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Fantasy Baseball: Waiver Wire Friday

With the light schedule of games, we’re going to take advantage every Friday and give a look at the top talent available on the waiver wire. At each positon we’ll give you the top players available in >60% of Yahoo standard leagues and for those of you in deeper games, we’ll throw out a name available in more than 90% of those formats.

We are going to try and keep things fresh here and hit on some players that we didn’t get to in last week’s edition of Waiver Wire Friday but we’ll list some players from time to time when there ownership rate and performance warrants.

Working the Wire

Catcher

Carlos Ruiz (PHI) 13% owned: The Phillies’ backstop is eligible to return from 25-game suspension in nine days and he’s coming off of a career year that saw him post a stellar .326/.394/.540 slash line over 114 games last season. It’s not as though this production came out of nowhere as Carlos had put up a .292 batting average and .385 OBP in 2010-2011. If you are scuffling along with Jesus Montero, Salvador Perez or Victor Martinez, why not scoop up Ruiz and stash him for  a week.

Nick Hundley (SD) 2% owned: Hundley is batting .318 with six runs and five RBI in the early going. He was surely a disaster last season, but in 2011, Hundley slashed at a rock solid .288/.347/.477 over 308 plate appearances.  Expect a solid average with double digit home runs from Hundley this season.

Still on the wire: John Jaso (OAK) 8% owned

First Base

Garret Jones (PIT) 33% owned: The common issue with Jones is that he’s a platoon bat. Sure enough, just 4 of his 47 at-bats have come against left-handed pitching  (0-for-4, 2 Ks). For his career, Jones is a .280 hitter against right handed pitching and managed a .274-68-27-2 5×5 line last season with 90% of his at-bats coming against southpaws. The Pirates know just how and when to deploy Jones and even if he’ll find himself on the bench at times, owners with daily lineup changes can still take advantage of Garret’s solid bat. His sizzling 14-for-42 start is worth buying.

John Mayberry, Jr. (PHI) 2% owned: Another player who will be forced into a platoon-type role in the short term, Mayberry has put together a nice start and on a Charlie Manuel team, if you hit, you play. In the 41 games following the mid-season trade deadline last year when Mayberry got a permanent starting job, he put up an .871 OPS with six home runs and 21 RBI. Of course, he gcooled off over the last couple weeks of the season, but Mayberry showed that he’s a player who’s streaks are worth riding. He’s got hits in five of his last six starts and is batting .286 on the young season.

Still on the wire: Chris Carter (HOU) 37% owned; Matt Adams (STL) 14% owned

Second Base

Kelly Johnson (TB) 8% owned: I told you we were going to keep this fresh, but I lied. Kelly was featured in last week’s waiver piece as well. Since, all he’s done is smack a pair of home runs and steal a base. Of course, he did have just four hits in 17 at-bats, but the category juice is plentiful and when if he keeps hitting, Joe Maddon will keep running him out there.

Chris Getz (KC) 8% owned: Getz beat out Johnny Giovatella in the preseason for the Royals’ starting second base job and is has 12 hits in his first 43  at-bats of the year with six extra base hits. Gets has never played in more than 118 games in any season and offers little power potential but for his career, he has averaged 30 stolen bases per 162 games so there is some fantasy upside here.

Shortstop

Zack Cozart (CIN) 36% owned: Cozart already has four home runs on the season after belting 15 long balls last season in 561 at-bats.  He pciked up a pair of hits and two RBI on Thursday to bump his average up to .246. In his best minor league season, Cozart knocked 17 home runs with 30 steals and though he is yet to do much damage on the basepaths in the majors, double digit swipes does not seem out of the question.

Eric Sogard (OAK) 2% owned: Sogard has 12 hits so far on the year with five runs scored and a pair of steals. He’s getting everyday at-bats for the Athletics and has hit for solid batting average throughout the minors–albeit with limited power and speed.

Still on the wire: Jhonny Peralta (DET) 38% owned; Stephen Drew (BOS) 10% owned

Third Base

Chris Johnson (ATL) 28% owned: Last week we hit on Johnosn’s teammate and platoon-mate Juan Francisco who hit a pair of home runs on Wednesday. This week, well look a the right-handed side of this platoon. With Freddie Freeman ailing, both of these guys have actually been able to see regular time in the lineup, but a platoon is ideal for Francisco, at the very least, as a .280 batter against righties  morphs into a .176 hitter when facing left-handed pitching. JOhnson ca pick up the slack against left-handed pitching and is actually solid against righties as well, making an even time-share more likely than a strict left/right platoon  Johnson slugged his second home run of the year on Thursday while going 3-for-4 and pushing his average up to .438 on the year. If you have the space why not roster both Johnson and Francisco who have combined for five home runs and 14 RBI this season. Chipper who?

Alberto Callaspo (LAA) 4% owned: The always underwhelming Callaspo is up to his usual tricks. He’s batting .273 (9-for-33) so far on the year and should be a good bet for a solid but empty average for the balance of the season.

Still on the wire: Juan Francisco (ATL) 90% owned; Placido Polanco (MIA) 4% owned

Outfield

Justin Ruggiano (MIA) 21% owned: Ruggiano accounted for the Marlins’ only run on Thursday with his second homer of the season during a 2-for-3 effort. Ruggiano is heating up at the dish with six hits in 18 at-bats over his last five games. He’s got two long balls and three stolen bases on the year after  hitting 13 home runs with 14 steals last year in 288 at-bats in 2013. His BABIP was sky-high last season, so expect a bit of regression with the average, but Ruggiano flashed 20/20 potential and is already giving us plenty of reasons to buy in with this early season performance.

