Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down four different fantasy players gaining some attention on the waiver wire.
How about the four game stretch from May 24 to the 27th for White Sox rising slugger Dayan Vicideo. The 23-year-old pounded out eight hits, scored six runs, blasted three home runs, and drove in 10 RBI during that stretch. I actually dropped the top prospect in one of my fantasy leagues for the simple reason that he kills your on base percentage. He has just four walks all season if that is a category in your fantasy league, you basically have to depend on him having a lot of power to make up for it. That certainly could end up being the case and as of now I regret dropping the Cuba native.
It was long in the making and long deserved, but middle reliever extraordinaire Tyler Clippard has finally been promoted to the closer’s role in Washington following the injury to Drew Storen and the implosion of Henry Rodriguez. Clippard was for a long time one of the few middle relievers worth owning in fantasy leagues because of his stellar all-around numbers including ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. A few years ago he even picked up 11 wins. Now he finally gets the glory associated with the ninth inning and he has been perfect in his last four outings, picking up three saves. Clippard’s fantasy value is soaring with saves now within reach.
The last time Sale had fantasy value it was because of our expectation that he would be the 2011 closer after scooping up four saves in 2010. Instead, Sale struggled early and ended up with just eight saves last season as Sergio Santos broke out as the team’s closer. This season Sale became a starting pitcher and after a brief flirtation of him returning to the bullpen, Sale has thrived, pitching at an ace level. On Monday, Sale was at his best, allowing just five total base runners while pitching into the eighth inning. Most notably, he fanned 15 batters, which is easily a career high. It actually might be the best time to sell high on Sale. After all, Sale is now just 13 innings away from reaching last year’s totals. You typically try to avoid the major increase in innings workload, so my guess is that the White Sox will try to limit Sale’s innings for the remainder of the season.
In his debut with the San Diego Padres, Carlos Quentin blasted a double, scored a run, and picked up an RBI. The power is legit, but keep in mind that Quentin is going from back-to-back hitter ballparks first in Arizona then in Chicago’s US Cellular to the ultimate pitcher’s park, PETCO Park. This is very much a streaky hitter, which tells me that the frustration of the cavernous home ballpark could end up wreaking havoc on Quentin’s season. I am not picking Quentin up off the waiver wire, allowing his low average to hurt my competitors.
After spending last season with the Twins and Indians, Jim Thomes will return to the National League in a backup role with the Phillies.
Thome, who boasts 604 home runs for his career, has the most opposite-field home runs of all-time. This isn’t exactly something new for Phillies fans as their current first baseman Ryan Howard boasts the most ever in a single season.
Since Thome left the Philles and was replaced by Howard, Thome’s on-base percentage has been 21 points higher than Howard’s (.389 to .368). With Howard recovering from an Achilles injury, Thome is a fine backup option.
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While the recent trend of middle infielders is to hit the ball with power, a la Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, and Dan Uggla, there is a new group of young up-and-comers int he infield who are making their mark with speed:
Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers
Just 23-years old, Dee Gordon is making the most out of his second stint in the Big Leagues. He has recorded multiple hits in four of his last six games and has swiped six bases over the last 10 games. Similar to a lot of young and up-and-coming middle infielders he lacks power, but he can make up for it with speed. So if in need for some stolen bases over the final few weeks of the season, Dee Gordon is your target.
Cliff Pennington, SS, A’s
After a slow start, Cliff Pennington has really picked up his game since the All-Star break. Since then he is hitting .324 with four home runs and 32 RBI. He has also made Billy Beane proud with a .393 OBP. This performance shouldn’t be too surprising, after all, Pennington was drafted by the A’s with the 21st overall pick of the 2005 draft. However, the franchise will not be content until he can post solid numbers throughout a full 162 games, helping the A’s offense get out of a decade long swoon.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, A’s
One of the top rookies in baseball this season has been A’s second baseman Jemile Weeks. Though he does not have the power of his brother Rickie in Milwaukee, Jemile is a line drive machine with an average over .300 and how about those 41 runs and 21 steals through exactly a half season’s worth of games. Weeks has shown some signs of burgeoning power, with 22 doubles and eight triples. He could improve his patience at the plate, but he’s definitely worth owning in all fantasy leagues.
Scott Sizemore, 3B/2B, A’s
A former top prospect with the Detroit Tigers, Sizemore never did work out in Mo-Town and is now in Oakland. There he has been a source for some much-needed power. His .243 average is nothing to write home about, but his nine home runs and 46 RBI would be doubled over a full 150 games worth of at bats. At 26-years old, Sizemore has shed the top prospect label, but he is still young enough to earn regular playing time as a middle or corner infielder. You would imagine that he’d be able to crack as many as 25 home runs should he escape the pitcher-friendly confines of Oakland Coliseum.
