Waiver Wire: NL, Week 9

Edwin Jackson | Arizona | SP
YTD: 7.65 K/9, 2.36 K/BB, 5.33 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
True Talent: 6.5 K/9, 1.83 K/BB, 4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
Coming into the 2010 season, Edwin Jackson was a starting pitcher that I both avoided myself and went out of my way to advocate others (non-league mates of course) avoiding as well. My reasons for being down on Jackson were pretty simple: the move to a hitter-friendly ballpark, the mediocre strikeout rate and the high flyball rate. While a cursory glance at his stats would seem to illustrate that I was right in saying to avoid Jackson, I will concede that I was incorrect anyway, as Jackson has been quite unlucky this season. For starters, Jackson is among the leaders in Major League Baseball in ERA and xFIP disparity, as his ERA currently stands at 5.33 and his xFIP is considerably lower at 3.95. The reason for the disparity lies largely in a 66 percent strand rate and a higher-than-league-average HR/FB rate of 13 percent. I would expect Jackson’s strand rate to improve and normalize as the season progresses, and I would expect his HR/FB rate to improve slightly as well, though perhaps not as dramatically as his strand rate given his homer-friendly home ballpark.

Jackson has made strides as a pitcher this season that include improving his K/9 to 7.65 (expected given his move to the NL). His K/9 appears to be up due not only because he changed leagues but also because his contact rate against is at a career-best 75.1 percent and his swing rate at pitches outside the strike zone (O-swing) is at a career-best 29.1 percent. With a little more luck going forward, Jackson would appear to be a high-3′s to low-4′s ERA pitcher who can contribute in strikeouts, and given his ability to eat innings he should get a healthy number of decisions, which increases his odds of contributing in wins. Because Jackson hasn’t been terribly unlucky in BABIP and his walk rate is good but not elite, his current 1.35 WHIP seems about right, so I wouldn’t drastically alter that projection going forward.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues and all NL-only leagues.

Jason Hammel | Colorado | SP
YTD: 7.92 K/9, 3.55 K/BB, 6.09 ERA, 1.47 WHIP
True Talent: 6.6 K/9, 2.37 K/BB, 4.94 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
Jason Hammel shares more in common with Edwin Jackson than the division he pitches in. Like Jackson, Hammel has seen his surface stats abused as a result of poor luck. Coming into the season, Hammel was a sleeper that was gaining some steam in certain fantasy circles, and I was someone keeping a close eye on his early-season results. Thus far Hammel has done a good job in terms of things he can control such as K/9 (7.92), BB/9 (2.23) and inducing ground balls (44.9 percent). Unfortunately for Hammel, he’s been crippled by a .363 BABIP, a 60.7 percent strand rate and a slightly unlucky 11.9 percent HR/FB.

On the season, Hammel’s current xFIP is 3.60, a far cry from his massive 6.09 ERA. If Hammel is able to maintain his current rate stats, I’d expect him to post a high-3′s to low-4′s ERA going forward, which makes him ownable in deeper leagues. Even in shallower leagues he may prove to be a useful stream/spot start option depending on the matchup. As a further caution, I will mention that much was made of Hammel’s home/road splits last season, but taking a look at his xFIP, he was actually better at home using that statistical measure, in spite of the awful home ERA.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.

Jason Motte | St. Louis | RP
YTD: 10.02 K/9, 4.60 K/BB, 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
True Talent: 9.3 K/9, 2.71 K/BB, 4.15 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Unlike most relievers I’ve previously suggested in NL Waiver Wire columns, it doesn’t appear that save opportunities are imminent for Jason Motte. Regardless of save opportunities, Motte is a reliever of interest in deeper leagues, even those not using holds. 2010 has seen him make serious strides as a pitcher. His K/9 currently stands at an awesome 10.02, and he’s hardly walking anyone (2.18 BB/9). Finally, in terms of improvements anyway, Motte has pulled off the triple crown of controllable stats improvements by inducing more ground balls this season, as he’s currently coaxing 42.3 percent grounders, up a full 4 percentage points from last year’s mark.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team or larger mixed leagues and all NL-only leagues.

