As the summer officially kicks off this weekend, it’s time to really begin to evaluate whether you fantasy baseball team can sink or swim in the coming months. If you are lower in the standing your team is suffering from more than a couple of untimely injuries or cold streaks, it’s time to mix things up. Remaining stagnant right now while your team fails to jump in the standing will be a recipe to guarantee that you are one of the many owners jumping ship in early August as fantasy football drafts kick into gear. As this point on the waiver wire, there’s unlikely to be the season long saviors–the Jean Seguras and Hishashi Iwakumas of the world–but if you play your cards right and ride the streaks, there is plenty of room to improve your production.
Over in Minnesota, the first of an impressive wave of young offensive talent is making his presence felt. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia went 3-for-4 on Thursday evening with his fifth long ball of the year, and is now hitting an impressive .273/.340/.477 over his first 128 major league at-bats. Arcia has been swinging even better since being recalled in early June, posting a .333 batting average in his past nine games. The 22-year-old Arcia is displaying a solid stroke, punching 15 extra-base hits out of 35 total knocks this season. His strikeout rate is (and has been) a but higher that you would like, but he’s done a nice job handling both left-handed and right-handed pitching in his early career. Arcia batted .320/.388/.557 with 17 homers and 98 RBI last season across three minor-league levels and after that strong performance Baseball America had him ranked as the No. 41 overall prospect heading into the 2013 season. Of course, future teammates Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano both check in on the top-10 in this list, but the early returns have to be very encouraging for the “worst” of the Twins big three prospects.
Expect an adjustment period down the road as pitching staffs try to find a hole in Oswaldo’s swing, but there is a lot to like about the Twins shiny new toy in the outfield. Keep an eye on that walk rate, which is currently at a so-so 7.8% this season, but he danced around 10 BB% throughout his minor league career. Once he begins to really stay patient at the plate in the bigs, good things are going to happen. Arcia can be a useful piece right now and the future is especially bright in keeper and dynasty leagues as the team around him develops into one of the fiercest lineups in the league. Arcia is currently just 2% owned in standard Yahoo! leauges and can can offer you a bit more upside from a corner outfield spot than the likes of Raul Ibanez, Vernon Wells or Andre Ethier, all owned in significantly more fantasy leagues than the Twinkies’ rook.
Before we jump into our look around the diamond at the top talents on the wire, I’d like to invite you all to join me in a FREE daily contest running today over at draftsteet.com. This freeroll pick ’em takes about 5 minutes to enter and is absolutely free and pays out $300 in cash. Sign up here to pick your team and try to beat Bretsky!
And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
With the lighter schedule of games Thursday, we’re going to take advantage every Friday and give a look at the top talent available on the waiver wire. At each position 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 85% 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 re-list some players from time to time when their ownership rate and performance still warrants a mention.
Working the Wire
Russell Martin (PIT) 26% owned: There aren’t many catchers in the league as streaky as Martin and he has not disappointing his year with a .904 OPS in April, followed by a .664 number in May. With a .314 average, eight runs and nine RBI in his past 10 games, Martin is warming at the dish once again. Better yet, he’s swiped a pair of bags over that span while posting a phenomenal 8:6 walk-to-strikeout ratio. He’s worth an add in all league while the bat is hot.
Carlos Ruiz (PHI) 9% owned: Chooch returned this week from a hamstring injury and is 2-for-7 in his first two games back. he never really got a chance to get going earlier in the season, falling from an injury just weeks after returning from a 25-game suspension. With Chase Utley on his way back as soon as today and Ben Revere finally remember the goal is to hit the baseball, Ruiz adds a nice bit of depth to an improving Phillies lineup. Don’t expect 2012 numbers from Chooch, a player with a career .274/.361/.414 slash line while playing behind the plate is useful in all leagues.
Brandon Moss (OAK) 33% owned: After watching his average dip all the way down to .222 just 8 days ago, Moss has taken advantage of a very righty-heavy schedule over his past seven games. He’s popped four home runs in the past week with a .323. The 11 strikeouts and just one walk isn’t exactly a harbinger of success, but Moss has a live power bat and is well on his way to breaking last year’s career high of 21 dingers.
Logan Morrison (MIA) 6% owned: LoMo has been off to a solid start since returning from offseason knee surgery and though he missed a couple of games last week with a sore back, he has put up six hits in his first 18 at-bats. Morrison has flashed the skills to be a fantasy star in the past and possesses some upside when you are digging deep.
Jedd Gyorko (SD) 46% owned: Yeah, Jedd is a a bit over our ownership percentage requirements, but to see he is out there in over half of standard leagues is ludicrous (and it’s not just Yahoo!, he’s just 53% owned in ESPN standard leagues as well). Gyorko’s performance since late April– .312/.359/.535 with 8 homers in 43 games leading up to his injury–has been on par with the elite tier and as he works his way back from a recent groin injury, it’s a great time to buy low… or just scoop him up for free!
