The 2017 baseball season has cleared its second month, but it’s still imperative that fantasy owners remain vigilant on the waiver wire. The Yahoo fantasy baseball crew is here to help identify the players to go after:
Q: There are five pitchers currently owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues that have returned top 40 roto value among starting pitchers – Brandon McCarthy, Eduardo Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Dan Straily, Ariel Miranda. Rank these players in terms of expected roto value over the rest of the season, and give us a brief comment on the player you prefer the most.
Brandon Funston: STRAILY, Rodriguez, McCarthy, Miranda, Sabathia. I like Rodriguez, and I was tempted to rank him No. 1 even though he’ll likely miss most of June with a knee injury, but with a K/IP and a return on investment to this point in the Yahoo game right at the border of the top 30 starting pitchers (which is right where he was last season, too), Straily has earned the top nod here.
Andy Behrens: STRAILY, McCarthy, Sabathia, Miranda, Rodriguez. Straily has no medical red flags, and he’s basically doing what he did last season with a higher K-rate. He’s in the right league, pitching in a friendly park.
Scott Pianowski: It makes me sad that I can’t rank E-Rod first, but injured is injured. MCCARTHY gets the top spot for his division and supporting environment. Then it’s Straily, Miranda (mostly for the home turns), CC and E-Rod.
Dalton Del Don: 1) STRAILY 2) McCarthy 3) Miranda 4) Rodriguez 5) Sabathia. I was close to going with McCarthy, but his injury history is so lengthy. And Rodriguez is currently slated to miss most of June. So give me Straily, who’s proving last year was no fluke. He sports a 1.09 WHIP with a 25.0 K% that ranks in the top-20 among all starters in baseball. It’s likely his BABIP regresses some but realize his career hit rate is a low .252. Straily’s 11.6 SwStr% suggests he’s the real deal.
Q: Which infielder, readily available in shallow leagues (12 teams or less), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: WILSON RAMOS. With only two backstops currently ranked in the top 200 of the Yahoo game (and only 10 in the top 400), there should be obvious interest in a guy that hit .307 with 22 HR and 80 RBI last season. Ramos has been out to this point rehabbing a surgically repaired knee, but he’s on a minor league assignment and expected to join Tampa next week. Given Derek Norris’ current off-the-field issues (not to mention his .630 OPS), Ramos should find plenty of playing time with the Rays (though he’ll start out at DH until his knee gets back to full strength).
Pianowski: TIM BECKHAM is not a perfect player, but he has nice pop, some speed, a playable average, and three positions of eligibility. And with all the other injuries around this infield, I don’t expect Beckham will lose his position. He also qualifies as a post-hype sleeper, the No. 1 overall pick from 2008.
Q: Which infielder, potentially available in deeper leagues (14 teams or more), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: ANDRELTON SIMMONS. In deeper leagues, you have to be interested in a middle infielder on pace for 15 HR, 15-20 SB and a serviceable BA (.276). Still only 27 years old, Simmons is drawing more walks than ever before and showing the kind of power that we haven’t seen from him since his first full MLB season with the Braves in ’13.
Del Don: MATT ADAMS. He’s owned in just 15 percent of leagues yet is posting a .282/.320/.620 line since joining Atlanta. That’s a .940 OPS with six homers over 71 at bats. Adams is batting fifth in the Braves lineup, which is especially helpful considering Matt Kemp’s big year. Adams should be owned in far more leagues.
Q: Which outfielder, readily available in shallow leagues (12 teams or less), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: DAVID PERALTA. I’ll go with Del Don’s pet player since he’s not being asked to stump for an outfielder this week. Yes, Dalton’s got a bit of a man-crush for Peralta, but it is not without merit. After all, Peralta owns a .818 OPS over his first 338 MLB games, and he’s returned top 170 value in the Yahoo game to this point . If he can manage to stay healthy the rest of the way, he has a shot at 100 Runs hitting right ahead of Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona’s batting order, and that plays very nicely when you add it to what is likely to be mid-teen tallies in HRs and SBs, not to mention a healthy batting average (.294 career BA).
Behrens: I’m kinda cheating here, because MATT ADAMS is primarily a first baseman who happens to carry OF eligibility. But hey, he technically fits. Adams’ power is well established; he homered 16 times in 327 plate appearances last season. He’s been on a tear lately, yet he’s only 14 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.
Q: Which outfielder, potentially available in deeper leagues (14 teams or more), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: BRADLEY ZIMMER. So far, so good for Zimmer, who has flashed his special blend of power and speed, while keeping his K rate below an absurd level (barely), through his first 19 MLB games. As long as he continues on his current path (which is completely within the scope of his abilities), the likes of Austin Jackson, Abe Almonte and Brandon Guyer are unlikely to push him out of regular time in right field.
Pianowski: I don’t understand how JOSH REDDICK sticks under 20 percent. Almost any path into this loaded Houston lineup is a good thing, and Reddick is locked into the No. 2 slot. If you need to look a little deeper, I’ll sign off on TOMMY PHAM.
Q: Which pitcher, readily available in shallow leagues (12 teams or less), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: ZACK GODLEY. Arizona just recalled the righty this week, who recorded five consecutive quality starts before his short-term demotion. Be it on the MLB stage, or the tough pitching environment of Triple-Reno, Godley has been a mid-2 ERA, low-1 WHIP, 8-9 K/9 stud, thanks to what has been the league’s most valuable curveball (among all pitchers with 30-plus IP), to this point.
Del Don: JOE ROSS. His velocity has been up and down this season, and he currently owns an ugly 6.16 ERA, but this is a 24-year-old pitcher coming off an outing in which he had a 12:0 K:BB ratio over 7.1 innings. Ross’ 20.4 K-BB% would rank No. 12 among all starters if he qualified – tied with Jacob deGrom and just one spot behind Stephen Strasburg. There’s upside here (and wins should be plentiful with Washington being the leader in runs scored in the NL).
Q: Which pitcher, potentially available in deeper leagues (14 teams or more), are you most interested in adding to your fantasy team?
Funston: JOE BIAGINI. The former Rule 5 draftee is among the top 20 (min. 40 IP) in WHIP, K/BB rate and GB%. Let’s see, he limits baserunners and home runs … that’s what you call a safe floor, which is a good way to survive pitching in the AL East. Biagini is owned in just 22% of Yahoo leagues, but I like him more than any starter-eligible player owned in 50% percent or less than of Yahoo leagues (Godley, included).
Behrens: JACOB FARIA passed the eye test in his debut for the Rays, striking out five batters over 6.1 innings and earning a win against the White Sox. He’d been dominating at Triple-A prior to the promotion, going 6-1 with a 1.13 WHIP and a ridiculous 12.89 K/9.