for him and maybe I should have. Unless you find out about an injury, trust stars to return to their starry level and make offers on them when they slump. 

Masahiro Tanaka is showing absolutely no sign of slowing down. Sometimes it takes  another trip around the league for that to happen (I keep thinking about Dontrelle Willis for some reason, but that can’t possibly be fair), but I’m more encouraged by the sustained success. Match up with an owner looking to sell high if you need premium pitching.

Evan Longoria is too good a hitter to keep up a powerless, sub .270 average, right? Right. Take advantage.

It appears time to admit that John Lackey is good again.

Xander Bogaerts is hitting the ball very well and is worth thinking about if his owner hasn’t already started to depend on him. 

After an atrocious April, Khris Davis has hit six homers and batted nearly .300 over the last month. Which one is the real Khris? It probably won’t take that much to find out…. 

Alcides Escobar has outstolen Billy Hamilton 10-9 in the last 30 days. That’s got to count for something.

Trade Away 

I was offered the chance to deal Chris Sale, and maybe I should have taken it: you get offered good stuff for pitchers with 0.50 ERA’s in the last month. Actually, I was offered Tim Hudson, and if I took that trade, I’d fire myself from RotoAuthority. Incidentally, I don’t blame the other owner for offering the deal—Hudson is a great trade away candidate too. 

Ian Kinsler’s .308 average and five combined homers and steals really isn’t that great—but with other second basemen underperforming or only just returning from injury, those numbers start looking pretty good. Deal him before his bettors straighten out. 

Nelson Cruz has 12 homers in the last 30 days, which would be impressive if Encarnacion wasn’t doing what he’s doing. Actually, it is impressive. Cruz is a high-quality fantasy player (as in, better than his real life value), but he isn’t this good. But it’s plausible, you know? Plausible enough for you to get good stuff back for him.

You absolutely have to trade Shelby Miller. Seriously, look up his advanced stats. Get him off your team. 

Chris Archer looks like he’s pitching good. If you don’t look at his WHIP. Maybe a trade partner won’t? Hey, it’s worth a shot.

It’s obvious enough, but George Springer is literally the perfect trade candidate: super prospect (check), double-digit homers in the last month (check)…uh, actually that’s all there needs to be.

Pick Up
Shallow Leagues (30-50% Ownership)

Drew Pomeranz (48%) is so far justifying all of us who’ve been suggesting him. Keep it up, Drew.

Mike Leake (45%) has been pitching pretty hot lately, (2.14 ERA, 1.10 WHIP). I can’t get excited about anyone with his low levels of strikeouts, but the short-term value could be there until he runs colder.

Trevor Bauer (32%)—now that’s someone I can be excited about (21 K’s in 16.1 IP). Not that his ERA (4.41) or WHIP (1.47) recommend him, but if you’re in need of counting stats….

Marcell Ozuna (46%) has powered five homers this month. That’s a lot better than most on the waiver wire—and better than most in my own outfields….

Jon Singleton (45%) is totally the headliner of this club. Well worth picking him up; though be warned that he isn’t a Springer or an Oscar Taveras-quality prospect.

Lonnie Chisenhall (41%) has given us the best month of his Major League life (I assume—I didn’t care enough to look it up), and the remotest chance that this is a sign that he’ll be a playable third baseman going forward means he should be owned. 

This isn’t a pickup recommendation, it’s just amazing: Jonathan Villar (39%) has an OPS of .343 in the last month. That’s straight-up amazing. And there’s no way that’s worth those five steals. Cut him. 

Adam Lind (39%) has batted .375 in the last month, mostly since returning from the DL. Well worth your CI slot.

Derek Jeter (34%) is offering an empty .280 average. That’s actually pretty good for a shortstop.

Medium Leagues (20-30% Ownership)

Ryan Vogelsong (30%) has been an all-around quality pitcher for the last month’s worth of starts. He’s done this before, so there could be something useful here. But be ready to let him go at the first sign of trouble, because when he’s bad, he’s very, very bad.

Jason Vargas (29%) is actually putting up similar numbers to Bauer, but the high-K’s, high-WHIP fits less well with his history, making the walks/hits scarier and the K’s less enticing.

Bartolo Colon (28%) has pitched pretty well this month and still has more starts than walks on the season. Hey, low-K guys look more exciting the deeper your league….

Jaime Garcia (26%) probably won’t keep striking out a batter per inning, but halfway decent Cardinals pitchers seem like a great source of potential wins.

Seth Smith (29%) continues to rake in a platoon role. You can use that, honest.

David Murphy (23%) and Gerardo Parra (20%) are both hitting decently well in  more or less full-time roles. 

