Justin Upton is slashing .215/.263/.319 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Prince Fielder is slashing .190/.257/.292 with three home runs and 14 runs scored. This is not on April 2. This is not on May 2. This is on June 2.
The two veterans and their performance to date begs the question ... When should we give up?
Many times when we jump onto the waiver wire we're exchanging one player on the periphery for another player on the periphery. Sure, you might find a gem, but the odds are that whomever you're picking up is just a moderate (at best) upgrade from what you're throwing in the trash can. Finding a summer-long asset as we arrive in June is very tough. So if you bail on Upton or Fielder, what are you getting in return?
The answer here will be different in every league, but I will not hesitate to say that less than 5% of 12-team fantasy leagues have anyone with the skill set to hit 20 home runs, drive in 60, and hit .280+ for the final two-thirds of the season. Call me an optimist if you must, but both Upton and Fielder could still reach all those marks. Their teams have already dealt with massive struggles and continued to use them each and every. Things are actually showing a slight improvement, too. Upton has hits in 9 of 14 games (entering Friday night's play) and looks a tad more comfortable down in the Tigers' order, drawing seven walks in that span. Fielder has hits in 10 of 14 (entering Friday night's action) and is still locked-and-loaded as the Rangers number-3 hitter.
Don't get me wrong. Both players have been giant busts this season. If their names were attached to those pitiful numbers they would have been jettisoned a month ago. But, because of those names and their history of production both have been given multiple opportunities to turn it around. I will not fault anyone for bailing in early-June. But, again, I just don't think there are any higher ceiling players sitting around and available on most waiver wires out there. We're all dealing with 'potential' when we look for additions to our roster. The potential of Upton and Fielder is still leaps and bounds beyond most other players you'll come across this month. Bench them, but don't dump them.
(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.)
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota
Guess who is back? The 'best prospect in baseball' has come up far short of expectations in his first two big league shots (an under .200 batting average, plus a 36+% strikeout percentage!) and that means he may have been dumped by a fellow owner in your league. Buxton was demoted to AAA a few weeks back and the company line indicated that he would remain there for a good amount of time. Well, plans changed. The outfielder burned up the International League with a 1.000+ OPS in 29 games. Then when Danny Santana (hamstring) hit the disabled list, Buxton received a third shot. Maybe it will be the charm. He's still fast, he's still uber-talented, and perhaps his confidence is back after the strong month at Rochester. The upside makes him a certifiable add, but I feel there will still be more pain (K's, low average, hitting at the bottom of the Minnesota lineup) than many are ready to stomach.
Suggested FAAB bid - $12
C.J. Cron, 1B, LA Angels
Los Angeles is out in Pittsburgh this weekend so you're unlikely to see anykind of lift in Cron's numbers or reputation over the next couple of days. With games in an NL yard, he'll be on the bench while Albert Pujols takes over at 1B. Cron is a very streaky hitter, but he's also the owner of proven power. He clocked 16 balls over the wall last season in under 380 at-bats. After an extremely slow start to this season he's been heating up with a .284 batting mark, plus four homers and 20 RBIs, since the start of May. L-A has huge holes throughout their lineup. That makes the relative 'known' of Cron an asset and should keep him in the starting lineup regularly. He will go through some big up's and some large down's, but he may have more of the former than the latter this season since it's his first real every day shot in the majors. If you're looking for sleeper power, here it is.
Suggested FAAB bid - $8
Robbie Grossman, OF, Minnesota
Grossman is another Minnesota outfielder with seeing a jump in opportunity. Not only is the team fairly bad, but DL openings are cropping up. In addition to Santana mentioned above, the Twinkies also lost 'outfielder' Miguel Sano. We've seen a few weeks from Grossman and he looks to be in the midst of a hot streak. He never really shined or turned heads over the course of three seasons with Houston and had been lapped by the field of prospects the team was moving up through the ranks. He doesn't have that level of competition up north and, thus far, he's hitting plenty. Half of his 16 hits half gone for extra-bases. There is some pop and there's also some speed. His push likely has just another few weeks left in it, but for those in an outfield pinch, he'll suffice for now.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Logan Morrison, 1B, Tampa Bay
Less than two weeks ago, Morrison was the worst everyday player in baseball. He entered action on May 22 with a measly .172 average that included a laughably bad 4 RBIs in 99 ABs. Still, Tampa kept rolling him out there every night despite all evidence to the contrary. Perhaps their faith was warranted. In the past 12 games (10 of which have been Tampa losses), LoMo has raised his season batting average 70 points (!) with 17 hits in 42 at-bats. He's also doubled his previous RBI total (8) and homers (2) in that time. Obviously, he's not this kind of hitter, but it looks like he's totally frozen in the Rays' starting nine. If he hits just .260 the rest of the way with 45 RBIs there would be some minor usefulness. All in all, you're looking at an emergency corner infield option.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Jimmy Paredes, OF, Philadelphia
