2014 Fantasy Baseball: Three Keepers to Stash for 2015

At this point in the season, 90% of the standings in your fantasy baseball league are decided. If you play in a keeper format, it’s time to look to next year. After a little disclaimer, let’s run down three down-on-their-luck players to stash for next season.

Obviously, keeper values are highly dependent on the specific rules of your league. How many guys you can keep, what their draft pick or auction value is, and how long you’re able to keep them for are all critically important considerations and are all different based on your rules. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to make some basic assumptions about those values; for instance, that it’d typically cost more to keep a traditionally elite player that it would to keep a younger, more unproven player.

Cool? Let’s do this. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 24 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 24 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re moving on to Edward Mujica, moving on from Anthony Rizzo, and moving on up with Javier Baez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, totally unrelated links to your fantasy football podcast?

Well, I’ve got one of those… Click here to hear Ryan Noonan and I preview Week 1, and look out for new pods on the site (and eventually iTunes) every week.

For anything else, hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Edward Mujica | Boston Red Sox | RP

Koji Uehara has finally discovered what it feels for every other pitcher with a fastball that can’t touch 90 miles-per-hour. He’s been tagged for at least one run in five of his last six outings. It’s an odd development; it’s shocking to see a pitcher who’d been among the most reliable in the league for the past few seasons suddenly lose it, but at the same time, Uehara was bound to blow up at some point. The Red Sox have rightly decided that it’s just not useful for a rebuilding team to keep sending a struggling 39-year old out to handle its save chances, especially when that closer is in the last year of his contract. Instead, the Sox have slotted Edward Mujica in as closer. He’s no spring chicken himself, but at least Mujica is under team control in 2015. The move is said to be “temporary”, but the gap between “temporary” and “permanent” is narrowing significantly by the day.

I imagine that Mujica earned at least half of a proven closer pendant of life from his days working the ninth inning in St. Louis, which should buy him a couple outings’ worth of rope if he’s not great right away. Truthfully, he hasn’t been great overall this season (neither his 17.2% strikeout rate and 3.85 FIP engender much confidence) but now, more than ever, saves are saves are saves. As long as Mujica isn’t a total tire fire (you know, like Michigan’s offense on Saturday), he should snag a few saves over the last few weeks of the season. If you’re within striking distance of a roto point or two in that category, there’s nobody more valuable on the waiver wire.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Koji Uehara, Addison Reed, LaTroy Hawkins

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 23 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 23 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re running with Jordan Schafer, moving on from Joe Kelly, and settling in with Travis d’Arnaud.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, trade deadline quandries? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Oh, and here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Jordan Schafer | Minnesota Twins | OF

Jordan Schafer has mostly flopped since debuting with a bang, but in his aimless bouncing around the league, he has found one elite skill. Despite logging barely two full seasons worth of plate appearances over his five-year career, Schafer has swiped a total of 98 bases with a success rate better than 80%. His SB/PA rate looks a bit inflated after plenty of pinch running opportunities, but his success in those chances proves that he can run even when the defense knows it’s coming. His problem has always been getting on base, but that’s been much less of an issue since Schafer was traded to Minnesota.

Since joining the Twins, his swinging strike rate has dropped by more than four percentage points from the 14.4% he maintained as a Brave this season. His strikeout rate has dropped to a career low 13.1%. He’s kept his walk rate over 10% and his fly ball rate under 30%; the fact that he’s traded some grounders for extra base line drives is just gravy. His .383 BABIP is high, but something around .350 isn’t unsustainable for a guy with his speed.

As long as he hits, Schafer is going to keep playing, Ron Gardenhire has said as much. Eventually, his BABIP will fade a bit, but he’ll stick in the lineup long enough to swipe at least six or seven bags in the next month.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Gregory Polanco, Mookie Betts, Alejandro De Aza

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 22 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re taking a chance on Oswaldo Arcia, cutting ties with C.J. Wilson, and keeping it going with Matt Shoemaker.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, trade deadline quandries? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Sorry in advance that this one’s shorter than my normal posts; I’m on vacation this week and stuck with some rather unreliable internet. I’ll be back in full force next week. And who am I kidding, you’re busy with fantasy football draft prep anyway. Speaking of which…here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Oswaldo Arcia | Minnesota Twins | OF

“Light-tower power” is probably overused, but I think it’s a fair designation for Oswaldo Arcia. He ranked 14th in baseball in average fly ball distance last season and though he currently ranks 64th in the league, the nine bombs he’s cranked in the second half have certainly helped to move him up the ranks. Arcia has battled nagging injuries all season, but has still managed to hit 19 homers in not even 400 plate appearances between Triple-A and the big leagues while maintaining ISOs above .200 at both levels.

