Being in a crazy deep league can be a double-edged sword. Planning for a draft or auction where you know your last roster spots are going to be filled by players who are literally listed as 0% owned in some formats can be mildly terrifying. But in a weird way, it can make the first few weeks of the season easier. When the names at the top of the waiver wire are Rickie Weeks and Matt Cain (and, yes, those are actually the names at the top of the wire in my deepest AL and NL leagues, respectively), you have no chance to second-guess yourself. If you were worried about Jharel Cotton or Mike Foltynewicz’s atrocious first starts, for instance, you couldn’t just rashly dump them to take a flyer on Charlie Morton or Hyun-Jin Ryu… because those players are already ensconced on another team as someone’s third or fourth best starter.
Yes, there are guys I have in lineups who I am starting to get rather worried about (hello, off-season imaginary boyfriend Tommy Joseph! I feel like Olivia Newton-John after being wooed by John Travolta in the most magical summer ever, only to meet back up at the beginning of the year to find you treating me like you don’t even remember who I am!) But I don’t really have the choice to drop them, and sometimes toughing it out on a player who you’d have cut bait on in a shallower league will ultimately pay nice dividends. Is my stomach churning a bit wondering if Austin Hedges is ever going to get a hit? Yep, but we’re talking about an NL-only league where the likes of Chris Ianetta and Dustin Garneau are already owned… there’s just nothing I can do about it right now. If you’re in an ultra deep league and have similar issues, try to just relax for a bit, don’t sweat every at bat, and just enjoy not having too many decisions to make, at least for the time being.
That being said, hopefully your waiver wire has a bit more to offer than Rickie Weeks and Matt Cain, which brings us to this week’s list of potential AL/NL-only pick ups. These guys may not be dripping with upside, but might help you fill a hole or two in your deep-league lineup. As the season progresses, hopefully we’ll stumble upon some players who turn out to be more than just hole-fillers, and can provide real value to your AL or NL-only team, and maybe even beyond. All “owned by” numbers are according to CBS Sports, by the way, and will tend to be even lower in Yahoo and ESPN – and we’re going for all less than15% owned this week!
Martin Perez (14% owned). He was a legitimate prospect before TJ surgery a few years ago… unlikely he’ll ever deliver what was once expected of him, but he’s still only 26. He’s never going to be a stud; his career K/BB%, minors included, is an icky 1.71. (The one career number that stands out in a good, sparkly way, though, is his 0.77 HR/9). I have him in one AL-only hoping he’ll make some adjustments and end up as a serviceable innings-eater.
Jesse Chavez (14%). Has been around forever (okay, since 2008) and seems to be pretty firmly ensconced in the Angels’ rotation. Got off to a nice start against Seattle with 6 Ks/1 walk, one earned run and a W in 5.2 innings. He actually pitched better as a starter in Oakland in 2014-2015 than he did as a reliever for the Dodgers last year. His MLB career numbers aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be when I looked them up, at least in terms of walks and strikeouts (206/542 in 610 innings).
Yunel Escobar (14%). Has started the year hot as can be (.414 over his first seven games, with one homer and eight lovely, sometimes overlooked, runs scored). It’s always difficult to get excited about anyone with no speed and not much pop, but he’s in a walk year and he’s averaging a .293 BA/.358 OBP over the last three years. That’s isn’t nothing in a league that uses either of those categories, and last I checked, most leagues do!
Marwin Gonzalez (12%). He’s already played three positions (1B, 3B, OF), hit three home runs, and looks like he’ll continue to get PT against lefties. He can help you when he’s going well, and besides having a little power, don’t forget he stole 12 bags last year (not likely to happen again, but interesting to know he has it in him).
Eduardo Escobar (2%). Should qualify at third and short in most leagues, and a utility guy that you can plug in at MI or CI in a really deep league can come in awfully handy. He’s a true 2-percenter, a deepest-league only guy where you really just have him in your lineup because he’s better than taking a zero at that spot, but at least he’s producing so far (4 hits in 10 at bats, one walk, no strikeouts, and a home run and 4 RBI).
Jesse Hahn (2%). He was fairly atrocious in his nine starts last season; this one’s for those desperate for a starter in the deepest of AL-only leagues. It’s all about crossing your fingers for a guy with velocity upside and a job: he’s taking over for Raul Alcantara in the Oakland rotation, he hit 98 on the gun in his first appearance, and… nah, that’s all I got.
Archie Bradley (14%). I don’t know if the D-Backs are planning on giving him another chance to start any time soon, but he’s looked great in the bullpen so far this season. He’s pitched 5.3 innings (which was two multi-inning appearances) without allowing a run, and he has just one walk vs. eight strikeouts.
Scott Schebler (13%). I’m not exactly buying this guy as a bona fide major leaguer, but after he was recalled towards the end of 2016, he did help me by not completely sucking on an NL-only team that had been ravaged by injuries. I will now return the favor by announcing on the world wide web that Schebler is only “kind of sucky” for those that are in need of help in the outfield. We know what Great American Ballpark can do for a mediocre hitter (and Schebler already has two bombs)… and with the likes of Patrick Kivlehan backing him up, and Jesse Winker in AAA for a little more seasoning, Schebler has some temporary job security.
Wilmer Flores (9%). This is one of those situations where being a sometimes-emotional girl might hurt me slightly in the fantasy world, because I will probably draft Flores in a deep league every damn year he’s in the majors just based on the pitifully sweet 2015 image of him standing on the field crying after he thought he’d been traded. He only has 2 hits in 13 at bats to open the season, but one of them was a homer, and it appears he’ll get enough at bats to possibly give a power-starved team a little help (he had 16 bombs in 103 games last year). He’s backing up Lucas Duda among others, after all, plus we have Jose Reyes looking beyond lost at the plate… and the best report on David Wright’s rehab, sadly, is that he’s doing some “light throwing.”
Jon Jay (3%). He’s one of those guys, like many (all??) on this list, who are more valuable in real-life than fantasy. An example of this was Monday night, when he scored the late night, walk-off, winning run in the Wrigley home opener… to the real-life joy of countless Cubs fans, and the fantasy joy of pretty much no one. He’s 5 for 12 to open the season, though, and already has a steal. It looks like he’ll get a decent amount of playing time and bat ninth (which maybe will be slightly better than eighth, if you go with the “we already have the pitcher out of the way so it’s kind of like having two leadoff men” theory) in one of baseball’s best lineups.
Wilmer Difo (2%). Filling in for Stephen Drew, who got hurt filling in for Trea Turner. If you need a MI this badly, there’s also 1% owned Marlin fill-in Miguel Rojas. Or Scooter Gennett, who’s now a whopping 7% owned after his big day Tuesday, which brought him to a ridiculous 3 homers and 8 RBI on the year. Though since Zack Cozart seems to be okay (he returned to the lineup Wednesday), it’s possible you’ve already missed out on most of Gennett’s production for the year.
Aaron Hill (1%). Left field in San Francisco is such a house of horrors so far this season that they signed Melvin Upton to a minor-league deal. Hill already has four appearances there — he may get more, and perhaps he’ll stumble into another home run like he did last week. Also, he got to hit second when he started the other day. Also, after the Posey beaning, Bochy evidently told Hill, to his surprise, that he is the Giants’ emergency catcher. Also, if I didn’t include him here, I’d have to change the title of this post.
Final note: I see that since I wrote this, Austin Hedges managed an infield single for his first knock of the season. See, things are looking up already!