Greetings, Razzball Nation! When the offseason began, I expected to be addressing you in April after all kinds of doors had opened for women due to the election of our first female president of the United States. But since we’re all going to have to wait a bit longer for that whole first girl president thing, whereas I am actually writing a fantasy baseball article on the best fantasy website ever, I guess that now makes me the most powerful woman in the country. Okay, my math from November may be slightly off on that calculation, but that’s not going to stop me from giving you guys some waiver wire suggestions for NL/AL-only or other extra-deep leagues.
I’ve spent way too much of my adult life thinking about, talking about, reading about, and making charts and sketches about fantasy baseball. I particularly enjoy the NL/AL-only variety. My mind is constantly burdened with wondering who will be this year’s Hernan Perez… the guy who suddenly comes out of nowhere who not only leads your “only” team to victory, but can even be a sneaky contributor to shallower mixed leagues. I am excited to have the opportunity to unload my burden on you. Hopefully we can find THIS year’s Hernan Perez together — or, for now, look at a handful of guys who may help plug some holes in your deeper league lineups.
Kolten Wong. Not a fan. Didn’t draft him on any of my NL-onlys, no matter how deep. Popping off to the media about how unhappy he is to be in a platoon after his ugly 2016 was lame. But he gained one bit of my admiration back with a single at bat on Sunday: the walk he drew in the ninth inning that loaded the bases and quietly set up Randall Grichuk‘s game-winner. He must have been as anxious as a player can be to hit a walk-off: it’s Opening Day, against the Cubs, in the bottom of the ninth, and he hadn’t started the game. If I were Mike Matheny (pause to shudder a moment), I’d start him for a week straight just to reward him for his patience in that at bat. I’m not rooting for him, but Wong certainly has something to prove.
Andrew Toles. Stole 23 bases in 82 minor league games last year. Leading off for the Dodgers on opening day, after hitting .314 in his 48 games for them last year. Still just 17% owned in CBS leagues? Sure, he didn’t play at all in 2015, he’s never shown power at any minor league level, and won’t have much of a leash in 2017. He may well crash and burn, but what if he doesn’t? No reason not to take a chance, especially on a team that may have even more room in their outfield depending on how things go with that pill Yasiel Puig.
Adam Lind. He’s just 2% owned in CBS leagues, and I’m not sure that anyone at Yahoo or ESPN even knows who he is. He doesn’t have a starting job, but should get enough chances off the bench to help if you’re desperate for power. He already got off to a nice start with a pinch hit home run on opening day. Plus, aren’t “backing up Ryan Zimmerman” and “being in the starting lineup a lot” synonymous?
Trevor Cahill. His career numbers, which span nine seasons now, are worse than bleh: 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, less than twice as many strikeouts than walks. But if you need an innings-eater whose floor isn’t too terrifying and who might benefit from a sprinkle of magic “Petco is my home park” dust…
Wily Peralta. I grabbed him in one or two leagues to stash and watch based on the relatively miraculous finish he had to 2016. It was probably just a two-month outlier, but maybe he finally figured something out after he’d been demoted to the minors following his disastrous start last year. His August and September: 55 innings, 48 Ks vs. 16 walks, and an ERA of about 3.2.
Yandy Diaz. Known more for his defense than his bat coming out of Cuba a few years ago, but held his own at the plate in AA and AAA and is coming off a stellar spring. Should get plenty of playing time while Kipnis is out and could be fun to watch.
Seth Smith. Smith is one of those guys who is so boring that I can hardly write a short paragraph about him without drifting off, let alone feel motivated to actually start him in one of my leagues. But if you’re in a league where you have to pay attention to players who are 5% owned or less, he’s the kind of guy who sadly needs to be on your radar. He did hit more home runs last year (16) than he had since 2010 (17 in Colorado). His average will not help, but he puts up a decent OBP (.348 is his 3-year average). Even in a platoon, he should end up with some decent counting stats while leading off for the Orioles.
Matt Davidson. May qualify only at U in your league, which doesn’t help his already questionable value. May not play much. But he’s on a major league roster! He’s always shown he can hit for power, even as his once-shiny prospect status faded. He was having a good season in AAA last year before he got called up and immediately broke his foot, so there could be some upside here now that he’s healthy.
Josh Tomlin. He’s the most-owned player on this entire list, and he’s a guy I’ll probably pick up if he’s ever available in my deep leagues. I’m just a sucker for a guy with good control. Yes, I know he allowed the third most home runs in all of baseball last year. If it’s possible to get excited by someone not doing something, though, it excites me to see Tomlin not walking people. His 3-year average WHIP is 1.15, for goodness sake, with a K/BB ratio of well over 6. Yummy! If you do own him, I’d recommend not watching him pitch. If you catch him on a bad day, once you realize you’re not watching him grooving balls to practice for the Home Run Derby, you’ll freak out, bench him for his next two gems, then toss him back into your lineup just in time for another gopher ball party. Lather, rinse, repeat, and before you know it his ERA in your lineup will be about 40.
Matt Boyd. I’m currently preparing for a tough AL-only auction where I suspect about 70 starting pitchers will be drafted. When you get past the 60th ranked SP in an AL-only league, things are not pretty. I’ll need some innings-eaters however, and I have Boyd as one of the last guys I’ll voluntarily pay a buck or two for even though his past numbers are fairly terrifying (a 7.57 ERA over 12 starts for Toronto and Detroit in 2015??!) He had a great spring at least, and if after a few starts it doesn’t seem to be carrying over into the season, he’ll be easy to drop even in an ultra-deep league.
If you have DL slots or bench space just looking for bodies to fill it up:
Mauricio Cabrera. I owned Cabrera for most of 2016 in my deepest league, convinced he’d be closing to open this season. With Arodys Vizcaino lurking, Cabrera may not even be next in line if/when Jim Johnson implodes or gets traded, but I’m going to stash him where I can just in case. He’s got a bit of a Nuke LaLoosh thing going and needs to find a way to harness his power. He walks way too many guys and doesn’t strike out nearly enough for a pitcher whose AVERAGE fastball is 100 MPH. But if Susan Sarandon ties him to a bed and reads some Walt Whitman to him, things could get interesting.
Jake Barrett. He’s opening the season on the DL with a shoulder injury, and his peripherals aren’t very good when he’s healthy. Yet the D-backs bullpen is a hot mess, “lead” by the messiest pile of hot of them all, Fernando Rodney. In a deep NL-only league, the road to SAGNOF can be long, dark, and scary. Every once in a while, a guy like Jake Barrett can help lead you out of the darkness when you least expect it.
Alex Dickerson. Speaking of hot messes, let’s move to the Padres outfield. Weirdly, it’s actually more hot than mess this year. I daresay it could even be described as slightly sexy. Dickerson is by far the dullest of the Padres outfielders, but what did you expect – we’re talking about a guy who’s 4% owned here. He had 10 home runs and 5 steals in 84 games last year… if he gets healthy and finds his way into some playing time, that could be a tiny bit sexy, right?
Tyler Thornburg. Starting the season on the DL after going through a dead arm period followed by shoulder issues. This could mean he’s got an ugly injury that keeps him out indefinitely, or it could mean that he needs some time to heal up and once he does he’ll look like the dominant reliever he did for most of 2016. I’d stash him on an AL-only team if I had some extra DL space just in case he gets healthy and returns to form in what could be a relatively shaky Boston bullpen.