6 Early-Season Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds
The season hasn't even started yet, and we're already talking waivers? You bet your bottom, Billy Bob! It's never too early to peruse the wire and find a couple of goodies to please the palate.
In reality, you're probably not going to want to add any of these guys right now. If you're looking to fill the hole of a guy on the disabled list (Coco Crisp, nooooooo), then now might be the time. But, for the most part, the guys you drafted were drafted for a reason.
These guys are more the ones you want to keep an eye on as opening day rolls around. If they get off to a decent start, then you'll want to deploy the troops and get these puppies on your team. Let's get to it!
Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Remember how I said you might not want to add any of these guys just yet? It is your civic responsibility as a living, breathing, fantasy-loving human of this earth to add Matt Shoemaker this instant. I realize he's already owned in 41.4 percent of ESPN leagues, which makes him very borderline eligible here, but it's so not cool that he's even that widely available.
In 121.1 innings as a starter last year, Shoemaker had a 2.89 ERA and 2.88 FIP while striking out 8.16 and walking 1.56 per nine. Those are crazy good numbers that are largely sustainable. His BABIP against should rise a bit and his strand percentage will come down, but even after that, an ERA in the 3.40-range is more than realistic.
When you look at the end of your bench for pitchers, what do you see? If you see older guys with limited upside, no bueno. I'm cutting bait right now for the guy whose ceiling is 15 times higher. So what if Shoemaker doesn't work out the same as he did last year? Nary a soul that has spilled tears over a lost John Lackey.
Brandon McCarthy, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Brandon McCarthy was a freaking magician last year. Despite allowing an unsustainably, unfathomably high 16.3 home run to fly-ball ratio, he still posted an ERA of 4.05. When you can do that pitching at Chase Field and Yankee Stadium, you're doing something right. Now, he goes to Los Angeles. Time to buy.
McCarthy is more on the end of replacing an injured/ineffective player than Shoemaker, but he's certainly worth a look. Last year's 7.88 strikeouts and 1.49 walks per nine mean that he should have a high floor this year. He has also increased his ground-ball rate to 52.6 percent from 40.5 percent just three years ago. Basically, everything about the numbers he posted suggest that his success is legit.
McCarthy is also now on a team that is -- far and away -- numberFire's top-ranked team entering the season. If your league emphasizes wins and losses (mouth-vomit), the odds are slim he will duplicate last year's 10-15 record. He's basically the ideal waiver-wire add in that he's not going to blow your team up, and he adds plenty of reason for optimism.
Chase Headley, 3B, New York Yankees
I mentioned this last night on the numberFire Periscope chat, but I am really digging on Chase Headley this year. He was also a guy Dan Szymborski pointed out when comparing his ZiPS projections to average draft position as a guy that was grossly underrated. Yet he sits on waivers in almost two-thirds of all leagues.
Headley is the dream handcuff to Kris Bryant. You can either get him on waivers or in the final two rounds of your draft, and, while playing in Yankee Stadium, he could end up providing enough value to be a trade chip later on.
I know limiting sample size is gross, but Headley's performance in the second half of the season (aka once he left the Petco death trap) was notable. He hit .265/.367/402 with a .346 wOBA. Those are great numbers, especially in OBP roto leagues, for a player that is sitting on waivers just waiting to be snatched.
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
In 2014, there were only six catchers who hit more than 20 home runs. One of them is currently only owned in 32.8 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. That would be Mr. Mike Zunino.
If you're in a roto league and trying to perform well in either average or on-base percentage, you might want to stay away. If not, this guy would be a great injury replacement if you need one down the line.
The Mariners should see an increase in offense because Kendrys Morales is no longer their burden and the addition of Nelson Cruz brings some more pop. It's mostly the Kendrys thing, though. If there are more guys on base in front of Zunino, that will help his value, as well. I wouldn't recommend picking him up if you have a starting catcher because carrying two catchers is gross, but he's worth it if you need a plug early on.
Anthony Gose, OF, Detroit Tigers
If Anthony Gose starts getting plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, watch out. This guy is volume away from going nuts.
This seems like a constant discussion, but it's important to remember that fantasy value is not equivalent to real-world value. Anthony Gose, in his current form, is not a good hitter. He is not close to being so. But if Brad Ausmus is going to bat this son-of-a-gun leadoff, then I'm cool with adding him to my roster.
Gose once stole 76 bases in one season in low-A ball. When you put stolen base abilities like that in a player that is hitting in front of Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, hot mama there's a fire in the kitchen. His on-base percentage could be below the Mendoza Line and he'd still have some value.
Again, this is a wait-and-see guy. If he is in the lineup every day and hitting leadoff, I'm all up on it. But if he's a full-out platoon and hitting eighth, I'm out for right now.
Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Dalton Pompey is very much more a target if you're happy with the depth you have in your hitters. That's a situation where you can afford to take more risks, and Pompey is just that. However, he is a risk that has some serious upside.
While rising from high-A to triple-A ball last year, Pompey stole 43 bases in 500 plate appearances. If he can get on-base and record a decent number of plate appearances, he could provide value this year.
There are two legit knocks on Pompey. First, he isn't projected to hit the lights out. Second, he will most likely be batting low in the order. That's part of the risk associated with a guy like Pompey. That said, I'm not as worried about the first concern as I thought I'd be.
The chart below is the numberFire projections for three different hitters. These are just the rate stats for three dudes that are stolen base aficionados, two of which have average draft positions below 100. The other is Pompey.
Depending on what kind of league you're in, Player C is very comparable to Player A. Player A, in case you hadn't guessed is Billy Hamilton and his 54 ADP. Player B is Dee Gordon, who's going 84th on average. Pompey is owned in less than one-third of all leagues. This is as much an indictment on Hamilton's ADP as it is an endorsement of Pompey, but I'd still roster him once you can ensure he'll get the volume.