Deep Leagues (Less than 20% Ownership)

Bronson Arroyo (17%) is separated from Leake in uniform but not in spirit, as he too is pitching well without getting strikeouts. Henderson Alvarez (16%) also appears cut from the same cloth, and is also riding a wave of recent success.

Roenis Elias (14%) might be settling in nicely, with a decent strikeout rate and a 1.15 WHIP. 

Tommy Milone (12%) is on fire, with a 0.66 WHIP and a 1.67 ERA. Of course, he can’t generate strikeouts either, but pitching for the A’s has brought him three wins. His situation recommends him to better season-long success than most.

Gavin Floyd (10%) and Josh Collmenter (9%) are getting surprisingly good results lately.

Jake Odorizzi (7%) has a pretty extreme strikeout total (37 K’s in 25 IP) and a WHIP that actually hasn’t been that bad lately (1.24).

Omar Infante (14%) isn’t hitting at all—but at least he’s healthy.

Denard Span (13%) is a great value at this ownership level: he’s batting over .300 with four steals in the last month. (Hey, I didn’t say he was a star, did I?)

Conor Gillaspie (12%) and Gordon Beckham (12%) are hitting quite well for the White Sox, with Beckham even knocking four homers. And I'd given up on him years ago....

Matt Dominguez (12%) has been surprisingly steady, with an average that doesn’t kill you and a bit of power.

John Jaso (12%) is the hot hitting catcher of the day. You never know how long it’ll last, but what if you just devoted your catcher slot to whoever happens to be on a hot streak? Maybe I’ll try it sometime.

Michael Saunders (11%) is giving us one of those months that remind us why he sometimes got drafted in past years. It won't last, but it doesn't really have to, does it?



Stock Watch: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

This week in Stock Watch, we’re going to take a look at some trade and waiver strategies that take the last month’s play into extra account, to see if any useful trends can be spotted. There's a lot to see, so let's dive right in.

Trade For

Jay Bruce has been injured and terrible this year, and more of both in the month of May. Why trade for him? For one thing, his owners are probably getting impatient. I remember last year, when he was also terrible (and not even hurt) at this point in the season…and still put up great overall numbers. I’d be willing to bet that he turns it around and gives us another high-power, low-average year. 

Wilin Rosario is someone to trade for if you still believe in him as a hitter at all. I do—two years of good power gets more than a couple bad months benefit of the doubt for me. Like Bruce, he’s been really, really bad, so get a good price and cross your fingers.

Jason Heyward isn’t doing bad this month—in fact, he seems to have finally picked things up. Maybe it’s the beginning of the Big Breakout that we all knew was coming eventually…for the last several years. Or maybe it’s not, but this game is about taking chances, and the Heyward upside is worth it.

Jean Segura is another guy with lousy full-season stats that are dragged down by a horrible April. He hasn’t been bad in May, but that might not stop his owners from being disgruntled—especially in roto formats, where the owner might not be looking too closely at week-by-week stats.

Adam Jones has the same story: his season stats look like they’re dragging down his roto teams, but he’s pretty much back to form for the last 30 days. Take advantage if you can, because I don’t see anything to worry about here. 

Mike Minor hasn’t quite gotten it back together since coming off the DL. It’s been a few starts and he’s been…well, he’s been OK. Maybe his owner is thinking that’s Minor’s level for the year. I ain’t. He’ll be back to form, hopefully on your team.

Jeff Samardzija is someone I told you to trade away last week…hopefully you didn’t, ‘cause I’ve changed my mind. This article put things in better perspective, but I wasn’t convinced until I saw for myself that his May K/9 is back near 9.0. Not only that, but there’s a great chance the woebegone Cubbies deal him to a team with a Major League offense sometime this summer. Don’t be afraid to admit it when you’re wrong: I’d make a deal for Samardzija. 

Trade Away

Mark Teixeira is clubbing the ball like crazy this month. What? I’d thought his career was pretty much gone, but I guess not. Actually, I’m still not that confident in him making it through the year with his power. Sell while he’s healthy and the number eight still shows up in his last 30 days’ homer production. 

Matt Adams isn’t putting up the power he showed last year—in fact, he’s giving little more than a BABIP-inflated batting average. I’m willing to end the experiment before his BABIP drops and Oscar Taveras takes his place in the lineup.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Yasiel Puig. (Now anyway.) But he’s hitting at as close to the top of his game as you can expect and his trade value probably won’t ever be higher. Make a huge splash and deal him. Your opponent will get great production, but you ought to get even more. 

George Springer is blowing up the fantasy-site advice articles with his red-hot May…so trade him. Yeah, he’s good, but rookie phenoms can almost always return more value in trade than they give in the lineup.