Chris Capuano | Milwaukee | SP
YTD: Hasn’t pitched in the majors this season
True Talent: Not projected to throw any innings by Oliver
Chris Capuano has not thrown a pitch in Major League Baseball since 2007. In the meantime he’s undergone multiple Tommy John surgeries and become a forgotten man by many. The Brewers inked Capuano to a minor league deal and called him up one day before not doing so would have allowed him to opt out of his minor league deal. Capuano has pitched tremendously in the minors thus far this season and has earned his promotion. He will be given an opportunity to stick in a Brewers rotation that sorely needs some assistance.

Even before injury, Capuano was only a decent pitcher, and certainly not a top-shelf starter, so temper expectations after multiple surgeries and a few years off. That said, those in deeper leagues may want to keep an eye on him, as at his best he is a pitcher who may be able to post a low-4′s ERA and contribute roughly 7.0 K/9 and keep the free passes to a minimum if all things are clicking. Definitely not the type of pitcher to trot out immediately, but he was once a useful pitcher, so perhaps a resurgence is in order.

Recommendation: Should be watched in 14-team or larger mixed leagues and watched in NL-only leagues.

Aubrey Huff | San Francisco | 1B/OF
YTD: .298/.382/.472
True Talent: .267/.328/.430
A middle-of-the-order bat available in 84 percent of Yahoo leagues—can that be right? Yes it can, if you are talking about Aubrey Huff. Huff has spent much of the 2010 season slotted fourth in the Giants order and has done an admirable job while many others in the lineup have been rather putrid. While I won’t suggest that Huff will turn back the clock to his 2008 season, he does look capable of posting a season that falls between his 2007 and his 2008 production, making him quite useful in deeper leagues. Add in the benefit of gaining OF eligibility and Huff is a player of interest.

On the season, Huff has turned many of his 2009 groundball woes around, and his batted balls in 2010 read: 17.9 percent line drives, 42.9 percent ground balls and 39.1 percent fly balls. His current HR/FB is at a reasonable 9.8 percent, meaning his home run rate is about right. Also working in Huff’s favor is a reasonable and sustainable .311 BABIP and a .174 ISO. What you see early with Huff appears to be what you’ll get. A final line of 20 homers with 80 RBIs and a .290 average seems about right.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues and all NL-only leagues.

Ramon Hernandez | Cincinnati | C
YTD: .300/.398/.418
True Talent: .252/.322/.380
Due to the hot start of Ryan Hanigan it appeared that Ramon Hernandez may be spending the season in a 50/50 time share behind the plate for the Reds. Fortunately for Hernandez (and unfortunately for Hanigan), that won’t be the case, at least in the immediate future, with Hanigan having broken the thumb on his receiving hand. In Hernandez’s defense, he hadn’t done poorly and lost playing time to Hanigan, but he lost playing time due to Hanigan’s superior defense and scorching start with the stick.

Thus far Hernandez is hitting .300, a number sure to come down when his BABIP regresses from an unsustainable .341. That said, there is still much to like about Hernandez, as he’s hitting the ball with authority according to his 20.7 percent line-drive rate. It is a bit troubling to see him posting a 55.4 percent groundball rate, but I’d guess that number will come down and you’ll see an uptick in flyball rate going forward, which will bode well for his home run totals playing half his games in the cozy confines of Great American Ballpark. With some luck, and good play, Hernandez may be able to carve out a larger portion of the time share going forward, even when Hanigan returns from his broken thumb. Those in deeper two-catcher leagues need to pounce on him if by chance he’s available.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 10-team or larger two catcher mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.

Buster Posey | San Francisco | C/1B
YTD: .474/.474/.579 (19 plate appearances)
True Talent: .294/.375/.438
Much has been made of the Giants’ promotion of Buster Posey, and for good reason. I am certainly not the first to suggest that Posey needs to be owned in fantasy leagues, but I may be the boldest in saying that he should be owned in all fantasy leagues. The biggest question regarding Posey, this season anyway, was playing time. Those concerns have been alleviated, as the Giants have shifted Aubrey Huff to left field to find playing time for Posey on days he’s not donning the tools of ignorance. That bodes quite well for those in fantasy leagues, as any time a catcher gets regular playing time at another position, thus reducing wear and tear, there is reason to rejoice and celebrate.

