Note: Sorry for the absence of AL Waiver Wire’s the past couple weeks. Tommy Rancel has had some personal matters come up and has needed to step down from his posts at THT Fantasy and Beyond the Box Score. I’ll be taking over the AL Waiver Wire until we can find a replacement that meets the standards of THTF. Best of luck to you, Tommy!
Travis Snider | Toronto | OF
True Talent: .241/.316/.424
ESPN Ownership: 10.4%
After an ice-cold April, Snider is starting to heat up with four homers over the past two weeks. That brings him up to six on the year, and he’s hitting them a long way. He’ll never be a batting average stud, but his strikeout rate is at a career best and completely manageable 25 percent this year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Snider moved into the 3, 4, or 5 spot in the lineup if he continues to hit the way he’s capable of. If that happens, he immediately becomes mixed league-worthy. The one other concern is Edwin Encarnacion‘s imminent return, but it’s looking like it might be Fred Lewis hitting the bench most games at that point.
Recommendation: Should be carefully watched in 12-team mixed leagues, owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
John Buck | Toronto | C
True Talent: .240/.302/.445
ESPN Ownership: 36%
Buck has quietly been one of the most productive catchers in baseball this year, and it’s far from a fluke. I own him in the CardRunners league, and having finally secured regular playing time, Buck stands to be among the catching leaders in home runs all year. He won’t maintain this 22 percent HR/FB rate or the .271 average, but a .250 average with 20 homers the rest of the way should be easily attainable for Buck.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team, single-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Jose Bautista | Toronto | OF/3B
True Talent: .235/.325/.425
ESPN Ownership: 34.9%
Yup, another Blue Jay. These guys are the Pirates of the American League — not a very good team, but filled with plenty of valuable fantasy assets as a result. Bautista is a huge batting average liability, but he’s got tons of power and can steal a few bases. Also, if Lewis is the one to go to the bench when Encarnacion returns, we could see Bautista return to the leadoff spot.
Recommendation: Should owned only in the deepest of mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
David Ortiz | Boston | DH
True Talent: .254/.350/.507
ESPN Ownership: 38.4%
Ortiz is getting hot, and you need to grab him now before it’s too late. He’s another guy I own in both Tout and CardRunners, and you shouldn’t let his slow start worry you too much. The strikeout rate is a bit disconcerting, but he’s hitting the ball with authority and the power is still there. Sure, he’s aging and overweight, but that’s part of what makes him undervalued.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Colby Lewis | Texas | SP
YTD: 9.7 K/9, 2.9 K/BB, 3.15 ERA
True Talent: 8.7 K/9, 5.0 K/BB, 3.03 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 94.3%
I know that Lewis has been mentioned many times before here at THTF, but I love him. I have him in both Tout Wars and CardRunners, and while his ownership percentage has skyrocketed from 10 percent just a couple weeks ago, he is still available in some leagues. He could easily finish 2010 as a top 12 or 15 pitcher, so buy now before the window closes completely. Trade for him, if necessary, if his owner is skeptical.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Derek Holland | Rangers | SP
YTD: 10.5 K/9, 7.0 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent: 7.2 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 4.37 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 8.8%
Holland may be a year away from truly breaking out, but he’s certainly worth a flier having been called up by the Rangers this week. His 4.38 xFIP last year was unremarkable, but he dominated Triple-A to start the year and had a terrific start against Oakland on Wednesday. A high variability pickup, but there is enormous potential here.
Recommendation: Should owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Max Scherzer | Detroit | SP
YTD: 5.6 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 7.29 ERA
True Talent: 9.0 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 4.06 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 50.2%
Scherzer is being dropped in bunches in fantasy leagues, and it’s hard to argue with these owners given how he’s pitched so far this year. His peripherals are awful — much worse than we’d expect from his move from the NL — and his xFIP currently sits at 5.03. Still, if we examine his stuff, we’ll notice that the only difference is that his fastball is slower. Admittedly, it’s much slower (a full 2 MPH), but his pitches are moving the same as they were last year, and the 2 MPH fastball drop-off doesn’t explain a 4 K/9 drop-off. Expect some sort of bounceback here, especially since we’re still dealing with relatively small samples.
Recommendation: Should owned (and benched) in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues. Should be started in 10-team AL-only leagues.
Koji Uehara | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 7.7 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.86 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 4.15 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 0.2%
Uehara isn’t the closer right now, but he’s likely next in line in Baltimore. Mike Gonzalez will be back closing at some point, but that might not be until the middle of June. In the interim, Alredo Simon is doing his best 2009 Mike MacDougal impression, and this success won’t last much longer. An implosion is coming, and Uehara stands to be the beneficiary of it. Stash him now.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Matt Thornton | Chicago | RP
YTD: 14.3 K/9, 8.7 K/BB, 2.20 ERA
True Talent: 9.7 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 3.15 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 15.5%
With the Sox losing faith in Bobby Jenks, Thornton figures to be next in line should a change need to be made. Jenks has actually been quite good with a 3.14 xFIP, but at this point all it will take is a little more bad luck to force him out of the job, at least temporarily. Thornton is an elite reliever anyway, but with the potential for saves he becomes ownable in most leagues.
Recommendation: Should be watched in all mixed leagues. Should be owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.