MLB Skinny: Wiretapping

In another week or two, most fantasy owners will observe the passing of their league's virtual trade deadline. At that point, the individual owner will have no other means by which to address team weaknesses than through the waiver wire. With that in mind, I'm going to identify top category specialists owned in less than 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues this week, as opposed to the usual generic top five under 15 percent list (50 percent for starters).

Also, did anyone notice the recently-added "Last 14 days" sort in the "Stats" drop-down box on your league's "Players" page(s)? We (the fantasy writers) have been lobbying our production/engineering team to add that sort for a while now, arguing that a period glimpse between a week and a month was much needed in order to aid owners in the hunt for waiver help, among other things. So, in honor of that finally coming to fruition, I'm also including some notable last 14-day dynamos and duds (with Yahoo! rank for that span in parentheses) as a way to call attention to this helpful timeframe snapshot.

Alright, let's get to it …


Notable past 14-day dynamos: Chris Johnson(notes) (13); Luke Scott(notes) (13); Aubrey Huff(notes) (20); Nick Swisher(notes) (40); Adam LaRoche(notes) (42); Danny Valencia(notes) (68)

Notable past 14-day duds: Prince Fielder(notes) (827); Pablo Sandoval(notes) (1071); Casey Blake(notes) (883); Chase Headley(notes) (953); Casey McGehee(notes) (920); Troy Glaus(notes) (1498)

Here's my top category specialists of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:

Batting Average: Omar Infante(notes) – It might be hard for you to believe in his current .342 BA, but it's easier to buy in after you consider that he's hitting .309 since to start of the second half of '07, which spans 861 at bats. That said, he doesn't offer much else, other than four-position eligibility.

Home Runs: Russell Branyan(notes) – There's a wonky back to keep tabs on, but he's healthy at the moment and, from a strict home run standpoint, he's superior to anyone else in the under-15 percent CI crowd. And with Milton Bradley(notes) on the DL and Justin Smoak(notes) at Triple-A Tacoma, there's plenty of playing time to be had for Branyan if he can handle it.

Runs Batted In: Matt LaPorta(notes) – The Indians are committing to LaPorta the rest of the way and have him in the No. 5 spot in the order, right in front of two players (Shin-Soo Choo(notes) and Carlos Santana(notes)) who are getting on base right at a .400 clip. That should keep LaPorta's RBI business afloat.

Runs: Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes) – Hairston has a 162-game average this season of 104 runs out of the leadoff spot, where he's currently residing in the Padres lineup, and he offers the added bonus of four-position eligibility.

Stolen Bases: Adam Kennedy(notes) – He's fifth among CIs with 12 steals, and with Cristian Guzman(notes) out of the picture, Kennedy should see full-time duty the rest of the way.


Notable past 14-day dynamos: Alexei Ramirez(notes) (19); Marco Scutaro(notes) (37); Melvin Mora(notes) (81); Juan Uribe(notes) (90); Neil Walker(notes) (92); Kelly Johnson(notes) (96)

Notable past 14-day duds: Howie Kendrick(notes) (938); Stephen Drew(notes) (921); Miguel Tejada(notes) (970); Freddy Sanchez(notes) (1042); Erick Aybar(notes) (860); Jose Lopez(notes) (1121)

Here's my top category specialists of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:

Batting Average: Freddy Sanchez – If I needed batting average help and had a MI spot to play with, I wouldn't sweat a .231 month of July from Sanchez. One month carries little weight in comparison to his .296 career average. In fact, he had a similar stumble in July last season before hitting .284 over the final two months. When it comes to batting average, in Freddy I trust.

Home Runs: Sean Rodriguez(notes) – Let's face it, you're not fixing your long ball problems with a MI pickup. But, if desperate times call for desperate measures, you might as well swing for the fences with Rodriguez, who has logged 51 home runs in 635 at bats at the Triple-A level and had five home runs in a 26-game span for Tampa Bay about a month ago.

Runs Batted In: Ian Desmond(notes) – Desmond is only 24, and there's nice all-around potential to his game. In particular, as a run producer, he's delivered 10-plus RBIs in three of four months, thus far.

Runs: Hairston/Sanchez – Sanchez or Hairston (both mentioned above) make for good run-scoring options. In Sanchez's case, I'm assuming he will manage to hold down a No. 2 spot in the order a majority of the time the rest of the way.

Stolen Bases: Chris Getz(notes) – With Alberto Callaspo(notes) now in Los Angeles, there's playing time available for Getz. He's streaky, but the speed is ever-present – he's stolen 37 bases in his past 158 games, including three in the past week.


