The waiver wire pick-up that becomes an All-Star. That's everyone's fantasy dream, right. Well, one of them, I guess.
Both the American League and National League have put together their rosters for next week's game in San Diego. These things seem to change daily because of injury, pitching rest, or vacation conflicts, but we have a decent grip on who we'll see out west this Tuesday night. And, there are several fantasy waiver grabs who will be there.
Depending on your league, the list includes (final vote players included) Michael Saunders, Jake Lamb, Trevor Story, Aledmys Diaz, Brad Brach, Marco Estrada, Will Harris, Steven Wright, Eduardo Nunez, Fernando Rodney, Wilson Ramos, Adam Duvall.
That's 12 names on a roster that so far has just 34 players on each side. That means that nearly 18 % (17.6 %, to be exact) of the Major League All-Stars in 2016 went undrafted in many fantasy leagues just 14 weeks ago!
When you consider all the words typed, opinions voiced, and numbers crunched and we still miss on guys who end up as the best in the game for a half-year, well ... it's a tad embarrassing. But, really, it's just how this grand game was built.
Heading into the second half of the year it's going to be more difficult to find a half-season stud, but there will be at least a few that emerge. My goal ... to help you find them. That begins now.
(Note: To make the list, I'll apply a loose definition that says a player is likely be unowned in a vast majority of 12-team mixed leagues. At the end of each player note, I'll also provide a suggested bid for those that use FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) for their waiver process (based on a $100 budget). Understand that this is only a suggestion ... if you've just lost your starting outfielder to injury and you have an immediate need or gaping hole in your lineup, you will find it necessary to bid more in order to get that week's top available outfielder.)
Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia
It's difficult to remember now in the heat of summer, but way back when there was a chill still in the air, there was also some hoopla surrounding Altherr. The young outfielder had finished 2015 with a nice push (five homers, 22 RBIs, 25 runs, and six steals in just 137 ABs) and was expected to be a foregone conclusion for playing time in the outfield for the rebuilding Phillies. That changed in March when he came down with a fairly severe wrist injury that was expected to keep him out most of the season. Well, 'most of the season' is nearly hear. Altherr began a rehab assignment in the low minors on Friday. He's expected to spend close to three weeks fine-tuning things before having any shot at a return to the show. When he does eventually come back, he could fit in well out in left-field. Center fielder Odubel Herrera has been even better in Year-2. Over in right, Peter Bourjos has shown some clutch hitting and has been a decent enough corner outfielder. Meanwhile, left-field has been a black hole most of the season. Altherr still has a decent speed-power profile, but there should be concern about the full recovery in his wrist. If you make the grab now, he'll be incredibly cheap. If you would rather wait a couple of weeks and then make the move, expect to pay twice as much.
Suggested FAAB bid - $2
Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis
Just like his teammate Kolten Wong, Grichuk's stay at AAA-Memphis was a short one. It's tough to see that he truly figured anything out down there, but while he was gone he made more contact and continued to also make hard contact. That last part has been there all season, but the other part (connecting with the baseball) had been his downfall. Then again his K-rate spike should have never been very shocking ... he whiffed in over one-third of his at-bats in last season's rookie break-through. Grichuk was a little unlucky with his BABIP earlier this year (.255, one hundred-plus points below last year's mark) and that multiplied the disappointment of his overall line. Many fantasy owners bailed when he was sent down. Now, you must strike. The Cardinals have moved Wong back to 2B to cover for the upcoming lengthy absence of the injured Matt Carpenter. That's one less piece of competition for Grichuk. I think there's a second-half power surge to come (he had a homer on Thursday) and he will also find a home near the middle of the St. Louis lineup. It's close to forget-about-it if you're looking for those types of hitters at this juncture of the season.
Suggested FAAB bid - $10
Chase Headley, 3B, NY Yankees
This veteran name will excite no one out there. Heck, it's never excited his current employer! But, of late, Hedley has even managed to bring a smile or two across the face of the Bronx 'faithful.' Entering Friday's action, he's banged out a hit or more in 7 of 10 games, plus three homers and eight RBIs. His spot at the hot corner is locked-in (there are really no other options) and he figures to see some continued RBI opportunities. Headley is not an answer for anyone with long-term issues at 3B, but he can get you through a few weeks if you're missing Carpenter, Matt Duffy, or Trevor Plouffe.
