2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep
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, trade deadline quandries? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.
Sorry in advance that this one’s shorter than my normal posts; I’m on vacation this week and stuck with some rather unreliable internet. I’ll be back in full force next week. And who am I kidding, you’re busy with fantasy football draft prep anyway. Speaking of which…here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide.
3 TO CATCH
Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues
Oswaldo Arcia | Minnesota Twins | OF
“Light-tower power” is probably overused, but I think it’s a fair designation for Oswaldo Arcia. He ranked 14th in baseball in average fly ball distance last season and though he currently ranks 64th in the league, the nine bombs he’s cranked in the second half have certainly helped to move him up the ranks. Arcia has battled nagging injuries all season, but has still managed to hit 19 homers in not even 400 plate appearances between Triple-A and the big leagues while maintaining ISOs above .200 at both levels.
If Chris Carter was already grabbed in your league, you could do a lot worse than Arcia as a backup plan.
Drew Smyly | Tampa Bay Rays | SP
The man who will henceforth be known as “the other guy in the David Price trade” is settling in quite nicely as a Tampa Bay Ray. Since moving south, he’s logged 29 innings in four starts, posting a sparking 1.55 ERA along the way. His results on batted balls have improved, but only some of that improvement is due to better luck. The rest of the credit should go to Tampa Bay’s outstanding defensive outfield. Desmond Jennings is among the best center fielders in the game, Matt Joyce is at least average in left, and Kevin Kiermaier is a burgeoning defensive superstar in right. It’s a tiny sample, but his UZR/150 for that position is outrageous. Smyly’s thrown even fewer ground balls in Tampa than he did in Detroit, but with that back line behind him, I’d be fine if he never got another grounder again.
If that’s not enough, Mike Podhorzer’s xK% has Smyly pegged for a strikeout spike in the last month of the season. Hang on and wait for the whiffs to roll in.
Pat Neshek | St. Louis Cardinals | RP
Based on my personal experience, this one is really only relevant for people in ESPN leagues, since ESPN’s standard format has a games started limit, rather than an innings pitched limit. In cases like that, a guy like Pat Neshek is a tremendously valuable late season pickup. If your league has a starts limit, a guy like Neshek is a great and widely available source of strikeouts that won’t eat up your pitching inventory.
Neshek has been quite lucky in the BABIP and and strand rate departments, but his 30.1% strikeout rate is plenty good enough, especially when it comes alongside a K/BB ratio of nearly 10:1. He’ll continue to get plenty of high leverage work for the Cardinals and continue to be a great pickup in deeper formats.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Mike Minor, Justin Masterson, C.J. Wilson
3 TO CUT
Players to be traded or dropped, depending on the depth of your league
C.J. Wilson | Los Angeles Angels | SP
If there’s still time before the trade deadline, every C.J. Wilson owner should be aggressively looking to deal. His surface results have been better lately; Wilson has won two of his last three starts, posting a 1.96 ERA in 18.1 innings. He’s also walked ten and struck out only ten during that stretch, a fantastically fortunate 86.2% strand rate has helped him keep runs off the board.
Wilson hasn’t given up many runs lately, but he’s been just as shaky as he’s been all year. He’s struck out more batters than he’s walked just once in his last six starts; he got pasted for four runs in 5.1 innings by the Dodgers in that outing.
Wilson is surviving on name value alone at this point, there’s no reason he still needs to be owned in over half of Yahoo! leagues.
LaTroy Hawkins | Colorado Rockies | RP
Take a look at your standings page. If you can’t easily make up ground or don’t need to aggressively defend your position in saves, you don’t need to own LaTroy Hawkins. I’m all for scooping cheap saves any way you can, but once you’ve cemented your position in that category, it’s time to cut guys like Hawkins loose. If he’s not adding value in saves, he’s actively hurting your team. If you’re working against an innings limit, carrying a pitcher with a 5.20 K/9 certainly can’t help.
Hopefully, there’s at least one owner in your league who’s desperate for saves, but if not, it’s probably best to just bite the bullet and drop him (assuming you don’t need the saves). He’s a one-trick pony.
Scott Kazmir | Oakland A’s | SP
Of course, Scott Kazmir’s demolition at the hands of the Oakland A’s isn’t indicative of any kind of larger trend, but the fact that his strikeout rate has dropped by more than a third in the second half sure is. The normalization of his favorable first half BABIP is only making things worse. There’s a reason that even after half a season of great performance, ZiPS still has Kazmir pegged for a 3.83 ERA the rest of the way. If you can convince somebody that this is just a slump, dump him immediately.
3 TO KEEP
Players to hold or trade for; owned in most standard leagues
Matt Shoemaker | Los Angeles Angels | SP
Nothing I wrote last week changes, but with a near no-no escalating his value, I wanted to make it clear that Shoemaker is a worthwhile investment for the long haul. The stuff and approach that’s led to his success is completely sustainable, and his upcoming schedule is quite nice. Unless another owner blows you away with an offer, hang on for the rest of the season.
Hector Rondon | Chicago Cubs | RP
Don’t look now, but Hector Rondon has been arguably the best reliever in baseball. He’s one of four pitchers tied with 0.7 fWAR and the only reliever in the game to throw his last 15 innings without issuing a walk. His nine saves in the last month trails only Greg Holland (15!) and Fernando Rodney. His strikeout rate has taken a bit of a tumble during that time, but with the corresponding drop in (or, more accurately, disappearance of) his walk rate, his FIP, ERA, and xFIP all remain spectacular.
With the Cubs fixing to offer more and more save opportunities, Rondon is worth a look as a keeper in NL-only formats. He likely came cheap this season and has pretty quickly evolved into a really solid stopper.
Trevor Plouffe | Minnesota Twins | 3B
Maybe it’s because he plays for a crappy team in a relatively small market, maybe it’s because he never had much of a prospect pedigree, but I can’t understand why nobody seems to be interested in Trevor Plouffe as a fantasy asset. Over the last month, few third sackers have been better; Plouffe has slugged three homers and knocked in 20 runs for the suddenly sizzling Minnesota offense.
For owners in AL-only keeper formats, he’s a fantastic trade target. Plouffe’s home run power hasn’t spiked this season, but he’s smashed 36 doubles in about three quarters of a season. He not only leads all third basemen in doubles, he’s fourth in all of baseball. Only Jonathan Lucroy, Miguel Cabrera, and Paul Goldschmidt have hit more. It may not happen until next season, but those hits are going to start leaving the yard sooner or later.