We’re just over two weeks into the regular season now, and perhaps things haven’t gone as well as you hoped for on your fantasy team. You’ve fantasized about taking a hammer to Ian Desmond’s fingers since he doesn’t seem to need them for anything anyway. Waterboarding seems too lenient of a punishment for the pathetic numbers that Miguel Sano has produced for your team thus far. If you’ve been thinking along these lines, then you’ve probably been watching too many mob movies recently. More importantly, it’s just mid-April. No need to panic. Depending on your format, there are likely several interesting players available on the waiver wire to help your team during it’s early season funk. One of those players might be St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (65.9% owned; +57.5% over the past week), who was the most added player in ESPN leagues over the last seven days. The departure of Jason Heyward and an injury to Tommy Pham have finally given the 28-year-old Hazelbaker a chance to play in the big leagues after toiling away in the minors since being drafted by the Red Sox in 2009. He’s made the most of his early opportunity, producing a 7/3/7/2/.394 batting line across 39 plate appearances. Hazelbaker has displayed double digit home run power as well as 30+ steal speed at multiple stops in the minors, so he could just be a late bloomer who needed an opportunity to shine. However, he does tend to strikeout fairly often (25.6% K% this year; 25.4% K% in his minor league career), and his current .424 ISO and .455 BABIP are likely to come crashing down in the near future. Think of Dexter Fowler as an upside comp and Jake Marisnick as a downside one. Ride the wave while it lasts but be ready to cut bait if and when he comes back to Earth.
Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:
Mat Latos: 22.4% owned; +16.9%
Do you remember how good this guy was just a few short years ago? From 2010-2013, he had a higher K-rate (8.40 K/9) and a lower ERA (3.27) and WHIP (1.16) than both James Shields and Jon Lester over that span. In 2014, injuries struck which affected his velocity and overall effectiveness (7.16 K/9 and a 4.16 ERA from ’14-’15). So what’s changed for Latos this season? Not a whole lot. His 0.75 ERA and 0.50 WHIP across his first two starts this season might look great on the surface, a look under the hood tells a different story. His average fastball velocity is down 2.2 mph from last season (91.5 to 89.3), and his current 6.6% SwStr% is well below league average. A 5.26 xFIP combined with a .114 BABIP and an 85.7% strand rate suggest that there’s a harsh correction coming in the near future. Stay away. TRASH.
Alex Rodriguez: 52.8% owned; -13.1%
He’s only DH-eligible, he turns 41 years old in July, he doesn’t steal bases anymore (more than 4 SBs once in a single season since 2010), and he’s off to a poor start this year. Those are some of the negatives concerning A-Rod. However, last season, he was one of just 31 players to score at least 80 runs as well as knock in 80. He was also one of just 20 players to hit 30+ homers. Over the last three seasons, Yankee Stadium had the 2nd highest park index for RHB home runs in the major leagues. Don’t expect much of a contribution in the batting average and stolen base categories, but if you like homers and counting stats, A-Rod will do just fine. TREASURE.