Suggested FAAB bid - $2
Aaron Hill, 2B/3B, Boston
Before the Red Sox added Hill on Thursday evening his 2016 showing was going unnoticed. Now that he has escaped the baseball hinterlands of Milwaukee and moved on to a red-hot fan base aiming for a league title, Hill has earned some eyeballs. He arrives with a respectable .780 OPS for the year, but there's not much else that leaps off the page. Since June 12, Hill has turned an everyday gig into a little bit of an offensive resurgence. He's collected 26 hits in his last 78 at-bats. Little of that has been difference-making (two homers, 8 RBIs, 13 runs), but it's there nonetheless. The move to Boston isn't really a good one for his fantasy outlook. He's seen more as a depth play or rotation option alongside Travis Shaw. He might provide some key moments, but it's hard to count on sustained opportunities. After all, this may the first of a few moves that Boston makes moving towards the August 1 trade deadline. Hill could be totally discarded because of one flip. I'll end on a good note, though. I like him more than Headley!
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota
The Twins still aren't winning enough, but they are finding some future help during their 'Summer of 2016 Tryouts.' Robbie Grossman continues to come through to the surprise of so many. And, the German, Kepler is starting to make some waves, too. He was recalled at the start of June and has started most every game since. With five weeks of work, he's crafted a .508 slugging mark that has been pumped by more than half of his total hits going for extra bases (16 of 31). That's allowed him to plate a remarkable 29 runners in just his past 34 games. The Twins have been impressed enough (and, disappointed enough in the 'Miguel Sano-as-right-fielder' experiment) to, in effect, hand him the starting gig for the remainder of the year. We might easily see 10 homers the rest of the way and another 30-40 RBIs over the remainder of the summer. Now, if they could just find a use for Byron Buxton ...
Suggested FAAB bid - $8
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Milwaukee
With Hill off to the BoSox, a former Boston farmhand is set to receive another shot at relevance. Just a few years back, Middlebrooks appeared to be on his way to perennial 20/80 seasons in the American League. But, a ton of swing and miss and light choppers in the infield made him franchise fodder. He failed in San Diego last year and has been stuck at AAA-Colorado Springs this year. At least he's hit in the high-altitude there. He comes Milwaukee with productive marks, but he is still the same player. He can find his way to low double-digit homers, but he'll hit .220 along the way and won't come up with enough total hits to drive in a decent amount. Miller Park plays small, though, and Middlebrooks might just wake up and realize that this is his last chance to ever be a big league regular. And, he's lucky to have it. A 'what the hell' bid could net you a few homers.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Justin Morneau, 1B, Chicago White Sox
This has been a very long time in coming. Morneau has been sidelined because of offseason elbow surgery, but has now finally returned to the diamond at AAA-Charlotte. He should get the call-up soon after the All-Star break if no issues arise. That's because the Chi-Sox are in desperate need of a left-handed bat who can provide some pop and break-up a string of middle-of-the-order righties. The situation is a low-risk one for fantasy owners. We'll now fairly quickly if he has much left. It's worth remembering that he showed plenty in Colorado last year by hitting .310 with 16 extra-base hits in under 170 at-bats. Grab him now before the call-up. He's proven, he should play, and he gets to take his hacks in a favorable hitters' yard. Once the call-up occurs, the price tag will leap.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Seth Smith, OF, Seattle
Smith has seemingly been around since the time of Moses. He travels from team-to-team, clubhouse-to-clubhouse, bat in hand, scouring the list of pitching probables for a right-hander he can pummel. He's been finding them and pummeling them of late in Seattle. In just the past three weeks he's clubbed five wall jumpers within his total of 19 hits. He's on a definite hot streak that won't sustain long-term, but he can provide a quick two week lift for you, right now. Admittedly, though, you might be seven days too late. That's how this guy's entire career has gone.
