With the season finally underway, now’s the time to pounce and be aggressive on the waiver wire. The Yahoo fantasy baseball crew is here to help identify the players to go after:
Q: Which infielder, owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, is worth adding to your fantasy team?
Andy Behrens: RYAN SCHIMPF is far from a perfect fantasy asset, clearly. He won’t hit for average, he doesn’t offer speed and, at 28, he isn’t some high-upside prospect. But he hit 20 home runs in just 89 major league games last year, and the man slugged 20-plus bombs in each of the four prior minor league seasons. If you can use pop for a middle infield slot, here’s your guy.
Dalton Del Don: TRAVIS SHAW. First off, Schimpf is MY GUY, so not cool of Behrens to steal him here. I’ll return the favor to Pianowski (who’s big on Shaw) then. Blame Andy, not me Scott. Anyway, Shaw is hitting cleanup for the Brewers, and while he struggled mightily after the All-Star break last season, he’s still someone with 30 career homers over 213 games just now entering his prime at age 27. Moreover, Miller Park has increased home runs by 49 percent for left-handed batters over the past three years, which is the highest mark in MLB over that span. Shaw’s ownership will start climbing fast soon.
Scott Pianowski: All MARK REYNOLDS did in the Milwaukee series is hit, and now he’s at home for six days. Reynolds was quietly terrific at Coors last year (.310/.383/.497), and he also gets a boost against right-handed pitching. The San Diego series, which starts Monday, should be especially fun.
DEEP DIVE: Name an infielder owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo leagues.
Behrens: CESAR HERNANDEZ is hitting at the top of Philly’s order and he has 30-steal speed. He’s also a career .280 hitter (.294 last season), so he’s not going to be a liability in any category but power.
Del Don: LUCAS DUDA combined for 57 homers from 2014-2015 despite missing 36 games. He’s healthy now and could quickly move up the Mets’ lineup. He’ll be plenty useful against righties.
Pianowski: YANGERVIS SOLARTE proved his fantasy chops last year, and he qualifies at two infield positions. Petco Park has changed in recent years; it still favors the pitchers, but it isn’t nearly as extreme as it used to be. And if you’re ever going to add Solarte, now is the time; Coors Field comes calling next week. Never nervous, Yangervis.
Q: Which outfielder, owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, is worth adding to your fantasy team?
Behrens: All the things we liked about GERARDO PARRA entering last season still apply. He’s a power/speed outfielder in an ideal hitting environment, and injuries have created a clear path to playing time. Add and enjoy, at least until the at-bats become less frequent.
Pianowski: KEVIN KIERMAIER offers pop and speed, and he has security in the Tampa lineup — his angelic defense and new contract extension make sure of that. Kiermaier quietly improved against lefties last year, which validates him as a legitimate mixed-league option.
Del Don: DAVID PERALTA. I feel like a broken record at this point when it comes to Peralta, and he’s admittedly off to an extremely slow start, but he’s proven to be a very good hitter in the big leagues whenever healthy, and Chase Field remains arguably the best hitter’s park other than Coors Field. Grab him now before the inevitable hot streak.
DEEP DIVE: Name an outfielder owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo leagues.
Behrens: CHRIS OWINGS had double-digit power in the minors and he was a .277 hitter for Arizona last season, swiping 21 bags in 23 attempts. Speed isn’t as readily available as it used to be, so a 20-steal player with multi-position eligibility (SS/OF) is a big deal in deep formats.
Pianowski: MITCH HANIGER hasn’t gone off in the opening week, though Houston’s pitching had a say in that. Nonetheless, Haniger had a homer and a steal in the opening series, and has slotted second in each game.
Del Don: SHIN-SOO CHOO. Maybe he’s done at age 34, but typically the problem with Choo is health, not performance. He’s batting second in the Rangers’ lineup and is one year removed from a .276-94-22-82 line in fewer than 150 games.
Q: Which pitcher, owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, is worth adding to your fantasy team?
Behrens: You can stash CARTER CAPPS on your fantasy DL right now, so there’s no need to burn a bench spot. He has an excellent shot to leapfrog Brandon Maurer in the Pads’ bullpen hierarchy, plus he’s the sort of high-K reliever who has value even when he isn’t saving games.
Pianowski: DYLAN BUNDY’S debut spoke for itself, but for some reason he’s still unclaimed in about 56 percent of Yahoo leagues. Come for the pedigree, stay for the ridiculous curveball. Baltimore’s record with pitcher development has not been good, but Bundy and Kevin Gausman appear ready to flip that script.
Del Don: SANTIAGO CASILLA. He secured Oakland’s first save and apparently wasn’t available for the team’s second opportunity. Ryan Dull got the chance and proceeded to give up a three run homer, blowing the game for the A’s. Oakland’s bullpen is crowded, and Casilla worked the eighth inning Thursday (the team didn’t have a save opportunity), but he’s worth owning right now with so few saves typically available on waiver wires.
DEEP DIVE: Name a pitcher owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo leagues.
Behrens: I’ll remind you that in Yahoo default leagues, we play with an easily reached innings max for your pitching staff (1400). In our game, relievers with extreme K-rates are gold. GRANT DAYTON is available everywhere and he punched out 39 batters in 26.1 major league innings last season. Not too shabby. At Triple-A, he whiffed a ridiculous 91 batters in 52.0 frames. That’s a guy worth owning, gamers.
Del Don: LUKE GREGERSON. The pickings are slim here, but even if Gregerson stays in a setup role all year, he led major league baseball in SwStr% (20.1) last season, so he’ll help you elsewhere.
Pianowski: Houston’s deep bullpen offers interesting guys at every price point. CHRIS DEVENSKI has a rubber arm, juicy ratios and a wipeout K/BB rate. He’s also likely to throw a ton of innings, giving you plenty of ratio help if that’s what you need. Maybe we’ll see him in the rotation later in the year. His first 2017 appearance was divine (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K).