2015 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 3 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re circling Archie Bradley, doubting Kendrys Morales, and keeping faith in, ahem, Alex Rodriguez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, preemptive links to your yet-to-be-recorded podcast?

I’ve got one of those (again)! Ryan and I had some scheduling issues last week, but we should be good to go for our first ep this week, which will tentatively be up on the site and iTunes on Wednesday. I’ll drop a link here once it’s up.

For anything else, hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

And if you haven’t tried daily fantasy baseball at DraftKings just yet, use this link and we’ll help you get started and provide you access to our #FrontOffice research/analysis for a month, free!

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP

It’s not often that a young pitcher can face Clayton Kershaw in his first start of a season, square off with Madison Bumgarner in his second, and come out as arguably the most impressive pitcher in both outings. Sure, Archie Bradley has benefitted from some BABIP and strand rate luck, but he’s also begun to realize the potential that made him one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 2 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re grabbing Drew Pomeranz, preaching patience for Clay Buchholz, and selling high on Adrian Gonzalez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, preemptive links to your yet-to-be-recorded podcast?

I’ve got one of those! Ryan Noonan and I will be recording a weekly podcast, starting this week. You’ll be able to find it here on the site and on iTunes. I’ll drop a link here once it’s up.

For anything else, hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Drew Pomeranz | Oakland Athletics | SP

Drew Pomeranz was terrific in his initial start of the season, using a pattern that never could have worked in his old home at Coors Field, but couldn’t be better suited to his new digs in Oakland. He’s succeeding by leaning on his fastball and using it more and more up in the zone.

Drew  Pomeranz Pitch Location

His flyball rate spiked up to 50% in his first start, but most of those were non-threatening; Pomeranz’ infield flyball rate jumped to 38%! That particular statistic is not sustainable (it’s almost double Jordan Zimmermann’s league leading 14.2% rate from last season) the approach that created it certainly is. Pomeranz battled some longball issues earlier in his career, but I’m going to write that off to the combination of youth and Coors. Since joining the A’s at the beginning of last season, Pomeranz’s fourseamer has been consistently excellent when thrown up in the zone, missing bats and allowing very little power.

Drew  Pomeranz Zone ISO

As “keep it down, keep it on the ground” approach becomes more and more pervasive throughout MLB, the A’s seem to be cutting against the grain once again. Based on what we’ve seen during his time in Oakland, Pomeranz has a great chance for continued success using his fastball up in the zone. He’s in a great park for it, flanked by acres of foul territory and supported by a cadre of terrific outfield defenders.

He’s a top pickup for anybody seeking starting pitching help.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Matt Garza, Jesse Hahn, Matt Latos

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 1 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re chasing down Micah Johnson, holding tight with Andrew Miller, and giving Joaquin Benoit a great big hug.

But before we do all that, let’s go through a quick introduction, since this is the first 3×3 of the season.

You’ll see this column in this place at (approximately) the same time every week. There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

There are three categories:

3 TO CATCH

These are guys who are available in most leagues are should be picked up, when their skills match your needs. This is the most traditional waiver wire column-y part of the article.

3 TO CUT

This is where things start to get a little different. These are players who are owned in most leagues, but players that I recommend moving on from, by trade if you can, but outright cutting in some cases. If they end up in this space, I don’t expect their current rate of production to continue.

3 TO KEEP

These are players who are owned in most leagues, but are looking like candidates to be cut or traded. If they end up in this space, I’m advocating patience, or if you don’t own them, a buy-low opportunity.

I’ll give you three players in each category, along with three possible replacements (or not, depending on the category) for each player. The idea is to give you the information in as useful a format as possible. Any questions or suggestions, hit me on Twitter @gerardowrites.

Let’s get it on.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Micah Johnson | Chicago White Sox | 2B

It’s been evident for quite a while, but finally, the Chicago White Sox have officially named Micah Johnson as their starting second baseman. Unfortunately, not nearly enough fantasy owners have done the same.

As Ryan Noonan and I discussed on our Second Base Preview podcast earlier this month, the position has a lot of solid players, but few stars. There aren’t many lower tier players who can make a meaningful contribution to any particular category. Except, of course, for Johnson.

He swiped 22 bases in just over 400 minor league plate appearances last season; ZiPS likes him to snag 31 bags with a full season’s worth of MLB playing time. That might be a bit aggressive, but even if he only makes it to 25, he’ll provide top-level speed for his position. Among second basemen, only Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, and Emilio Bonifacio reached that level of production last season.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Rougned Odor, Brandon Phillips

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Old Faces, New Places

Fantasy baseball players will have to wade through the dealings of a fantastically busy MLB offseason as they prepare for their 2015 drafts. Here, I’ll run down the impact and outlook for 30ish of the top players who changed teams over the winter.

