My oh my it’s been a while… but now that the baseball season is back in full swing, we are heading back to the waiver wire each and ever Friday. It has been a week marked by closer carnage and with many owners investing their early FAAB dollars and waiver priorities mining for saves, a couple of high-upside gems may have slipped through the cracks.
Up In Smoak
Mariner first baseman Justin Smoak tops the list as the priority add in Week 1. After a strong finish to 2013 with 11 home runs in August and September, Smoak opened 2013 with three straight multi-hit efforts including a pair of long balls. His work against lefties remains a concern but with the Mariners committing to Smoak as an every day player, his power stroke and improving eye at the dish makes for a prime post-hype breakout. Smoak slipped in draft and, as of this writing, is currently owned in just 37% of standard Yahoo leagues. If he keeps up this torrid pace, that number will double by the end of he weekend. He’s an immediate add for any team that left the draft table light on power.
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.
Working The Wire
Mike Zunino (9%): The Mariner’s catcher was simply awful at the plate both in the majors and in the minors last season, taking some of the shine off of his breakout 2012 where he hit .360/.447/.689 in 44 minor league games. At just 23 years old, there’s plenty of time for Zunino to show that he has a major league stick.
Yasmani Grandal (2%): Oddly, the catcher coming off of an ACL reconstruction has more steals than hits this season and his lack of playing time in the early going is a sign that perhaps Yasmani is not quite ready to take over the everyday job. If you are in a pinch, he remains a name to stash.
Adam LaRoche (25%): After Smoak, LaRoche is the top first baseman on the heap. Get over the abysmal .237/.332/.403 line last season and consider a player whose averaged 27 homer runs and 90 RBI per 162 games played since 2010.
Garret Jones (2%): A change of scenery and a chance to redeem himself versus left-handed pitching will bring Jones back into relevance. He’s bankable for 15 home runs in a platoon with a chance to earn more playing time in a better-than-you-think Marlins lineup.
Chris Owings (23%): Owings shoved aside Didi Gregorious in the spring and is off to a hot start so far with three multi-hit efforts in the first week. He put up a robust .330-104-12-81-20 line in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League with the DBacks Triple-A affiliate. You can’t buy those inflated numbers, but do buy into the .290/.320/.441 slash line he posted over ~2,000 minor league at bats. A chance at 10 home runs with double digit speed and a .290 average sounds like a fantastic find on the wire in early April.
Kolten Wong (32%): Wong won the starting job with a strong spring showing (.375/.434/.646) and now finds himself in a very juicy position, taking hacks out of the two-hole in the Cards lineup.
Brian Roberts (4%): It may not be a long ride, but B-Rob just always seems to produce when on the field.
David Freese (39%): Slow start aside, Freese is at a premium run-producing spot in a very interesting offense. If things click for this team, they could be tough to pitch to.
Casey McGehee (4%): Excellent start to the season (6-for-13, 8 RBI) but can he keep it rolling?
Andre Ethier (16%): I want this guy on my team for the long haul just about as much as the Dodgers seemingly do, but he tends to start well, perhaps before his body begins to break down and he makes his annual trip to the DL. I’ll buy in April… just be sure to sell in May.
Jason Kubel (1%): The veteran will see plenty of at-bats versus right-handed pitching (.823 career OPS vs. RHP) and is always productive when healthy.
Abraham Almonte (2%): A relative unknown heading into the season, Almonte, who has a fairly steady minor league track record, find himself batting out of the leadoff spot for the Mariners. He swiped 27 bases in the majors and minor last year and 30+ in each of the two previous seasons. Give him a look as a hail-mary play in deep formats with room for growth.
James Paxton (28%): Paxton kept up his sizzling end to 2013 in his 2014 debut (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 9 K, 2 BB).
Nathan Eovaldi (11%): Has the velocity but the strikeout rate has just never followed… until he stuck out six over six strong innings this week. If the Ks stick, a step forward is coming.
Jason Hammel (1%): Those knees certainly looked healthy while he tossed 6.2 innings of two-hit, one-run ball Thursday.
Kyle Kendrick (2%): If not for a Papelbon blowup, Kendirck (7 IP , 0 ER, 4 K 1 BB) would be 1-0.
It will be a constant race to the wire to go mining for saves, here’s how we see it.
Get them now: Josh Fields (14%), Jonathan Broxton (14%)
Keep an eye on: Pedro Strop (7%), Luke Gregerson (13%), Ryan cook (6%), Sean Doolittle (8%), Cody Allen (21%)