Fantasy Baseball: Waiver Wire Wednesday – Brandon McCarthy?

Brandon McCarthy
Joe Camporeale USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe that the All-Star break is just around the corner? Already? It’s just over a month away and Minnesota is preparing for the summer classic in their new stadium. In fantasy baseball, some teams are already starting to call it quits, as there are a few teams in every league who just have had terrible luck with injuries or bad play. For those of you still in it, be sure to keep an eye on the waiver wire.

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 (if there is anyone worth picking up), and why you should add them.

Without further ado, let’s play the waiver wire:


Carlos Ruiz

At this point, finding a quality fantasy catcher is difficult. If you need one, chances are yours is hurt. Ruiz is not going to hurt you in batting average, which is huge for a waiver wire pickup. He is hitting .278 with two home runs, two stolen bases, and 11 runs batted in. Ruiz has also scored 25 runs, which ranks fourth among all catchers. You won’t get a ton of production from him in terms of power, but for a guy whose average is good, and who scores a lot of runs for his position, you could do a lot worse behind the dish.

Second Base

Tommy La Stella

Is it time to add the Braves’ new second baseman? He certainly has value if he continues to get at-bats. So far in just 38 at-bats, La Stella is hitting .368 with three runs scored, four runs batted in, and a stolen base. Can he keep that up? Time will tell, but the Westwood, New Jersey native can certainly swing the bat. He hit .322 in his minor league career, and it only took him 288 minor league games before being called up. La Stella will score a lot of runs, swipe a few bases, and maintain a good batting average, that’s all you can ask for from a second baseman. It’s odd, because he is the complete opposite of Dan Uggla, whose job he seems to be taking.

Third Base/Outfield

Brock Holt

XN touched on him two days ago in the Boston Herald. But just two days later, he still deserves to be written about. Holt needs a spot on someone’s fantasy team, simply because he is eligible at third base, and soon in the outfield. Holt is currently hitting .341, and leads all third basemen with 23 hits in the last 15 days. Get him on your team, and even if you have a stud at third base, he will be eligible at outfield before long.

Starting Pitcher

Brandon McCarthy

The great philosopher Plato once said, “A good decision is based on knowledge, not numbers.”

This decision is based on knowledge, but numbers back it up. As we all know, fantasy baseball is all about numbers, but there was something to Plato’s quote. We all know what BABIP, ERA, ground ball percentage, line drive percentage, and fly ball percentage are. But what do they mean?

Brandon McCarthy has a 5.13 ERA to go along with a 1-8 record. Why would you want to add him with those numbers? This is where Plato’s quote comes in.

McCarthy has the 14th-highest BABIP in baseball, but he has a higher ground ball rate than any of the 13 guys above him. His ground ball rate is 10th in the Majors at 54.8 percent, which indicates successful pitching when combined with a high BABIP. When ground balls are induced, a pitcher does a good job. But when those hits see their way through the infield, it’s an unlucky hit a lot of the time. McCarthy has been victimized by his high BABIP, but progression is coming. Why?

Meet xFIP. In addition to the numbers above, xFIP is another indicator for pitchers. xFIP is a number that shows how many home runs a pitcher should have allowed. McCarthy has allowed a ridiculous home run to fly ball ratio of over 20 percent. Which is an absolute outlier. What xFIP does, is it shows what should have happened, and it indicates future performance. Now, should have is past-tense, and it already happened. But it is yet another indicator of progression for McCarthy. His xFIP is 2.88, which is seventh in baseball, only behind Masahiro Tanaka, Stephen Strasburg, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, and Dallas Keuchel. For those who do not know, those are six of the best pitchers in fantasy baseball this season.

Plato also said, “There is no harm in repeating a good thing.”

The last time BABIP, xFIP, ground ball rate, line drive rate, and more told us a story named “Dallas Keuchel”. McCarthy is worth a shot, and at this point in the fantasy season, he’s worth the risk.

McCarthy pitches tonight (June 11th) against the Astros. The opposing pitcher? Keuchel.

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