Jordan Zimmermann is not pitching well, and I’m not sure he has the strikeout rate to recover himself. I’d make a deal while people still have their preseason rankings in their heads.

Jered Weaver has been lights-out this month; point that out when you deal him, especially if your staff needs to be giving you more K/9 in an innings-limited league.

Yordano Ventura has something called “valgus stress overload.” (No, I didn’t make that name up—but I wish I was that creative.) I don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounds…bad, and apparently it affects in-game management of velocity. I’d deal him and hope that someone else wants to take a chance on his upside.

Josh Beckett just threw a no-hitter! I love a no-hitter as much as anyone (more actually, since I learned baseball from my Nolan Ryan-fan father), but that’s the best press Beckett’s getting all year. Plus, he threw a ton of pitches after relatively low innings counts for most of this season. By now, we all know the drill when it comes to high pitch counts and no-hitters.... 

Pick Up
Shallow Leagues (30-50% Ownership)
 

Phil Hughes (46%) is lighting things up this month. Who knew? 

Dexter Fowler (43%) is quietly playing pretty well, doing—as he does—a little of everything.

Ubaldo Jimenez (40%) has actually been pretty good in May, though his overall numbers don’t show it. He’ll never be great for your WHIP, but he’ll add some strikeouts.

Taijuan Walker (40%) is about to start his rehab. Go ahead and pick him up, because his ownership rate is about to spike. 

A.J. Pollock (39%) continues to hit very well. I don’t know if it’s a fluky hot streak or if he’ll be a good outfielder all season, but does it really matter? He’s good now, so if you need an OF, go for it. 

Chris Johnson (39%) has put up a good average for the last month, and that’s the only reason why you’d want him tackling third base for you. Well, that and the fact that all other 3B on the waiver wire are probably really, really bad (except those listed below--they're great).

Jon Niese (38%) is great. Pick him up. Last warning: his ownership ought to be in more like the 75% range.

Jose Quintana (37%) is pretty good too. Also last warning: his ownership ought to make it to the 50-60% range. 

Lonnie Chisenhall (32%) is finally hitting. Maybe it just took the specter of Carlos Santana taking his place at third, I don’t know. But yeah, he’s killing the ball. Pick him up on the off chance there was a reason Cleveland kept giving him chances out there.

Medium Leagues (20-30% Ownership)

David Murphy (30%) is almost graduated from this ownership level, which is too bad, because these are the kind of teams that need his brand of good-enough.

James Loney (26%) has got to be worth more than this—I mean, most of the shallowest leagues let you play multiple Util players, which means more first basemen, and getting help for your batting average is always useful. Anyone who already has Adam Dunn should get Loney too.

Ryan Vogelsong (26%) might be tricking us all, but he’s pitched like the (good) old version of himself lately. 

Dustin Ackley (23%) has been coming to play, and his 2B/OF eligibility is really helpful. 

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Ownership)

Kolten Wong (18%) has hit since returning to the Big Leagues. And hit pretty good too.

Jaime Garcia (16%) is a great add for teams in need of wins. It’s nice that he’s pitched well in his two post-DL starts.

Omar Infante (15%) is back off the DL. Hitting .270-ish is a pretty good thing for someone who can play MI and is available in 85% of leagues.

Matt Dominguez (14%) and Brandon Crawford (14%) are both offering a nice bit of power for deep leaguers interested in infielders. 

Roenis Elias (13%) has his control troubles but also has roughly a 9.0 K/9 for the month of May and a friendly home park. 

Junior Lake (11%) is really hitting well. Deep leagues can’t worry about whether or not a player is likely to keep it up—go with the hot hand while he’s hot. 

Conor Gillaspie (10%) is batting over .400 for the month. No, he doesn’t do anything else, but that’s one category more than most other waiver wire 3B available in 90% of leagues. 

Brandon McCarthy (9%) has pitched really good for a while now (excluding his most recent start, I know), and deserves to be much more widely owned than this.

Jake Odorizzi (9%) and Gavin Floyd (9%) have been strikeout machines for the last month. Odorizzi is more likely to keep it up, but also more likely burn in a fiery walk implosion.

Tommy Milone (7%) is not getting strikeouts, but Oakland is a very favorable pitching situation, with a great team and a friendly park.

Rafael Montero (7%) has shown some upside and some troubles in his first couple starts, but he’s done enough to be intriguing, that’s for sure.

Josh Tomlin (5%) was actually pretty good a couple years ago and he’s pitching nicely so far in May. More upside than one might guess. 

Nick Tepesch (5%) has had some success for Texas. They’ll have to depend on him, with about a hundred pitchers on the DL already. He ought to have a long leash and good run support.

Yunel Escobar (4%) is pretty mediocre, so if you need a short-term shortstop, he’s your guy.

