2013 Fantasy Baseball Week 12 Waiver Wire: 3 to Cut, 3 to Catch, 3 to Keep
It’s Week 12 of fantasy baseball 3×3, where we’re dropping a friendly reminder about Corey Kluber, staying patient with Josh Johnson, and putting Mark Teixeira out of his misery.
3 TO CUT
Mark Teixeira | New York Yankees | 1B
Wrist injuries to power hitters are nothing to be trifled with, especially for a player entering his mid-30s. Even through just 63 plate appearances, Mark Teixeira looks like a different (lesser) player. I know it’s a small sample size, but he hasn’t swung and missed this often since his rookie year. His 30.2% strikeout rate is his highest ever, nearly double last year’s mark. If he maintains his current .182 ISO for the rest of the season, it’ll be the first time in his career it’s been under .200.
And oh, yeah, he’s hurt again.
Teixeira isn’t even a shell of himself. He’s “that annoying skin stuff between the peanut and the shell” of himself. He probably has to be owned in most AL-only formats solely based on playing time, but he doesn’t deserve your attention in mixed leagues.
I’d drop/trade him for: Adam LaRoche, Adam Lind, Brandon Moss
Jeff Locke | Pittsburgh Pirates | SP
In 34 innings last season, Jeff Locke had a 5.50 ERA.
Through 82 innings this season, Jeff Locke has a 2.19 ERA.
Though he’s surrendered runs about half as frequently in 2012, he hasn’t suddenly become anything different than the mediocre pitcher he was last season. I’d argue (and xFIP would agree) that Locke has actually been worse this season than last. His sparkling ERA puts him on a leaderboard with some of the best starters in the game, but he’s almost definitely the worst pitcher on the page.
Entering Sunday’s action, there were 22 other pitchers qualified for the ERA title with an ERA under 3.00. All 22 had a lower walk rate than Locke; 17 had a better strikeout rate. Without putaway stuff or pinpoint control, Locke has succeeded by riding a ridiculous streak of luck with men on base.
He’s faced 130 batters in those situations. He’s fanned 23, walked 12 and hit one. Of the remaining 94 batters, only 19 reached base safely. That’s good for a .194 BABIP; only Clay Buchholz has been more fortunate with men on base.
ZiPS has Locke projected for a 4.62 ERA the rest of the way, with a K/BB rate closer to 1.50 than 2.00. That seems about right. If you can anything at all for him; trade him now.
I’d drop/trade him for: Tommy Milone, Rick Porcello, Edwin Jackson
Trevor Cahill | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP
Last season’s career highs in swinging strike rate, strikeout rate, and FIP seemed to show that Trevor Cahill had turned a corner, that he’d turned into something more than the slightly above-average groundball specialist he’d been through his first few seasons.
So far this season… not so much.
Through 14 starts this year, all of those numbers have regressed. He’s inducing fewer whiffs off of his curve, changeup, and cutter, and generating fewer ground balls with his sinker. His .286 BABIP seems stable, but his .208 BABIP with men in scoring position won’t last long.
Cahill isn’t the pitcher he was last season. If one of your leaguemates thinks he is, now’s the time to make a deal.
I’d drop/trade him for: Rick Porcello, Chris Tillman, Edwin Jackson
3 TO CATCH
Corey Kluber | Cleveland Indians | SP
I know I said I’d try not to repeat myself, and I know I just wrote about Kluber a couple of weeks ago, but what can I say? I tried not to. I really did. I guess I’m just weak-willed.
Carson Cistulli has already staked his claim as the most fervent and visible member of the Corey Kluber Appreciation Society, but I’d like to think my adoration of the Indians’ new ace could rival his. Our own Brett Talley has joined the movement as well. Come on people, it’s time to jump on the train.
Over the last month, Kluber has whiffed better than ten batters per nine innings while keeping his walk rate under 5.0%. Even while suffering from an unlucky BABIP, Kluber has pushed his ERA below 4.00 and his WHIP to just a shade over 1.20 for the full season.
If you’ve been considering a pickup of Kluber, I can’t imagine what more you’d need to see beyond his eight-inning, eight-strikeout, zero-walk blanking on the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.
Kluber’s ownership has finally crept into double digits in Yahoo! leagues, but that’s not nearly good enough. I’d go on a hunger strike or something, but as we established just a few lines above, I’m weak-willed. Just pick him up, please.
To pick him up, I’d drop: A.J. Griffin, Jeff Locke, Phil Hughes
Alfonso Soriano | Chicago Cubs | OF
After finishing 2012 as the 32nd-best outfielder on ESPN’s Player Rater last season, Alfonso Soriano has slid to 44th through the first third of this season. He’s put up a decent batting average and he’s running significantly more often than in recent years, but those positive trends have been all but erased by a complete lack of power and run production.
