So where do you stand?
With almost seven full weeks in the books it’s time to switch things up a bit. I did this a few weeks back and it was a hit, but in case you missed it a more flavorful waive wire article is hitting your taste buds just in time for the busy weekend.
As you know I’m always cookin’. One of my favorite meals to put together is stew. It doesn’t matter what kind, as long as it is meaty and full of flavor. Well, that’s what we are going to do today, expect it isn’t one of the thousand varieties we have come to love, but rather a fantasy stew.
Believe it or not puttin’ together a winning fantasy team is a lot like cooking stew. It needs to be well balanced, but could be lacking in some areas as long as the other ingredients are strong enough to overpower what’s missing. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, all ingredients are not created equal, and neither should every statistical category in your fantasy league. It all depends on your strategy.
Consider each of the 10 major fantasy categories as the ingredients of your favorite stew. The most powerful, overpowering ingredient should be the one that you built your team around on draft day. Now, completely changing your strategy at this point in the season would be fantasy suicide, adding some depth in lesser areas won’t hurt.
Below I have listed a player that is either in line to or has already been a solid contributor in a given category this season, and could be of help to your roster. All players listed are owned in less than 40 percent of fantasy leagues between the major providers (Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS), so odds are these guys are sittin’ on the wire as we speak. So let’s get to it.
Collin Cowgill, OF (LAA)--Batting leadoff for the Angels can have its perks. Not only isn’t almost a lock for four or more at-bats, but you get to hit ahead of both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. That should have you sold without any further breakdown, but if it doesn’t here is something that should get your gears turning. Since the turn of the calendar two weeks back, Cowgill has logged nine runs scored, which is only four off the major league leader over that span. While his tenure in the outfield relies heavily on the health of Josh Hamilton, Cowgill should continue to see regular at-bats until the Angels all-star outfielder is done rehabbing in a few weeks. For now he is worth a shot, especially if his role atop the batting order sticks and he continues to post a high on-base percentage (.421 OBP).
Mike Olt, 3B (CHC)--I would be lying to you if I said I was a big fan of the Cubs third baseman. In fact I try to avoid players with little to provide outside of one category, but four home runs over his last seven starts has really changed my perspective of late. Although he is still hitting below the Mendoza Line (.181 BA), he has already matched his home run total from the month of April in the first two weeks of May, while needing only three more RBI to reach last month’s mark (11 RBI). The Cubs will likely continue to utilize Luis Valbuena against right-handed opposition early on, considering Olt’s struggles (.148 BA vs. RHP) but as the summer months approach the ball will only start to carry more out of the ballpark in the Windy City which will favor this slugger significantly. Like I said, he is a one trick pony. But that one trick could be of some value at this point in the season if you’re lacking in the home run department.
Juan Francisco, 1B, 3B (TOR)--The Blue Jays couldn’t have asked for more than what they have received from Francisco in the early going after claiming him off of waivers, as he is now sitting on a .293 average with seven homers and 18 RBI through 82 at-bats. His recent production has forced the Blue Jays to move third baseman Brett Lawrie to second base to ensure Francisco receives regular at-bats moving forward. In terms of run production, the hot-hittin’ Francisco is tied for fourth with 14 RBI in the month of May, trailing only Miguel Cabrera, Yasiel Puig and teammate Edwin Encarnacion. Will he be able to keep up this pace? Probably not. But he is hitting in a great lineup with a lot of high on-base percentage players ahead of him (.325 team OBP) which is only going to lead to more opportunities to pad his stats as the season progresses.
Eric Young Jr., OF (NYM)--Although Young has only one home run and six RBI to his name, his 15 stolen bases (2nd in NL) and 28 runs (6th in NL) have kept him fantasy relevant in his first year with the Mets. However, he hasn’t been getting the love he deserves and is still un-owned in over half of leagues throughout the major providers. Could it be his .236 average? Maybe. But that really doesn’t matter considering he holds a .326 OBP which is the reason why he is doing so well once on the base paths. Let’s not be picky folks. The guy is 15-for-16 in stolen base attempts (94.0 percent SB Rate) through his first 36 games, which if you do the math is one steal per every 2.4 games played. He is a speed demon that can benefit just about any team that is in need of stolen bases help. Just don’t expect to get much of any power production along the way.
