StrategyAugust 24, 2011

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Wide World of Waivers: Angel in the OF

By R.J. White

The Angels’ Peter Bourjos has caught fire at just the right time in fantasy leagues. The intriguing power/speed player hit homers in three consecutive three-hit games over the weekend while stealing a couple bags on Thursday and Friday. That gives him eight HRs and 17 SBs on the year with a .285 average; isolate August, and he’s hitting .378 with five HRs and three SBs this month. He’ll cool off eventually, but he has five-tool talent to help your fantasy team in every category.

There are several other OFs waiting to help you as well. Josh Willingham hit two HRs over the weekend, giving him 22 on the year. Delmon Young is hitting better since his trade to Detroit, posting a .314/.324/.543 line in eight games. I’d like to tell you Jose Constanza can’t keep this up (with “this” being hitting .372 in his first 78 at-bats), but I honestly have no idea. Maybe his sprained ankle will slow him down. I think he’s worth leaving on the wire for now. Seth Smith hit .233 with no HRs in July, but he has seven HRs and a .296 average this month. Everyone that jumped off the bandwagon should hop right back on. Most of our 1B options below carry OF eligibility, so keep reading if you need more OFs.

For the 56 percent of leagues in which Adam Dunn is still owned, now seems like the perfect time to jump off the wagon. First base has several quality options owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues. For example, Mike Carp has continued to hit well, now sitting with a .305 average and seven HRs in 164 at-bats. He has a .333/.372/.566 line since the break. Sure, his K:BB ratio suggests a dip in average is coming, but is he really going to hurt you more than Dunn? Other quality 1B pickups include Mitch Moreland, who added three homers in a two-game span to bring his season total to 16 (with a solid .278 average), and Jesus Guzman, who has cooled off with the power bat but still has five HRs and seven SBs with a .335 average. Deep league owners need to jump on the Kyle Blanks, Lucas Duda and Brandon Allen bandwagons.

Brett Lawrie has inched his way out of eligibility for this column, so we’re going to have to find something else to talk about. We’ll start with Darwin Barney, who is finally back to helping your average by hitting .311 in August. With his move up the lineup, he could also start contributing good run totals. Danny Espinosa is barely eligible with 49 percent ownership, which has been dropping thanks to just one HR and no SBs this month. He should pick it up soon. Don’t forget about Dustin Ackley; he has more talent than most waiver wire options you’ll find laying around in late-August. Orlando Hudson is in the middle of a fantastic August, hitting .319 with two HRs, 12 RBIs and three SBs. Digging deeper, we see Eric Young had four SBs over the weekend, which should remind you he can help in at least one category even if he doesn’t play every day. Rookies Johnny Giavotella and Jose Altuve are holding their own.

Edwin Encarnacion and David Freese are in the middle of little slumps, but both should be owned in more leagues. Danny Valencia picked up two more HRs over the past week to give him 14 on the season. He’s hitting .277 with four bombs since the break, numbers you’d absolutely take at 3B in deeper leagues. Brandon Inge and Jose Lopez are back on the radar in mono-leagues, but the hottest deep league option right now is Seattle’s Kyle Seager, who is 11-for-25 with two HRs over the past week. Pick him up in deep leagues but be ready to jump ship at the first sign of cooling off.

Aside from Barney (covered above), shortstop is looking pretty weak right now. I’d probably go with Jed Lowrie as my second option at the position. Yuniesky Betancourt and Alcides Escobar can give small boosts to your power and speed totals, respectively. If you squint, Ramon Santiago and Justin Sellers look like acceptable adds; at the very least, they’ve outplayed the guys we just mentioned, who represent the better pickups available at SS.

Nick Hundley is 17-for-35, good for a .486 average, since coming off the DL, adding two HRs in the process. He’s good, not this good, but still plenty usable in most leagues. John Buck is another guy that can help with power, as he has 15 dingers this year, a level not seen by many catchers. For two-catcher leagues, Rod Barajas has caught fire, going 9-for-17 with four HRs over his last five games. Tyler Flowers has gotten a crack at being the everyday catcher with A.J. Pierzynski out, and he’s running with it, hitting .310 with seven walks in 42 at-bats.

Jeff Niemann is finally ineligible for this column, but Cory Luebke still sits right on the edge at 50 percent owned. His last start featured three hits, one earned run, no walks and eight strikeouts in a no-decision. It was the third time in the last four starts he’s allowed just one run, and he only gave up two in the other game. Oh, and he has 30 strikeouts in 24 innings over that stretch. Get him now. Phil Hughes is starting to look usable for the first time this year; he’s posted four straight quality starts by allowing two runs or less in each. The better Yankee pickup may be Ivan Nova, who’s 9-0 in his last 10 starts. He has a 17:5 K:BB ratio in August as well as the lowest WHIP he’s posted in a month this season. After completely tanking the first half, Javier Vazquez has somehow found the magic elixir. He has 15 strikeouts and no walks over 13 innings in his last two starts. Rich Harden is coming off a gem against the Blue Jays, which featured seven shutout innings and 11 Ks. He has 30 Ks over 23.2 innings in August.

Javy Guerra is still closing, making him a worthwhile pickup. So are Mark Melancon and Frank Francisco. Daniel Bard, Mike Adams and Aroldis Chapman are three setup guys that can nonetheless help fantasy lineups immensely. Going further down the rabbit hole, Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell could both see saves in New York (I’d prefer the latter as the add). Rafael Betancourt is picking up saves with Huston Street out, but he’s been so good that he’s worth owning even when Street returns (which will be any day now). Jason Motte, Jeremy Affeldt, Tony Sipp, Casey Janssen and Kerry Wood are all great deeper options, and I can see each collecting at least a save or two before the year is through.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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