In every fantasy sport, playing the waiver wire is as important to long-term success as a solid draft. Fantasy baseball, in particular, contains an unprecedented amount of league scoring settings, ranging from rotisserie to head-to-head with subsets for each. Still, the large pool of players generally allows for midseason acquisitions that can help bolster any roster. It’s just a matter of finding the right piece.
Below are this week’s suggested waiver wire adds, currently owned in less than fifty percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Adam Eaton – OF – Chicago White Sox
If a leadoff man fails to hit for a high average or steal an excessive amount of bases, what good is he to a fantasy team? Such was the case for Adam Eaton throughout the early portion of the season. Known to be a hard-nosed, gritty ballplayer, his contributions to a fantasy roster were relatively limited, at his peak – that is, he likely would be a non-factor in any of the power hitting categories. Therefore, when he failed to do anything, offensively, for the majority of the 2015 season, he became completely expendable.
A bounceback for Eaton to his respectable .281 career average before 2015 seems out of reach, at this point, but he appears to have bottomed out. His recent stretch of play has boosted him back to a .251 batting average – he touted a mere .232 average at the end of May – and his five home runs are one short of entire career total prior to this season. The expectations for Eaton should be low, with any home runs and runs batted in purely a bonus, but he is the perfect candidate for cheap batting average, steals, and runs in an offense that could only improve if their leadoff hitter can remain on the rebound.
Luis Valbuena – 2B/3B – Houston Astros
Luis Valbuena is far from the first ballplayer to be classified as an ‘all-or-nothing’ hitter, but he takes the moniker to the extreme. Currently batting an eye-popping .197, Valbuena would be utterly useless if not for smashing 19 home runs. While either end of the spectrum appears sustainable, the middle ground is a welcomed landing spot for a second base-eligible hitter.
Valbuena’s approach – as well as the collective nature of the swing-happy Astros – suggests that his power numbers won’t evaporate, and the bonus is that his batting average could barely go lower. Even he notched two hits for every ten at-bats, he would be outperforming his current pace. If you could afford the batting average risk, add Valbuena and expect the home runs to continue.
Byron Buxton – OF – Minnesota Twins
It’s a little unfair to recommend one of the game’s most anticipated prospects, especially after he landed on the disabled list for what looks like the next month, but this is actually the best time to take the plunge. Byron Buxton sent the fantasy baseball world to the waiver wire the moment his callup was announced, but his recent injury has forced his owners’ hands, landing him back on the open market in two out of every three leagues. In addition to now being readily available, Buxton’s stint on the disabled list brings multiple benefits.
Despite being a consensus top prospect for years, Buxton wasn’t expected to advance to the Major League club as early as he did. Those who were willing to stash the prodigy in redraft leagues – forget about Buxton in a keeper league, as he should have been long gone for years – needed to do so by forfeiting a roster spot. Now that Buxton is on the Major League disabled list, he should cost an affordable DL slot. In addition, the rookie had struggled in his first foray with the Twins – a .189 batting average with only one stolen base – and some time off may prove to be the antidote. Now that he has already cracked the Major League roster, he eliminates all questions as to where he will spend most of his time for the remainder of 2015.
Buxton’s tools are indisputable, and the speed is as dangerous as advertised. He has already shown a natural ability to stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples, adding value to any league that counts total bases or slugging percentage. Simply put, he should not remain unowned at any point for the rest of the season unless his injury lingers longer than expected.
Matt Moore – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
2014 was a ridiculous, disappointing year for pitchers. Tommy John surgeries were handed out like flyers, and surviving the season unscathed was considered a noteworthy accomplishment. With the abundance of injuries, last season, comes a flock of returning arms, this year. Miami’s Jose Fernandez leads the charge in this category, but Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore is not to be forgotten.
Moore’s young career looked like it was on the fast track for multiple All-Star appearances before his 2014 campaign was cut short with an elbow injury. A 3.53 ERA and averaging just under one strikeout per inning, the left-handed pitcher has all the makeup of a potential ace. Unfortunately, the risk with adding Moore to a redraft league is that he might suffer during the early stages of his season, making up for lost time and recovering from a serious, albeit commonplace, surgery. The talent is too hard to ignore, however, and he is worth adding for the potential he brings for the backend of the fantasy season.
Mike Montgomery – SP – Seattle Mariners
In what has already been an incredible season for rookies, those without high acclaim or visibility tend to get forgotten. Seattle, one of the league’s biggest disappointments, is in the midst of unveiling what looks to be a potential diamond in the rough.
A former first round pick of the Kansas City Royals, Mike Montgomery has finally cracked a Major League roster, and is thriving. In five starts, Montgomery holds a 2.04 ERA, has allowed more than two earned runs only once, and has yet to last fewer than six innings. In his last start, he dominated his former franchise, shutting out the Royals in a five-hit, ten-strikeout masterpiece.
It’s easy to cast off any of Montgomery’s numbers and expect a regression, but his current 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched are actually less than his Minor League average – 7.4 across all levels, 7.1 in AAA. With Seattle already looking like a seller at the trade deadline, Montgomery’s role in the rotation should be safe. He could prove to be a more important piece to a fantasy team than a Mariners team going nowhere.
Drew Hutchison – SP – Toronto Blue Jays
Perhaps not one of the most popular ‘sleepers’ in the pre-season, Drew Hutchison looked like a sneaky candidate for a breakout year. That was, until he treated his believers to a 7.47 ERA by the first week of May. Cast aside and forgotten, Hutchison has reversed fortune, and now becomes a victim of a poor April weighing down his numbers.
Since May 9, Hutchison – playing for one of the league’s hottest teams – is 6-1 with a 3.63 ERA. Wins obviously operate as a function of one’s team, but the Blue Jays offense is not to be ignored, even saving the right-handed pitcher from a sure-loss in a game against Boston in which he allowed eight earned runs in just over two innings of work.
The question to be asked is simple: which is the real Drew Hutchison? In reality, it may not matter. He is in the midst of some of his best baseball, and his team hasn’t lost three consecutive games since June 2nd. He has turned a corner and deserves to be given a chance to ride out his performance until he or the team cools off. After all, it’s not too late for 2015 to be a breakout season.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Keith Allison/flickr