Ruben Tejada, SS/2B, Mets
He has yet to hit a home run this season, but the Mets are fine with that as long as Ruben Tejada offers solid defense and line drives. Tejada is batting .278 right now, which is .065 points better than his .213 mark last season. He does have 12 doubles and an impressive 31 walks, so he is not getting outmatched in the Big Leagues. I would like to see some speed from the 21-year-old middle infielder, and the reason you should pay attention o him right now is that he could end up replacing Jose Reyes, should the Mets sensation depart as a free agent this off-season.
Again manning the charge alone, fantasy expert, Rob Shaw takes a look at some of the best Outfielders in baseball that still might be hanging around your league’s fantasy wire.
Nick Swisher, Yankees
The Yankees bats seem to be waking up, and while he won’t make the All-Star game, Swisher can very much still fix this season. His average is just .245 right now, but consider that he is actually batting .316 this month with a stellar six home runs and 18 RBI. To put that in perspective, in last year’s All-Star season, the most home runs Swisher belted in a month was seven and the most RBI was 19. So he could actually outperform last year’s figures in the few days remaining in June.
Vernon Wells, Angels
Blue Jays fans are very much familiar with the streaky nature of Vernon Wells, but this is the first time that the Angels fan base sees it in person. After a dismal start to the season, Wells is heating up with three home runs and 7 RBI over the last seven games. Wells still has some power, he has nine blasts so far after swatting 31 dingers last season.
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Despite the .296 career average and solid arm in the outfield, Nick Markakis is often considered a disappointment because the power never developed. However, at 27 years old, this Long Island native still has some time on his side. This month Markakis is batting .337 with 13 RBI, which marks a season high. He also has six steals on the season, so keep the Orioles outfielder on your watch list.
BJ Upton, Rays
Dropped in a lot of fantasy leagues thanks to the .219 average as of June 22, BJ Upton is making a case to be a great pickup. He has at least one RBI in each of the last four games and has gone deep in the last three games. On the season, Upton has 20 steals with 11 home runs while racking up 40-plus in runs and RBI. While he will hurt you in average, Upton has the rare ability to help in every other statistic. You have to pick him up if he’s available in your fantasy league’s waiver wire.
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Again accompanied by their live studio audience Rob Shaw and Michelle Steele break-down some Pitcher Pick-Up’s for your Fantasy Baseball team, as well as discuss Jim Riggleman and the Nationals.
John Danks, SP, White Sox
Remember when John Danks was 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA. Well that was at the end of May, and as it turns he hit rock bottom. Ever since, Danks has won all three starts while allowing a combined three runs to score. His ERA, down a full run to 4.29 and his record a not as bad 3-8. Folks, this is a young southpaw with 40 wins over the last three seasons with a solid strikeout total. This is a player you want on your team. Pick him up if he’s available.
Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners
The last time Jason Vargas took the mound, he tossed a 3-hitter. He improved to 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA and an even better 1.18 WHIP. While his lack of K’s keep him away from stardom, his solid control and favorable home park makes him a solid fantasy spot starter. His career record at Safeco is 13-10 with a 3.18 ERA.
Tim Wakefield, SP, Red Sox
At 44-years old, Tim Wakefield is the oldest player in the game, but he is an oldie but goodie. The hurler, who is three wins shy of 200 for his career has won four of his last five decisions, and his ERA isn’t all that bad either at 4.26 ERA. What makes him unique, even among fellow knuckleballers is his control. Wakefield’s 1.14 WHIP is incredible when you consider he has the slowest fastball in the Majors at just 73 MPH.
Tyler Clippard, RP, Nationals
He is not a closer, but yet just like my favorite middle reliever Al Alburquerque, he is worth adding to your fantasy lineup. Tyler Clippard boasts a 1.85 ERA and sensational 0.89 WHIP. Then there are the strikeouts. With 56 K’s in 43.2 innings, he is doing even better than last season when he finished with 112 strikeouts. Picking up Clippard is a sneaky way to improve in strikeouts, WHIP, and ERA for your fantasy team.
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Rob Shaw and Michelle Steele report on the waiver wire, including Yankee killer Chris Heisey, joined for the first time ever by a live studio audience!
Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves
Beachy has just two wins on the season, but with a 3.22 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, fantasy managers are picking up a reliable hurler. Best of all, Beachy, who was undrafted of Indiana Wesleyan, is a strikeout artist. In fact, fresh from more than a month on the disabled list, Beachy fanned 11 batters in just 6 innings on Thursday night. He has 57 K’s on the season in just 50.1 innings of work.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Cubs
He is an all or nothing type slugger, but the good news is that lately he has been more all than nothing. He has gone three straight games with a homer, and make that 5 dingers over the last seven games. Sure, only once did he get an additional hit in those games, but the RBI are piling up as well as the runs scored. This is a guy who can swat 40 in a season, so feel free to pick up the hot bat.
Travis Hafner, 1B, Indians
One of the biggest surprises this season has been the play of the Indians, and if you’re wondering where they’re getting their offense from, well the answer is an oldie, but goodie. Travis Hafner has turned back the clock to hit .338 this season. This is a former .300-plus hitter, so the fact that he is raking is not unprecedented. He is 34-years old, so invest accordingly.
Chris Heisey, OF, Reds
Yankees fans are wondering who the heck is Chris Heisey. Turns out this newfound Yankee killer, Red Sox fans will love this, went to a college called Messiah! Not sure if he is the chosen one, but in a small sampling, Heisey now has 16 home runs in just 329 at bats. This year his slugging is .492, to put that in perspective, his teammate Joey Votto is not that far above him at .519. In 2009, at the high levels of Minor League ball, Heisey blasted 22 home runs with 21 steals and a .314 average. Looks like fantasy managers should put this outfielder on their radar, although playing time could be an issue unless Jonny Gomes finds the bench with his .222 average.
Jonathan Broxton, RP, Dodgers
If you cut Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton following his most recent blowup in early May before landing on the DL, it may be a good idea to pick him right up. We have no idea if his struggles are in the past, but we do know that his manager intends on returning him to the closer’s role once he is healthy. Broxton is on the road to recovery, most recently pitching at Triple-A in a rehab appearance.
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox
After a slow start to the season Jarrod Saltalamacchia is red-hot for the Red Sox. He is batting .400 this month with a home run, two doubles, and a triple. His season average is now a respectable .252 with five home runs. Remember, as bad as he was early in the season, Salty was once a mega prospect who was traded for Mark Teixiera. He may never reach that potential, but if he can hit .280 with 15 home runs in Boston, the run production will pile up. My only warning is that his defense is still not very good, so it will remain a platoon with Jason Varitek.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Lost in the rookie rush a few days ago was the call-up of Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. A former second round pick out of Georgia Tech, the 24-year old has the highly sought combination of power and speed. He was hitting .337 in Colorado Springs with 10 home runs and 12 steals. With Dexter Fowler injured, Blackmon will enjoy a shot at playing everyday. If he contributes, look for him to become an everyday player, which means tons of fantasy value.
Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians
Before the season began we asked Jay Levine from LetsgoTribe.com who was the top hurler on the staff and he surprised us with Carlos Carrasco. At first we questioned his call since Carrasco was just 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA through six starts into the season, but since then, Carrasco has gone 5-1 while lowering his ERA to 4.09. He has not allowed a run in either of his two starts while fanning season highs six and then seven batters. What was most impressive about his last win was that it came in Yankee Stadium against the hot-hotting Bombers. At just 24 years old, Carrasco is a great long-term investment.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
After more than a month on the DL, Ryan Zimmerman will be activated to play tonight. Zimmerman was batting .357 through eight games when he got hurt. His presence should help the entire lineup that has struggled to replace their third baseman as well as their injured first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Johan Santana, SP, Mets
The idea was for the Mets to simply be competitive for the next few weeks until David Wright, Ike Davis, and Johan Santana returned. Well it looks like Johan is not on the path to recovery as fast as we all thought. He has been dealing with soreness and now at the earliest, the Mets ace will not make it back until August. By then, a lot of his teammates could be traded.
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
What does it mean that Derek Jeter is nearing 3,000 hits. Sure, he’s an all-time great, but he is also really old at 36-years old. Well age may have gotten the better of him this week as he strained his calf. This makes the guessing game even harder to play about when he will hit number 3,000. My guess is that because of his age the Yankees will be conservative and place him on the DL, though this could end up being just a day-to-day issue. My guess is that the New York media will keep you updated on his status.
Koji Uehara, RP, OriolesHe may not have any saves so far this season, but Koji Uehara remains the most underrated reliever in baseball. Why? How about a 2.20 ERA and startling 0.80 WHIP? Throughout his career, Uehara boasts 138 K’s to just 23 walks, and the ratio is 35:6 this season. He doesn’t let anyone on base, which minimizes the damage. He won’t help in wiuns or saves, but in ERA, WHIP, and K’s, Uehara is a must add.
