After averaging 30 home runs and 93 RBI per 162 games from 2010-2012 with Washington, Michael Morse fell flat last season while once again struggling to stay on the field. He certainly appears to be feeling fine out by the Bay, however, posting a .692 SLG over nine games with the Giants. Morse is dangling on the wire in exactly 40% of Yahoo leagues at the time of this writing, but given that he smashed a solo home run Thursday evening to extend his hitting streak to seven games, Morse will likely be above our threshold when we go to press.
Yes, I know.. he’ll strike out far to much and doesn’t really draw walks — we might as well sprinkle a DL stint in there too — but whats the harm in cautiously penciling Morse in for 120 games played, a .285 average, 20 bombs and 80 RBI with clear upside for more. If you just lost a streaking Josh Hamilton, Morse may very well be the top option on your wire.
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 10% 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
Russell Martin (19%): Somehow, someway, Martin puts together a couple months of fantasy relevance year in and year out. The Buccos backstop is a streaky as they come and with a pair of dingers in his first 24 at-bats he’s a fine replacement option out of the gates.
Devin Mesoraco (8%): Fresh off the DL, Mesraco has put up a pair of multi-hit games, taking Shelby Miller deep on Wednesday. The former top prospect will finally get a chance to prove he’s got a major league bat and glove on a regular basis.
Michael Morse (40%): See the open.
Mitch Moreland (4%): It’s no secret that Moreland failed to capitalize on increased playing time last season, slashing at a career worst .232/.29/.437 rate while appearing in a career high 147 games. He’s probably best suited for a platoon role and has had just five hit less at-bats agianst southpaws so far. He’s a solid bet for 15-20 home runs, an average that won’t hurt and room for growth as we move towards another hot summer in Arlington.
Also widely available: Adam LaRoche, Garret Jones
Brian Dozier (45%): OK, we’re cheating a tiny but. But still, Dozier crushed it last year (18 HR/ 15 SB) and is picking up right where he left off in 2014 with three home runs and three swipes in just nine games. I know he’s hitting just .167 right now… I simply don’t care.
Marcus Semien (3%): Semien is making the most of his early season at-bats while Gordon Beckham (oblique) nurses an injury. He’s got 10 hits including a pair of doubles and one home run in his first 10 games while adding a couple of steals. There are no guarantees about his future playing time, but Semien, who put together an intriguing .284-110-19-66-24 line in the minors last season, could have a shot to mix in with the underwhelming Beckham at second and see some time at third base as well. It’s a speculative move that could last just a couple of days, but if Semien can earn additional playing time, he’s got plenty of upside.
Brandon Crawford (4%): Crawford, more know for his work in the field than his hacks at the plate, is off to a nice start slashing at a .300/.432/.433 rate over the first nine games. He’s a deep-league volume play mostly, but at a paper thin shortstop positions, sometimes that’s just what you need.
Also widely available: Chris Owings
Trevor Plouffe (17%): No power yet, but Plouffe’s got 12 hits in his first 36 at-bats has given plenty of owners cause to give the third baseman a look. Remember, this guy mashed 24 home runs in 119 games in 2012 and while he struggled in 2013, the raw power remains.
Yangervis Solarte (33%): Now getting regular playing time for the Yanks Solarte is off to a very nice start to the season (.387/.441/.581 over 31 at-bats). He’s got a solid contact rate, decent pop that could play up in Yankee stadium and (perhaps most importantly) the always valuable shortstop eligibility.
Jason Kubel (8%): We mentioned Kubel in this space last week, and not much has changed. He continues to hit and continues to be under-owned.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (6%): Shane Victorino’s early season injury opened the door for JBJ to get some early playing time and prove his worth to the defending world champs. Bradley has flipped the script from his early 2013 struggles, sprinting out to a 10-for-22 start at the dish with three multi-hit games, four walks and a steal. Bradley doesn’t offer a ton of pop or speed, but his premium defense will give him a shot of sticking around. He has show excellent on-base skills in the minors and could at least provide solid runs totals to go along with a helpful average.
Also widely available: Rajai Davis
Jason Vargas (14%): Vargas has long been an excellent spot start in mixed leagues as his predictable home/road splits lend opportunity to fantasy owners. He’s back to his old tricks, posting back-to-back quality starts to open the season, but has done it once on the road and once at home. Looking ahead, there’s a lot to like about the Royals defense and Kauffman Stadium, which played as a bottom third park in terms of home runs allowed last season, which means we’ll get yet another season of living the stream with Vargas.
Jason Hammel (8%): Health issues aside, Hammel has consistently flashed upside as a fringe top-30 starter and has parlayed his health in the early going into a surprising 2-0 start for the Cubbies. He’s got an 11:2 K-to-BB ratio over 13.2 innings pitch in the opening two weeks and is worth a look in all leagues. Up next is a challenging match up against the Yankees in New York that you may want to pass on given his 5.67 ERA and 1.61 whip against the Bombers while pitching in Baltimore the past couple of seasons, but keep tabs on Hammel when he heads back into National League play.
Also widely avialable: Nathan Eovaldi
In Oakland, Jim Johnson was mercifully lifted from the role after a brutal outing on Wednesday, but the problem in deciphering this ‘pen is that they have three solid, legitimate options. Sean Doolittle has potentially the best stuff, but is also the team’s late-inning lefty. Luke Gregerson is the veteran option who spent the first 10 games of the season pitching in the eighth inning and Ryan Cook recently returned from the DL. Cook has had the job in Oakland before and appears to be the front-runner if healthy, but you simply cannot discount Gregerson finally getting a shot as a stopper or Doolittle sneaking in for a chance or two based on matchups.
It will be a constant race to the wire to go mining for saves, here’s how we see it.
Go get ’em: Chad Qualls, Jonathan Broxton, Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, Pedro Strop
Keep an eye on: Cody Allen, Rex Brothers, Antonio Bastardo, Al Albequerque
I wonder if you Dozier can continue to add up the counting stats in spit of his batting average. It’s obviously going to go up from here for the simple fact that he’s not Dan Uggla or BJ Upton, but do you think he’ll continue running and hitting dingers? Would you take an over/under of steals+home runs of 30?
Thanks, as always, for reading. While I do think Dozier should be able to put up double-digit steals no problem, the power is something that just kind of developed last year. Of course, he’s been hitting the ball with authority early on and is up to four homers at this point. So, while I might take the under on 30 homers+steals… it would be just barely. Regardless, he’s become a very solid option. The batting average will come up.