Welcome to Week 4, fellow fantasy travelers. Since we last surveyed the waiver wire landscape, Jake Westbrook‘s two-start Week 3 was ruined by rain, though he was poised to take the ball on Sunday night when this column was sent upstairs to the editors. Aside from his shortstop role, Marwin Gonzalez has done little to distinguish himself as a useful fantasy bat, though owners who rolled the dice on Andrew Bailey in Week 3 were rewarded with three saves.
Jose Quintana | Chicago White Sox | SP | 17 percent Yahoo ownership; 7 percent ESPN; 60 percent CBS
YTD: 17.2 IP, 2.68 FIP, 8.66 K/9, 2.04 BB/9
Oliver: 121 IP, 3.83 FIP, 6.10 K/9, 3.35 BB/9
Why don’t people like Quintana? Is it something about the way he looks? Did he choose not to stand during a rendition of God Bless America at some point in his career? Or is he just a guy whose name remains under the radar despite a solid rotation spot on a team that should compete for the playoffs this year?
Quintana, 24, put together a decent rookie season last year, going 6-6 with a 4.23 FIP and a 5.35 K/9 in 25 games (22 starts). But he posted a solid 47-percent groundball rate and managed a very fine 2.77 BB/9 despite unremarkable stuff and no help from his BABIP and HR/FB rate.
About those strikeouts: His 2012 rate is not good, to be sure, but he posted an excellent whiff rate in 300 minor league innings, and as he develops, I don’t think a 7.0 K/9 is an unreasonable expectation. His walk rate is no joke either, as evidenced by an above average F-Strike% rate.
Yeah, he’s gotten a bit pushed around in
Cell Phone Park U.S. Cellular Field, which is not all that surprising, although we’re talking about 12 starts, a sample size that’s not beyond correction. As for 2013, so far, so good: 1-0 in three starts with a 2.74 FIP (3.57 xFIP) and an 8.66 K/9.
So let’s review. His strikeouts are going to improve over last year, he won’t walk too many players, and his team could very well win 90 games, a decent amount of which figure to belong to Quintana. With two starts lined up this week against the Indians and the punchless Rays, what’s not to like?
Recommendation: Definitely worth a flier in standard mixed leagues.
Didi Gregorius | Arizona Diamondbacks | SS | 5 percent Yahoo ownership; 2.2 percent ESPN; 13 percent CBS
YTD: 30 PA, .357/.357/.500 with 1 HR and 0 SB
Oliver: 563 PA, .249/.294/.351 with 6 HR and 10 SB
When you hit a home run in your first at-bat of the season, people tend to take notice, especially when you’re a shortstop. Throw in the prospect of some regular playing time, and you might find yourself some friends among the fantasy community.
A part of the three-team offseason trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Indians, Gregorius, 23, opened the season on the disabled list with a strained right elbow but played well in his Triple-A rehab stint and has improved over the course of his young career from his time as an all-glove, no-hit infielder. But he’s still developing at the plate, and his overall minor league numbers (.267/.319/.375) more accurately represent a man who’s here for his glove, not his stick.
There’s also the matter of playing time. I would expect Gregorius to pick up some steady at-bats going forward, though the left-handed hitter sat on Saturday against the Rockies’ southpaw Jorge de la Rosa, when Cliff Pennington picked up the start. Pennington, whose bat was producing an ice-cold .502 OPS entering Sunday’s action, will also play second base during Aaron Hill’s prolonged absence, though Martin Prado also figures to pick up a few at-bats at the keystone over the next month or so.
I like Gregorius’ athleticism and his prospects as a major-leaguer, but he’s still raw and very much unproven at the plate. Oliver’s conservative prediction seems appropriate for this rookie, and I’ll leave him alone in mixed leagues for the time being.
Recommendation: NL-only league material.
Daniel Nava | Boston Red Sox | OF | 18 percent Yahoo ownership; 32 percent ESPN; 37 percent CBS
YTD: 50 PA, .342/.460/.684 with 4 HR and 0 SB
Oliver: 436 PA, .250/.340/.404 with 13 HR and 5 SB
Red Sox Nation turned its lonely eyes to Nava in the eighth inning of Saturday’s emotional game against the Royals, when he smashed a Kelvin Herrera fastball for a game-winning three-run homer. For the 30-year-old left-fielder, the dinger was just the latest highlight in what’s been a fast start to 2013, as he looks to put together the first full-time season of his career.
It isn’t hard to like Nava, who, despite so far not having been able to translate a successful minor league career into major league numbers, has still produced a quality walk rate and an ability to make contact at the big league level. The .342 average he flashed entering Sunday’s game was backed by a perfectly reasonable .310 BABIP and 21.2 percent line drive rate, and while I wouldn’t expect the home run production to continue; 15 to 18 over the course of a full season sounds about right.
Playing-time wise, the switch-hitter’s career OPS against righties is about 130 points higher than against southpaws, so he might be a platoon option on weeks when Jonny Gomes picks up some starts in left field.
But David Ortiz is back in the middle of the Red Sox lineup and Jackie Bradley Jr. has been sent down to the farm, so it’s clearly Nava’s job to lose so long as he produces. With fine peripheral numbers, a decent upside and seven home games in Week 4 against the Astros and A’s, Nava probably is worth rostering in more than a few mixed leagues as long as he’s hot.
Recommendation: Worth picking up in deeper mixed leagues.
Aaron Hicks | Minnesota Twins | OF | 3 percent Yahoo ownership; 1 percent ESPN; 23 percent CBS
YTD: 56 PA, .042/.179/.042 with 0 HR and 1 SB
By now, serious fantasy owners the nation over know Hicks has been a huge bust to start the year, a fraud who promised on-base ability and stolen base help only to produce absolutely nothing to the point of being dropped like a bad habit in countless leagues.
But if you believe there’s still hope for Hicks—the season did, after all, just celebrate its three-week anniversary last night—then consider the fact that the 23-year-old has been walking quite a bit over the past week, had a RBI and a stolen base yesterday and remains the team’s only center fielder so long as Darin Mastroianni’s foot injury keeps him out of the lineup.
It’s perfectly reasonable to cut Hicks in a shallow league where every roster position is precious. But I like Hicks and think he’s capable of producing in fantasy as soon as this year, provided he makes more contact and becomes more aggressive at the plate. Yes, with these numbers, he only has so long until he’s sent down to Triple-A to get things together, but I’d be willing to give him at least another week or so before I start cutting bait on this guy.
Recommendation: Worth a flier in deeper mixed leagues so long as he gets on base.