David DeJesus (2%) is way, way better than almost anyone available in 98% of leagues. He doesn’t play 100% of the time, but he plays pretty well when he does. That’s probably useful in more than 2% of leagues.



Stock Watch: New Stats and Other Shiny Objects

It's always nice to get new things, so I was pretty excited to see that Fangraphs.com added a new stat yesterday: K-BB%. Who would I be not to take a look and see who looks like they need to be targeted in trade—or be sent packing—based on a stat? Okay, so it's not like it's new knowledge--it's just more convenient, but that's plenty for me. 

We’ll have to cover hitters next week, because overcoming my biases of interest in favor of new stuff and pitching at the same time is impossible. Impossible.

Trade For 

Who looks good based on K-BB%? Well, you probably aren’t going to pry Masahiro Tanaka (26.3%) or David Price (24.6%) from their owners without paying a fortune, and you definitely don’t want to trade for the stat’s leader, Jose Fernandez (27.8%) in a redraft league, but that doesn’t mean you can’t like the selection of pitchers below: 

Ian Kennedy (21.2%) is looking like his old, healthy, awesome self. No, I still wouldn’t give up Cole Hamels for him, as has been asked in the comments, but I’d definitely target Kennedy in a trade. 

Corey Kluber (21.1%) will be pitching himself out of the bargain space soon, but it wasn’t too late for me to encourage my wife to target him in trade a couple days ago. I’ll encourage you to do the same, probably for the last time. Hopefully I’ll be able to hype him up enough that he makes it into the “Trade Away” section below….

Alex Wood (19.9%) is pitching well enough that you should go after him if you can handle the wasted roster slot, especially in a keeper format. Him, I believe in…teammate Aaron Harang (18.9%), not so much. When Harang’s regression comes, Wood ought to be ready. And if Harang doesn’t regress…well, weird stuff is what makes baseball great, right?

Yordano Ventura (18.5%) isn’t getting as much hype as you’d expect, but he’s proving his supporters right with a strong K-BB%. 

“What’s he do?” candidate Jesse Chavez (18.2%) continues to be excellent and I’m starting to think he’s worth prying away from owners that are as surprised as everyone else at his performance.

Trade Away 

On the other side of the K-BB% things look a little less awesome. 

It’s time to deal Shelby Miller (5%), preferably to an owner that doesn’t understand that having a 5.34 FIP means your 2.79 ERA is probably going way, way up.

Jake Peavy (6.8%) may (or may not) have some trade value left from name recognition alone. Let him go and remember his Padre days fondly. 

R.A. Dickey (7.6%) probably isn’t giving anyone much hope, but this is more reason not to have it. 

A.J. Burnett (8.1%) was a big favorite of mine before the year began, but this number really spells trouble. Nothing like a new(ly sortable) stat to snap me out of denial. It’s backed up in the difference between his ERA (3.13) and his FIP (4.32). Keep in mind also, that Philadelphia (presumably, I haven’t been hanging out there recently) hasn’t heated up for the summer to turn the park into a homer-launching pad. 

Justin Verlander (9%) makes it onto this list thanks to a strikeout rate that has pretty much shriveled up and died. His ERA and FIP are almost perfectly matched (3.15 and 3.14), but his xFIP smells trouble (4.31)…but can advanced statistics really smell?

Pick Up

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Adam LaRoche (49%) is about to come off the DL. He was raking before the injury, so he’s worth a chance even in those shallowest of leagues in which he’s available.

Dallas Keuchel (48%) had two articles written on him yesterday, on Yahoo! and on Fangraphs. When two great oracles agree, it’s time to quit hating on the Astros and take a chance on a guy. Of course, almost half of you already have….

Eric Young (38%) is an all-worlder in steals, and the Mets don’t seem to care much about his horrible average. He should be more widely owned, even if just as a bench piece to protect you from his average and still sneak in some steals.

Trevor Bauer (36%) is up in place of Danny Salazar. More upside than most with that ownership level, though his previous MLB experience reminds us of his downside.

Final warning for Jon Niese (34%): he’s awesome. But I talk about him too much, so now it’s up to you not to forget about him.

Adam Lind (31%) has more pop than most in this ownership level. I’m inclined to think he deserves rostering in about half of fantasy leagues. 

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

James Loney (27%) should be more owned: seriously, .300 averages don’t grow on trees, even without power.

I don’t normally talk about relievers here, but Joaquin Benoit (25%) is really awesome (2.18 ERA, 0.82 WHIP).

Bartolo Colon (23%) hasn’t been nearly as bad as his bloated ERA leads one to believe.

Gerardo Parra and Dayan Viciedo (both 22%) have been passable if you’re in need, but OF continues to be pretty tough on those in medium and deep leagues.