Kyle Blanks (SD) 1% owned: It’s a hail-mary call with Blanks who has been a name of interest in previous season, but injuries and poor performance have left the big boy as little more than an afterthought at this point in his career. All told, Blanks has 21 career home runs–including his long-ball from Wednesday evening–in 436 at-bats. If he were happen to find his way in a regular role, Blanks still has some nice power upside, though he’ll also need to improve on that .225 career batting average to stay in the lineup.

Still on the wire: Juan Pierre (MIA) 25% owned; Peter Bourjos (LAA) 5% owned

Starting Pitcher

Jeremy Guthrie (KC) 22% owned: Since coming over the the Royals mid-season last year, Jeremy Guthrie has posted a 7-3 record in 17 starts, putting up a 3.17 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The strikeout rate is a bit underwhelming, but he has bumped that up slightly three starts into the 2013 campaign, punching out 17 batters in 19.2 innings against just three walks. Guthrie was fantasy relevant with the Orioles a few years back and appears to have his good stuff working once-again in 2013. Ideally, he’s more of a spot starter for your fantasy squad, but in deeper leagues he provides a nice steady floor for owners in need of a back-end arm.

Patrick Corbin (ARI) 10% owned: Corbin tossed seven strong inning against the New York Yankees (in New York!) on Thursday evening but missed out on a win when his bullpen could not hold the lead. Corbin flew a bit under the radar coming up through the Diamondbacks system with Jarrod Paker, Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs also coming up around the same time, but the former second round pick is a pretty highly regarded prospect himself. Corbin posted a so-so 4.54 ERA  in 107 innings pitched last year as a rookie with the Daimondback, but did a nice job with a 7.23 K/9 and a 2.10 BB/9, leading to a solid 3.73 xFIP. Through three starts this year, he’s got a 1.42 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with a perfect 2-0 record. We’d love to see that strikeout rate rise above the 20% that he showed throughout the minors and once it does, this guy has all the tools to be a valuable fantasy contributor.

Relief Pitcher

Edward Mujica (STL) 34% owned: Last week, Cardinal’s Manager Mike Matheny indicated that Edward Mujica could step into the closer role with Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal struggling. Sure enough, Mujica finally notched his first save on Thursday night. It was not the cleanest appearance as he allowed the winning run to reach second base, but he then struck out Jimmy Rollins and induced a groundout from Freddy Galvis to preserve the one-run lead. Mujica has posted a very solid 3.20 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over the past three seasons. He doesn’t blow you away with his stuff or his K-rate, but Mujica does an excellent job of limiting walks which can go a long way in the closer role. Expect Mujica to get the next save opportunity as well and keep the job for as long as he is successful. We still like Trevor Rosenthal in that ‘pen dow the road, but there’s no reason Mujica can’t provide you some help over the next couple of weeks.

Jared Burton (MIN) 3% owned: Burton’s value in standard leagues is a bit limited at this point for those chasing saves as Glen Perkins has the Twins’ closer role pretty well locked up. Still, Burton remains the clear No. 2 in that bullpen and has not allowed a run over 5.1 innings pitched this season. He’s got a solid strikeout rate and three holds already on the young season. We could see a handful of save opportunities from Burton this year and if Perkins get injured or struggles, the setup man looks capable of handling the role.

Around the League

  • Brewers Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Yovani Gallardo all homered in Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Ginats. Gallardo also tossed six strong inning of one-run ball to get the W. He struck out six with just one walk in the first start since his shameful DUI arrest. We’ve made no secret here about our distaste for Gallardo and his inconsistent control and if you can sell high on YoGa following his strong effort, you go an do that.
  • Brandon Crawford stayed red hot for the Giants, going 3-for-4 with a home run. We don’t expect this to last, but why not ride the streak?
  • Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol tossed a scoreless ninth inning to protect a four-run lead on Thursday, striking out 2 batters without allowing a baserunner. It wasn’t a save situation, but his use in a high-leverage situation says alot about the Cubs’ growing confidence in their wild reliever. Marmol could very well see the next save chance as the team has made no secret of it’ desire to have him back in the stopper role.
  • Hshashi Iwakuma beat Justin Verlander and the Tigers. Iwakuman was quality, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing three hits to grabt he win. He exited the start early with a blister issue, but now hold a 1.69 ERA and 0.52 WHIP on the year.
  • Just as R.A. Dickey started getting himself sorted out, he leave  his last start with neck and back tightness. After the game, the severity of the injuries were downplayed and he looks good to go for his next start.
  • White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo (oblique) left Thursday’s game with an injury and if history is any indication, he’ll be out for a couple of weeks with the oblique ailment.
  • Reds’ hurler Tony Cingrani struck out eight on his way to his first major league win. It was an impressive debut, but we ust take his pitiful competition (Marlins) into account. Cingrani also struggled a bit with his control, needing 102 pitches (62 strikes) to get through five frames. He must be more efficient moving forward to maintain mixed-league value and we are likely trying to sell high on the rookie hurler following his strong debut.
  • Big Papi owners will have something to get excited about on Friday as David Ortiz (achilles) is expected to be activated prior to Friday’s game.

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