6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5
The waiver wire is a dark, dark place right about now. The fun prospects have been snatched, the breakouts consumed, and the resurgences absorbed.
That doesn't mean there aren't some fun little duders waiting for your embrace. With the sample sizes starting to accumulate, we can begin to tell what's legit and what's a total smoke screen.
The list below is based on guys that are owned in roughly less than 30 percent of ESPN leagues. That excludes a guy like Brandon Morrow who is at 41.1 percent, but he's worth an add if he's on your wire. Also, with Carlos Rodon's move to the rotation getting closer with every Hector Noesi start, you should give him a look as well. Now, let's look at the guys that are deserving of an add if you are in need for this week.
Note: This list was compiled before the Padres announced they would be calling up top prospect Austin Hedges, who was slashing .343/.413/.552 before being called up from Triple-A. I wouldn't automatically add him, but I'd monitor his usage vis a vis Derek Norris and act accordingly.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins
How 'bout them Twins? They're over .500 for the first time since last May despite starting the season 1-6. A big part of that success has been Trevor Plouffe's solid bat in the middle of the order.
Plouffe started to show improvement last year, taking his slash up to .258/.328/.423 with 14 home runs. He has proceeded to improve in each slash category this year as he currently sits at .278/.356/.478 following a grand slam yesterday.
Plouffe is a decent add if you need help at third base in either roto or points leagues. His average most likely won't stay at .278, but his improved plate discipline (swinging at 21.1 percent of pitches outside of the zone as opposed to 25.8 last year and 29.3 in 2013) should make his on-base percentage more sustainable than it would have been in previous years. If they keep him in the clean-up spot, he should see RBI opportunities, too, with Joe Mauer doing Joe Mauer things again. He's far better than his 2.7 ownership percentage on ESPN would indicate.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Houston Astros
If I'm going to rip off a, "How 'bout them Twins?" for a team that's one game above .500, I suppose I should give some dap to a team with a 10-game winning streak. All hail our new overlords, the Houston Astros.
I would like to qualify this endorsement by saying that Colby Rasmus is ideally suited for a league in which you can make substitutions on a daily basis. With him largely sitting against lefties, you run into a bit of a volume risk in weekly leagues. He's also not ideal for leagues that deduct for his sub-Gucci 40.2 strikeout percentage. When he makes contact, though, dude is flat-out raking.
The concern with Rasmus has never been power. It has been his health. With that in tact so far this year, Rasmus has unleashed the silliness. His .554 slugging percentage drifts you back to his days of yore in 2010 and 2013 where he hovered around .500. With a heavily increased fly-ball percentage, it should stay elevated throughout this year, making him productive in a league where you're in need of some additional bop.
Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
If there were a roto category for web gems, Kevin Pillar would be da fantasy gawd. It's not, so he's not, but he can still provide decent value in several other categories.
With all of the injuries the Blue Jays have accumulated, Pillar has been slowly sliding up in the batting order. Before April 28th, he had batted higher than seventh only once. He has done it now four of the past five games, meaning he can better benefit from the production of the quality hitters at the top of the order. As a result, his runs batted in have gone up as of late, and his runs scored have increased, partially because of increased effectiveness in his own stick, but also because of the up-tick in volume.
Pillar is also a decent little add if you need some steals. He has four on the season, but he swiped 27 last year in 100 games in Triple-A. So, basically, the only category he doesn't contribute in a traditional five-by-five roto is home runs. That changes a bit if you're in an on-base percentage league, but Pillar has been sneakily not too shabby thus far.
Nick Hundley, C, Colorado Rockies
I'm generally always in favor of rostering Colorado Rockies players. With the way Nick Hundley has hit so far this year, he most certainly is not an exception.
In a big way, Hundley's .328/.384/.463 slash is not sustainable. Most slashes aren't sustainable when they're accompanied by a .404 BABIP. However, there have been some positives in Hundley's approach that make him a more intriguing option than other regression candidates.
The chart below shows some of his plate discipline numbers over the past two years. These should prevent him from returning to the lands of the always inspirational .273 on-base percentage he posted last year. O-Swing percentage refers to the percentage of pitches he chases that are outside of the zone.
The big issue with Hundley is volume as he generally has been sitting once every four or five days. That's going to be the case with most catchers, especially those on the waiver wire, though, so I'm willing to take a chance when you need a change at catcher.
Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
With Ryan Hanigan out for the next couple of months, it's the Blake Swihart show in Boston. Although it was probably earlier than would have been ideal, it'll be interesting to see how he performs in the big-leagues.
Swihart most likely won't start to dazzle with his bat yet this year for the Red Sox. His pre-season Steamer projections were for a .251/.294/.365 slash in the majors with four home runs in 243 plate appearances. He's a great defensive catcher, warranting him a ranking of 10th on Keith Law's top 100 prospects prior to the season. His bat just might not quite be there yet.
Even with that said, it's not as though he's some scrub with the stick. Swihart had a .367 wOBA in his 74 plate appearances at Triple-A prior to the call-up and slashed .300/.353/.487 at Double-A in 380 plate appearances last year. He's worth an add if you're starting Roberto Perez in a two-catcher league (I'm not proud that this is me), but just be sure to temper the short-term expectations for this long-term stud.
Mike Fiers, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
If you're looking for wins in a roto league, it's best to avoid the Brewers as a whole. But, if you want some strikeouts and some nice rebound potential, Mike Fiers is a good target.
Fiers' raw stats of a 4.74 ERA and 4.24 FIP really aren't that great so far. That said, dude has been unlucky in pretty much every category in which you luck can factor. Opponents have a .409 BABIP against him, even though the league as a whole is only at .291. He has also allowed home runs on 17.9 percent of the fly balls against him, which should normalize to around the league average of 10.3 percent. That's the big reason his FIP is so high, but his xFIP (which sets the home run to fly ball ratio to the league average) is at 3.13.
The thing to love about Fiers is the strikeouts. He's sitting at 12.41 strikeouts per nine now after posting an also stout mark of 9.54 last year. Eventually his bad luck should start to turn around, and Fiers will be a decent option in leagues where you're not emphasizing wins.