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) 17% owned: Plouffe has actually been pretty productive when on the field this season, scoring 19 runs and driving in 23 with five home runs in 41 games. You’re chasing down hot streaks when rostering Plouffe and with a .306 average over his last 16 games, it appears one of those power binges may be just around the corner.
Eric Chavez (ARI) 8% owned: Chavez was mashing before suffering an oblique injury last month, posting a marvelous .325-18-7-25-1 line over his first 38 games. The latest reports have the brittle corner man embarking on a rehab assignment next week, potentially putting him withing 10 days of returning to the major league lineup. If Chavez was dropped in a deep league, it’s a good time to jump on him right now.
Anthony Rendon (WSH) 35% owned: The second base eligibility has arrived in most leagues and Rendon just continues to hit. With a pair of singles on Thursday, Rendon is batting .325 over his first 77 big league at-bats. He’s making solid contact, drawing walks and even has a steal sprinkled in there. Rendon’s got the pedigree, he’s got a job and is healthy right now, go get him.
Jayson Nix (NYY) 9% owned: Injuries to both Kevin Youklis and Mark Teixeira pretty much guarantee that Nix continue to see plenty of at-bats, even if Derek Jeter does return down the line. Nix isn’t giving you any power to speak of with a pathetic .311 SLG over his first 196 at-bats this year. He has stolen 10 bases, however, and five since the start of June while batting .281 this month. If you need some speed invest in a the veteran infielder.
Mike Carp (BOS) 29% owned: It seems as though the Red Sox have been able to find production from just about everywhere this season and the surprising surge from former Mariner’s prospect Mike Carp has certainly played a role. In his age-27 season, Carp is busting out and forcing his way into the Red Sox lineup as a result. He’ slashing at a very nice .324/.379/.686 rate with five home runs in his last 11 games. Of course, Carp hasn’t gotten into the lineup since Sunday due to a hamstring injury but he’s expected to be ready to rock over the weekend. Carp figures to see at-bats over a struggling Johnny Gomes in the Sox outfield.
Peter Boujos (LAA): 11% owned: Coming off of a 3-for-4 effort with a home run and a steal, Bourjos grabbed our attention as a nice little power/speed option on waivers. he’s batting .417 since returning from the DL last week showing some solid wheels with a touch of power. Stolen bases should come by the bunches and if we looks at his 12 home runs (to go along with 26 doubles and 11 triples) that he posted back in 2011, there’s reason to believe that double-digit power could show up once again. The average is gonna drop at some point, but Bourjos should offer some Shane Victorino-type numbers the rest of the way for needy fantasy owners.
Marlon Byrd (NYM) 6% owned: From 2007-2008, Marlon Byrd put up consistency solid numbers for a No. 5 fantasy outfielder, bringing a nice .294 batting average with 86 runs, 16 home runs, 86 RBI and 8 steals per 162 games. In his last 30 games Byrd has blasted seven homer runs with 12 runs scored and 14 RBI for the Mets and its time you give Marlon a look for your squad as well.
Bonus Pickup: Eric Young, Jr. (NYM) 3% owned: Sticking in New York, the Mets recently added the speedy EY Jr. to their stable of mediocre outfielders. Young has speed to burn and if he can get on-base enough this could be a category changer. That a pretty big if, but there’s still a chance a change scenery is all that Junior needed.
Dillon Gee (NYM) 15% owned: Gee has been phenomenal of late and though the overall number continue to underwhelm, he’s posted a 1.53 ERA over his last four starts with 32 strikeouts and four walks over 29.1 innings. A matchup with the Phillies this weekend? Yes please!
Bud Norris (HOU) 15% owned: Though his strikeout rate has dipped by almost 33%, Norris has significantly slashed his walk rate. In Norris’ last six starts, he’s failed just once to toss a quality effort while racking up a 2.77 ERA over 39.0 IP in those games. He’ll get the Cubbies next, a team he holds a 3.14 ERA and four wins in eight career starts against.
Erasmo Ramirez (SEA) 4% owned: Erasmo has been slicing his way through the minors and holds a 14:1 K-to-BB ratio over his past two starts. For the year he’s got an ERA under 2.00 over 31.2 innings pitched down on the farm and it is only a matter of time until he gets a shot in the Mariner’s rotations. He’s an extreme ground-baller with excellent control and a good enough K-rate to make him a very attractive fantasy arm. Make the move.
You can catch Wayne daily on Dynasty Sports Empire TV’s Fantasy Five – Baseball and also check out the Box Score Baseball Podcast each week as Bretsky and The Fantasy Nomad discuss all the latest news and notes from around major league baseball.
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