by Will Overton
Working the wire in fantasy baseball seems like a constant race to find and snatch up the next big thing. You scour the transactions lists online looking to see who has been called up. You know who is on the verge of a call up and you know just when to pick him up.
That’s not a bad strategy, a lot of times the best guys to get off the waiver wire are the guys who no one knows about, yet. However sometimes fantasy owners can overthink things a bit and miss out on some opportunities waiting on the next big thing. Sometimes we get so used to seeing the same old names on the waiver wire that when we see someone familiar we just move on, assuming there is a reason they are there.
I’ve compiled a list of six familiar faces in fantasy baseball who are owned in 20% of leagues or less, most of them owned in 10% or less. It might be time to stop overlooking these six guys just because it’s the same old same, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Let’s take a closer look:
Gordon Beckham – 2B, Chicago White Sox: In his first four seasons in the majors Gordon Beckham has been a pretty popular talking point in the fantasy baseball world. In those first four seasons Beckham hit a paltry .244, but always seemed to be owned in a majority of leagues. This season Beckham is hitting .322 and is owned in 6% of ESPN leagues. He did miss the majority of the season’s first two months, but since returning on June 3rd he’s done nothing but hit.
The counting stats aren’t really there yet, but if he keeps hitting like this you have to think he’ll move up in the order. His power should also pick up at some point too after he hit 16 long balls last season. Beckham is finally putting something together and now fantasy owners have decided to ignore him? It doesn’t make much sense.
Trevor Plouffe – 3B/OF, Minnesota Twins: Here’s one guy who is owned in the most leagues on this list and will probably not last too long on the waiver wire. Plouffe was cut in a lot of leagues after spending two weeks on the DL in early June. Since returning on June 15 though he has hit safely in all but two of his 18 games and he’s now homered three times in his last six games so the power is coming along, which is his best resource to fantasy owners. His .269 average is higher than we’ve seen in the past, but if he’s hitting five or six homeruns per month he’s got value.
Delmon Young – OF, Philadelphia Phillies: A lot of what I said about Plouffe goes for Delmon Young as well, except for he has a little less power and is likely going to hit for a better average. I wouldn’t expect him to fly off the waiver wire nearly as fast as Plouffe though as there seems to be a stigma with Young, partly due to his inconsistency.
Right now though the one time top prospect is as hot as you can be. Young is 16 for his last 32 at the plate with 5 R, 1 HR and 9 RBI. Young has decent power, not great, but he does have a pretty good knack for driving in runs. He’s hitting .289 with runners in scoring position and he should have opportunities behind Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown. Don’t get your expectations too high for Young, but he’s solid enough to be owned still.
Alex Avila – C, Detroit Tigers: This guy was a top ten catcher just two seasons ago, now he’s owned in less than 1% of leagues. Let’s be real, he hasn’t given anyone any reason to own him this season though. Avila is sporting a .182 average and hasn’t been able to put anything at all together. However he did just spend a couple weeks on the DL and some extra time at Triple-A working on his swing while rehabbing his injury. His first two games back off the DL he picked up three hits, including a HR and drove in five runs.
The top of the Tigers lineup has been good so far and so if Avila can just get things going a little bit here he should be able to rack up some nice numbers in the second half. This wouldn’t be the first time a trip to the DL and a little extra batting practice in the minor leagues have helped someone straighten things out and so jumping on Avila now in deep leagues and two catcher formats would make some sense.
Edinson Volquez – SP, San Diego Padres: If you go to the waiver wire and you just take a look at the season stats for Volquez you certainly couldn’t be blamed for passing him right on by. However if you look at his recent numbers they tell a different story. Volquez has a 2.73 ERA over his last five starts and has 36 K’s in those starts over 29.2 IP. Strikeouts are a big part of Volquez value and they’ve been down all season until just recently.
Also significant about this stretch is that three of the five starts have come on the road so it’s not just Petco Park making the difference. As long as Volquez is striking guys out and the inevitable bad games are coming fewer and further between he has value in deep leagues and is a good spot starter in standard leagues.
Erik Bedard – SP, Houston Astros: You want to talk about familiar faces Bedard is now 34 and has spent a good part of the last few years on the waiver wire because he’s been hurt. Now he’s on the waiver wire cause he’s seemingly seen better days with his age and all the toll injuries have taken. He’s not completely void of value I don’t think, even on the Astros. Bedard got roughed up last time out, but his three starts before that he allowed only four runs in 19.1 IP and struck out 20. He’s even won three of his last six games. Just because Bedard isn’t the pitcher he used to be doesn’t mean he’s totally lost all value. In deep leagues he still has what it takes to be relevant.
What’s your take on these six familiar faces? Has the ship sailed on them as relevant fantasy players or are they just being overlooked as I am suggesting?