If Chris Carter was already grabbed in your league, you could do a lot worse than Arcia as a backup plan.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Josh Reddick, Domonic Brown, Nori Aoki

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 21 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 21 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re buying in on Trevor Bauer, calming down on Dustin Ackley, and being realistic about Troy Tulowitzki.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, anything that can console me while my Tigers plummet out of the playoffs? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Oh, and here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 20 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 20 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re… oh, who am I kidding, I know who you want to read about. Just go ahead and scroll down to the part about Javier Baez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, looking for a link to buy The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Oh, and here’s that link.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

David Peralta | Arizona Diamondbacks | OF

On the surface, David Peralta seems very Yangervis Solarte-y. He’s closing in on his 27th birthday, this season is his first taste of major league action, and he’s riding an elevated BABIP to all around excellent production. It’s hard to deny the similarities, except that Peralta’s minor league track record, which is admittedly short, completely supports his early big league returns. Sure, it’s probably too much to ask for him to continue BABIPing .356, but he hit .368 on balls in play last year and .307 before his call-up this season. A .320 BABIP the rest of the way is certainly within reason.

Peralta is a very aggressive hitter, but his low strikeout and walk rates match the his minor league numbers almost exactly and his major league contact rates look good enough to support a solid batting average. He’ll fish down in the zone a little bit, but his zone profile shows pretty darned good plate coverage.

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Steamer projects him to hit .290 the rest of the way; only 14 players are projected for a better batting average. And it’s not just empty average either. Steamer has Peralta pegged for four homers and a pair of stolen bases as well. He’s bounced around Kirk Gibson’s batting order quite a bit, but since the beginning on July, he’s taken most of his at bats as the first, second, or third hitter in the order, which sets him up in excellent run-scoring position. Basically, Steamer thinks Peralta is going to be about 90% of Melky Cabrera for the rest of the season. ESPN’s Player Rater has Cabrera as the 27th-most valuable player in the game; 90% of that certainly sounds like something should be owned in more than 6% of Yahoo! leagues.

Peralta’s not the type of player who’ll gain points for you in any particular category, but his ability to hold the fort is very useful, especially in deeper leagues. He can slightly lessen the impact of losing Andrew McCutchen to injury and just about replace the ailing Adam Eaton completely. Well-roundedness is a skill when it’s accompanied by an everyday job, and Peralta has both. The injury to Paul Goldschmidt has pushed Mark Trumbo back to first base and carved out a consistent slot in the lineup for Peralta. As terrible as the Diamondbacks are, there’s no reason for them not to see what they’ve got in Peralta.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Drew Stubbs, Gerardo Parra, Kevin Kiermaier

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 19 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 19 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re snatching Everth Cabrera, resetting Shin-Soo Choo’s floor, and recognizing that Zach Britton is one of the best closers in the game.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, fantasy trade deadline stories? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Everth Cabrera | San Diego Padres | SS

If you’ve got a chance to make up ground in steals, Cabrera is one of the best options out there, if only because he’ll get more opportunities than just about anybody. Cabrera has led off in every game since his return, which is a huge advantage over other light-hitting base stealers who often hit near the bottom of the order. Jean Segura, by comparison, hasn’t hit higher than seventh in the Brewers lineup since July 11. Not coincidentally, Segura has logged more than four plate appearances in only one game since June 25; Cabrera did it three times in his first five games back. Being at the top of the order can easily amount to an extra 15-20 plate appearances over the rest of the season, which could just as easily lead to an extra three or four stolen bases.

A lingering hamstring injury could throw that math out the window, but Cabrera seems to be over his. He stole a bag at the tail end of his rehab assignment and has already swiped three in four tries in less than a week back in the big leagues. He hadn’t been quite as efficient in the early going this year, but I’m going to bet that his month of rest and relaxation will solve those issues. His bigger challenge has always been getting on base.

Cabrera hasn’t been back up long enough to make any judgements about his plate discipline, and his walk rate has always been well below average, but it’s very encouraging to see him keeping his strikeout rate down and even more encouraging to see him keeping the ball on the ground at a career high rate (it’s only gotten higher since his return from the DL). Cabrera proved last season that he can make enough contact to hit for a decent average, so long as he’s able to stave off Willie Mays Hayes Syndrome. With a BABIP that’ll settle in around .330, Cabrera could absolutely hit .260 the rest of the way with double-digit stolen bases.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Jean Segura, Erick Aybar, Asdrubal Cabrera

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 18 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 18 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re rejoicing in the return of Collin McHugh, setting realistic expectations for Chris Tillman, and giving Christian Yelich his due.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, trade deadline predictions? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Collin McHugh | Houston Astros | SP

(h/t RazzBall)

Collin McHugh’s curveball is a thing of beauty, but it’s not just pretty, it’s arguably the most effective curve in the game. Only Adam Wainwright and Jesse Hahn can rival McHugh’s bender in terms of movement and bat-missing ability. He spots it well and it’s absolutely untouchable down in the zone.

