2013 Fantasy Baseball Week 10 Waiver Wire: 3 to Cut, 3 to Catch, 3 to Keep
Welcome back to fantasy baseball 3×3, where this week we’re doing the right thing for Giancarlo Stanton, following the Twins’ lead on Aaron Hicks, and slipping a promise ring on Rick Porcello.
I apologize for posting a day late. A dislocated finger put me on the shelf Sunday evening, but I was able to find a nine-fingered version of this bad boy on eBay; I’m back in business.
Also, Major League was on TV this weekend. Fair warning.
3 TO CUT
Giancarlo Stanton | Miami Marlins | OF
After a disappointing start to the season was mercifully capped by a DL stint, Giancarlo Stanton’s rehab has hit a snag.
It’s a bit ironic that Stanton is healthy enough to play catch and hit, but still can’t run; he’s clearly not in a hurry to go anywhere.
Both Stanton and the Marlins know he’s going to be traded, and it’s in neither party’s best interests for Stanton to take the field as anything less than the bleacher-denting beast that he’s been for the past couple of seasons. Stanton wants to earn himself a lucrative contract extension with his new team, the Marlins want to earn themselves Jurickson Profar (or some other cheap talent), and Stanton’s suitors will want to see him healthy before consenting to give up their organization’s top talent in exchange for the young slugger.
Stanton’s primary fantasy value lies in his ability to hit home runs. The accumulation of homers, like every other counting stat, is largely dependent of the accumulation of plate appearances. Stanton is unquestionably an elite power hitter; the question is whether we can expect him to rack up enough plate appearances (even at his elite pace) to make a significantly greater contribution than a worse player who’ll have significantly more plate appearances.
Let’s take Yoenis Cespedes as an example: Since the beginning of his rookie season, Cespedes has hit a home run about once every 23 plate appearances. Between 2010 and 2012 (throwing out his brief 2013 season), Stanton cleared the wall about once every 16 plate appearances. Given Stanton’s injury status, I’d expect that number to come down a bit; let’s call it 18 PA/HR for the balance of 2013.
A healthy Cespedes should rack up at least 400 plate appearances between now and the end of the season, which, assuming he maintains his current homer pace, would yield about 18 home runs. In order for Stanton to match that total, he’d have to return to the lineup early enough to log about 325 plate appearances. Assuming about 110 plate appearances per month, that means he’d have to return to the lineup healthy no later than July 1. Any later than that, and Stanton’s total homer production likely won’t measure up to a player like Cespedes. Given the Marlins’ reluctance to put a timetable on Stanton’s return, combined with the fact that neither side has reason to rush him back onto the field, a July 1 comeback certainly isn’t a guarantee.
I don’t advise moving Stanton in keeper leagues, but in redraft roto formats, flip him for a player who can provide some immediate power production. Stanton’s name value gives you license to ask for the moon and the stars, and if there’s a willing owner in your league, the deal might just net you Orion’s (league championship) belt.
I’d trade/drop him for: Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo
Wade Miley | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP
Wade Miley burst onto the scene last season as a surprise ace for the Arizona Diamondbacks, earning every bit of his second-place finish in National League Rookie of the Year voting with a 4.5 fWAR season in just shy of 200 innings. Yet so far this season, his ERA has jumped by more than a run and a half.
Miley’s velocity is consistent with last year’s levels and he’s using almost exactly the same mix of pitches, but opposing hitters’ swing rates on Miley’s offerings inside and outside the zone have dropped by 6% and 10%, respectively. His swinging strike rate has sunk to a career low and while his strikeouts are oddly up slightly, it’s not a trend I expect to continue. All in all, the stuff seems to be about the same, aside from a slight decline in the movement on his change an curve. Miley’s just not generating the same results.
This reminds me a bit of the situation faced by Miley’s teammate, Josh Collmenter, last season. Collmenter’s situation was much more obvious, much more immediate, and much more catastrophic, but the two cases really aren’t that dissimilar. Once hitters have a chance to fully understand and adjust to the arsenal of a pitcher who isn’t blessed with overpowering stuff, that pitcher is forced to adjust. If and when he doesn’t, he’s going to get hit.
Miley doesn’t have an extra bit of oomph to add to his fastball, nor does he have a putaway breaking ball in his back pocket. He is what he is, and what he is is now about average. Last season wasn’t a fluke, but I’d be willing to bet it’ll go down as a career year.