Who before the season would have expected that Tyler Skaggs (21%) would hurt you in strikeouts (just 33 in 51.2 IP) but help in WHIP (1.16)? No one. So go for it if you need the WHIP really bad.

Drew Hutchison (20%) has a nifty WHIP and is striking out a batter per inning.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Another reliever for you: Dellin Betances (16%) has 42 strikeouts in 24.1 IP, so that’s pretty awesome.

Daniel Murphy (14%) is offering steady production and playing often enough to be useful.

Matt Dominguez (12%) has a little power and an average that isn’t as bad as you’d expect. Considering how many third baseman have sustained injuries this year, he ought to be a bit more widely owend.

Rafael Montero (11%) wasn’t bad in his first start, and his prospect-ness means that he’s got more upside than most. And at this depth “wasn’t bad” is pretty much the same as great.

Jake Odorizzi (9%) has control issues and his rate stats warn against trusting him…but he’s whiffing more than a batter per inning, so those searching desperately for K’s may have a use for him as long as the Rays do.

Corey Dickerson (8%) is raking. Anyone hitting that good should be on more teams, even if it’s destined not to last. You don't have to believe in him to ride a hot streak.

Brandon McCarthy (7%) showed up pretty high on the K-BB% list and is pitching better than his ERA would indicate. Of course, it would be helpful if Arizona would win some ballgames….

Lorenzo Cain (5%) is batting .295 in the last month and might be heating up a little. Hey, an empty batting average is better than nothing, right? 

Edwin Jackson (4%) has been pretty hot lately, and has more track record of relative success than most players on the waiver wires of deep leagues.

Barely on the Radar

These aren’t guys to pick up yet…just to keep in mind. Dylan Bundy is rehabbing and could be pitching (in the minors) soon. Stephen Drew is back with the Sox and should be with the team on Wednesday. Unless you’re desperate for help at short, I’d wait to see what his playing time shakes out to be before dropping someone useful to get him. Jason Motte has been activated, so pencil him in as once-and-future-closer-in-waiting, though Trevor Rosenthal will have to stumble big time for Motte to get his old job back..



Stock Watch: ISOlate your BABIP?

In this week's Stock Watch, we'll examine some hitters with high isolated power numbers you should be interested in, as well as some hitters getting too much of their value from BABIP numbers they probably can't sustain. Also, check out some top-prospect pitchers coming up from the minors....

 Trade For

If you're in the market for an ace, target Stephen Strasburg and his 12.17 K/9. That 3.42 ERA might keep his price down a little in some leagues, but his 2.51 FIP should reassure you that he's awesome. Corey Kluber is an even better target, but you better get your offers in before his 3.48 ERA starts crawling down to match his 2.41 FIP.

Michael Morse (.256 ISO) is killing the ball like the old days...of not that long ago when he was also healthy. Get him before his owners realize they can trust him.

Todd Frazier (.242 ISO) wasn't expected to do too much before the season, and his numbers haven't been flashy...but they have been good, especially at an injury-depleted third base position.

Jonathan Villar (.218 ISO--hey, ISO is this week's theme stat) already has more homers (five) than I expected him to launch all season. Though he started slow and doesn't look like a batting average guy, I'm intrigued by the thought of a high-speed-plus-a-little-power shortstop. If he keeps up the pace and puts up a 15 HR/30 SB season, that would be a high-value player.

Kyle Seager (.214 ISO) started so slow I had to drop him from one team, but his power is climbing back up. His full-season numbers still don't look awesome, which is always a trading bonus.

Trade Away

Jeff Samardzija  is supposed to be a strikeout machine, but 7.23 K/9 looks more like...um...well, like not that. His 1.45 ERA sure is nice, but a 2.92 FIP and 3.51xFIP suggest regression is coming. The lack of strikeouts, the apparently impending regression and the fact that he's got a super-snazzy ERA all make him a good guy to peddle away.

Garrett Richards isn't much of a household name, but he's been pretty productive so far, with a 2.80 ERA and a 2.75 FIP. Why trade him away? Because a look at his 4.0 BB/9 and 0.2 HR/9 tells me that his peripheral numbers are the ones in line for a regression. Beware.

Marlon Byrd is rocking an obscene.424 BABIP. (Okay, I don't know how that's "obscene," except that that'll describe the words fantasy owners have for him when the BABIP comes down.)

Shin-Soo Choo has a .415 BABIP that's leading to a very nice average...but where will the average go when the BABIP does? I'm not saying he's a candidate to crater (like some of these other guys), but his trade value probably won't go much higher than it is now.

Emilio Bonifacio (.394 BABIP) Brett Gardner (.386 BABIP) should be dealt to anyone who needs steals, because it looks like a matter of time before they turn back into one-category players.

