Upon the encouragement of colleague and Waiver Wire partner Jeffrey Gross, we’ll each be featuring one player we suggest buying, as well as one we suggest selling in addition to our standard coverage of under-owned fantasy commodities.
Juan Rivera| Toronto| 1B/OF| 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .274/.328/.448
The season line for Juan Rivera is ugly, but he finds himself riding a hitting streak that has seen his slash increase from .203/.295/.266 on May 16 to its current mark. Not a flashy player, Rivera offers cheap power with the potential for an average falling in the .270s or .280s (career .278 hitter). While it’s easy to blame his current poor line on a below league average BABIP, it’s important to note his career BABIP is just .282 and he is popping balls up at an alarming rate. Even with his shortcomings in mind, Rivera is a viable option for owners in need of a hitter capable of slugging 20-to-25 home runs, and one worth rostering while he’s squaring the ball up. Monitor his playing time situation when Adam Lind returns from the disabled list, but expect to see him get regular at-bats by playing first base, the corner outfield and designated hitter.
Recommendation: Should be owned most large mixed-leagues and all AL-only formats.
David DeJesus| Oakland| OF| 18 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .287/.349/.436
A fantasy glue guy, David DeJesus is a jack-of-most trades (not much of a threat to steal bases), master of none. A career Royal, DeJesus’ introduction to the Athletics this season has lacked fireworks, more closely resembled the waving of a sparkler. Much of his lackluster season can be blamed on good ol’ fashioned bad luck on batted balls (.319 BABIP for his career, .263 BABIP in 2011). Since flipping the calendar to May, he has begun to heat up. Part of a lineup that lacks star hitters, DeJesus is likely to continue to be the beneficiary of hitting in the top third of the order.
Owners in need of modest across the board contributions should strongly consider rostering DeJesus. Those in leagues with daily lineup changes can further benefit from him by taking advantage of his huge platoon split. He is a career .296/.370/.452 hitter versus right-handed pitchers while hitting just .269/.333/.367 versus left-handed pitchers.
Recommendation: Should be owned some medium sized mixed-leagues, all large mixed-leagues. and all AL-only leagues.
Andrew Oliver| Detroit| SP| 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.54 K/9, 3.48 BB/9 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: 5.41 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Oliver gets the turn in the Tigers rotation Saturday to replace the injured Phil Coke against the Red Sox. A hard-throwing southpaw, Oliver will need to use his secondary offerings effectively if he’s to be successful in his second stint in the majors. He has been fairly successful in the minors this year, but still could stand to improve his walk rate and induce a few more ground balls. Not a recommended start in any league size right out of the chute, he is an intriguing prospect worth monitoring.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in re-draft leagues, and potentially stashed in dynasty leagues in the event of a strong return to the majors.
Brandon Webb| Texas| SP| 13 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: 3.56 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
Brandon Webb hasn’t thrown a pitch in a professional baseball game since 2009. It is safe to say, with that in mind, there are many questions that need to be answered before determining whether he can be a viable starter at the major league level. He will begin answering those questions Monday, when he starts for Frisco in Double-A. Those in deep-mixed leagues and AL-only leagues with an opening on their disabled list wouldn’t be crazy to stash him, as there is value in using every available roster spot. Otherwise, he should just be monitored on his rehab assignment for the time being.
Recommendation: Should be monitored.
Gavin Floyd| Chicago (American League)| SP| 62 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.61 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.49 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 45.6 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
A favorite of mine, Gavin Floyd is a player I’d strongly suggest acquiring. Owned in inexplicably too few Yahoo! leagues, it appears he still doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Regardless of preferred method of analyzing a pitcher, Floyd has performed tremendously this season. With the increased exposure of advanced statistics, buy-lows have largely become a thing of the past. Perhaps the next in-vogue trade practice will be identifying undervalued players whose surface stats match their underlying numbers. Floyd would fit that bill as he’s posting a 3.29 x, 3.44 FIP, and a 3.91 tERA, all of which would support his solid 3.61 ERA. The owner of a sparkling walk rate, a strong groundball slant in batted balls, and a solid strikeout rate, Floyd does everything that’s relatively in his control well. Currently the No. 31-ranked starter in Yahoo! standard formats, Floyd is a No. 3 fantasy starter who doesn’t seem to be valued like one.
Recommendation: Should be universally owned!
Zach Britton| Baltimore| SP| 71 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 4.85 K/9, 2.91 BB/9, 55.7 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.04 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9
While buy-lows may largely be a thing of the past, selling high is still somewhat prevalent should a player be the owner of a couple of notable characteristics. One of those is youth, the second is prospect status. Lo and behold, Zach Britton qualifies as being both. A glance at the surface stats would suggest Britton has arrived and is a fantasy asset. However, it is hard to envision a starting pitcher maintaining such sparkling ratios with such a low strikeout rate and just a modest walk rate in the non-deadball era even if he is inducing an eye-popping number of groundballs.
Owned in more leagues than Floyd, Britton serves as “Exhibit A” of the shiny new toy syndrome that has seemed to afflict a large percentage of the fantasy community. I won’t suggest that those who own Britton should outright cut him, as he has performed well, but he should be shopped vigorously. The dynamics change a bit for those in dynasty and keeper leagues, but in terms of standard re-draft leagues, it’s unlikely his value will be any higher.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some medium sized mixed-leagues, all larger mixed-leagues as well as all AL-only leagues.