Monday, May 2, 2011

Waiver Saviors: April's Fantasy Baseball All-Stars

My Waiver Saviors articles have always been about finding players available in a high percentage of leagues (I use ESPN and Yahoo! data because those are the two sites I personally prefer to play leagues in) and are having a statistical impact at the time the article is written.

This version of Waiver Saviors will look at a lineup of All-Star performances by players either not drafted or drafted near the end of most drafts this offseason. ESPN only tracks ADP (Average Draft Position) up to 260 picks and it looks like Yahoo! is in the same neighborhood. I believe a standard 5x5 10-team league uses 26 roster spots by default.

Here are your Fantasy Baseball Wavier Saviors All-Stars through the month of April:
  • Catcher Russell Martin of the New York Yankees has shown he's fully recovered from his injury and reversed the downward trend his career was taking with the Dodgers. His 5x5 line of .293/13/6/19/2 makes him the #1-ranked catcher in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. He was virtually undrafted on ESPN (260) and while he did a little better on Yahoo! (213.5). Joe Mauer owners need to step away from the edge.
  • First baseman Ike Davis of the New York Mets is showing owners he's worth all of the hype he received last season. His 5x5 line of .337/16/5/20 has him ranked 7th on ESPN and 8th on Yahoo! among such fantasy heavyweights as Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. All this from an ESPN ADP of 210.2 on ESPN and 229.2 on Yahoo!
  • Second baseman Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs has secured the majority of the playing time with his 5x5 line of .326/15/1/14/1, after being virtually undrafted in all formats. Jeff Baker is still in the mix for playing time, so keep an eye on things if Barney falters and Baker takes advantage of additional at-bats.
  • Third baseman Placido Polanco of the Philadelphia Phillies is healthy again and thriving as a fantasy baseball hitting machine. His 41 hits in just 26 games led to a 5x5 line of .398/18/2/19/3 from a player with an ADP of 203.3 on ESPN and 229.5 on Yahoo!
  • Shortstop Jed Lowrie of the Boston Red Sox is proving he deserves to be in the mix for at-bats, having already made an appearance at all four infield positions, by producing a "legendary" 5x5 line of .368/13/3/12/0 in April.
  • Outfielder Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals was considered by most to be on the downside of his career but has proved everyone wrong by opening the season with a 5x5 line of .393/23/8/22/0. Could he return to the player that has averaged 33 home runs and 110 RBI per 162 games played over his 13 year career? Current fantasy owners sure hope so.
  • Outfielder Jeff Francoeur of the Kansas City Royals has regained some of his 2005-2007 lightning that made him a fantasy-relevant player breaking in with the Braves. Both he and the Royals were the butt of many offseason-signing jokes but who's laughing at his 5x5 line of .314/16/5/20/3 now?
  • Outfielder Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs is tied for the major league lead in home runs with 10. Let that soak in for a moment as you look at the entire 5x5 line of .258/15/10/20/0 he was able to put up in April. His average and the fact that he's not stealing bases are both negatives but, for a player with an ADP of 207.8 on ESPN and 206.6 on Yahoo!, the risk versus reward factor is proving to be low at this point. Plus if he totally tanks it from this point on, very few owners will feel bad about dropping him to waivers.
This All-Star team deserves a place for two additional stars:
  • Outfielder Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals has gone from highly touted rookie to fantasy baseball bust to roto-relevant in just five seasons in the big leagues. His early 5x5 line of .339/20/2/19/2 has ranked inside the top-20 on ESPN (17th) and Yahoo! (19th), thanks to a recent 19-game hitting streak.
  • Outfielder Sam Fuld of the Tampa Bay Rays became a "legend" too when called upon to fill in for the retirement-bound Manny Ramirez. A recent 0-17 streak brought his 5x5 line down to .289/17/1/8/10, but quick reacting fantasy owners grabbing him off waivers aren't complaining...yet. It will be interesting to see what his numbers look like after the month of May is over.
No All-Star team would be complete without some pitchers, so here are a few that have dominated out of virtually nowhere:
  • Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse of the St. Louis Cardinals went from undrafted to a must-own with a 4-1, 1.64 ERA, 0.73 WHIP start to the season.
  • Starting pitcher James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays has provided owners that drafted him in ESPN (203.9) and Yahoo! (225.2) leagues plenty to smile about by going 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 46.1 innings pitched.
  • Rookie starting pitcher Michael Pineda of the Seattle Mariners has started of his career with five straight quality starts and a 4-1 record, 2.01 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in just 31.1 innings. His ADP of 225.1 on ESPN and 237.4 on Yahoo! prove there were some very savvy owners grabbing him in the last few rounds of drafts.
  • Starting pitcher Justin Masterson of the Cleveland Indians went 5-0 in April with five quality starts, a 2.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP and seems ready to live up to the hype Red Sox fans witnessed back in 2008.
  • Relief pitcher Brandon League of the Seattle Mariners has stepped in brilliantly for the injured David Aardsma as closer, going 7-for-7 in saves with a 2.45 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Could a closer controversy be brewing? It will be interesting to watch what develops as Aardsma is due back soon.
  •  Relief Pitcher Kyle Farnsworth of the Tampa Bay Rays has been given the first chance to be the team's closer and has done a good job, saving his first five chances before blowing a save on the last day of April. With young arms Joel Peralta and Jake McGee and an injured J.P. Howell due back soon, you wonder how much longer Farnsworth will get the call to close games.
So there are your April 2010 Waiver Saviors All-Stars. What players were you able to grab off waivers in your leagues who've made the most difference to your success in April? Are you daily or weekly change leagues? Which do you prefer?

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