Matt Adams was interesting before the season for his power, but he's got only two homers and his . 375 BABIP is all that's sustaining him as a fantasy player right now.

Pick Up*

*Percentages are Yahoo! league ownership rates.

Shallow Leagues

Alcides Escobar (44%) has earned his forgiveness for 2013. Pick him up.

Derek Norris (34%) is a catcher and he's raking. In the revolving-door life of two-catcher leagues, that's all that matters.

Jon Niese (41%) was once good. Then he was bad because he was injured. Now he's pitching great. Hmm...

How many more times should I recommend picking up Josh Beckett (30%)? Good ERA, check. Good WHIP, check. Good chance for wins on a good team, check. Striking out a batter per inning, check.  

Medium Leagues

Adam Lind (29%) is back from injury and an above-average power source.

Gregory Polanco (28%) is killing the ball in the minors. Maybe only 28% of leagues have room to stash a minor leaguer that's probably coming up just after the super-two cutoff...but I think it's more than that.

James Loney (27%) is what he is: a safe batting average first baseman. Given the number of Mark Reynoldses in the world, a guy like Loney has more value than this just because he's different.

Dustin Ackley (21%) has been hitting pretty well for the last couple weeks. As a lifelong Mariners fan, no, I don't believe he'll keep it up. As a semi-objective observer, I'm willing to take a chance on a guy who's eligible in the infield and outfield and riding a hot streak.

Deep Leagues

I talked about Drew Pomeranz (18%) yesterday. Pick him up.

Mike Zunino (15%) is on a hot streak, catches, and was a pretty good prospect. Mariner or not, that's probably worth more than 15% ownership.

A.J. Pollock (15%) is someone I've been ignoring for a while, but he's hitting the ball and seems to do a little of everything.

Kevin Gausman (12%) is scheduled to come up for Baltimore, while Rafael Montero (12%) is joining the Mets' rotation. Both are worthy prospects and ought to be added in a lot of formats.

Carlos Quentin (7%) is coming off the DL. The reason one rarely drafts Quentin is because he's always hurt, not because he can't hit. I can't say how long The Big Q (okay, I made that nickname up) will be in the lineup, but he's worth adding while he's here. 



Stock Watch: Saturday Waiver Wire Special

No, it’s not Wednesday, but it’s “Stock Watch” day anyway. I humbly thank our technical difficulties for the chance to get a few more days of data before putting this article out for everyone. By the way, there was so much good fruit on the waiver wire that I couldn’t bear to trim the list to make room for some pretty questionable trade advice…so enjoy a week of waiver suggestions and I promise that I’ll make the trade for/away advice up to you next time.

If I remember.

As always, ownership percentages are from Yahoo! and you can expect all the numbers to be higher (and harder to find) on CBS.

Shallow Leagues

I hate playing in shallow leagues. Why? Because it just feels so wrong that players like these are unowned! I want to pick everyone up. So help me out, by lifting these guys off your waiver wires at least, and giving me a little sanity back.

Miguel Montero (49%) is hitting again. Come on: a long track record of success and a good start to the season should be enough to forget about 2013. At least at catcher.

Eric Young (47%) and Rajai Davis (45%) should be owned in every daily 5x5 league for their steals value alone. Speedsters make the best bench subs (‘cause they steal much more often than low-quality power guys hit home runs), and Davis is actually hitting the ball, which could lead to more playing time.

Speaking of “low-quality power guys,” Adam Dunn (37%) is clobbering the ball. It’s worth noting that he’s only a lucky BABIP away from being a real stud. Even without the luck, he’s worth owning in more leagues than this.

Marcell Ozuna (33%) is off to a pretty hot start. The great thing about young guys is that sometimes they are that good. Or, at least, still good enough to start after they cool off a bit.

Corey Hart (31%) isn’t playing pretty well, which seems to suggest he’s healthy—which was the only reason he wasn’t widely owned in the first place. Time to pick him up.

Wily Peralta (41%) isn’t generating the strikeouts we’d hope him to, but he is pitching well. Very well.

Dan Straily (38%) does not seem to be pitching well, but check out his strikeouts and walks—he’ll be fine.

Jenrry Mejia (35%) is still this unowned? Seriously, pick this guy up. Not-that-bold-prediction: he’s a top-50 starter this year, easy.

Nathan Eovaldi (30%) is someone I duly ignored in the preseason, but he’s generating some whiffs and having success for a Marlins squad that might be less horrible than anticipated. Or they might be, but that doesn’t change the fact that Eovaldi has been pretty decent so far.