Notable past 14-day dynamos: Jose Bautista(notes) (1); Delmon Young(notes) (4); Angel Pagan(notes) (14); Scott Podsednik(notes) (17); Andres Torres(notes) (22); Raul Ibanez(notes) (25); Matt Joyce(notes) (41); Jose Tabata(notes) (49); Jim Edmonds(notes) (66); Mike Stanton(notes) (69); Tyler Colvin(notes) (71)

Notable past 14-day duds: Ryan Braun (835); Matt Kemp(notes) (952); Ichiro Suzuki(notes) (831); Andre Ethier(notes) (1118); Adam Jones(notes) (858); Jay Bruce(notes) (939); Vladimir Guerrero(notes) (822); Corey Hart(notes) (942); Carlos Quentin(notes) (924); Josh Willingham(notes) (866)

Here's my top category specialists of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:

Batting Average: Jon Jay(notes) – "Jay is built to hit for average," says Baseball America in its "2010 Prospect Handbook." And hitting directly in front of Albert Pujols(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) doesn't hurt. Says manager Tony LaRussa, "He looks like a player." Hitting .378 over his first 119 at bats at the MLB level will make that kind of impression. But Jay has hit for average every step of his baseball career. Now that he's playing regularly, consider him strongly if you have BA needs.

Home Runs: Jack Cust(notes) – Tyler Colvin isn't a bad play here, but I'll go with Cust, who has six home runs in his past 15 games and has delivered no less than eight round trippers in August/September in each of the past three seasons.

Runs Batted In: Seth Smith(notes) – Smith has cleared double digits in RBIs in each month, thus far. He's in a platoon in Colorado, and he owns a .961 OPS against righties. You can take advantage of that split if you keep on top of your daily roster management and rotate him out of the lineup when the Rockies face a lefty.

Runs: Fred Lewis(notes) – No reason to dig too deep here. Lewis has 14 more runs than anyone else in the 15 percent-or-less OF group. He's the regular leadoff hitter for the ninth-best scoring offense in the league. Since May 1st, he's crossed home plate 51 times, which ranks 28th in the league.

Stolen Bases: CoCo Crisp(notes) – He's coming off a frigid July (.191), but at least he managed to stay healthy and produce on the base paths – his 10 steals in July was second-best in MLB. And there are signs that he's coming out of his slump at the plate, hitting .292 in the final six games of the month.


Notable past 14-day dynamos: Gavin Floyd(notes) (15); Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (18); Brett Myers(notes) (24); Jeff Francis(notes) (27); Kevin Slowey(notes) (30); Wade Davis(notes) (47); Anibal Sanchez(notes) (48); R.A. Dickey(notes) (50); Shaun Marcum(notes) (57); Carl Pavano(notes) (73); Trevor Cahill(notes) (93)

Notable past 14-day duds: Johan Santana(notes) (1044); Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) (1468); Ryan Dempster(notes) (1550); Roy Oswalt(notes) (1528); Edwin Jackson(notes) (1524); Phil Hughes(notes) (1119)

Here's my top category specialists of the 50-percent (and under) starter crowd:

Wins: Bronson Arroyo(notes) – Chasing wins is a fool's errand, and one arm isn't likely to make much of a dent in this category at this point. But, assuming you don't have an innings max that allows you to stream yourself crazy in an attempt to pick up wins, Arroyo is a good place to look for a solid wins contribution the rest of the way. He already has 11 wins and he's finished with 15 wins each of the past two seasons. He's also delivered at least five wins from August 1st to the end of the season in each of the past six seasons.

Earned Run Average: Madison Bumgarner(notes) – The Giants rookie had a 3.16 ERA in his first taste at the Triple-A level with Fresno before getting called up in late June. That represented the high water ERA mark of his career, as he held a sub-2.00 mark in his Single-A and Double-A stints and has produced a 2.54 ERA in his first 56.2 IP with the Giants.

WHIP: R.A. Dickey – Top middle relievers – San Diego is a good place to start your search – are always a good way to help bleeding ratios. But among available starters, Dickey is also attractive in this regard. Admittedly, a knuckleballer isn't typically the first place you'd look for base runner-limiting help, but you have to give credit to Dickey for his prolonged stinginess when it comes to ducks on the pond. In his past 10 starts, Dickey has not walked more than two batters in a game and only twice in that stretch has he allowed more hits than innings pitched.

Strikeouts: Brett Myers – With 113 Ks, Myers ranks just outside the top 30 in the league in punch outs. And he's also managing to keep his ERA respectable in the process. He's on a run of five consecutive quality starts in which he's produced a 1.67 ERA.


Notable past 14-day dynamos: Kurt Suzuki(notes) (76); Geovany Soto(notes) (107); Miguel Montero(notes) (145); Jason Kendall(notes) (258); Carlos Ruiz(notes) (267)

Notable past 14-day duds: Matt Wieters(notes) (864); Russell Martin(notes) (1046); Bengie Molina(notes) (1519); Yadier Molina(notes) (999); Miguel Olivo(notes) (862)

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