6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 11
Sunday was a glorious day, my friends. As an unabashed lover of the young pups, seeing two of the game's top prospects in a Major League uni for the first time got me all hot and bothered.
When prospects earn their promotion to the Majors, that doesn't mean they come without risk. We'll try to address some of those risks here and whether or not the guys on this list are worth their baggage.
We'll also add in some other guys that are more likely to fly under your waiver-wire radar if those selfish bros and broettes in your league gobble up the top studs first. Without further ado, let's roll!
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
I know that I'm taking a few liberties here as Byron Buxton is owned in just under 50 percent of ESPN leagues. Usually, I try to stick exclusively to guys who are available in two-thirds of all leagues. But I just need a chance to gush about this man that I so deeply adore.
The reason I have had this lil dude's Fangraphs page book marked since the middle of 2013 is he is silly fast. He had 20 steals in 59 games at Double-A prior to his promotion to go with 44 runs and 12 triples. Those numbers would have ranked third, sixth and first respectively in the Majors entering Sunday had he posted them at the top level. You think that can't help your team out?
Lots of people may look at Buxton's .283/.351/.489 slash at Double-A and question his readiness. I assure you that I have similar concerns, but those numbers are deceiving. Buxton basically missed all of last year with a laundry list of injuries, so it makes sense he would struggle early on. His numbers since April 25th were .310/.379/.540, and since May 19th they were .364/.447/.580. It was a rough start, but he had been tearing it up recently, and he could continue to do so now in Minnesota.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Francisco Lindor's immediate value, in my mind, is a bit lower than that of Buxton. However, he helps make up for that in having eligibility at a position that is starved for offensive production.
It seems as though Lindor's greatest value would be in Roto leagues in which batting average is a category. At Triple-A, Lindor had a .281/.348/.399 slash for a .347 wOBA. That's far from terrible, but you're not going to get a lot from him in a league that emphasizes slugging. He showed a bit more pop last year, knocking out 14 home runs between three Minor League levels, but the 30 stolen bases he posted would be the more immediate asset he provides.
Like Buxton, Lindor got off to a slow start this year. He had rebounded over the past month, though, hitting .315/.368/.454 from May 8th on. That's the type of production that would play in the Majors, and that's why Lindor may warrant the risk he carries right now.
Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
I have been hesitant to buy into Justin Turner this year. He's in his age-30 season, and prior to last year, he had never recorded a slugging percentage above .400. Then I looked at his rest-of-season numberFire projections, and I'm very close to being sold.
Thus far, Turner has hit .316/.388/.493 in 152 plate appearances. That should regress when you consider his .352 BABIP, but not too drastically, if numberFire's projections are on. They peg Turner as a .290/.361/.451 hitter the rest of the way, which is really not too shabby. He has seen fairly consistent playing time when he has been healthy, and that has been the major concern for most Dodgers waiver candidates this year.
There are still a few reservations I have with Turner. First, there are a lot of dope third basemen out there. Second, on ESPN, he still has a way to go before he reaches eligibility at other positions, though he's good to roll at second base and shortstop on Yahoo!. Third, if Corey Seager gets called up (which he could in the not-so-distant future), that's another guy who will need at-bats. I think right now Turner is worthy of an add if you need help at the hot corner, but that could change as we get further into the season.
Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Matt Shoemaker has been one of the hardest dudes to figure out this year. He got rocked in his first 8 starts with a 6.29 ERA and a 5.76 FIP. His ground-ball rate was disturbingly low at just 31.3 percent. Even then, he was striking out 8.53 batters per nine while walking 1.83 to give him a 3.91 xFIP. He seems to have turned a corner.
Over his last four starts, including a meh game Sunday, Shoemaker has a 2.31 ERA despite seeing an up-tick in his walks issued. Part of this reversal is because of a ground-ball rate closer to the league average, which is encouraging. So, which version is the real Shoemaker?
If we're comparing him to last year's Shoemaker, then this year's version is certainly a downgrade. His whiff rate is down, as is his fastball velocity. But he doesn't need to be as good as he was last year to be ownable. If he keeps up the performance he has shown of late with more ground balls and a sustained strikeout rate, then he could be a valuable addition.
Carter Capps, RP, Miami Marlins
Looking for that set-up guy to drag your ERA down in Roto leagues? Here's one in Carter Capps who's owned in 2.5 percent of ESPN leagues despite spewing filth. I'd assume the lack of ownership is because he has only been back in the big leagues less than a month, but his production has been unreal since.
In his 14 overall innings this season (one of which came in April and the rest coming after May 20th), Capps has 25 strikeouts. That equates to 16.07 per nine innings. He has only walked 1.93 batters per nine and has a 45.5 ground-ball percentage. Holy swoon, Batman.
The real craziness hits when you look at his peripheral stats. Opponents are swinging at 45.1 percent of his pitches outside of the zone. The highest among pitchers that have thrown at least 20 innings is Jared Hughes at 43.1. Opponents are making contact 53.4 percent of the time when they swing. Andrew Miller is the only pitcher that has thrown at least 20 innings below 60.0 percent with his mark of 56.4. Basically, Capps has been the illest dude in the bigs in the very small sample size he has provided. If Wade Davis can be owned in 63.5 percent of leagues without providing saves, then Capps should be well above his current ownership.
Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs
Before I delve too deeply into Pedro Strop, I should note that Carson Smith is still only owned in 28.7 percent of ESPN leagues. The Mariners may not generate a ton of save opportunities, but his situation is more stable than that of Strop, so I'd roll with him if you desperately need saves. That said, we covered Smith in last week's column, so let's bump with Strop now.
Strop's main value comes from the uncertainty surrounding Hector Rondon. Personally, I'm not sure I get that as Rondon has a better ERA, FIP and xFIP than Strop. But I have no say in this, and if Joe Maddon says that Rondon may end up with a different role, I have no grounds to question his thinking. Strop would most likely be next man up until Rafael Soriano is ready, and that could be a bit still.
Strop does several things well: he gets ground balls, and he racks up a good number of strikeouts. That gives him value as a fantasy reliever, but I don't think it's enough to justify an add if he doesn't end up getting closing duties. I'd say add him now as the upside is good if Rondon does get the boot, but don't be afraid to have a quick trigger in dropping him if the save chances don't come.