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.
Avisail Garcia – OF – Chicago White Sox
No matter the length of the leash given by a fantasy owner to his or her players during the early stages of the season, most people have cut their underperforming ‘busts’ and moved on. This tends to be the focus of this column, as players dropped from a roster see their respective values depleted. Considering pre-season hype has some merit, players who climbed up draft boards are never worth forgetting.
Avisail Garcia has yet to hit double-digit home runs in a season, despite entering the league in 2012. Entering 2015, Garcia was a top ‘sleeper’ candidate with the expectation that his power would emerge with a full-time role. In nearly 100 games played, Garcia remains in the single-digit home run club, and contains to disappoint.
At this point in the year, Garcia is nothing more than a ‘late-surge’ candidate, expecting to finish the season on a high note. His August numbers suggest that he may be settling into a better rhythm – .296 batting average and only one hitless game in the young month – and he has hit two of his nine home runs in the last four games. He may be too far gone to trust, at this point, but Garcia will continue to receive the opportunities to be an impact player for the upcoming fantasy baseball playoffs.
Mike Napoli – 1B – Texas Rangers
Players with low relative value tend to be a favorite target of those watching the waiver wire, but the one golden scenario that jumps to the top of the watch list is when a player gets traded to a team that will give him regular at-bats. The Texas Rangers re-acquired Mike Napoli from the Boston Red Sox in an effort to make a late-season push.
Napoli, a former catcher for the Rangers, spent 2011 and 2012 thriving in Arlington. In those two seasons, Napoli batted .275 with 54 home runs, including a .320 batting average with 30 home runs in ’11. While he won’t be nearly as productive as his former self – he has declined in home run totals every year since 2011 – the change of scenery may be the boost Napoli needs to put together a respectable end to the season, especially when he returns to a ballpark in which he has proven to be successful.
David Peralta – OF – Arizona Diamondbacks
Until the Arizona Diamondbacks win the National League West, they will remain one of the quietest teams in the league. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is easily among the top hitters in the game, yet he is often the last player mentioned when rattling off the league’s stars. At least, Goldschmidt gets his recognition in fantasy baseball circles. Arizona outfielder David Peralta does not.
Peralta has relatively similar numbers, this year, compared to his rookie campaign of 2014. Acting as protection for and batting behind the aforementioned Goldschmidt, Peralta acts as a perfectly cheap alternative for middle-of-the-order bats. In fact, he actually performs better as a cleanup hitter – .303 batting average and one home run for every 7.5 starts – than his overall season performance – .282 batting average and one home run for every 10 starts. Peralta gets left off too many rosters throughout fantasy leagues, and should be owned by anyone short on outfielders.
Jimmy Nelson – SP – Milwaukee Brewers
Tying wins to a pitcher’s value is generally flawed when assessing his actual performance, but it is necessary in fantasy baseball. If Brewers’ pitcher Jimmy Nelson pitched for almost any other team, he would look like a must-start candidate every week.
As of this writing, Nelson holds a pedestrian 9-9 record on the season, weighed down by the poor team for which he starts. Outside of win potential, however, Nelson touts a 3.65 ERA and 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. More impressively, Nelson has been hot for almost two months, sporting a 2.51 ERA with four scoreless outings in that span. The opportunity to secure a win each time he toes the rubber will hurt Nelson’s overall numbers, but his talent makes him an excellent late-season addition.
Joe Ross – SP – Washington Nationals
As far as prospects go, Nationals’ pitcher Joe Ross was relatively unheralded. Traded to Washington in a three-team deal that included San Diego, Tampa Bay, and featuring Wil Myers, Joe Ross – the younger brother of Padres’ Tyson Ross – landed in the nation’s capital. He wasn’t a completely forgotten piece, however, as one article spoke highly of the Joe Ross’ expected ascension into the Nationals’ rotation.
Ross has been fantastic since his early June-debut, allowing three earned runs or less in all seven starts. Only once – his first career start – has he failed to reach the sixth inning, and averages just over one strikeout per inning pitched to go with his 2.80 ERA.
As a new addition to the Major Leagues, Ross might see a regression as opponents are given more time to assess his game and adjust theirs, but Washington, as a team, has hit a recent skid. Ross was able to avoid the team-wide slump, and could see an even more significant boost if the Nationals get back on track. Either way, the young right-handed pitcher has a bright future, and is already dealing in the present.
Jon Gray – SP – Colorado Rockies
“You can’t own a pitcher in Colorado.” In every sport, there are the popular phrases repeated throughout the league. For baseball, the accepted belief that Colorado will always be a haven for hitters is so second-nature that Nolan Arenado’s road numbers – 17 home runs compared to 10, at home – are considered an aberration. This same concept is carried through to the team’s pitchers. No matter how good a prospect appears to be, few actual expect him to deliver in the thin air of Colorado.
Something has to give. There is never a true guarantee in sports, and counting out a pitcher simply because his predecessors have failed is a flawed mentality. Maybe he won’t have it, but he will have the chance to prove it.
Jon Gray, the third overall pick of the 2013 Amateur Draft by the Colorado Rockies, made his Major League debut on August 4th – four innings, two earned runs, and four strikeouts. MLB.com listed Gray as the #16 prospect prior to 2015, and given that the Rockies are likely playing out the remainder of their games as a tryout for next year, he should be able to make his case on his own terms. The perception of Colorado pitchers should bring his value down, but it is worth a calculated risk to see if Jon Gray is the one that breaks the mold.
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