Despite a layer of snow on Coors Field, it really is the heart of fantasy baseball season. The seventh week is upon us, and for most of you, this is approaching halfway for your fantasy baseball regular season. In seven more weeks we will be at the All-Star break. “Time flies when you’re having fun” is the old cliché, but if you are not near the top of your league, that fun diminishes. Be sure to keep an eye on the waiver wire to enhance your chances to climb the rankings.
Whether it is a free agent pool, a budget-based system, or weekly waivers, playing the wire is a key element to winning your fantasy baseball leagues.
Each week, XN Sports will present an option at each position, and why you should add them.
Without further ado, let’s play the waiver wire:
Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics
This is one of the few times that a platoon generates fantasy relevant players. Norris is definitely relevant to fantasy baseball, and if you need help behind the plate, he could be your guy. So far this season, Norris is hitting .385 with four home runs and 19 runs batted in, and he only has 78 at-bats. Splitting time with John Jaso is tough on his fantasy value, but not as much as you think. In the last 15 days, only three catchers have more hits than Norris, and zero catchers have more runs batted in. Norris will produce, and from the catcher’s slot, that is hard to find.
First Base/Third Base
Juan Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays
With Francisco eligible at both corners, and the lack of others worth a waiver pickup, he is our selection for both positions this week. So far this season, Francisco is hitting .268 with five home runs and 12 runs batted in. He has around half the at-bats of most first and third basemen, so prorating his production to the average, he would have around eight home runs and 20 runs batted in, which would rank among the top 15 in among all first and third basemen combined. Be sure to add him if you need help at either corner infield position.
Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
Espinosa is the option again this week at second base, because the position is scarce. Just a handful of hitters at second base produce enough to be viable options in fantasy baseball, and all of them are not available. Espinosa will continue to get at-bats until Ryan Zimmerman gets back from injury, and until then he is a safe play. In the last 30 days, he is fourth among second baseman in home runs, eighth in stolen bases, 14th in total bases, and has scored the same amount of runs as Brandon Phillips.
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
Escobar has been a very solid fantasy option so far this season, yet he is somehow available in more than half of fantasy leagues. In the last month, Escobar is tied for fourth among shortstops with 12 runs batted in, second in stolen bases with 10, fifth in total bases with 44, fourth in runs scored with 18, and he is hitting .309. The only full-time shortstop with a higher batting average in the last month is Troy Tulowitzki.
Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks
Parra has been absolutely ridiculous of late, and he will be the hot add on the waiver wire this week in your fantasy leagues. In the last two weeks, Parra is hitting .321 with three home runs, five runs batted in, nine runs scored, and has even stolen a base. Only Yasiel Puig has more hits in the last two weeks, so be sure to add Parra while he is hot.
Jonathon Niese, New York Mets
Shockingly, Niese is available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues, and that number will decrease drastically once fantasy baseball players realize what he has done so far this season. Niese has a 2.17 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP so far this season, and he has struck out 36 batters while winning two games. Niese has given up three runs in just two of his starts this season, and has given up more than one earned run just three times so far. Add Niese before your league mate does.
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
If you frequent this column, or play fantasy baseball regularly, you know there is a new closer every single week. This week is no exception with the Indians making Allen the new closer. Allen has a 1.76 ERA so far this season, and has struck out 23 batters in just 15.1 innings of work. Add him if you need saves, but he will help you in the strikeout column as well.