Jon Niese, SP, MetsEveryone is talking about Mets rookie Dillon Gee and his splendid 7-0 record, but the better pitcher in my mind is southpaw Jon Niese. Ignore the 5-5 record, Niese has won four of his last five decisions. Over his last five starts Niese has surrendered just five earned runs, cutting his ERA from 5.03 to just 3.51 this season. Niese also gets plenty of K’s, making a solid fantasy pickup.
Bud Norris, SP, AstrosIf in need of a short-term pickup, get to know Astros right-hander Bud Norris. Despite a 4-4 record, Norris is a strikeout artist who averages a K per inning. He also has won his last two starts and on Tuesday has a favorable match-up against the Pirates. Norris is a fine start at home, where his record is 12-8 with a 3.76 ERA.
Carlos Villanueva, SP/RP, Blue JaysA long-time middle reliever for the Brewers, Carlos Villanueva is enjoying a second crack at starting with the Blue Jays. The 27-year old veteran enters the week with a 4-0 record and 3.09 ERA. Most impressively, Villanueva boasts a 0.99 WHIP due to a .196 opposing average. I don’t view this success as long-term, but more a result of the opposition not being familiar with the long-time National Leaguer.
Jonny Venters, RP, BravesWhile I pointed to Koji Uehara as the most underrated reliever in baseball, the best one these days is Braves eighth inning option Jonny Venters. The southpaw dominated last season to the tune of a 1.95 ERA and 93 K’s in 83 innings. He has actually improved this season, allowing just two runs to score in 40.2 innings. He has recently enjoyed some save opportunities with Craig Kimbrell struggling. He is a must-add in deep leagues, though odds are he has already been taken.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals are polar opposites. The Phillies stand atop the NL East with a 37-26 record, while the Royals sit in 4th place in the AL Central with a 27-36 record. Yet, there are more to both teams than their records.
It so happens that the Royals are the youngest team in baseball with an average age of 26.2, while the Phillies are the oldest with an average age of 31. Among the youngest players on the Royals, is standout first-basemen Eric Hosmer at 21.
Hosmer, is hitting amongst the likes of Placido Polanco, the 35-year-old Phillies third baseman. Kansas City has the lowest Payroll in the MLB at $36,126,400, while the Phillies payroll, $172,976,381 is only second only to the New York Yankees; making the Phillies payroll about five-times that of the Royals.
Some good news for Kansas City is that they are hitting well, ranking 9th in Runs, Batting-Average, and OBP. On the other hand, the Phillies rank 17th, 20th, and 19th respectively. The old dogs aren’t just rolling over yet.
To no surprise, the Phillies well-tenured pitching staff (including big names Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels) are dominating the younger Royals staff. The stacked Phillies rotation ranks 2nd in ERA and 1st in Quality Starts, with the average age among pitchers at 30 years old. With an average age just over 25, the struggling Royals staff is almost in last place (29th) in ERA and Quality Starts.
While Philadelphia is the team to beat in the NL, Kansas City is a team to take note of. With the All-Star break coming up next month, it will be interesting to see the performance of these two teams in the latter half of the season. Will the younger team be able to mature and continue to get better as the season progresses? Will the old arms of the Phillies hold up as the games start to add up?
Written by Matt Sbordone, Bloomberg Sports @SbordoneZone
The Worst Fantasy Infielders In Baseball
Catcher: Drew Butera, Twins (Rank 1094)
Called into action because of the Joe Mauer injury, Butera, a former firth round pick, hit just .197 last season. That is actually considered a career year for the 27-year-old backstop who is now batting .150 with one home run in 107 at bats.
First Base: James Loney, Dodgers (Rank 778)
It’s bad enough that Loney has never been able to hit with much power, but now that his average is down to .242 on the season after hitting just .267 last season, Loney is not tolerable.
Second Base: Chone Figgins, Mariners (Rank 945)
Rewarded with a long-term contract in Seattle, Figgins responded with a disappointing .259 average last season and just 62 runs scored. As bad as it was, a .286 average following the All-Star break made it look like an aberration. Not the case, as Figgins is hitting just .182 this season and is now batting eighth in the Mariners lineup.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Giants (Rank 939)
Thinking that Miguel Tejada would be an improvement over Edgar Renteria, the Giants acquired the veteran shortstop. A .217 average with one home run and seven errors suggests this was not the best move.
Third base: Jose Lopez, Rockies (Rank 983)
Once considered a rising star, Jose Lopez blasted 25 home runs with 96 RBI in 2009. However, his inability to draw walks coupled with diminishing returns made Lopez expendable in his first season with the Rockies. He has officially been released with a .208 average in 125 at bats.