Although the draft is definitely the most important day of the year in fantasy baseball, it’s the individual moves off the waiver wire throughout the year that really win titles. The famous saying that you can’t win a league on draft day, but you can lose it is a mantra that I live by. A good team on paper is only that – a good team on paper. You need to be active all season long on your waiver wire if you want to win in a competitive league. I realize some leagues have move limits and move restrictions but the league I play in has unlimited moves throughout the year. Players that are dropped are on the waiver wire for 2 days and then can be picked up by anyone. That’s how most league’s work and that’s how they should work. Why penalize managers for making moves? That’s what you’re supposed to do in fantasy!
Anyways, before I get off into a mini-rant, let’s get back to the point: the only way to stay ahead of the pack is to make sure you treat the waiver wire as an extension of your own team. Got a pitcher that is a borderline starter in your league and has some tough matchups ahead? Drop him. Chances are you can scoop him back up when the schedule gets easier. Replace him with another borderline guy that has some tastier matchups. See a streaky hitter on the waiver wire starting to rake in the last 7 days? Do what you can to add him and drop him the second he has back-to-back dud games. Be proactive. Use statistics and player track record (if available) to give yourself a prediction of who is going to get hot or cold. Of course, if you KNEW exactly when a player is going to be hot or cold, you’d be a billionaire. But statistical projections are your friend. Let everyone else overreact to the season so far; you can use your wisdom and other’s predictive stats to give yourself an indicator of what is to come. Just don’t be scared to act. Pull the trigger when you have to. Drop a guy who is over achieving at the first sign of a slump.
In a standard 10-team league with around 25-30 roster spots, you should keep 2-3 spots as your “revolving door” spot. This spot should fluctuate on almost a weekly basis. I like to generally reserve 1 spot for spot starters (who are almost always dropped immediately after their start), one spot for hot prospects to stash, and another optional spot that is open to hitters, pitchers, relievers or prospects. Another key roster stash is to always make sure your DL slots are full. My league has 2 DL spots and I make sure I have a guy filling them, even if I don’t really want them. For instance, at the moment my DL has Patrick Corbin and Matt Moore on them. I’m not sure what they’re going to do and they’re almost surely not both going to return to stud status this year, but one of them definitely could and it’s worth the DL spot to find it – especially since I haven’t had many injuries on my main roster.
Let’s look at some different players to pick up off the waiver wire. We’ll look at a few hitters, a few pitchers, a few prospects and a couple DL guys.
HITTERS TO PICK UP
Brandon Crawford – SS, Giants
Sure, this guy is owned in 84% of Yahoo! Leagues but that isn’t enough! This guy is the number 1 Shortstop in points leagues and deserves to be on a team in every fantasy league. He’s not going to keep this up – but there’s almost no doubt he’s a top 10 shortstop and, last I checked, that’s 99% ownability there!
Joe Panik, 2B, Giants
Another Giant who needs to be owned more. He’s only owned in 22% of fantasy leagues! He’s been one of the hottest hitters the last two weeks and, although you might have missed out on his best work of the season, he’s still worth a shot at a weak 2B position. The fact that he has been batting 2nd in the lineup most of the year drives his value. The Giants lineup is pretty decent! I would put him in instead of Cano for now while the latter figures things out.
Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox
This guy has been a huge disappointment for his career after being hugely hyped on the Dbacks. I’m not giving up on him yet. I had big plans for him coming into this year but I cut bait with him (as I’m sure many of you did as well) earlier in the season. I’ve been noticing he is starting to pick things up and he’s putting the ball into play a lot more than he ever has. This could be the sign of a break out. Even if your OF is loaded, he might be worth a stash if you’re in a deeper league. He has a top pedigree and is going to hit eventually.
PITCHERS TO PICK UP
Charlie Morton, SP, Pirates
Here’s a guy who has pitched effectively as a number 5 starter in the past and can do the same for your team this year. He’s a guy who you want in your lineup against favorable matchups – which he has a lot of in the next 3-4 weeks. He’s not going to get you strikeouts, but he goes deep into games and frustrates hitters with that sinker ball.
Tsuyoshi Wada, SP, Cubs
I’ll be honest – I don’t know fully what to expect from Wada. He’s had a checkered past and he hasn’t had much of a sample size in this country. But he seems to be deceiving hitters right now. Deception usually only works for a few months but I say jump in on it when you can. I almost picked him up for his last start (which was a good one against KC), but I got cold feet. You have to trust your heart and make scary moves sometimes! But with each outing, Wada is getting less and less scary. Don’t miss out. Even if he just sits on your bench, it’s better than letting another one benefit from what could be a breakout season for the young hurler.
Darren O’Day, RP, Orioles
This guy has been killing it this year – and pretty much every other year as well. He’s a solid, dependable reliever and he seems to be next in line should anything happen to Britton. If your league values holds (which they should), he should DEFINITELY be owned. But even if they don’t, I think you should give him a chance. However, the first sign of a blowout, he should probably be dropped. Ride him until he implodes!
PROSPECTS TO PICK UP
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers
This one is a no-brainer. He’s getting scooped up by everyone since the Rangers announced he will be starting his first game on Tuesday. I say pick him up immediately AND start him. He will hit right away or completely flame out – there will be no middle ground. He’ll either be back in the minors in 2 weeks or never look back and be a solid 3B for the rest of the year. He lead the minors in homers last year and was batting .315 this year with 9 homers. People are comparing him to Paul Goldschimdt. Stop everything and go get him now.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
This is my favorite baseball player currently. No lie. He’s electric. At the beginning of the year I figured there was no chance he sniffed the majors unless it was as a September call –up. I’m starting to think he could be up any day now with the way he is hitting at Double A currently (.262, 12 triples, 15 stolen bases, 9 homers) and with the Twins in the race. Buxton is no secret in the fantasy community but many leagues may have written him off for 2015. Don’t make the same mistake. Stash him now!
Carlos Correa, SS, Astros
There have been rumors about Correa being called up for the last few weeks but it has to happen momentarily. The Astros are good and they need some SS production. He will be playing and he will be better than average. He must be stashed.
DL PLAYERS TO PICK UP
Matt Moore, SP, Rays
Patrick Corbin, SP, Diamondbacks
I talked about both of these guys above in my intro. I’m counting on at least one of them to return to their ace-like form before their tommy john surgeries. Moore is my favorite here, since he was a highly touted prospect. I do like Corbin as well, since he was runner up for Cy Young in the last full year he pitched. Both of these guys should be stashed away since they should both be back toward the end of this month.
Travis d’Arnaud, C, Mets
Stash this guy! He is a top prospect who was hitting this year before a pinky injury forced him to the DL. He’s on his way back after a brief set back and should be on the field within two weeks. If your catcher is struggling, or if you need a solid backup to fill in for off days, look no further than d’Arnaud, who I project to be a top 10 Catcher at the end of the year.