StrategyMay 14, 2012

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Wide World of Waivers: Power, Speed, Hits in the Outfield

By R.J. White

The outfield position is experiencing several breakout performances in May (and the latter part of April), and most leagues have options to fill any of your standard fantasy scoring needs. In addition, we have a couple Phillies hitters that may be heating up, a couple Pirates pitchers worth owning in more leagues, and just another day on the closer carousel in this edition of Wide World of Waivers.

First Base

W6Mitch MorelandTEX4/18.222514022
W6John MayberryPHI7/22.31841404

Moreland was pretty mediocre this week, and I’m jumping ship to grab one of my favorite pre-season sleepers. Mayberry hit .273 with 15 HRs and eight SBs in just 267 at-bats in 2011, and if you play the extrapolation game, you can’t help salivating over the 30/15 upside contained in that amount of work. It just hasn’t happened this year, with Mayberry collecting just 12 hits, none of them home runs, in the season’s first five weeks and posting a 20/1 K/BB ratio along the way. It may be starting to click for him in Week 6, as he racked up seven hits, including his first HR of the year, while walking twice and striking out only two times. The Phillies desperately need some offense; as they say, better late than never.

1B of the Week: John Mayberry, PHI

Second Base

W6Robert AndinoBAL5/26.192211031
W6Danny EspinosaWAS7/23.304425229

Last year, Espinosa showed us that he was capable of putting up top-notch power/speed numbers at the 2B position, albeit at the expense of batting average. His average still sucks this year, but the homers and steals were nowhere to be found … until this week. The Nationals 2B homered in back-to-back games this weekend and stole two bases on Saturday. He’s also on a five-game hitting streak that includes two two-hit games on Saturday and Sunday. We know he won’t hit for average, but he’s still worth an add to see if he can get on a 20/20 pace during the month of May. Andino isn’t worth keeping around if you can find a better option. I’ll also note Brandon Inge’s insane five-game stretch that featured four homers and 16 RBI, but the glove-first infielder can’t be counted on moving forward.

2B of the Week: Danny Espinosa, WAS


W6Alcides EscobarKC8/20.400303027
W6Cliff PenningtonOAK4/20.20040234

Despite hitting .400 this week, Escobar is still available in seven out of 10 leagues. He didn’t contribute any steals last week, but with seven on the year, he certainly shows significant upside in that category. Pennington is another steals-first guy to target in deeper leagues. After swiping 29 bags in 2010, the A’s shortstop managed just 14 SBs last season, and it was fair to question whether or not he’d be a SB weapon (and therefore an own-able fantasy commodity) this year. After stealing three bases this week, Pennington has seven in 128 at-bats, putting him just about on pace for his 2010 total. You’ll have to live with a low average, but the speed makes him a deep-league asset at MI.

SS of the Week: Alcides Escobar, KC

Third Base

W6Wilson BetemitBAL3/20.15022504
W6Placido PolancoPHI7/21.33320107

Betemit had just three hits this week; fortunately, two of them were home runs, meaning he wasn’t a total waste if you went with him as an injury fill-in somewhere (I personally have him as a UT in a league). Polanco has been a nice fantasy contributor in batting average over most of his career, but coming off a season where he hit under .280 for the first time since 1999, he looked finished in the season’s first three weeks while hitting under .200. He’s managed to turn it around and hit at least .333 in each of the last three weeks, bringing his season average all the way up to .280. He’s a guy to check on if you’re looking for a batting average boost, but we’re sticking with the power profile of Betemit this week.

3B of the Week: Wilson Betemit, BAL


W6A.J. EllisLAD7/15.46741509
W6Ryan DoumitMIN5/21.238317023

Blessed with one of the better batting eyes in the game, Ellis now has an exceptional 19/21 K/BB ratio on the year, and his patience is having an effect on his average. His 7-for-15 week featured a homer, a triple and a double as well, so he could be deceptively good in terms of power before all is said and done. It’s baffling to me he’s still available in nine out of ten leagues, and he’s an easy choice for the best catcher available again this week. If he’s off the board and you want a catcher with some pop, Doumit is playing almost every day and starting to get his power swing going. He’s 10-for-39 with three HRs and a 9/9 K/BB ratio over the last two weeks. Jonathan Lucroy represents another high average option like Ellis.

C of the Week: A.J. Ellis, LAD


W6Josh ReddickOAK10/24.417738158
W6Tony CampanaCHC8/20.400202110
W6Andy DirksDET11/22.500514020
W6Raul IbanezNYY6/17.353548024

Reddick’s enormous week catapults him out of our price range thanks in large part to five homers over the past two weeks. Campana stole seven bases in his first nine games, but it took him another 11 games before he stole his eighth on Sunday. Though he hasn’t been providing for fantasy owners in that category, he’s still hitting .350 on the year after his 8-for-20 week. Dirks has settled into the No. 2 spot of the Tiger lineup ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and that’s translated into monster numbers so far. Ibanez has taken advantage of increased playing time with Brett Gardner out, turning it on last week by hitting four homers. With an excellent 9/8 K/BB ratio, he could also see improvement on his .273 average.

OFs of the Week: Andy Dirks, DET and Raul Ibanez, NYY

Starting Pitcher

W6A.J. BurnettPIT16.002.250.8111418
W6Carlos ZambranoMIA16.010.560.7541647
W6James McDonaldPIT8.001.130.752822
W6Tim StaufferSD0.000.00.000019

Burnett rewarded your patience with a couple excellent eight-inning efforts in Week 6, though he had no wins to show for it. Still, you’ll take a 14/1 K/BB ratio any week of the season from a starting pitcher. Zambrano was even better, throwing a three-hit shutout in his first start of the week before posting another solid line on Sunday. He’s turned in six consecutive quality starts, and that’s enough to take his ownership level out of our range.

We mentioned McDonald as a potential add last week but stuck with our Burnett/Zambrano combo. McDonald was great yet again, giving up one earned run in eight innings while striking out eight. He’s now allowed seven earned runs in his last five starts combined and surrendered just two homers all year. Once people realize how good he’s been, he’ll start to disappear from your waiver wires. Stauffer gets his first start of the season Monday after rehabbing his elbow injury. He’s a fantastic start whenever he’s pitching in Petco Park.

SPs of the Week: A.J. Burnett, PIT and James McDonald, PIT

Relief Pitcher

W6Dale ThayerSD3.030.001.330422
W6Casey JanssenTOR2.020.000.000226

Thayer’s taking the temp closer job and running with it in San Diego. On the season, he has seven strikeouts and no walks in seven innings, with just five hits along the way. He picked up saves in all three appearances last week. He certainly should be owned in all leagues at this point until Huston Street rejoins the team. Thanks to a crazy 2012 season, we have multiple closers available in more than two out of every three leagues. Janssen and Brian Fuentes are both “the guy” as of Sunday night, and Jon Rauch should be joining them Monday after a Sunday Frank Francisco meltdown. Throw in Matt Thornton, Hector Santiago and Bobby Parnell as potential save guys and you should have no problem replacing any fallen closers. I went with Janssen above over Fuentes, even though the latter has a chance to be closer for longer, because I think Janssen has far more talent, while Fuentes could blow a save tomorrow and become just another footnote in the closer carousel that is the 2012 season.

RP of the Week: Dale Thayer, SD

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse and Razzball. 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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