6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 8
I had planned to devote this week's piece solely to peeps coming back from injuries because there are about half a bajillion. But all of the dudes I would have recommended are already owned in about half of ESPN leagues, so that idea flew out the window.
On the off chance you are in those leagues where the walking dead got dumped, you should check out waivers to see if some of these guys are available. They would include Yan Gomes, Matt Wieters, Josh Hamilton, and Ben Zobrist. These guys have some craaaaazy upside, but they're all still available in at least 30 percent of ESPN leagues. I'd at least check to see if they're available in your league.
As for the rest of these young pups, they are all available in around two-thirds of ESPN fantasy leagues. They are all decent fill-in candidates if you've got a hole that needs fixing. Now, here are the guys you may want to consider adding in fantasy baseball.
Anthony Gose, OF, Detroit Tigers
By including Anthony Gose here, I'm not trying to say that he'll keep up his success. His .467 BABIP is juuuuuuuust a wee bit inflated. But the fact that a guy who often hits leadoff on an offense as good as Detroit's is available in over 70 percent of ESPN leagues is mind-boggling.
Gose is a major regression candidate when it comes to his .336/.374/.481 slash, but that's okay. If he can still get on base at around a .330 or .340 clip, which isn't entirely unrealistic, he will provide enough value with his steals and his runs scored to justify a roster spot.
Once the regression begins, it may not be as drastic as it would be for most guys with a .467 BABIP. In the minors, his BABIP usually floated around .340, which is well above league average because of his speed. His pre-season ZiPS projection was .346, so the over-performance isn't as bad as it looks on its face. He'll come back to Earth, but he should be able to provide you some value.
Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox
While we're on the subject of leadoff batters, Adam Eaton is finally starting to emerge from his early-season slump. Over his last 12 games entering yesterday, he had a .333/.370/.529 slash and had scored 10 times. His offense isn't as high-powered as Gose's, but he as an individual might be superior.
Eaton is the opposite of Gose in that his BABIP is well below expectation. It's at .280 following a year in which he had a .359 BABIP, resulting in a projected .322 ZiPS BABIP for this year. Even though his BABIP was 79 points higher last year, his hard-hit rate is 0.3 percentage points higher this year, and his soft-hit rate is down 2.7 percentage points. His rate stats will come up, which will lead to additional opportunities in the other categories.
The White Sox offense isn't great right now, but that's because most of the individuals are performing way below expectations. This doesn't seem sustainable for all of them, especially Jose Abreu. If they can turn things around like Eaton has started to do, the offense will have greater value. At that point, you'll definitely want Eaton on your roster with the runs he'll provide, so it might be in your best interest to just snag him while you can.
Mike Bolsinger, SP/RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mike Bolsinger is in the same realm as Gose in that he's obviously going to regress. I know that's shocking with his 0.71 ERA, but that's how life goes. He does look like a quality add, though, even when you factor in this regression.
Through his first four starts, Bolsinger has a 2.74 FIP as he has been able to keep his walks lower than they were both last year and in the minors. His strikeouts are also a bit up, and that should be sustainable when you consider that his whiff rate has increased to 24.2 percent from 18.9.
The main reason I have been sold on Bolsinger, though, is the number of ground balls he induces. His ground-ball rate sits at 58.3 percent, which would rank seventh among all starters if he had thrown enough innings to qualify. This keeps the number of home runs he allows down, and, thus, lends that pretty ERA a little hand.
Tanner Roark, SP/RP, Washington Nationals
This one is very much on the temporary side, but Tanner Roark can serve as a decent patch for those of you feeling the wrath of Doug Fister. He's nothing flashy, but he has a good track record as a starter.
In 229.2 career innings as a starter, Roark has a 2.70 ERA with a 3.34 FIP and a 3.75 xFIP. He has never posted great strikeout numbers, but he doesn't walk a bunch of dudes and he gets ground balls. Like I said, he's nothing too exciting, but he can help hold down the house for at least a little bit.
I would have one serious reservation with Roark, though. He has been quite blurgh-ish this year working in relief. He has maintained a 2.66 ERA in spite of averaging 3.10 strikeouts per nine innings. He also is averaging the most walks per nine of his entire three-year career. Is this because he's not suited for the bullpen? Maybe. But it should serve as at least a word of caution for those turning to Roark for the time being.
Danny Espinosa, 2B, Washington Nationals
Does this seem as dumb to you as it does to me? Yes? Okay. Cool. Glad we cleared that up. Anyway, I'm suggesting this for a reason, so let's check out Mr. Danny Espinosa.
Ever since the start of the 2013 season, Espinosa has been among the fantasy undesirables. This year, though, he has seen a huge spike in his walk percentage and a decrease in his strikeouts. This has taken him well above the marks he posted even back in his glory days. If that's a real thing.
Last year, when Espinosa had just a .280 wOBA, he made contact 66 percent of the time he swung. He has jacked that all the way up to 76.6 percent this year. He's also swinging at just 33.7 percent of pitches outside of the zone this year compared to 38.1 last year and 42.7 in 2013. This has pumped up both his on-base percentage and batting average despite a slight decrease in his BABIP.
Outside of this, I'm also just trying to buy into Washington's offense right now. Of the 34 players that have scored at least 17 runs in the past 30 days, four of them are Nationals. Espinosa is one of them, even though he has been hitting low in the order. Normally, I would never roster a guy batting eighth in the National League, but the Nats right now are serving as an exception to a bunch of conventions.
Logan Morrison, 1B, Seattle Mariners
Again, weird, right? Logan Morrison hasn't posted a slugging percentage greater than .420 since 2011. He's also in a pitcher's park and plays at a position that requires much more offense than his current .220/.299/.393 slash. So, what gives, yo? Well, if batted ball data can tell us anything, it's screaming that Morrison is hitting the ball better than his stats would indicate.
Entering play yesterday, there were 36 players that had a hard-hit rate of 36.0 percent or higher. Only one of those 36 had a BABIP lower than .248. That would be Morrison, whose BABIP was at a crazy low .220. And it's not as if he had a bunch of wimpy shots mixed in there, too. He has the 46th lowest soft-hit rate out of 173 qualified batters. He's hitting the ball extremely well, but it's not showing up on the stat sheet just yet.
This doesn't mean that Morrison is about to magically morph into Bryce Harper. Though that would be dope. It just means that if his results begin to mimic how well he is hitting the ball, he could provide some nice little value on the wire. If you've got a spot on your bench to use just in case, this might not be a bad little high-upside endeavor.