Posey has made a mockery of the minors slugging his way to the parent club, and while struggles are sure to lie ahead at times, his strong minor league walk and strikeout numbers should help him right the ship in those instances. Home runs may not be a plentiful for Posey in the short term (or perhaps ever given his line-drive stroke), but doubles pop should be. Given the dearth of talent in the Giants’ lineup, the opportunity to move up and hit perhaps in the second or fifth spot in appear likely. Posey is the perfect backup catcher in shallow single-catcher leagues, as he has the added benefit of being able to be slotted in not only at catcher during a regular day off for your starting catcher, but also at first base or corner infield when your regulars at those positions have days off.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 10-team or larger leagues, including one-catcher leagues; should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Angel Pagan | New York (NL) | OF
YTD: .293/.353/.431
True Talent: .276/.330/.415
Readers of last week’s column’s comment section already realize I like Angel Pagan. News that Carlos Beltran still isn’t at full strength and is almost certainly over a month away from returning paints a sunny picture for Pagan’s playing time. However, even when Beltran returns, I believe Pagan will retain a starting outfield job, so perhaps Beltran’s health can be considered non-news for Pagan owners and future owners.

So far Pagan has offered modest power numbers (four home runs), and that shouldn’t change, but he has been an asset in stolen bases (nine) and average (.293) as well as runs scored (30). Pagan’s current .331 BABIP might suggest that his .293 average is a bit luck-driven, but his career BABIP of .323 and his current 24.8 percent line-drive rate lead me to believe otherwise. A final line that includes 80-90 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and a .290 average may be about right for Pagan, which would serve well as a fifth outfielder in deeper leagues for those in need of a bit of stolen base help while not sacrificing runs and average.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 12-team five-outfielder mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger five-outfielder mixed leagues and all NL-only leagues.

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Next: Waiver Wire: AL, Week 9 »

Comments

  1. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Good work all around.

    Edwin Jackson should be a nice buy low or free agency guy to help with ERA/Ws, though my only concern is Chase Field+Summer Heat = don’t start him at home.

    Hammels is a bonafide stud. I’m almost tempted to say 1400 innings or 12 team leagues he’d be a strong #4/5

  2. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Posey is not a sure thing to stick around.  Bochy said as much in the Q&A after Posey was brought up.  Check out Extra Baggs, a Giants beat-writer’s blog.

    After his hot first two games, he’s been ordinary in the next three.  Small samples all around, but the point is that if he’s not hitting well when it is time to bring up Renteria, for example, or even DeRosa, he could be the one sent back down if he’s having his struggles.

    Right now, he’s only playing 1B from all indications.  That will change eventually if he hits well enough to stay up.  The Giants have a punishing schedule after the ASB, with no breaks in the last half of July and only three off days in August, so I would hope that Posey is up in that timeframe to steal starts from Molina and give Molina an extra 2 days of rest each week, while also playing at 1B if he’s hitting well enough.

    But he’s not guaranteed to stay up, he needs to continue hitting well to do that.  And he’s not expected to catch yet, he’s mainly playing 1B right now, though the plan will probably change if Posey is hitting and Molina is still struggling to hit. 

    Bochy does not stick with vets when there is a young player hitting better at the moment, he likes to go with the hot hand, but if neither is hot, he will go with the vet, which only makes sense.  He has given a number of the young prospects extended periods of solid playing time (2-6 weeks) before looking for alternatives when they are struggling.

  3. Josh Shepardson said...

    Thanks for commenting again obsessivegiantscompulsive.  While I agree Posey will have to continue to hit to continue to play, I do believe he will.  His plate discipline in the minors will be a welcome addition to the Giants lineup, as I’m sure you’d agree. 

    I’m personally of the belief that DeRosa will be ineffective upon returning and ultimately will need to have wrist surgery sooner as opposed to later. 

    Renteria may prove problematic if Uribe keeps hitting.  If Uribe keeps hitting, it seems likely the Giants would shove Panda across the diamond and play Uribe at 3B.  Still, performance will dictate PT going forward, and the corpse of what was once Edgar Renteria should be a minor, perhaps short term block for Posey’s playing time upon return.

  4. DonCoburleone said...

    Felipe Lopez!  He’s only 21% owned in Yahoo and he’s playing just about every day and hitting lead-off for a good offense…  And he’ SS eligible!

  5. Josh Shepardson said...

    Lopez is a good suggestion, but one I’d previously made so I shied away from another endorsement.  That said, being previously mentioned doesn’t mean a player can’t be mentioned again, so perhaps his name will re-appear in a later edition.

    On a side note, and perhaps somewhat surprising considering the pieces in the Cards lineup, they currently only rank 14th in all of MLB in runs scored, so they are at this point, essentially an “average offense.”

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