by Will Overton
Sometimes the best way to approach things on the waiver wire is look for the hottest players out there and ride it out. Ideally you want a long term option off the waiver wire, but sometimes there just aren’t any out there.
If you have an open spot on your team from an injury or a poor performer you may not be able to land a potential long termer like Nolan Arenado who is disappearing in leagues at a rapid pace. If that’s the case you might want to look for the hottest guy out there and wait for him to cool off or another long term option becomes available.
Here are six of the hottest players available in a majority of fantasy baseball leagues at the moment. I’ll give my take on their value and the possibility that their hot streak can last:
Michael Brantley – OF, Cleveland Indians: The Indians offense as a whole has been rolling lately and we’ll get to another member here pretty soon. Brantley is the spark plug of the surging Indians offense hit games. He’s also been taking advantage of the rest of the offense’s success as he’s scored eight runs in the last ten games.
As a leadoff hitter Brantley should have decent value with his average and run scoring potential. He also has double digit power and speed upside. Part of Brantley’s sustained success is dependent on the rest of the lineup driving him in, but it is an improved offense and he should be able to clear 70 runs if not 80 for the first time ever. If any of these guys have long term potential it’s Brantley.
Cliff Pennington – SS, Arizona Diamondbacks: Pennington is somewhat known for hot streaks that often make you believe he is turning a corner. Pennington has seven hits in his last 20 AB’s and seems to be working his way into regular playing time, rotating between second base and shortstop. Pennington has a little bit of power and he has six RBI in the last week. Pennington also has sneaky speed, averaging 19 steals per game the last three seasons. There isn’t a lot of long term value here because Pennington will lose playing time when Aaron Hill comes back, but in the mean time you might as well ride this out.
Lyle Overbay – 1B, New York Yankees: It’s somewhat baffling the way the Yankees have pieced together a group of past their prime veterans and had a whole lot of success with them. Overbay is the latest resurgent success story going 9 for 27 in his last eight games. Overbay has 3 HR’s and 7 RBI in that stretch. Overbay has shown some power in his past and Yankee Stadium is a dream for left-handed hitters. I don’t know how long Overbay is going to keep this up, but at the moment he’s thriving and power isn’t always easy to obtain off the waiver wire.
Ryan Raburn – 2B/OF, Cleveland Indians: For quite some time now Raburn has been known for his slow starts and big second halves. Despite a new team Raburn was on track for another one of those until this recent hot streak. In his last nine games Raburn has jumped his batting average from .200 to .344. Raburn is 17 for his last 39 in those games including five multi-hit games and a pair of multi-HR games. Raburn is possibly the hottest player in all of fantasy baseball these last ten days. Nick Swisher is back now, but it shouldn’t hurt Raburn as Jason Giambi is doing so poorly at DH that Raburn and Swisher should split time there.
Phil Hughes – SP, New York Yankees: Clearly fantasy owners have lost a lot of faith in Phil Hughes over the last couple of years because he’s been great and he’s still available in 75% of ESPN leagues right now. Hughes got off to a bit of a rough start, but he has only allowed six runs in 28 IP over his last four starts. Hughes has a 30/5 K:BB ratio in these last four starts and has shut down some decent offenses in Toronto, Arizona and Tampa Bay. The past is hard to ignore, but Hughes has always had the talent and he might be putting it all together now. Hughes is rolling right now so I’d add him in any format and if things start to derail you can drop him then, but don’t not pick him up because you assume that’s going to happen.
Kevin Slowey – SP, Miami Marlins: This is one where Slowey is on a bit more than just a hot streak as he has pitched exceptionally well all season so far. Slowey has five quality starts out of seven, and even in his other two he has only allowed one run, he just hasn’t gone six innings. Slowey has gone 44.2 IP in his seven games and has a 1.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with a 36/8 K:BB ratio.
Slowey isn’t a great strikeout pitcher, but he’s going to get between a high six and low seven K/9 rate and should have good ratios, obviously not this good though. With the way he’s pitching he really has to be owned in any league format. I really don’t know how long this will last, but seven starts is a pretty solid streak to go off of.
What do you think of these streaking fantasy players? Are they all worth owning? Are there other hot hitters on the waiver wire you think I am missing?