Soriano’s HR/FB rate currently sits at 9.3%; in his 11 previous big league seasons, he’s never posted a HR/FB rate in the single digits. Sure, he’s getting older, but he hasn’t suddenly lost the ability to hit homers.
In 2011, Soriano hit 26 home runs with an average fly ball distance of just under 280 feet. So far in 2013, Soriano has hit only seven home runs, with an average fly ball distance of just under 279 feet.
As the power comes back, so too will the run production. Although Soriano’s .306 BABIP is right in line with his career average, his .213 BABIP with runners on base is almost 90 points worse than his career mark.
Soriano hasn’t changed. He’s still a Top 40 outfielder, and he’s still a player who deserves to be owned in more than just 54% of Yahoo! leagues.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Melky Cabrera
Andre Ethier | Los Angeles Dodgers | OF
I’m cop to it; I’ve never liked Andre Ethier. I always thought he was an overrated player, buoyed by batting average, RBI, and the bright lights of Los Angeles. The first two have largely evaporated this season, and the third has been turned toward another fella in the LA outfield.
After posting a .334 BABIP from 2010-2012 (15th among hitters with at least 1,500 plate appearances), Ethier’s BABIP has sunk to .280 so far this season. Consequently, he’s lost his value as a source of batting average, even as his plate discipline has significantly improved. Though he continues to lace line drives on better than 20% of his batted balls, his BABIP with runners in scoring position sits at .178, the tenth-worst mark in baseball and a rate unbecoming of a fifth-place hitter.
Something has to give.
I can’t guarantee that Ethier won’t be kicked to the curb when Matt Kemp comes back, but I can’t guarantee that Kemp comes back either. I guess I can’t guarantee that Ethier’s luck will turn around either, but if he does get an opportunity, I expect he’ll do something productive with it.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Shane Victorino, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Doumit
3 TO KEEP
Josh Johnson | Toronto Blue Jays | SP
My Fantasy Fix colleague Ben Duronio wrote an excellent piece on Josh Johnson’s over at FanGraphs after his successful return from the DL, and although he’s been pushed back a couple of days due to a blister, things are still looking up.
Although the result of his second start wasn’t as favorable as his first, his velocity improved drastically, jumping by nearly a full mile-per-hour on his fastball and sinker.
Blister or no blister, there couldn’t be a better sign for Johnson’s prospects of returning to form. I wholeheartedly agree with Ben’s assessment that he’s a must-own the rest of the way.
He’s on the schedule to start in Colorado on Monday and even without Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup, there’s a better than average chance things might go poorly. I might give some thought to benching Johnson for that one, but regardless of the outcome, he’s worth a roster spot moving forward, especially in shallower leagues.
UPDATE (6/18): I was wrong out both the location and outcome of Johnson’s start. He was spectacular against the Rockies IN TORONTO on Monday.
I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Tim Hudson, Travis Wood, Justin Masterson
Adam Lind | Toronto Blue Jays | 1B/DH
Adam Lind has always had plenty of power; the trouble has been showing enough discipline at the plate to unlock that power. Lind spent way too much time in the minors for a guy with that much ability.
For the first time since 2009, it seems that Lind has found that discipline.
His metamorphosis began at AAA last season, when we bumped his walk rate above 10% while tearing the Pacific Coast League to pieces. That trend continued when Lind was promoted; he posted his best K/BB ratio and lowest chase percentage since his 2009 breakout.
Both figures have improved even more this season this season. He’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone than ever before. Consequently, he’s striking out less often, walking more, and making better contact when he does choose to swing.
His HR/FB rate is just a hair under his career average, but given his newfound plate discipline, I’d expect it to rise to near career-high levels.
Clearly, Lind isn’t going to hit .340 the rest of the way; he’s probably not even going to hit .300. But when his BABIP fades, he’s still going to hit for plenty of power.
I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko
Chase Headley | San Diego Padres | 3B
Chase Headley finished 11th in baseball in fly ball distance last season, averaging nearly 305 feet per fly ball. So far this season, he’s 90th in baseball. His average of 287 feet is almost 20 feet worse than last year’s mark and it’s nearly identical to his 2011 distance, when he hit only four home runs in 439 plate appearances.
When I put Headley’s name down on this list, I really wanted to write that he’d bounce back to last year’s form. I really did.
It ain’t happening.
Chase Headley’s not going to hit 30 home runs again; he’s probably not even going to hit 20. But now is not the time to trade him. Not when his BABIP is at a career low. Not when he’s hit one home run in his last 16 games.
If you’ve got a bench spot, park Headley there until he shows some positive signs. Then you can trade him.
I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Todd Frazier, Martin Prado, Pedro Alvarez
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