Fantasy Baseball Pickups — Walking the Wire After Week Three
Without a doubt the hottest player in terms of waiver wire pickups over the past week has been San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford. I choose to open with him for the pure fact to tell you not to jump on that bandwagon. Nothing stings worse than picking up a flash in the pan and cutting loose a guy you end up needing down the line.
A quick look at Crawford’s career numbers are all the proof you need. In 1,107 minor league plate appearances he hit .266 with 21 homers and 98 RBIs. He never hit more than 10 homers or drove in more than 48 runs in a season. Including this years stats, Crawford has hit .242 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs over 765 plate appearances in the bigs.
Even if this kid is in the midst of a breakout season, what qualifies a breakout for him? A .270 average with 10 homers and 50 RBIs seems about right for the 26-year-old. Chances are the guy you are cutting can at least match those numbers. Do yourself a favor and hold tight.
** Percentage available taken from ESPN on Sunday April 21st
Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI (95.8%)
His 25-game suspension for the use of Adderall is set to expire on April 28, meaning this time next week, Ruiz will be ready for game action. Last season he set career best marks in homers (16), RBIs (68) and batting average (.325) for a Phillies team that really struggled on offense. He should slot right into the meat of their order and continue driving in runs upon his return.
Chris Johnson, 1B, ATL (30.8%)
Since Freddie Freeman went on the DL back on April 7, Johnson has been lights out, hitting .423 with two homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. Freeman’s return means Johnson will shift back over to third base and should start regularly, making Juan Francisco take a seat on the pine. Hitting fifth in a potent Braves lineup should put him in line for a career season.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE (7.1%)
Heading into this season, Kipnis was my fifth-ranked second baseman. Needless to say, I am floored that he has even found himself hitting waiver wires in the first place. A sore elbow has caused him to miss five games and definitely contributed to his slow start, but that is no cause to drop a 26-year-old coming off a .257-86-14-76-31 season. If he is available in your league, go out and grab him. Consider this your public service announcement.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS (94.6%)
Ryan Zimmerman’s trip to the DL opened the door for Rendon to be recalled from Double-A, where he posted a .462 OBP over his first 48 at-bats. He is Baseball America’s 30th-ranked prospect, so this 22-year-old comes with plenty of hype. The Nationals didn’t call him up to ride the bench, so we should get a two-week look at him at the very least. Possibly longer once we get an idea as to the severity of Zimmerman’s hamstring problem. Rendon is worth a speculative add in mixed leagues on potential alone.
Eduardo Nunez, SS, NYY (97.7%)
Word that Derek Jeter will now be out until at least the All-Star break means Nunez will get regular playing time at short for the Yankees. He is off to a brutal start, but a little job security will hopefully get the 25-year-old in gear. He does a solid job of putting the bat on the ball and offers plus speed. That speed will be what makes him fantasy relevant. If you need some swipes, he is one of the best options currently on the wire.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, KC (77.0%)
The biggest problem for Cain throughout his young career has been – Cain himself. He has never played in more than 132 games dating back to ’06. When on the field and locked-in, though, he performs, and now happens to be one of those times. He has shown steady improvement throughout his career and is fully capable of posting a .280-80-15-70-30 line if he manages to stay healthy and play 145 games. I loved him heading into this season, and he has done his best to prove me right so far.
Garrett Jones, OF, PIT (38.4%)
Jones is coming off a season that saw him set career best totals in homers (27) and RBIs (86). His power is legit; he has combined for 246 career homers in the majors and minors. His main bug-a-boo has been dealing with lefties, whom he has hit just .199 against over the last three seasons. Shrewd owners can still find him useful with some planning though. He is worth a roster spot in all 12-team mixed leagues.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, COL (63.1%)
Listen, there is absolutely nothing sexy about Wandy. At 34, he is definitely working his way to the downside of his career. His K/9 has barely hovered above 6.0 over his last 36 starts. That doesn’t mean he still can’t be useful in fantasy. He has posted an ERA under 3.76 in each of the last five seasons. That makes him a reliable innings-eater who should hang around for wins through most of his starts. Every fantasy staff can use one of those guys.
Wade Davis, SP, KC (95.9%)
Davis was the “other” arm that came over in the Wil Myers-for-James Shields deal. In Tampa last season, Davis proved to be a dominant bullpen arm, but Royals’ GM Dayton Moore immediately installed him into their rotation and so far it looks like a wise decision. Two things I like so far this season: first is his swinging strike percentage of 9.9, tied for 30th among starters; second is that his cutter has been flat out nasty, opponents are swinging and missing at that 18.33 percent.
Edward Mujica, RP, STL (55.7%)
One man’s loss is another’s gain. Jason Motte came into the season as the Cards’ closer, but an elbow injury will likely end his season. Mitchell Boggs was then handed the job, and he has been awful. In 10 appearances, Boggs blew two saves and given up eight earned runs. Mujica doesn’t have electric stuff, but he does have the confidence of manager Mike Matheny. He earned the Cards’ last save, and he is the man to own in their pen right now.