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With six weeks in the books we can now stop concentrating so much on week-to-week numbers and focus on month-to-month and even half-to-half trends when studying your fantasy baseball waiver wire. Six weeks represents about a quarter of the season and if that isn’t enough of a sample size I don’t know what is. With that said, perhaps it’s time we start looking at players like John Lackey, Jorge De La Rosa, and Zach McAllister as flukes and consider the possibility that they are ready for a good fantasy season. Let’s take a look at some guys that have gone ignored on the waiver market but deserve a shot to prove their fantasy worthiness.
Hector Santiago (Owned in 24% of Yahoo Leagues): Santiago’s spot in the rotation isn’t supposed to be permanent but he’s doing everything he can to stay. After dominating as a reliever, allowing no runs, three hits, and three walks in his first 10.2 IP while striking out seven, he’s actually improved since moving to a starter role. He gave up just one run, two hits, and two walks in 5.1 IP against Texas, striking out six. He followed that up by shutting out the Mets for seven innings while giving up just four hits and two walks and striking out eight. His next start is against the Twins which bodes well, too. As long as he keeps starting, he is absolutely worth owning.
Jeff Locke (8%): Locke is a former 2nd overall pick who went 10-5 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 8.3 K/9 in Triple-A last season. He’s pitching equally well right now, going 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.21 WHIP but his strikeout-walk numbers (22/19) haven’t translated well. That said, he put up 34 K/11 BB in 34 IP last season so he could still be a four-category pitcher worth owning anywhere as long as he keeps the other numbers down.
Chris Carter (20%): If you have a guy with nine home runs, 22 RBI, and 20 runs available in your league, you are crazy to leave him out there. He hit 16 in just 218 at-bats last season and is on the same pace this season. Yes, Carter is batting just .228 with an inhuman 54 strikeouts, but we’re talking about a guy with potential to hit 35-40 home runs this season.
John Lackey (11%): It’s hard to trust Lackey after a 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP disaster in 2011 and a season-long injury in 2012 but this is still the guy who put up a 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 7.4 K/9 over his previous six seasons. He’s pitching well now, owning a 2.82 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9 and is worth a pick up in most leagues even with three losses and multiple risks.
Jorge De La Rosa (11%): Jorge has given up more than three runs in just two of his first eight starts while allowing zero runs in four of them. At 32 and after multiple injuries, he’s a very different pitcher who won’t strike out 8+/9 like he used to but that’s a good thing. His change on the mound has led to a huge change in his stat line, 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. I think we’re seeing a very different De La Rosa, one that may actually be worth owning.
Zach McAllister (20%): McAllister is a former third-overall pick who went 17-5 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 180 K over his last 218 IP in Triple-A. Last season he looked solid in the Majors as he put up a 4.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 110 K in 125 IP. He continues to develop nicely, winning three games while posting a 2.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and striking out 33 in his first 43 IP. More impressively, he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in a single game yet.
Derek Dietrich (0%): We’ve seen this story before. The Marlins call up a raw 20-something out of Double-A and he is instantly dismissed by the fantasy community. The people that dismissed Jose Fernandez have failed to benefit from his 3.65 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 and the people that dismissed Marcell Ozuna haven’t gotten a piece of his .326 BA, one home run, five RBI, and five runs (five doubles too) in his first 46 at-bats. Dietrich is an infield version of Ozuna, an okay hitter with a lot of pop. In 2011, Dietrich hit 22 home runs in 127 games and 14 in 132 the year after. Before being called up he had four homers and 16 RBI in his first 28 games and already has a homer and three RBI after his first big league series. Don’t dismiss him as too young when he offers some good pop at second base.
Adam Eaton (35%): There was probably no rookie more exciting entering the season than Adam Eaton. Then he got injured and all the hype went away, leaving him unowned in 65% of Yahoo leagues. While it made no sense to draft him except in the shallowest of leagues, now is the time to buy as he is ramping up his rehab and could return as early as next week. While he has not shown a lot of pop, he has a career .347 BA in the minors where he stole 44 bases in 130 games last season.
Dayan Viciedo (23%): It baffles me that a 24-year-old with 25 home runs last season is available in more than 75% of leagues, even after a three week injury. Viciedo returned to the lineup on Friday and has since gone 5 for 12 with two RBI, two runs, and four walks. A former top 100 prospect, Viciedo had put up 20 homers in back-to-back seasons before getting called up for a full season in 2012.
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