After what has been far too long of a layoff, we’re getting back to basics here at BretskyBall and what better way to do that than dust off an old favorite and dive into the free agent pool on a relaxing Friday afternoon.
Just two and a half weeks into the fantasy season, I’ll urge you to remain patient with the team you’ve drafted. Baseball is a grind and with most players sitting with fewer than 60 at-bats on the year it is way, way, waaaaaaaay too early to declare busts, cut bait, or panic. Two good games can turn an absolute dud into a solid contributor.
Of course, the flip side on that argument is that you must still consider your roster and how you can free up some space for those up-and-coming talents that have started off the season hot.
Minnesota Twins’ outfielder Max Kepler fits that bill. After going late or undrafted in many league, Kepler has put together a very productive start to the season, proving to be a more enticing mixed league option than his heavily-hyped teammate Byron Bukkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkston. Kepler’s 2016 numbers during his first taste of big league action where not all that impressive (.235/.309/.424) but he did mash 17 home runs over 113 games and a poor .261 BABIP can take some of that blame for his dissapointing average.
Kepler is off to a fine start to the year, slashing .309/.361/.509 over 61 at-bats with eight runs scored and seven RBI. Kepler’s power numbers in the minors are not all that impressive, but his plate discipline and performance last year show an improving player who can become an above average major league hitter. Kepler is available in about 68% of standard Yahoo! leagues and is a more attractive add than several more heavily-owned outfielders like Melky Cabrera, Carlos Beltran and teammate Byron Buxton.
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 40% in standard 12-team Yahoo leagues. For our deeper formats, we’ll also throw out names with under 15% ownership.
Working The Waiver Wire
Austin Hedges (8%) – After shaking off a slow start in which he was hitless over his first nine games, Hedges has six hits in his last six contests including a pair of homers.
Tom Murphy (8%) – Murphy remains sidelined with a fractured forearm, but it’s only a matter of time before he is the primary catcher for the Rockies and taking half of his hacks at Coors Field.
Mitch Moreland (27%) – Moreland has long been a solid play agains right-handed pitching and has been productive overall in the season’s opening weeks, batting .344/.420/.574 over 69 plate appearances.
Lucas Duda (13%) – Injuries are always the issue with Duda and, surprise, he’s hurt again already (though thankfully, it’s not his back). If Duda gets right, he’s a very solid and underrated power bat.
Logan Morrison (11%) – LoMo remains a batting average liability, but has shown improved pop so far this year, clubbing three home runs and plating 11 RBI over his first 16 games. He has opportunity in Tampa.
Zack Cozart (38%) – If your in a league with me, you won’t find Cozart on the waiver wire. He posted a perfectly respectable .252-67-16-50-4 5×5 line over 121 games last season and is the perfect late round middle infielder to fill out your roster. Injuries have been a issue for Cozart but he’s healthy now and hitting a ridiculous .400/.481/.667 over his first 14 games in 2017.
Devon Travis (37%) – It’s been a painful start for the Blue Jays in general and Travis has been one of the weakest links. He’s shown enough over the past two seasons to get a little more leash, however, so if an impatient owner has moved on from Travis, now would be a nice time to scoop him up and stash on your bench. This lineup is too good to slump for too long.
Andrelton Simmons (7%) – For deeper leagues, don’t sleep on Simmons. He’s hit well over the first couple of weeks of the season and despite his recent track record has shown ability to provide double-digit power from a middle infield spot.
Matt Davidson (9%) – Don’t expect the average to stay over .300 for all that long, but Davidson has always been an intriguing power prospect. He’s blasted three homers and driven in 10 over just 34 at-bats. Ride him while he’s red hot.
Martin Prado (7%) – Injury delayed Prado’s start to the season so he’s likely to be sitting on most waiver wires. Prado remains a consistent-but-unexciting option in mixed leagues. He’s not going to hurt you anywhere while providing a solid BA and runs scored with modest RBI and power numbers.
Michael Conforto (20%) – Though his playing time has been frustratingly sparse, Conforto has been doing everything in his power to prove he’s worth an everyday spot — blasting a pair of home runs and batting .320 over just 25 at-bats.
Jarrod Dyson (23%) – As I wrote for FantasyPros just yesterday: Following a slow start at the dish, Jarrod Dyson’s ownership rate has slipped below the 25% ownership rate in most formats. He is still locked into an everyday role and has found himself hitting at the top of the lineup in five of his last eight starts. Dyson’s piled up four steals on the young season and can still bring plenty of speed to a needy fantasy roster. He’s worth an add for all teams looking for steals.
Josh Reddick (11%) – He fits right in with Houston’s homer-happy lineup so as long as Reddick is getting at-bats he’s an interesting name in all leagues.
Michael Saunders (4%) – We’ll throw in a homer pick from my very own Philadelphia Phillies for good measure. Saunders has always possessed the type of power/speed blend that makes fantasy owners drool. His streakiness is notable, however, Saunders can be an asset when hot. He’s a wait and see type, but worth an add in deeper leagues.
AJ Griffin (8%) – Griffin has railed off two straight quality starts to bump his record to 2-0 through three turns in the rotation. He’s not a flashy arm, but Griffin has struck out 16 batters with just four walks over his first 15.1 innings and has a couple of productive fantasy seasons under his belt despite some mediocre results coming off of surgery in 2016. If he’s regained the form we saw in 2012-2013, Griffin will be a useful arm in all leagues and is widely available.
Bartolo Colon (24%) – The rotund Colon is always overlooked and is as far from a sexy pickup as you can get. Still, Bartolo pounds the strike zone and continues to get enough strikeouts to matter in fantasy. When things go bad, they can get really ugly, but Colon is a nice spot start, particularly when facing some of his weak NL East opponents.
Jason Hammel (16%) – Hammel is another overlooked veteran who will never be your ace, but will always be a solid No. 4. He was blasted in his first two turns in 2017 but bounced back with a quality start this week. There is no shame with rolling Hammel out every fifth day in 12-team leagues.
Shelby Miller (11%) – While I’ll never trust this guy, the early results indicate that we should be paying attention.
Alex Wood (8%) – The K-rate has always made Wood an interesting name in fantasy so we’ll keep an eye on his performance as he has a clear path to the rotation. now.
It will be a constant race to the wire to go mining for saves, here’s how we see it.
Go get ’em: Hector Neris (48%), Santiago Casilla (42%), Joaquin Benoit (42%), Sean Doolittle (18%), Koda Glover (18%), Darren O’Day (7%)
Keep an eye on: Jeremy Jeffress (18%), Michael Lorenzen (8%), Jose Leclerc (4%), Drew Storen (5%)