Waiver Wire efficiency: Home runs

I spoke yesterday about efficiently using the Waiver Wire to help you grab a few extra points in certain categories. Today, we’ll look at some players who can help you do this.

The “Home Run” category might be the easiest category to make up ground in this year. Some of these guys would be owned in 70%+ leagues with a better batting average or a bigger name or regular playing time. If some of them had as much value in three or four categories as they do in the ‘HR’ category, they’d be Top 50 players. I have no doubt that Jack Cust and Jonny Gomes would be able to hit 40 homers one year with at-bats everyday. That type of power can be very helpful down the stretch for many teams.

Some of these guys aren’t everyday players, but for this category, it doesn’t matter much. As long as they can hit home runs (which they all have proven they can do so far), it doesn’t matter if they aren’t getting full-time at-bats. The raw home run numbers will still be there. Less playing time could actually benefit your team if that player is a poor contact hitter. Less at-bats equals less effect on your team’s cumulative batting average. That’s not to say more at-bats won’t equal more home runs, but you don’t need to avoid a player just because he doesn’t play everyday. They will still put up enough home runs to help you.

Another note about the “Waiver Wire Efficiency” strategy in general. In its implementation, there may be times when you take one of these players and use him over a player with more value. Always keep you ultimate goal in mind: gaining as many points as possible. If that’s what you have to do to achieve that goal, it is perfectly acceptable. For example, if you have little room to move in batting average, runs, and stolen bases but several points to gain in home runs, playing Shelly Duncan over Juan Pierre might be a sound strategy, even though Pierre is the superior fantasy player in the grand scope of things.

The list of players follows the usual Waiver Wire format with a couple of small changes. I don’t include a recommendation as that’s not really the purpose of this strategy. I do include, now, the percentage of ESPN leagues these players are owned in. I’m going to keep all players I mention below the 25% mark to make sure there is a good chance he will be available in your league.

With that, we’ll take a look at our home run candidates.

Home Runs

Jack Cust | OAK | OF | 7.5% – Won’t start everyday, but I’m still an avid supporter of Cust as a fantasy player. .372 BABIP is too high, and despite his good power I have to think his 36% HR/FB is a little high too. Don’t expect a continued .270 batting average.

Jonny Gomes | TB | OF | 1.2% – Might lose some time with Rocco Baldelli due back at the beginning of September, but Gomes has been getting regular at-bats lately and has very good power. Doesn’t deserve to be benched, so hopefully Joe Maddon will see this. Batting average won’t be much higher than .260 from here on out.

Ryan Spilborghs | COL | OF | 1.9% – I have a feeling Spilborghs will be on a few of these lists. With Willy Taveras hitting the DL, Spilborghs should get some regular playing time. I talked about him in last week’s Waiver Wire, so I won’t repeat myself. He has shown very good power so far this year, and he will be able to help you with other categories too.

Josh Fields | CHW | 3B | 2.7% – HR/FB has increased at every level of the minors, culminating in a 19% mark in AAA to start this year. Has hit 6 of 12 home runs past 400 true feet, according to HitTracker, so his 22% HR/FB in the majors might be sustainable. With Joe Crede out for the rest of the year, Fields could give a spark to some fantasy clubs. Batting average might dip just a little below .250.

Jose Guillen | SEA | OF | 13.5% – I’ve found it funny all year how Guillen gets overlooked. His power isn’t as potent as some of the other guys on the list, but his power is legit this year and he can post a .275-.280 batting average. Adam Jones might take a few at-bats from him, but it’s not too much to worry about.

Shelly Duncan | NYY | UT | 0.4% – Not my first choice, for several reasons. The first is play time. The second is because he hasn’t been hitting the ball far, despite having 6 HRs. His power is mostly a function of his 50% fly ball rate. If he can’t keep that up, his home runs will drop. They will drop anyway as his 40% HR/FB is not sustainable. Go for the other choices if possible.

John Buck | KC | C | 13.2% – Hasn’t homered since July 21, but before then he was showing fantastic power. I don’t believe it is gone, so if you think improving the power production from your catcher position could help your team, giving Buck a shot might not be a bad idea, albeit a risky one.

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