Medium Leagues

Alcides Escobar (28%) has been much, much better than last year. Actually, that phrase shouldn’t buy him anything, since he was so epically bad in 2013, but he’s been more than playable this season, which is likely better than several teams in your league can say about their shortstop production.

Mike Moustakas (27%) has not been good, but there is a glimmer of hope: of his 11 hits on the season, 10 have come in the last two weeks. Good for a batting average over .200! Hey, hope is hope with Moustakas and waiver wire third basemen.

Gregory Polanco (20%) is raking in triple-A and the Pirates are struggling. Sounds like only a matter of time to me. If you have room to speculate on anyone, you have room to speculate on Polanco.

Zach McAllister (24%) has been pretty good for Cleveland. Not, you know, great, but good enough to be better than plenty of guys more widely owned than him.

Edinson Volquez (20%) is getting some press for his magic turnaround, but should you care if he isn’t striking people out? It’s hard to get excited over someone with a K/9 under 6.00…but hard not to get excited about a WHIP under 1.00. I guess there are worse things for a fantasy team than the chance that Volquez has become the new Kyle Lohse…like the old Volquez, for instance.

Deep Leagues

Matt Joyce (18%) is raking in his platoon role. One imagines that more than 18% of leagues are deep enough to enjoy his contributions.

Tyler Flowers (17%) is hitting. He plays catcher. This is not rocket science.

Chris Owings (14%) is also hitting. He plays shortstop. He’s even stolen a couple bases. Again, not rocket science.

Ike Davis (12%) is not doing anything special, but a fresh start with Pittsburgh is more than enough to take a chance on his potential. Lucas Duda (8%) also benefits from the trade but is still required to hit at CitiField.         

Alberto Callaspo (11%) has the pleasant distinction of being eligible at 2B and 3B—and therefore also CI and MI. This is the sort of player to stash on your bench in case of injury in weekly leagues or those with limited acquisitions…and the sort to keep around to maximize your total at bats in daily leagues. As long as he’s no worse than mediocre, everybody wins.

Mike Olt (4%) is like Mike Moustakas lite. Okay, that’s mean, but both of them started out horrific and have spent the last two weeks being merely bad. That's improvement! Both play third base and both have shown promise in the past that may not have been unfounded.

Danny Espinosa (4%) might get squeezed out of the Nationals’ lineup when Ryan Zimmerman returns. But that’s a long, long ways away. Right now he’s a hitting second baseman, which is a rare and valuable commodity. If he keeps hitting like this, he’ll force Washington to keep him in the lineup anyway.

Josh Beckett (13%) has been more than not bad so far: he’s been actually good. If you’ve owned Beckett in the last couple years (or known someone who has), you may be skeptical, but he hasn’t allowed a run since his first (admittedly bad) start of the year. One thing he hasn’t done, though, is last more than five innings in a game. Maybe the Dodgers are protecting him from a third trip through the lineup, or arm fatigue, or whatever…but that can actually be to your advantage in leagues with innings caps.

Jonathon Niese (10%) is also pitching well. Before his injury-marred 2013, he was considered a top-40ish starter. I think he’s on his way back to that level. He should be much more widely owned.

Brandon Morrow (9%) is striking people out again. The other results haven’t been awesome, but it’s time to start keeping an eye on him at least. Because his strikeout ability is serious and the rest of the pieces could still conceivably fall into place. Or come close enough for his whiffs to be worth his WHIP.



RotoAuthority Unscripted: Ow! Ow! Ow!

It's been a painful year so far. Not for me, and (hopefully) not for you either. But it sure has for baseball players. Maybe every year starts like this and we all just forget, but there do seem to be more injuries going around lately than in times of yore more or less recent memory. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so, since I've heard theories on the matter blaming everything from youth baseball leagues to the reduced use of PED's. Aside from the question of, "If the major effect of PED's is to reduce injuries, what is the rationale for banning them and punishing their users?" I'm inclined to think there isn't anything truly special going on: if injuries happen at random intervals, we should expect to eventually see years when more of them happen. It's the baseball season counterpart to Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable.

Regardless of the underlying reasons (or lackthereof) for all these injuries, they're a fact we've got to deal with and if you haven't got an injured guy on one of your fantasy teams, you don't have enough teams. (Or you get tomorrow's newspaper today....) It started before the draft, with something like half of the top pitchers getting little red crosses next to their names on my cheat sheet: Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos, Doug Fister...Darvish is the only one who's even back yet. The flood spread to super-utility post-hype sleeper Jurickson Profar, hit closers Aroldis Chapman, Casey Janssen, and Bobby Parnell (helpfully after you drafted him), prospect Taijuan Walker, and lights-out Walker replacement James Paxton. The injury wave hit Jose Reyes' always-hurt hamstring, Ryan Braun's thumb, Bryce Harper's face (and Omar Infante's too), Josh Hamilton's brain thumb and seemingly half of the quality third basemen: Adrian Beltre and Ryan Zimmerman. Matt Moore may be headed for Tommy John, and Avisail Garcia will miss the rest of the season.