You won’t be able to recoup full draft day value for Miley, but it’s worthwhile to try to flip him to an owner who might pay for a chance at the bounceback that’s probably not forthcoming.
I’d trade/drop him for: Jose Fernandez, Corey Kluber, John Lackey
Danny Espinosa | Washington Nationals | 2B/SS
Ok, I know Danny Espinosa’s BABIP is terrible, but his OBP is .193. .193!
B.J. Upton has the worst OBP among qualified hitters, and his .234 mark is 40 points better than Espinosa’s!
Espinosa’s line drive rate barely cracks into double digits, his 16.2% swinging strike rate is just a couple percentage points shy of doubling the league average, and yet he hacks at more than 56% of the pitches he sees.
Danny Espinosa has been an unlucky hitter, but he’s also been a terrible hitter with a terrible approach. Better luck isn’t going to change that.
Giving him a roster spot is akin to letting a termite loose in a log cabin. He will single-handedly torpedo your batting average without providing above-average production in any other category.
Anthony Rendon can’t get here soon enough.
I’d trade/drop him for: Nick Franklin, Stephen Drew, A Jar of Almonds
3 TO CATCH
Matt Joyce | Tampa Bay Rays | OF
On a chronically unheralded team, Matt Joyce is a chronically unheralded player. While Rays like Kelly Johnson and James Loney send owners scrambling to make pickups, Joyce languishes on the waiver wire in more than 60% of Yahoo! leagues.
Not to take anything away from the magnificent seasons that Loney and Johnson have delivered, but no, they’re not. Take away the yawning gaps in BABIP, and Joyce’s on-base ability, power, and run production all stack up favorably alongside his hot-hitting teammates.
Joyce has always had solid plate discipline, but he’s elevated his game this season, maintaining the 11.9% walk rate he posted last season, but cutting his strikeout rate by more than five percentage points to a career low 16.5%. That’s helped him to improve his batting average to .266, even as his BABIP has sunk to a career-worst .267.
Though the Rays lineup doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers, Joyce’s perch in the two-hole, combined with his typically excellent OBP will deliver strong run-scoring numbers; he’ll certainly surpass his career high of 69 runs scored this season. With 10 home runs already and enough power to reach 25 or more by season’s end, his RBI totals should turn out to be just fine as well.
Joyce hits too many fly balls to expect a BABIP north of .300, but it should absolutely tick up by 20 points or so over the rest of the season, boosting both his batting average and OBP.
He’s probably already owned in all AL-only formats, but he’s a great source of cheap power in mixed leagues.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Andre Ethier
Shaun Marcum | New York Mets | SP
Shaun Marcum began the season on the DL because he’s Shaun Marcum and that’s a very Shaun Marcum thing to do, but since his return, he’s been spectacular.
Although his fastball velocity was never anything to write home about, he’s beginning to venture into Eddie Harris territory this year; the average velocity on his four-seamer is the fourth-slowest in baseball, nearly a full ten miles per hour slower than his teammate, Matt Harvey.
But rather than turning to Vaseline, snot, or any other foreign substance, Marcum has taken the path of some many aging pitchers in recent memory and laid himself prostrate before the altar of the cutter. A much friendlier deity than Jobu, the cutter has seen fit to reignite Marcum’s career. He throws it more often than any other pitch and generates whiffs more than 15% of the time, a rate that ranks second-best among Marcum’s six pitches.
Fueled by that cutter, Marcum has posted both strikeout and walk rates better than his career average for the first time since 2010 and set a base for a career best in FIP with a mark of 3.22. His ERA is 5.71, owing to some disastrous BABIP and strand rate luck; it will absolutely improve over the coming months. His record is 0-6, owing to an even more disastrous Mets offense; I’m not making any guarantees about that one.
Marcum is always and injury risk, so I wouldn’t recommend giving up a sure thing for him, but he’s absolutely a more worthwhile risk than some of the pitchers owned in a greater percentage of fantasy leagues.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Jeremy Guthrie, Bronson Arroyo, Jerome Williams
Aaron Hicks | Minnesota Twins | OF
The Minnesota Twins have shown remarkable patience with Aaron Hicks. Most organizations would have sent a rookie with the fourth-worst batting average in the league back to AAA for additional seasoning, but the Twinkies seem content to let Hicks work things out at the big league level.
They’re absolutely right. Hicks certainly still has a few things to learn, but his struggles are due more to bad luck than any glaring lack of talent or polish. His .203 BABIP is third-worst in baseball and less than half of teammate Joe Mauer’s league-leading .421 mark.