Get your CTRL+Fs ready!

The Crown Jewels

Max Scherzer | Washington Nationals | SP

Scherzer has every reason to smile. Not only did he snag a seven-year, $210 million contract in his first try at free agency, he gets to move from a waning Detroit Tigers squad in an uber-competitive AL Central to a loaded Washington Nationals team poised to stroll through the weak National League East division. The Mets are improving, but remain an offensive mess, the Braves are bottoming out, and the Phillies just lost to the University of Tampa. Things couldn’t have worked out much better for ‘ole Max.

Scherzer is still very much in his prime. He finished fourth in baseball with a 27.9% strikeout rate last season. He ranks among the top 20 starters in whiffs per swing for both his fastball and slider, and that’s not including the near-30% whiff rate he gets on his excellent changeup. Oh, and he’s adding a cutter.

After Clayton Kershaw, there’s no pitcher I’d rather have.

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Alex Meyer

Profile

Alex Meyer certainly looks the part. He towers over the mound at a lanky 6’9” and sports an electric heater that has touched 100 and routinely sits in the mid-90’s. There’s certainly effort in his delivery and his mechanics aren’t exactly tight, but it’s a natural motion with an arm slot that uses his height to get excellent downward leverage and sink on all of his pitches. Meyer complements his anvil of a fastball with a sharp slider that he snaps off to right-handed hitters. He’s developing a changeup to attack lefties, but it still lags behind his top two offerings. It’s an overwhelming arsenal, but one that Meyer doesn’t show an ability to command consistently.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Dylan Bundy

Profile

Dylan Bundy is a walking lesson in prospect volatility. After rocketing through the Baltimore Orioles farm system and reaching the major leagues at age 19 in 2012, he blew out his elbow and sat out a full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Bundy returned in 2014 and showed flashes of his old self before suffering another (relatively minor) setback.

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Kris Bryant

Profile

Kris Bryant is a bad dude. The consensus top prospect in arguably the best system in baseball has overwhelming tools at the plate and a glove developing fast enough for him to stick at a position where the fantasy pool seems to get shallower every season. Bryant smacked a minor league-leading 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season, hammering out a .295/.428/.619 slash line in a half season at Iowa after the Cubs decided he’d already learned everything he could in the Southern League. They certainly weren’t wrong to move him along quickly; Baseball America ranked Bryant as the most exciting prospect in the Southern League and rated his hitting, power, and (infield) arm as the best tools in the league.

And ohbytheway… 2014 was Bryant’s first full season of professional baseball.

[Read more…]

Winter Meetings Update: Dodgers Trades Strengthen the Middle

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been quite busy this week. New GM Andrew Friedman has carved up the Winter Meetings and reshaped his now slightly less pricey roster. David Wiers wrote up the fantasy spin Matt Kemp’s departure, the highest profile piece of the Dodgers’ reshuffling, and Scott Barzilla handled the fantasy fortunes of LA’s primary trading partner, the Miami Marlins. Here, we’ll focus on the impact to the middle of the Dodgers defense, which is now stocked with four new starters.

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2014 Fantasy Football: Why Latavius Murray is a Playoff Starter

“If you’re not first, you’re last.” It’s a ridiculous life philosophy, but something that should absolutely be one of the critical building blocks of strategy in the fantasy football playoffs. All that matters is increasing your chance to win. Whether you lose by 0.05 or 50 is completely irrelevant. If you’re chasing a heavily favored opponent, you need to take every risk you can to get a victory.

And that’s why I’ll be happily scooping and starting Latavius Murray in one of my leagues. He might be the most unpredictable commodity in fantasy football right now, but there aren’t many runners that can match his upside. Sure, the Jonas Grays and Matt Asiatas of the world will occasionally plant their personal flag in the end zone for a week; that’s not who Murray is. He’s an immensely talented player stuck in a tragically warped organization. There aren’t more than ten guys in the league who are capable of doing this on a regular basis. [Read more…]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Three Keepers to Stash for 2015

At this point in the season, 90% of the standings in your fantasy baseball league are decided. If you play in a keeper format, it’s time to look to next year. After a little disclaimer, let’s run down three down-on-their-luck players to stash for next season.

Obviously, keeper values are highly dependent on the specific rules of your league. How many guys you can keep, what their draft pick or auction value is, and how long you’re able to keep them for are all critically important considerations and are all different based on your rules. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to make some basic assumptions about those values; for instance, that it’d typically cost more to keep a traditionally elite player that it would to keep a younger, more unproven player.

Cool? Let’s do this. [Read more…]