Now that the season is underway, it is time to start changing your fantasy baseball focus from the draft to snatching up the gems off the waiver wire. The first iteration of the all-waiver team focuses on batters that can be plucked off the wire in 75% or more of Yahoo! leagues. Now, a Yahoo! league is more shallow than an ESPN league or CBS league, mostly due to the lack of CI & MI slots and only three outfielders. Still, this is a good basis to start from in case one or more of your players go down this week (knock on wood!) or if you have an extra DL slot to slide a player into for later consideration.[Jeff]
C Nick Hundley 14%
Everybody forgot about Hundley since a massive chunk of his last season was lost to injury, but in 103 games, he slashed .301/.339/.467. In those 103 games, he chipped in ten home runs and five stolen bases. While the SBs are very unlikely to repeat (he has 13 in his career), his double digit home run power will play. Hundley is a good fix if you got a couple of low-average sluggers, Hundley should help offset that. Of additional note is he managed to go 45 R and 43 RBI in those ~100 games. Given a full season in Coors, he should easily top 70 in each category. Only two catchers topped 70 R and 70 RBI last season: Russell Martin and Buster Posey.
1B Luis Valbuena 8%
While Valbuena is the everyday third baseman for the Astros, he qualifies for first base in Yahoo! leagues, and is quite worthy of being pulled off the scrap heap. Like everyone in this territory, Valbuena has his warts (.228 career average), but he provides a ton of power in one of the most potent offenses in baseball. Valbuena’s average is low, but he was one of only 41 players to draw a walk in over 10% of his plate appearances last season (with more than 450 PAs). Unfortunately, he also struck out over 20% of the time, as well (though he struck out at a lower rate than Paul Goldschmidt, among others). Valbuena is 30 now, so he can’t be expected to take a huge step forward, but 25 home runs and even a nominal uptick in his BABIP would mean a productive player available in 92% of Yahoo! leagues.
2B Devon Travis 17%
Cue this up while listening to Travis’s rundown. Travis burst onto the scene last season, hitting six home runs in April and a seventh in May before a shoulder injury sent him to the DL, then back to the DL after he was ineffective in his return. He received surgery on the shoulder, and the Blue Jays did not do anything to shore up second base, indicating he is their man when he returns. He was riding a two-week homerless streak when he went on the DL, but that isn’t all that unusual for players who end up with 20 to 25 home runs, as Travis will pace upon his return. He’s basically free in the vast majority of leagues, and the ability to stash him on the DL makes him a free move. He’s due back in May and everyone seems to have forgotten about him. Snag him and see what happens.
SS Brad Miller 20%
Full disclosure, I am a Brad Miller truther. In his shortened debut, he put up a 17 homer, 11 steal pace while pulling a decent .265 average. Since then, he has failed to live up to these expectations, even though he finally pulled a double-double season last year (11 HR and 13 SB). His .258 isn’t disastrous in the current day and age, but unspectacular. His stats should fill up across the board. He isn’t recommended for 2B directly, and is more appropriate in a MI slot if your league has one.
3B Danny Valencia 22%
Valencia had a torrid spring, and usually the mantra is “Spring Training stats don’t matter.” The only difference is this year with Valencia. During his 108 games with Toronto, he reportedly learned a leg kick from Jose Bautista. This leg kick propelled him up from four home runs in 2014 and eighteen in 2015. He has also shown this type of power before, OPSing .888 in 2013 in Baltimore. His hot Spring Training got him some helium, so he’s a bit higher than he might be otherwise. Either way, he’s out there in three of four Yahoo! leagues.
OF Jarrod Dyson 15%
I outlined the reasons to like Dyson in my all-200s team. In short, he is exactly what people hope Billy Hamilton would be. He has the highest stolen base rate per plate appearance since 2013. He’s on the DL with an oblique strain, but is expected to return before the calendar hits May.
Michael Taylor 16%
Taylor currently doesn’t outright have a role, but he is the fourth outfielder in Washington, where Jayson Werth, who cannot keep himself healthy, resides. He’s a definite pickup and sit if you have a deeper roster. Don’t expect him to contribute anytime soon, but if he gets his shot, like he did last season, he should at least match his 14 home run, 16 stolen base campaign pace. One huge concern, however: his .282 OBP last season. His speed supports his .311 BABIP, so hopefully he should take a step forward, not back.
Odubel Herrera 22%
In 147 games last year, the young Herrera got his legs under him quickly. He posted a pretty .762 OPS last season, which isn’t incredible, but he does provide enough with his legs to offset it. If he takes a step forward, he should be a 10 HR, 20 SB player this season. Of major concern is his .387 BABIP, but if he gets his strikeout rate back in line with his career rate in the minors, it would more than offset the BABIP regression.