He probably hits too many balls in the air, but despite his great speed, he’s got enough power to escape criticism (and push-ups) resulting from a case of Willie Mays Hayes Syndrome.
Hicks’ batted ball distance on balls in the air is about average at 278 feet, but he’s been rewarded with an .044 BABIP on fly balls. By comparison, Mauer’s batted ball distance is about seven feet less than Hicks’ number, yet Mauer leads baseball with a .390 BABIP on fly balls. Obviously, distance isn’t everything, but there’s certainly some positive regression on the way for Hicks.
Even with this dreadful luck, Hicks has managed to swat six homers and swipe four bases. As his luck turns around, I expect at least double digits in both categories the rest of the way, accompanied by a much more palatable batting average.
To pick him up, I’d drop: Jackie Bradley, Jr., Dayan Viciedo, Denard Span
3 TO KEEP
Domonic Brown | Philadelphia Phillies | OF
Domonic Brown’s resurgence has been months in the making, but the fruits of his labor were made manifest in one of the most remarkable months of production in recent memory. Brown tied for the major league lead with 12 home runs, slugged .688 and drove in 25 rib-eyes, all without drawing a single walk!
Brown isn’t just in the midst of a career year, he’s just finished a career month. Prior to May 2013, Brown’s career fWAR was -1.0. In the month of May alone, it was +1.0.
Regardless of the adjustments he’s made, this pace will not keep up. There are still some glaring flaws *AHEM walk rate AHEM* but that doesn’t make him an immediate sell-high candidate. Brown an example of an all too common player archetype who creates an all too common situation, the fantasy stalemate.
His current owners are enticed by his production, their prospective trade partners don’t want to pay top dollar for a chance to ride a wave that’s bound to crash soon. I happen to believe that Brown’s new swing is for real, but there’s no sense in trading for him right now when his YTD ranking is so inflated. Unless there’s a lone Philly fan in your league, trying to trade Brown is a waste of time and energy.
By all means, accept a great offer if it comes your way, but don’t hold your breath; better to just ride the wave while it lasts.
I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Dexter Fowler, Starling Marte, Nelson Cruz
Rick Porcello | Detroit Tigers | SP
Rick Porcello’s BABIP struggles as a groundball pitcher throwing in front of a set of cement-soled infielders are well-documented, but let’s not ignore the fact that his 64.7% strand rate ranks as the eighth-worst in baseball.
Last week, Porcello made a Pedro Cerrano-esque decision to do it himself, enabled, ironically, by the curveball. He fanned 11 Pittsburgh Pirates over eight shutout innings, allowing only four baserunners in the process. I’d delve into more detail, but Jeff Sullivan already chronicled Porcello’s “tease” better than I ever could.
Yes, his 19.9% strikeout rate is a huge jump from his career norms, but this isn’t just statistical noise. Porcello has made a measurable change in his approach, trading an ineffective slider for a curveball that’s become an out pitch. During the month of May, he had a better K/9 than Max Scherzer.
Porcello will probably remain the worst starter in the Detroit rotation no matter what he does for the rest of this season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help your fantasy team. Especially in AL-only leagues, resist the urge to trade him. Porcello is still just 24 years old, and it looks like he might have just figured it out.
I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Phil Hughes, Julio Teheran, Wade Miley
Matt Kemp | Los Angeles Dodgers | OF
For weeks, I really wanted to write about Matt Kemp in this column; I just couldn’t decide on where to put him. It was clear that his still-injured shoulder was robbing him of any semblance of power, but there was no way to know whether that shoulder would ever be healthy this season. With the injury, Kemp was performing like a fringe Top 50 outfielder (he currently ranks in the mid-60s on ESPN’s Player Rater), but a healthy Kemp has proven to be among the best players in baseball, fantasy or otherwise.
I have no idea which he is right now, or which he’ll be for the rest of the season, and aside from shadowing Kemp like Jake Taylor in a bullpen cart, I can’t imagine a way to know for sure. So I’m sticking him here. For fantasy purposes, this means that if you were hoping to trade Matt Kemp, you’ve missed your window.
There’s no way to get full value for him right now, because there’s no way to know what full value really is. If you’ve got a DL slot in your league, there’s probably not a player on your roster who deserves it more than Kemp. Stash him there, set up a Google Alert on “Matt Kemp injury” and wait. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.
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