Mike Aviles, 2B, SS (CLE)--No matter what team he is on, it seems like every year at one point or another this guy surfaces as a solid fantasy option. Since replacing Jason Kipnis in the starting lineup, Aviles has been producing at a high level, going 15-for-41 (.366 BA) in the month of May (10 starts) logging five multi-hit games in that stretch. The Indians will continue to turn to Aviles at second base for at least two more weeks while Kipnis recovers from an oblique injury giving him short term value at the very least. Considering his position eligibility (2B, SS) his value should be upgraded even more with the lack of production from other available middle infielders.
Bronson Arroyo, SP (ARI)--It has been a tail of two seasons for Arroyo in his first year with the Diamondbacks, starting 1-2 with a 9.50 ERA through his first three starts to now winning three straight trips to the mound allowing only one run in that span. While it may seem like he is playing with fire at times, Arroyo finds ways to win, having logged double-digit wins in eight of his last 10 seasons and is on track once again to reach that mark. He is now sitting 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.32 WHIP through eight starts, having allowed only 12 free passes in 47.2 innings. Now that he has a few starts under his belt with his new team, things should only go up from here, considering he holds a career .519 W-L percentage after the month of April. While he won’t do much for you in the strikeout department (5.10 K/9) you have to like the way he has been throwing lately making him a solid addition in almost any fantasy format.
Wade Davis, SP, RP (KC)--This former starter turned reliever has been on fire in the early going, having now logged 32 strikeouts over his first 17.1 innings of relief. Although he had never flashed this type of strikeout ability as a starter (career 7.17 K/9), Davis sure has flipped the script since joining the bullpen, appearing to have finally found his niche since moving to Kansas City. The fact that he classifies as both a starter and reliever only adds to his value in leagues with strict position designation not to mention he has allowed only four earned runs thus far. He may not get you starter results, but you really can’t swing and miss in adding Davis if you are lacking in the strikeout department.
Darren O’Day/Zach Britton, RP (BAL)--Although the Orioles have yet to make it official, it appears Tommy Hunter’s time in the closer role has come to an end following his third blown-save of the season on Tuesday. With Hunter likely out of the mix, the Orioles will likely turn to a closer committee using both Britton (LHP) and O'Day (RHP) depending on the situation which makes both pitchers attractive waiver wire options in the upcoming days. While they have only seven saves between the tow over the course of their careers, that number is expected to climb as long as they can handle the pressure. Until there is a frontrunner for the ninth inning, whichever one ins available is worth adding if in search of saves.
Drew Pomeranz, SP (OAK)--The Athletics appear to have struck gold through Pomeranz’s first two starts, have yet to allow an earned run in 10.0 innings or work. He is now sitting 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 1.01 WHIP between both the bullpen and as a member of the starting rotation, averaging just over one strikeout per inning pitched (24 K). Although the Athletics are taking baby steps with their young lefty (has yet to throw over 82 pitches), it has certainly helped out his production, at least in the short term. Considering his home ballpark and the offensive support he will recieve from one of the better lineups in all of baseball, Pomeranz should only continue to improve from here, giving him quality fantasy value for the foreseeable future. As long as he can limit his walks (8 BB) both his ERA and WHIP should remain at elite levels making him a solid add while on a current hot streak.
Dallas Keuchel, SP (HOU)--This is the second time Keuchel ha been featured in Waiver Flavor, meaning he STILL isn’t getting the respect he deserves. I mean come on people, the guy is sitting on a 4-2 record with a 3.06 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while averaging just under one strikeout per inning pitched (7.98 K/9). Over his last three starts he has allowed only three free passes (11 BB on the year) while having surrendered more than seven hits only twice through eight starts. If that isn’t a recipe for lowering your WHIP I don’t know what is. It’s not his fault he is a member of the lowly Astros (14-27) so let’s give him the credit he deserves, especially if you are in search of help in one of the hardest areas to adjust in all of fantasy baseball.