StrategyApril 23, 2012

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Wide World of Waivers: Perfection

By R.J. White

Philip Humber was an interesting sleeper coming into this season, having posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 163 innings last year for the White Sox. On Saturday, he pitched the 21st perfect game in MLB history. As you would expect, that has made everybody want a piece of Humber, a guy who was once part of the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets. He’s shot up to 33 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues as of Sunday night, leaving him barely eligible for our Waivers column. However, in all my leagues he was snapped up within 24 hours of making history (or already rostered), so he might already be gone in your leagues as well. If Humber is available, he’s certainly worth a flyer; though I wouldn’t consider the perfect game as the first step toward a Cy Young, he’s shown enough to be a valuable fantasy starter until he proves otherwise.

First Base

W3Bryan LaHairCHC5/13.385204033
W3Mat GamelMIL6/18.333314117

Full disclosure: Even though I listed LaHair as my 1B of the week last week, I had just added him in a league that Monday where I already had Mat Gamel. Gamel is still on my team and starting for me this week over LaHair and Adam LaRoche. He’s gotten off to a pretty good start, hitting .278 with one homer and three SBs on the year. Best of all, he plays almost every day, while LaHair sits against most lefties. If you need consistent production in your lineup, I’d take Gamel. LaHair seemingly has more upside, though, so we’re sticking with him for now. we may be seeing Gamel back in this space next week, as LaHair is on the precipice of being ineligible for this column.

1B of the Week: Bryan LaHair, CHC

Second Base

W3Jose AltuveHOU7/23.304203130
W3Eduardo NunezNYY6/13.46240126

Altuve is coming off a solid week of .300 hitting while contributing a steal. For the short term, Nunez may be even better. Qualifying at 2B, 3B and SS, Nunez is picking up extra at-bats with Brett Gardner on the DL. He played shortstop on Tuesday while Derek Jeter DHed (Gardner was still healthy), second base on Thursday while Robinson Cano DHed and shortstop again on Saturday, while also subbing in at 3B on Wednesday. Nunez proved capable of helping in the speed department last year, and he should continue to start four or five games a week for at least the next week or two. I’ve grabbed him in a couple leagues where I could use the short-term help.

2B of the Week: Eduardo Nunez, NYY


W3Alex GonzalezMIL5/19.26321408
W3Alcides EscobarKC7/22.318413323

Escobar can thank a 4-for-4 performance on Saturday for the bulk of his average gains this week, but what should have fantasy owners excited are the steals he picked up Monday, Friday and Sunday. If he keeps running, he’ll be an excellent MI option in most leagues. However, don’t expect a high average — although he has hits in eight of the last 10 games, he also sports a 8/1 K/BB ratio on the year. For that reason, I’m sticking with the power of Alex Gonzalez if I have to decide between the two. Escobar’s fantasy stock (i.e., steals) could fade if he can’t consistently get on base. Gonzalez’s power is in play every time he’s up.

SS of the Week: Alex Gonzalez, MIL

Third Base

W3Chris DavisBAL6/25.240201012
W3Ty WiggintonPHI6/17.353101010

Davis is a solid option at 3B and CI as a guy with a decent amount of power potential who’s starting every day for the Orioles. However, his high average is a mirage based on a couple multi-hit games, and a 15/2 K/BB ratio suggests he’ll be hitting no higher than .250 for most of the year. Wigginton is also starting almost every day for the time being, thanks in part to his ability to play both first and third. He also has a hit in eight straight starts. Sporting a much friendlier 7/5 K/BB ratio, Wigginton could maintain an average over .280 if the BABIP fairy is kind. Considering he’s averaging close to 18 HRs per 500 at-bats over the last two years, he’s definitely a fantasy asset while the average remains solid.

3B of the Week: Ty Wigginton, PHI


W3Chris IannettaLAA3/18.167101032
W3Nick HundleySD9/24.37542804

Iannetta has dropped into a bit of a funk, tallying just three hits last week. Hundley, however, has been on fire, homering both at home and on the road over the past seven days. He hit cleanup in each of the last two games behind Chase Headley, who’s also playing very well in April. Hundley’s 2-for-3 day on Sunday included a homer and a triple, both off Joe Blanton. If you play in a two-catcher league, be sure Hundley isn’t sitting on the wire. He’s only owned in four percent of Yahoo leagues.

C of the Week: Nick Hundley, SD


W3Nolan ReimoldBAL7/15.467536065
W3Luke ScottTB5/25.200116027
W3Lorenzo CainKC0/0.000000016
W3Juan PierrePHI8/26.30810218

Reimold has incredibly homered in five of his last six games. He has hits in all six of the games during that stretch, and at least two hits in four of the six games. This has caused his ownership numbers to go through the roof, and he checks in with an owner in almost two out of every three leagues at this point. It’s not all great news with Reimold, as he’s been battling neck spasms. If you picked him up last week, you should be shopping him around and trying to sell super-high on him while he’s on this homer binge. Scott doesn’t have a lot of hits this week, but he’s managed to hit two doubles and a HR. I still like his fantasy stock over the entire year, and I think he’s a great fifth outfielder in roto leagues.

Lorenzo Cain is expected back Thursday, and he’ll try to reverse his slow start to the season when he returns. If you have the room, he’s a nice add. John Mayberry was expected to play regularly for the Phillies, but his slow start has Juan Pierre manning left field more or less regularly. We know Pierre’s capable of providing steals, and he could also be a nice source of runs atop the Phillies lineup if it ever starts performing. His average for the season is up to .326 after a 3-for-4 day Sunday, and a 2/2 K/BB ratio in 46 ABs shows he’s getting the bat on the ball consistently.

OFs of the Week: Luke Scott, TB and Lorenzo Cain, KC

Starting Pitcher

W3Danny DuffyKC11.105.561.5961220
W3Gavin FloydCHW6.007.501.503728
W3Philip HumberCHW14.110.630.6331633
W3A.J. BurnettPIT7.010.000.712717

Duffy followed up a solid start against the Tigers with a dud against the Blue Jays on Sunday. He pitched just 4.2 innings in that game while giving up four runs on five hits and five walks. His five Ks in the game do give him 20 on the year in just 17.1 innings, so the high upside still remains. It’s up to you whether you want to deal with his occasional wildness. Floyd struggled against the Orioles despite striking out seven in six innings.

You know all about Humber’s perfect game; did you realize he didn’t even get to make his first start of the year till last week thanks to a rainout in the previous week? He looks like he may be stepping up from last year, and he’s certainly worth a roster spot over either of our options from last week. Many people predicted big things for A.J. Burnett now that he’s escaped the pressure of the AL East, and now that he’s back from his fractured orbital bone, he looks like a brand new pitcher. Sure it was just one start, but it came against the Cardinals, a team that may be the class of the National League and one that’s been hitting the cover off the ball early this year.

SPs of the Week: Philip Humber, CHW and A.J. Burnett, PIT

Relief Pitcher

W3Henry RodriguezWAS3.030.001.003252
W3Jon RauchNYM2.200.001.13017

Henry Rodriguez has been rolling, racking up saves in all three appearances over the past week. Brad Lidge recorded one save but blew his second save chance of the week on Saturday. Manager Davey Johnson says the two will continue to share, but Rodriguez seems right on the verge of running away with the job. I’d hold him in all leagues, or pick him up if available. Since he’s over our 33 percent mark, we have to find another reliever for this week. Save speculators should have Rauch on speed dial after Frank Francisco struggled in each of his last three outings, giving up a total of six runs in 2.1 innings.

RP of the Week: Jon Rauch, NYM

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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