by Will Overton
The game of baseball is changing folks. I am sure all of you have noticed it, and with the changing of baseball comes the changing of fantasy baseball. It used to be that stolen bases were at a premium and power numbers could be had on the waiver wire anytime you’d like. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. Last season baseball’s home run numbers were its lowest in over a decade. So far this year we’re on pace to see an even lower total. Meanwhile stolen bases jumped last season and are jumping again this season.
The way the game of baseball is changing. There are more teams playing small ball and less teams living and dying by the long ball. With big time power hitters more scarce the reward of finding power on the waiver wire has gotten bigger and that’s the focus of this week’s waiver wire report. I will be looking at a combination of guys who are both hot at the plate and guys who can get hot.
I will offer guys to look for in three different types of leagues: standard, deep and AL/NL only. In parentheses next to the name is the owner percentage rates for each player (per ESPN).
Standard League Options
Mark Reynolds (62.4%): I almost can’t believe I am mentioning this guy’s name in a waiver wire report. Reynolds is one of, if not the most frustrating player to own on a fantasy baseball team thanks to the inconsistency and excessive amounts of strikeouts that he pairs with his ridiculous power potential. But when power is hard to come by, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and trust me, owning Mark Reynolds can be a sacrifice. If you are going to own Reynolds you have to be prepared for an average hit (.194 currently), and that means he isn’t for every team. If you are struggling with your average, don’t pick up Reynolds, but if you have some .300 hitters to protect Reynolds and you need the power you have to consider this, no matter how upsetting it might be to your psyche. Just keep that 16.8 AB/HR rate in your mind and try and find some peace.
Raul Ibanez (53.1%): Ibanez is one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball right now, sporting a batting average of .337 in May with 5 HR’s, 3 of which having come in the last 7 games. Despite the recent surge fantasy players seem apprehensive to pick him up, whether it be the age or the slow start to the season, the faith is lacking. I can understand the hesitancy, Ibanez fell of last season and started this season with a .161 average and 1 HR in April. However with power being hard to come by you can’t afford to wait and see if Ibanez is going to keep hitting. You need to pick him up and than if he does start to falter, drop him than.
Deep League Options
Michael Morse (6%): Morse quickly went from one of the hottest names on the pre-draft sleeper lists to a forgotten man after he stumbled out of the gate this season. As Morse struggled his playing time grew more sparingly and he has had to earn his way back into playing time. And he has certainly done that this month. He is hitting .395 for the month and he’s hotter than ever right now with a homerun in each of the last three games. He won’t keep hitting the way he has been, but the power is for real, Morse in fact probably has more power than anyone else on this list, except for maybe Mark Reynolds. With Adam Laroche on the DL and Morse playing out of his mind, playing time should no longer be an issue.
Jonathan Lucroy (32.2%): Lucroy might not be the first guy you think of when you think of power supply. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has 4 HR’s this month and 3 in the last 10 days. Lucroy didn’t have the most prolific of homerun hitting numbers in the minor leagues, but he did have 20 HR’s in 2008 and it’s certainly possible his power is developing as he does in the big leagues. Lucroy isn’t your typical power option, but he plays a very weak position and any kind of power numbers you can get there you have to take advantage of.
AL/NL Only League Options
Eric Thames (0.3%): Thames hasn’t shown his power potential in the majors yet, though it has been just 22 at-bats, but don’t be fooled, the power is there. Last season in AA ball Thames hit 27 HR’s and had a 18.3 AB/HR rate. Before his callup this year he had 6 HR’s at AAA. Despite not hitting a HR yet, Thames has been hitting the ball well and even with Adam Lind coming back he could stick around. If he does stay with the big league club he’ll start hitting some HR’s and even if he gets sent back down he’s someone you should be keeping an eye on.
Allen Craig (0.3%): It’s funny how the one thing that has kept him from being an everyday player, his defense is in some ways the one thing keeping him in the lineup on a regular basis now, because he can multiple positions. With the ability to play second base and third as well as the outfield, Craig has proven to be a valuable commodity for the Cardinals and his bat might be what keeps him playing regularly. In the minors Craig was a career .300 hitter and he hit 20 or more HR’s in all three of his full seasons, and would have done so last year if he had not been called up. Craig does possess major league level power and can give a boost to your NL Only teams.
When you scour your league’s waiver wire looking for power what kind of options are you finding? Are any of these guys on your power seeking radars? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and questions.
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