The remarkably shocking start by Philly is starting to slide by the wayside. They've been losing a lot more than winning of late and are finally making good on all those 'year of rebuilding' predictions. Moving forward the Phillies will give tryouts to multiple washed up pieces. Heck, maybe something will stick! Paredes is an early contender. He was picked up in a trade with Toronto earlier in the week and in his first game he was immediately penciled in to the lineup's 3rd spot. First, he's not that kind of hitter. Secondly, though, he has been known for some big time streaks. Just look at last year in Baltimore. The O's were a team battling injuries and had to turn to Paredes. He jumped to the majors on April 18 and from that point until July 1 he hit .319 with 10 HRs, 39 RBIs, and 35 runs. Those are some serious marks! Of course, from July 1 to the end of the year the old regression bug snagged him as he barely hit .200 with ZERO homeruns for the remainder of the year. So, yeah, there's not a long-term answer here, but it's worth a look-see especially if Philadelphia plans to play him most days. As of now, it looks like that is the case.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Hyun Soo Kim, OF, Baltimore
Remember waaaay back at the onset of the season when Kim was so terrible that Baltimore wanted to send him to the minors even after handing him a $7 million for the next two seasons? Kim invoked some contract language, refused to go, and forced the Orioles to plant him on their Opening Day roster. He's been there ever since and after a sluggish start that featured only 17 plate appearances before May 5, he's starting to come up big for the O's. He's been in the lineup practically every day over the past week-plus and he's turned in 11 hits in 31 at-bats. He's even starting to show some punch by lifting his first career homer and adding three doubles. Baltimore is set to provide more work as long as he hits, but any kind of future slump will lead them to seeking out other options currently on the roster. That makes his role still undefined. He's shown an early push on the batting average and that will probably be his most pertinent fantasy skill. Just realize that nobody holds a .412 BABIP (Kim's current mark) all season and that he'll be more in the .275 range by seasons' end.
Suggested FAAB bid -$6
Zach Davies, SP, Milwaukee
The change-up artist had his best pitching working against St. Louis his last time out. Facing a team that had done very well against Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg in just the past week (scoring 10 total runs in three games against the trio), Davies kept the Cardinals off-balance throughout the day on his way to eight shutout innings, including nine whiffs. The youngster has now allowed two or fewer runs in five of six starts (a cumulative 2.97 ERA in that time) and the addition of an effective cutter has helped him sport three pitches that can be 'on' at the same time. There's still plenty for him to learn, but he has a chance for a two-start week (vs. Oakland and vs. NY Mets) if Milwaukee stays on schedule with their five-man. With his recent hot run he's not a terrible streamable add.
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Michael Feliz, RP, Houston
Unlike many of the other relievers that I spotlight in this space each week, Feliz probably doesn't have an easy way to saves. The Astros run hot-and-cold with both Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles, but it would be surprising if one of those two did not get the 9th inning work when a save opportunity arises. While those two sort things out, Feliz has been tremendous. The numbers will jump out at you ... 37 punch-outs in 24 innings, a 0.83 WHIP, and four victories. Don't be fooled by his 3.75 ERA. He's allowed one run since the start of May (covering nearly 19 innings) after getting pummeled in his first two April showings. He also has the ability to cover two and even three innings for the Astros' bullpen which lifts his per-week ratio impact beyond the usual reliever. Many fantasy rosters don't make room for a talent like this, but if yours does, he's a very solid 3rd or 4th RP to have on your roster behind your closers.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Mike Fiers, SP, Houston
Fiers has been a tough man to figure for a couple of years now. Originally, no one really paid attention when he was brought up by Milwaukee. Then despite not having overwhelming stuff, he averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his first 400 innings. That's officially impressive. But, now, he is 10 starts into his first full season with the Astros and has a K/9 of ... 6.6? He is in the midst of a good start/bad start run that started in late-April. His last start was solid as he allowed one run and whiffed seven in six innings against Arizona. This upcoming week he will get a pair of starting shots with road duels at Texas and Tampa. The fear is that both teams can launch homers (the Rays are 3rd in AL in that category) and Fiers has served up 10 of them this season (1.5 HR/9). The danger certainly lurks, but with two starts this week and what I believe to be better hurling ahead, I like the righty as a cheap add this week.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Matt Shoemaker, SP, LA Angels
Here's another scheduled two-start pitcher for the week to come (on the road against the Yankees and then back home versus the Indians). Shoemaker, though, is currently on a strong roll. His past three starts have been electric. He has sailed up the strikeout leaderboard with 31 Ks in just 22.2 innings. At the same time he has allowed just four runs in that span. His season-to-date marks are still brutal (5.50 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) because of a horrendous start and that may keep him slightly under the radar this weekend. His velocity is up a tick, he's clamped down on the homers allowed, and his FIP is a full two runs better than his actual ERA. I don't think he's a powerful waiver add, but he's worth hunting down to see if the hot streak has some legs.
Suggested FAAB bid - $9
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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