Colin McHugh Curve Whiff Rate

I’m just so glad to have him back. He was due for a bit of home run regression and although I didn’t expect it to hit so hard in his first outing back, I’m fine with resetting expectations just a bit. I do believe that McHugh will outperform the 4.94 and 4.29 ERAs projected by ZiPS and Steamer, respectively; I expect he’ll maintain something closer to his 3.63 FIP. Regardless, the strikeouts are not going anywhere. McHugh remains among the best in the league when it comes to missing bats and as long as that curveball is still around, that’s not likely to change.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Chris Young, Danny Duffy, Clay Buchholz

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 17 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 17 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re snagging Joaquin Benoit, sticking with J.J. Hardy, and waiting for reality to set in for Casey McGehee.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, reports of ridiculous unwritten rules violations? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Seriously, Colby Lewis is the worst.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Joaquin Benoit | San Diego Padres | RP

Now that Huston Street has been shipped off to Los Angeles, Joaquin Benoit slots as the closer for the San Diego Padres. He won’t get a ton of opportunities to close things down for one of the worst teams in the National League, but Benoit is one of the most consistently excellent relievers in baseball and when the Padres do get a lead, it’s usually within the confines of a save situation.

Since re-emerging with the Rays in 2010, he hasn’t posted an xFIP worse than 3.29 or a strikeout rate below 26.1% in any single season. He closed for the Tigers most of last year, locking down 24 out of 26 save chances. He had some issues with the home run ball toward the end of last season (he’s the guy staring sadly into the distance in this video), but Petco Park tends to iron those things out. So far this season, he’s converted his only save chance alongside 16 holds.

I don’t expect Benoit to underperform as a closer, but be aware that there’s a chance his time in this role for the Padres could be relatively short. Not because of any challenger in the San Diego bullpen, but because I expect the Padres to be willing to listen to trade offers for anybody on the roster. The good news is that the team most rumored to be interested in Benoit, the Detroit Tigers, would probably only trade for Benoit if they plan to boot Joe Nathan out of the ninth inning. It’s really just speculation on my part, but the Tigers had the choice between the two of them this offseason and chose to go with Nathan; I don’t expect that they’ll re-acquire Benoit (and the $8 million he’s due next season) unless it’s really an emergency.

In any case, Benoit projects to close games, and to do so with aplomb, for the rest of the season. He needs to be owned in every league.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Joe Nathan, Casey Janssen, Santiago Casilla

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 16 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 16 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re evolving Jarrod Dyson, evaluating Henderson Alvarez, and evangelizing for Jesse Hahn.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few lesser-known, lesser-considered, or lesser-owned players, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, second half predictions?? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Jarrod Dyson | Kansas City Royals | OF

I really like it when limited players steer into the skid, when they accept, understand, and embrace their limitations. For instance, I like that Chris Carter unabashedly swings for the fences. I like that he hits leads the major leagues in fly ball rate and ranks fifth in HR/FB rate. And I love that he doesn’t seem to care that ranks second in swinging strike rate. He knows he can’t hit for average, so he makes damn sure he’s never going to get cheated.

Chris Carter couldn’t be further from Jarrod Dyson, stylistically speaking, but I do think Dyson is starting to learn a similar lesson.

He’ll never win a home run derby, but he steals bases as well as anybody in baseball. Dyson is 17-for-21 this season after going 36-for-40 last year. All he needs to put that speed in play is a regular spot in the lineup and a decent OBP, and he’s well on his way to both this season.

Dyson has radically improved his approach at the plate, taking full advantage of his wheels by posting the lowest strikeout rate of his career and the fourth-highest ground ball rate in baseball. He’s reaped the rewards to the tune of a career-best .293 batting average. It’s nearly 30 points better than his previous career high, but I think he can maintain it. Dyson has really evolved as a hitter this season; he’d never combined this batted ball profile with this kind of excellent contact rate before. With both going strong, he’s absolutely capable of maintaining a BABIP around .340 and an average near .300.

Now, about that playing time. The Royals are so desperate for outfielders…

How desperate are they?

The Royals are so desperate for outfielders that they let Raul Ibanez do this.

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Dyson has been a regular since mid-July. With only the punchless Nori Aoki as a challenger, I don’t think his place in the outfield is in jeopardy, even when Alex Gordon comes back.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Denard Span, Eric Young, Drew Stubbs

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