Is there anything more fulfilling than grabbing a hitter on a short schedule day and he gives you a home run, steal or just an overall quality day? It’s the fantasy baseball equivalent to taking a girl out, she pays and has sex with you (assuming you’re not a paid escort, though I’m pretty sure there’s not that many paid escorts reading a fantasy baseball blog). It’s pay dirt of the fantasy baseball kind. So how does one with the ‘pertise of me find a waiver wire hitter on a short schedule day? Darts at a board? A Ouija board? Draw whiskers on my face, infiltrate a clowder of stray cats and hold pictures of Will Venable and David Murphy up to see which one the cats are attracted to? Sometimes it’s all the above. But before I resort to dumb luck, I usually look for these five criteria:
1. Playing time – There’s nothing worse than picking up a hitter for one day and he doesn’t play. I usually sort by ABs for the last week to make sure the top free agents are playing. If there’s even a chance they might not play, I usually look elsewhere.
2. Is the guy currently hitting? – Hitters tend to do what they should do over the course of a season, but from day to day and week to week guys go in and out of slumps. If you’re picking up a guy for only one day, you want a guy that is hitting. If he’s in a 0-for-45 slump, you’re probably better taking an 0-for-0 and going to grab a bite to eat at Whataburger. To pinpoint guys that are hitting, I sort by hits in the last week. There’s usually overlap between guys who are getting playing time. Otherwise, their managers should be fired. I can think of a few.
3. Righty/Lefty Splits – If a guy is hitting well over the last week but is going against his notoriously weaker side, he’s a pass. This usually goes for lefties facing lefties. Righties that are going against righties don’t give me as much pause, unless we’re talking about Matt Diaz. Speaking of which, if a guy is going against a side he absolutely kills then he’s almost an automatic start since I assume his manager will start him too.
4. Hitter/Pitcher Matchups – This is a continuation of the splits. If a guy hits a particular pitcher very well, he’s a go. Contrary to the above splits though, if a guy is hitting well and hasn’t hit a particular pitcher well, he could still be a go if all else fails.
5. The Park and Team Factor – The last thing I look at is where they’ll be playing. If it’s between two guys and one’s at Coors and one’s at Petco, I obviously choose Colorado. If a player’s team is currently hitting well then I’ll go with him over a guy whose team is struggling. The thinking is he’ll at least have some chances for RBIs and Runs.
These are in order of importance. If a player doesn’t meet the first criteria, he’s eliminated. If you get, say, ten guys who meet the first criteria, then you keep moving down the list until you only have one guy left. If you still have a few choices by the end, then you draw whiskers on your face and find yourself a clowder of strays.