Well, the All-Star Game is now in the past and we set our sights to the future. Regardless of whether your future in your league is bleak or bright, you can always improve your team. One way is looking to replace one player via the waiver wire.
Maybe it’s that underachieving 3B/SS who had a ton of hype entering the season or the former Cy Young pitcher who’s lost a ton of life on his pitches. Whatever the case is, there are players on the waiver wire worth your attention, especially if you’re in need.
All of the players listed below are owned in fewer than one-third of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. The roster size follows the standard Yahoo! roster: 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, OF, OF, UTIL, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P.
Note: Ownership shown as Yahoo!, ESPN
Catcher: Russell Martin, PIT (23%, 10.9%)
Martin missed some time earlier in the year, but he’s rebounded nicely. He’s currently batting .279 with 5 HR and 31 RBI. He collected 6 hits in his last 6 games and has collected 5 RBI in that span as well. He’s not going to bash 25 or 30 homers, but he has a realistic shot to approach 12-15 homers and 60 RBI. He’s not a bad replacement if you lost A.J. Pierzynski or Yadier Molina.
First Base: James Loney, TB (19%, 31%)
Like Martin, he’s not going to belt you 25+ homers, but he’s going to provide you with a decent average and some RBI. The Rays were starting to get hot entering the All-Star break, so if that momentum continues, Loney (.275, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 38 R) could raise his average near .300. He was leading the league in batting for almost half of last year, so we know he can do it.
Second Base: Arismendy Alcantara, CHC (10%, 10.4%)
Sure, it’s only a small sample size, but for a team that rolls out the offensively-challenged Darwin Barney, it should be a wake-up call. Alcantara is 9-for-23 since his call-up with a homer, a steal, 5 RBI and a .391 average. He has decent power and speed and is instantly a huge upgrade offensively over Barney. The Cubs aren’t going anywhere so I hope he gets his chance this season. While a job the rest of the way isn’t guaranteed, his upside makes it worth the risk.
Third Base: Conor Gillaspie, CHW (15%, 8.8%)
Gillaspie is currently on a hot streak, collecting 10 hits, 8 runs, 3 HR and 5 RBI in his last 6 games. That outburst elevated his average to .326 and he’s also knocked in 35. He’s still a work in progress, but his hot streak may continue in the second half. The White Sox are clearly committed to him as their 3B, demoting Matt Davidson before the season started. It might be just a flash or it could be a sign of things to come.
Shortstop: Eugenio Suarez, Tigers (4%, 2.6%)
He’s only hitting .265, but he has 3 HR, 11 RBI and has scored 16 runs in 98 at-bats. More playing time should translate into better stats for the rookie, who appears to have Detroit’s full-time shortstop gig.
Outfield: Denard Span, WAS (20%, 30%); Dayan Viciedo, CHW (11%, 21.6%); Kevin Kiermaier, TB (8%, 11.7%)
Span has 57 runs, giving him more than Adam Jones, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Adrian Beltre. He also has 15 steals. He’s still getting time even with Bryce Harper’s return and is a threat to score over 100 runs. Viciedo is the classic case of a “sacrificing power for average” player. He’s only hitting .245, but with that he has 11 HR, 34 RBI, and 43 runs. He’ll go on power binges every now and then, so he could realistically end up with 20-25 homers. Kiermaier is hitting .310 with 8 HR, 24 RBI, and a .925 OPS. He also has 7 RBI and 9 hits in his last 5 games.
Utility: Juan Francisco, Blue Jays (15%, 14.8%)
Francisco is eligible at 1B/3B and he’s hitting in a lineup with Melky Cabrera, Jose Batista and Jose Reyes. Like Viciedo, he’s going to go on power binges while batting close to .240. He’s already hit 14 bombs, proving that playing time was his main obstacle (well, and those strikeouts). He’s also driven in 34. Even when Brett Lawrie returns from the DL (again) he can be shifted between first, third, and DH, but he’ll obviously see more bench time.
Starting Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi, TB (25%, 13%); Collin McHugh, HOU (25%, 12%)
The last time ol’ Jake surrendered more than 3 ER was on June 5 (4 ER). Since then, he’s among the top of the league in K/9, including 5 or more Ks in 9 of his last 10 starts. Don’t let his ERA and WHIP (4.01 and 1.34, respectively) scare you off; those were from a bloated early season. The Rays are heralded for their development of young hurlers, and Odorizzi is on track to be the next one. McHugh may currently be on the DL but he’s coming back soon and he has 93 K in 82.1 innings. I don’t know what else he has to do to prove that he’s legit.
Relief Pitcher: Wade Davis, SP/RP, KC (31%, 11.3%)
Davis has a 62:12 K:BB ratio as well 5 wins. He also has a 1.13 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. He might get a shot at closing should Greg Holland go down. If your league scores holds, he has 17. The closer position is a volatile one, so anything can happen. I’ve even heard rumors that the Royals may look to move one of their many great bullpen arms for some additional help down the stretch.
Relief Pitcher: Jake Petricka, RP, CHW (12%, 14.9)
Petricka might be the closest thing to a closer that the White Sox currently have. The situation is up in the air, but he has the last save by a Sox reliever and three on the year. He also has a 2.17 ERA and 7 holds. Ronald Belisario cannot be trusted in the 9th inning, so as long as Petricka issues fewer walks, he has a great chance to remain atop the closer committee.
Pitcher: Jeff Locke, PIT (24%, 17.5%); Wade Miley, ARI (23%, 17%); Jacob deGrom, NYM; Odrisamer Despaigne, SD (14%, 10%)
Locke has 7 quality starts, a 2.98 ERA, and a 0.98 WHIP. He flashed glimpses last season and is showing them again since rejoining the rotation. Miley had a less-than-stellar beginning to his 2014, but he’s fanned 8 or more in 3 of his last 5 starts and he’s gone 5 or more innings in 5 of his last 7 starts. He’s only notched 5 wins but he’s been red hot in July (2-0, 22:4 K:BB). Although deGrom has only pitched 73 innings, he has 72 K and his 3.18 ERA is better than Jered Weaver, Stephen Strasburg, and Max Scherzer. Despaigne has 4 starts and all 4 have been quality starts. He’s also lasted 6 or more innings in each start, posting a 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Pitching at home in PetCo. Park is certainly an advantage.