As we head into the final weeks of the fantasy baseball season, staying active on the waiver wire could be the difference between finishing the season in the money spots or being just another also-ran. If you’re in a head-to-head league, your playoffs may have already started this week. And it’s very possible some of your fellow owners are already focusing on fantasy football (what’s that?). This edition of The Waiver Wire will point out the names of some players making an impact right now and who are available in a majority of ESPN, Yahoo! and/or CBS leagues. Feel free to send me a slice of your winnings. I accept PayPal.
Outfielder Jon Jay of the St. Louis Cardinals came out of the gates on fire this season, going 22-for-55 (.400 BA) in 15 April games with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, seven runs and a .986 OPS for a virtually undrafted player (ESPN ADP: ~260.0; Y! ADP 244.3; CBS ADP 268.02).
May, June and July were less favorable to Jay as he dealt with right shoulder issues which landed him on the DL for 36 games from mid-May to late-June. In 45 games played over those three months, Jay hit just .247 with no home runs and a .305 slugging percentage. Fantasy baseball owners who felt smart for grabbing him in April bailed in droves as his fantasy numbers continued to fade.
The dog days of August have been anything but that for Jay as he’s heating up as the temperature continues to rise. In 17 games, he’s produced a robust 5×5 line of .365/10/2/8/3 and should be owned in all formats. As of now, he’s only owned in 47.4% of ESPN leagues, 25% of Yahoo! leagues and 37% of CBS leagues. The Cardinals are only two games back in the NL Wild Card race and you can expect Jay to be a fixture at the top of the lineup going forward.
Here are some other fantasy baseball players worth a look who may still be available on your league’s waiver wire:
SS Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels – Aybar returned from a recent stint on the DL on August 6th and has gone 20-for-50 (.400 BA) with a double, a triple, three home runs, seven RBI, 11 runs scored and four stolen bases in 13 games since. His ownership numbers are a bit high (58.3% ESPN; 41% Y!; 62% CBS) to be available on the waiver wire in any league worth a damn but make no assumptions. The Angels are only 4.5 games out of the AL Wild Card race and Aybar should get the majority of the starts at shortstop.
1B Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants – Belt is finally seeing regular playing time and making the most of it. Since July 25th, when his average was at a season low .229, he’s hitting .378 with seven RBI, 11 runs scored and three stolen bases but lacks a single home run. If you don’t have a need for home runs, Belt could be a nice pick up as a corner infielder, infielder, utility or DH player (depending on your league’s depth) for the stretch run. Could a playoff run be enough to wake his power stroke up? I’m willing to take a chance on that. He’s only owned in 16.8% of ESPN leagues, 19% of Y! leagues and 29% of CBS leagues.
OF David Murphy, Texas Rangers – Since July 20th, Murphy is hitting .368 (35-for-95) with 12 doubles, two home runs, 14 RBI, 13 runs scored and a .971 OPS. He should continue to see the majority of starts in left field as long as his bat stays hot. With relatively low ownership numbers (13.3% ESPN; 13% Y!; 45% CBS), Murphy could provide some nice offensive numbers for a team looking to add some outfield depth.
OF Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays – I’ll admit, my fantasy baseball credibility may be shot for recommending a player who’s hitting .203 in 74 at bats since his July 17th debut but there is a method to my madness. Over his last 13 games (10 GS), Gose is hitting .235 with eight stolen bases and just one caught stealing. If your team needs stolen bases and can absorb the hit against your team’s overall batting average, he may be the short-term fix you’re looking for. Owned in just 2.1% of ESPN leagues, 2% of Y! leagues and 11% of CBS leagues, Gose is proving to be a one-dimensional player (speed!). Be sure to check out our own T.J. McDonald‘s assessment of Gose’s future in the big leagues.
SP Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals – In his first game back from a lengthy stint on the DL due to a shoulder injury, Garcia pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, walking none and striking out 10 batters. I’d say he’s healthy and ready to contribute to the Cardinals run at the playoffs. He’s owned in 42.8% of ESPN leagues, 50% of Y! leagues and 74% of CBS leagues. Act now if he happens to be available on waivers. He won’t be there much longer.
RP Dale Thayer, San Diego Padres – If there is a save to be had for the Padres, one can assume Thayer will get the first crack at it. Huston Street is eligible to come off the DL on August 26th, so any pickup of Thayer should be considered a very short-term solution unless your league utilizes Holds, too. He’s owned in 34.8% of ESPN leagues, 22% of Y! leagues and 19% of CBS leagues.
Other than Thayer and Gose, all of the other players I suggested you give serious attention to picking up off waivers are on teams involved in the playoff race. These teams are going to stay committed to the players who’ve proven they can handle the stress and strain of a playoff race. As teams begin dropping out of the playoff race and start calling up players from the minors in September, a whole new batch of waiver wire options should start appearing as those teams begin preparing for 2013. Did someone say “keepers”?
Be sure to leave a comment about which players you’re targeting for your playoff run or race to the finish line in rotisserie formats. Are you targeting specific players for specific categories? PS, you should be! Connect with me on Twitter @DJAubain to continue talking all things baseball (mostly) as the 2012 fantasy baseball season winds down. Good luck!