Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds: Week 5
Grab the kids.
Last year, Major League Baseball saw more impact rookies get called up to the Major Leagues than at any time in its history. Last year, there were 16 position player rookies who were worth at least 2.0 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs (fWAR), and another eight who were pitchers for a total of 24.
Compare that to 2014 when 16 rookies reached 2.0 fWAR or higher, 14 in 2013, 19 in 2012, and so on. In no other MLB season have so many first-year players had such an impact on the game.
And while 2016 is nowhere near as big in terms of rookies as last year, there are a few kids making the Majors of whom you should take note. This week, we're looking specifically at some pitcher additions.
The key is knowing which young hurlers getting called up are worth making a wire claim on and which are worth ignoring. Leading off the waiver wire adds for Week 5 are four young studs who have either just gotten the call or soon will.
Blake Snell - Tampa Bay Rays (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 11.3%
Blake Snell is still readily available in most ESPN leagues and has made just one start since being called up, lasting five innings and giving up one earned run on two hits with six strikeouts. The 23-year-old left-hander has always been a high strikeout guy in the minors, averaging 12.36 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) in four Triple-A starts this year and 11.57 K/9 in nine starts there last season. Snell also spent a chunk of time in Double-A last season and dominated there too, with 10.35 K/9 and a 1.57 ERA in 12 starts.
Snell has been sent back down to Triple-A after making his one start with Tampa, but if you managed to snag him for your roster, he's worth a stash for whenever he's called up this year to stay with the team long-term.
Jose Berrios - Minnesota Twins (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 37.8%
Fireballing right-hander Jose Berrios has made just one start since being called up by Minnesota, and while he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs, he flashed some of the reasons why he came into the season as the number-seven pitching prospect by ESPN's Keith Law.
Jose Berrios getting that first K in style. https://t.co/vbJv1r2X6W pic.twitter.com/BjWM9JlBCH
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) April 28, 2016
Like Snell, Berrios has been a strikeout machine in the minors, averaging 9.87 K/9 with a 2.62 ERA in 12 starts with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate last year, and his numbers were similar in Double-A last year too.
The kid has a ton of talent and, if he's able to get his feet under him quickly, could be a difference-maker.
Sean Manaea - Oakland A's (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 21.4%
Oakland's Sean Manaea made his Major League debut on Friday and lasted five innings, giving up four earned runs hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Chalk it up to rookie jitters for the young left-hander, who specializes in a mid-90s fastball with a ton of spin that helps keep him effective against right-handed hitters.
Control is an issue for Manaea, as it is for many young pitchers, but he can miss a ton of bats as well. He struck out 10.50 batters per nine in three Triple-A starts this year and K'd 10.76 per nine in seven starts there last year. In fact, at every stop along the way since 2014, he's never averaged fewer than 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Tyler Glasnow - Pittsburgh Pirates (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 11.5%
For a dude who isn't even on a big league roster at the moment, Pirates prospect Tyler Glasnow sure is owned in quite a number of ESPN leagues. But there is a reason for that.
Glasnow is really dang good. In four starts this season at Triple-A (21 innings), Glasnow has a 2.57 ERA and is striking out 12.86 batters per nine innings. Last year, in eight starts there, he whiffed 10.54 per nine, but walks are a problem -- 4.83 per nine innings last year in those eight Triple-A starts. He features a hard fastball and a nasty changeup that keeps lefties honest.
When he gets the call, you'll want to have him on your roster.
Rich Hill - Oakland A's (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 47.3%
Oakland's Rich Hill is the polar opposite of the pitchers mentioned above. He doesn't throw particularly hard and, at 36 years old, is no spring chicken. However, he's been ridiculously good this season, now 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA, 2.99 fielding independent pitching (FIP) and 11.53 K/9.
What makes it even more incredible is that Hill doesn't even throw all that hard.
Rich Hill has highest swing/miss rate on his fastball at 35.6%. Avg 90.4 mph, but throws it up in zone w/ movement. pic.twitter.com/c2cRtsZmGO
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) April 27, 2016
Hill has had an amazing journey from becoming a wild, aging relief pitcher to one of the game's most effective starters. Long story short, with a few small adjustments here and some good luck there, and Hill has become one of the best pitchers in baseball.
John Jaso - Pittsburgh Pirates (1B)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 22.4%
Here is John Jaso's weighted runs created (wRC+) totals since 2012: 143, 121, 121, 136, and a robust 128 so far this season. No matter where he's gone, Jaso has hit, and he's doing again this year as the Pirates' first baseman, slashing .306/.375/.471 with 2 homers, 8 RBI, and 11 runs scored.
There's not much more to say about the 32-year-old. He produces. Go get him.
Chase Utley - Los Angeles Dodgers (2B)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 17.4%
As an owner of Dee Gordon in one of my fantasy leagues, news of his 80-game suspension had me a tad crestfallen this week. So, like many of you, I went hunting for second basemen. And lo and behold, what did I find? None other than the reborn Chase Utley now working out as a lead-off hitter extraordinaire for the Dodgers.
One year after slashing .212/.286/.343, Utley is suddenly producing the way he used to, batting .286/.375/.440 in 96 plate appearances this year. He has scored 13 runs, driven in 7 out of the top spot in the order, and earned a wRC+ of 123, which is his highest since 2013.
No one likes losing Dee Gordon, but getting Utley as a replacement isn't a bad substitute.