Around here, the wonderful fortnight beginning late-May 2012 will always hold a special place in my heart. Yes, it’s that magical two week run when I developed my affections for a studly 25-year-old third baseman by the name of Trevor Plouffe. Young Trevor mashed 10 home runs in a 14-game span, giving my fantasy squad just the sort of early-summer jump-start everyone is looking for.
Plouffe cooled soon after, and batted just .212/.271/.347 post the all-star break. Still, as I strode to the final that fall, and Trevor’s stay on my team was little more than a distant memory… I longed for those bombs that he struck on those warm summer nights… those were the moments that stick.
After an abysmal 2013 made it looked as though Trevor and I were finished (and for good this time!), but a preseason injury to uber-prospect Miguel Sano all but locked up everyday at-bats for Plouffe once again in 2014. He’s made the most of his early playing time, sprinting to a .309/.409/.436 start to the season with 11 runs and 11 RBI in 14 games. He’s yet to flash much of a power stroke with just singe home run, but a 11:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a strong sign of growth at the dish.
Plouffe was recently moved up to the three spot in the Twins’ order, batting right behind on-base machine Joe Mauer which should lead to a substantial boost i run production. With an improved walk rate, proven power potential and opportunity aplenty, things are setting up nicely for a fantasy breakout from the 27-year-old entering his peak years. Plouffe is currently available in over 70% of standard leagues and is addable in all formats if you’re looking for a boost at the hot corner.
Each week we’ll provide a position-by-position roundup of the top talent on the wire. To qualify, players must have an ownership rate below 50% in standard 12-team Yahoo leagues. For our deeper formats, we’ll also throw out names with under 15% ownership. Check out last week’s list to find a number of other options who may still be out there on the waiver wire.
Working The Waiver Wire
Mike Zunino (17%): Three bombs and a .277 average (13-for-47) over the first couple of weeks makes for some solid production behind the dish.
Devin Mesoraco (34%): Still time to grab Mesoraco despite an 11-for-22 performance since returning from the DL.
Dioner Navarro (6%): When you’re digging this deep, volume is a beautiful thing (six runs, eight RBI in 53 at-bats).
Justin Morneau (46%): A professional hitter taking his hacks in the best park in the league. Morneau has homered twice in the past week — in San Diego, of course! — and is slashing .346/.386/.538 through 15 games.
Adam Lind (37%): Does his damage versus righties primarily, but there’s plenty of value to be had there.
Mitch Moreland (4%): His ownership is yet to budge despite being featured here last week. Moreland is warming with three multi-hit effort in his last two games with three runs, four RBI and three walks over that span.
Danny Espinosa (2%): A middle infielder with 20/20 ability who suddenly falls into everyday at-bats is not something you find on the waiver wire often, but Espinosa is just that. He’ll get the playing time now that Anthony Rendon is covering third for the injured Ryan Zimmerman and should be rostered in all leagues. Consider that even after his brutal 2013, this guy has averaged 19 home runs and 16 steals per 162 games over his major league career.
Johnathan Villar (48%): Owners seem to be losing faith in Villar — and I suppose an 0-for-his-last-15 might have something to do with it. The kid is, predictably, hitting an adjustment period but the raw tools remains to dominate. He’s got a couple of home runs and three steals in four chances over 16 games and that’s solid production from a shortstop, batting average be damned!
Kolten Wong (26%): Wong is holding his own and chipping in on the basepaths. The early plate discipline (eight strikeouts versus five walks.
Derek Dietrich (2%): Three home runs, 28 at-bats. This kid has legit power after slugging 20 home runs across the majors and the minors last season. He’ll have to find a way to shake platoon-mate Jeff Baker and withstand the impeding return of Rafael Furcal (hamstring) and when he does, you’ll be happy you got in at the ground floor.The Marlins have every reason to play Dietrich and see what he can do.
Nick Franklin (3%): Called up to replace Logan Morrison, Franklin is strictly a name to monitor… especially with Brad Miller slumping.
Tevor Plouffe (27%): Need we say more?
Juan Uribe (22%): Perhaps the least sexy name on the list, Uribe can be a nice volume play in a loaded Dodger lineup. He’s off to a nice start, batting .375/.385/.594 over 64 at-bats.
Kevin Kouzmanoff (4%): The Kouz doesn’t look to have a particularly long shelf life in 2014 and many only get another week and a half of playing time. Still, he’s got some pop and a 12-for-29 start in Arlington will play in any lineup as a short term stop-gap.
Alejandro De Aza (44%): Flashed some pop in Week 1 and has largely disappeared since despite securing more regular playing time with the Avisail Garcia injury. He’s good for double digit power and 15-20 steals.
Jason Kubel (13%): Now making his third straight appearance in Waiver Wire Friday, Kubel has finally broke into double-digit ownership territory. But he’s still under-owned and still hitting, working a .340 average over 14 games.
Wily Peralta (17%): Though Peralta has always been able to light up the radar gun with a mid-90s heater, he’s finally shaving down the walks to a respectable level during his brief 2014 sample, issuing just five free passes in his first 18.1 innings. He’s yet to allow more than two earned runs in a start and has won consecutive decision, notching a pair of Ws at home aganist divisional opponents Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Could this be the year that things finally click?
Jason Hammel (17%): Hammel made our list last week despite a daunting matchup ahead at Yankees stadium. He escaped not only unscathed, but with a quality start to show for it (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). That make three straight quality turns to kick off the year.
Garret Richards (43%): One of the trendier adds in fantasy, Richards can hump it up to 96 MPH regularly. He’s seen a massive leap in his strikeout rate (16.3 K% in 2013 to 23.7 K% in 2014) but question remain about that bloated 4.74 BB/9. Richards makes for a fine spot start at home, but it may be wise to wait and see how he does in the next start on the road at Washington and then in New York against the Yankees.
Trevor Bauer (4%): Flashed that potential that we’ve been waiting for in a double-header start last week, Bauer looks to have finally gotten a handle on his control. You’ll have to play it patiently until he gets another call up but Bauer could be a major boost to a deep-league rotation if he continues to progress. Now is the time to make your move.
It will be a constant race to the wire to go mining for saves, here’s how we see it.
Go get ’em: Luke Gregerson (31%), Edward Mujica (44%), Matt Lindstrom (35%) Chad Qualls (16%), Jonathan Broxton (37%), Pedro Strop (16%), Anthony Bass (3%)
Keep an eye on: Gonzalez Germen (2%), Cody Allen (26%), Hector Rondon (13%), Al Alburquerque (2%), Josh Fields (12%)