And this isn't everybody! It's just a few names I cherry-picked while skimming CBS's "Injury Report." There are plenty more.

What is the point of brining up all these names and injuries? Is it to show off how many baseball players I can name? C'mon, I posted the player rankings--I think we both know I can list a lot of ballplayers.

No, my point is to show you just how widespread the injury phenomenon is. Your team is not the only one in your league splattered in red injury news marks. You're not the only owner in your league trying to decide whether to keep Carlos Quentin or Josh Johnson stashed on the DL to accommodate the injury to David Robertson and let you pick up Shawn Kelley. Almost everyone's team is playing through some sort of injury--just be glad you aren't A.J. Burnett and trying to play through something called an inguinal hernia. Yeah. Ow. See: managing your DL isn't so rough.

If this were a self-help site designed to help you cope with the psychological stresses of the fantasy season, this is where I'd offer you some friendly reassurance and perhaps a shoulder to cry on. I'd help you feel better by telling you how many teams I own Beltre on, or remind you that Alex Cobb should still be a good pitcher in six to eight weeks. But that is not our purpose here; our reason for writing is nobler, more ambitious: it is to help you win. (Unless you're my competitor in the RotoAuthority Silver League. If you are, quit reading and checking your team so I can cash in.)

There's an old saying in English that goes something like this: "The Japanese word for problem is the same as the word for opportunity." I have no idea if that's true in Japanese, but it's a cliché in English now--and for once it holds true. I mean, it helps that you may be working with someone else's problem right now, but still.

Take what's happened to me in one league: someone decided to release Ryan Zimmerman instead of DL stashing him. Maybe that's the right call for their team (I don't remember their DL/bench situation--maybe they're just too crowded) and maybe it's not. On my own team, I have three third basemen and room on my bench for an injured upgrade. Ideally, I'd trade Jedd Gyorko or Kyle Seager and snag Zim off the waiver wire. We'll see. But it's an opportunity.

What about when my own players are injured and I'm reduced to picking up Conor Gillaspie or Juan Uribe? For one thing, I can let that be a lesson in the strategic choice not to back up a position because my starter is too good to afford losing anyway--not a good call. (Hopefully I remember that one next year.) Also, I can trade the hurt guy.

This, too, is an opportunity. For one thing, you've got the chance to deal a player you can no longer use. It's tough, because most of your league doesn't want to be trading for an injured player...but it's doable because some dope (me, in the previous example) thinks they can get value later by trading for an injured guy now. Ideally, the player you trade is someone like Zimmerman or Josh Hamilton--someone who was playing well before he got hurt. It doesn't work so well if they looked really bad before going on the DL. Say you trade one of those guys for another player you can actually use for the next couple months--but one who's worth only about half to two-thirds their value--essentially a fair trade. Not only do you get the near-term production, you also mitigate your risk. Injured players don't always come back the same, and often have setbacks that delay their return to play. It is good to get rid of injured players. If you can get more than a fair trade (say, a player worth five months of Hamilton or Zimmerman's production) even better.

With the right construction of rosters, this is actually the sort of trade that can benefit both owners. Star players can be worth much, much more than the next best guys. That's why Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout cost over $60 in Yahoo! auctions and nobody else usually topped $50. If you've got a backup worth more than your league's replacement level, offering something decent but below-market for an injured star can pay big dividends later in the season. Of course, it adds to your team's floor, but it probably adds even more to its ceiling. In head-to-head formats with playoffs, this is strategy is exponentially more useful.

What about when your team sustains a major injury? There's nothing good to be had from losing Matt Moore for much or all of the season. True enough (apart from losing his contribution to your WHIP), but even bad injuries have one bit of opportunity: the replacement player. Now, in Moore's case, that player is Erik Bedard. He's been good before, so it's worth watching to see what he does. That's sort of a middle-of-the-road case. With Beltre, you want no part of what Josh Wilson does in the interim. But with Zimmerman, the upshot is that Danny Espinosa comes up to play second, while Anthony Rendon moves to third. Is that a slam-dunk pickup? Of course not. But is it a potential opportunity now available that wasn't there before? Yup. And you don't even have to lose Zimmerman to cash in on Espinosa.

Don't despair of your team's injuries--everyone else has them too, to one degree or another. Use the injuries and the opportunities they present as best as they can by being active in trade talks and on the waiver wire. Andrew Gephardt wrote yesterday that the best thing you can do in April is nothing at all, and he's right...until you develop a need or sense an opportunity.





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