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Zach Eflin, SP, Philadelphia
I bet that nine inning, one earned run effort this past week caught your attention, eh? Well, it caught mine, too ... because I don't think it means much. Let's start by noting that it came against the Atlanta Braves. They've been better, but they are still in the latter-third of offensive attacks in baseball. Beyond that, Eflin was mostly just lucky. He had six line drives hit off him. He only punched out six opposing hitters. He faced an overaggressive team who let him get 27 outs on 92 pitches (in his previous starts this year, that total only got him through six frames). The 22-year old has put of decent, if not impressive marks, at every level of the minors, but he's never been considered a true prospect. He's considered to be a #4 kind of hurler for most MLB teams. With low-K upside, he shouldn't be on a fantasy roster before proving himself further in July.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh
Here's another big name finally getting the call. Glasnow made his debut in St. Louis on Thursday and handled himself well despite getting served with the loss. Two of his four earned runs scored after he left the game. His fastball totally looked the part, continually registering in the mid-90s. His curve was good enough, but as many have noted, he did not show a much-needed third pitch and when he gave up hits, they seemed to always come off the off-speed stuff. Most notably he avoided all the free passes that killed him in the minors (4.9 BB/9 at AAA). As with so many other young pitchers coming up, his work this year figures to be limited. He may have just another 10 starts left in his holster and they may not come every five days. In fact, after demoting him down on Friday (All-Star break), the Pirates may use him just a time or two for the rest of July. The future is undoubtedly bright, but you must understand that we'll only get to see a drive-by of it in 2016. He's easily worth a good bid, but don't get carried away thinking he has 90 innings in his right-arm for the 2nd-half.
Suggested FAAB bid - $9
Brandon Maurer, RP, San Diego
Fernando Rodney's move to South Beach left a gaping hole in the Padres' bullpen. It sounds like they have decided to fill it with the soft underbelly known as Maurer. His ERA is sky-high, but it has dropped a run-and-a-half over the past month. Still, that means only that 7.33 has become 5.67. When he gets hit, he gets hard, but he also has missed his fair share of bats this year. Somehow, someway, he's taken a career K/9 of around 7 entering '16 and lifted it to over 11. So, the K's are good, but there's just as much a chance that Maurer gets smoked in his new role. It's a pure fishing expedition. But, that's what you do in July.
Suggested FAAB bid - $7
Jake Peavy, SP, San Francisco
A classic turn-back-the-clock name. Peavy's April was one disaster after another. His first nine starts made him look ready for beaches of Florida as he entered May 25 with a 1-5 record and an ERA hemorrhaging at 8.21. But, his subsequent eight starts to follow-up have been a totally different story. Peavy has four wins in eight starts, while posting a sparkling 2.45 ERA with a .221 batting average against. He's mostly pulling off the reverse CC Sabathia this year. He's also getting by on a lot of guile and guts. He's a vet who knows the art of pitching. Strikeouts will not be there and six innings of solid pitching should be the limits of your expectations. That may fit as a streamer for you, especially when home vs. below-average offenses or when he is in line for a two-start week.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Joakim Soria, RP, Kansas City
The assumption here is that Kelvin Herrera is already owned in many leagues. Even without saves, he's been a powerful ratio and strikeouts man. Speaking of assumptions ... the assumption was that Herrera would man the 9th inning while Wade Davis worked his way through a forearm issue that has deposited him on the disabled list. A few nights back, the Royals had a lead in the 8th inning and actually brought in Herrera. He proceeded to cough up the lead and the game. He may have been in his usual spot because of the batters that were coming to the dish in that 8th (the top of Torono's batting lineup), but perhaps manager Ned Yost would rather turn to Soria. After all, he is the man with more than 200 career saves. As of this writing, we've yet to see what the Royals plan is. Regardless, it's worth noting that Davis is already doing some throwing on the side. In other words, this may be just a 2-3 week issue. Soria has been underwhelming this year (K's down, ERA and WHIP both up) and there doesn't seem to be a long-term concern with Davis. If Herrera were available, I'd double the below bid (remember, you still get those ratios). As is, Soria is nothing more than a saves hawk who has little value without possession of the final few outs.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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