Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 15 Waiver-Wire Pickups for Week 2
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The following slideshow touts the top 15 waiver-wire pickups right now, a countdown of the best free agents from the majority of 12-team roto leagues.
For the most part, this list rewards players who have already fostered productive starts to the MLB season. But we had to make special exceptions with two future stars—namely one golden lefty from the Mile High City and one 20-year-old Angel who will someday be a candidate for 25 homers and 45 steals.
Enjoy the show!
15: (SP) Drew Pomeranz, Colorado Rockies
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The jewel of the Rockies' farm system (at least on the pitching end), Pomeranz won the No. 5 starter slot in spring training and followed that up with four innings of shutout ball in a minor-league tuneup. (His seasonal MLB debut comes on April 15.)
Pomeranz's Cactus League numbers: 3-0, 11/4 K-BB ratio in 17 innings, 0.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Obviously, anything close to that small sample size would be amazing for Colorado.
14: (2B) Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
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Beckham (.154 batting, two RBI) has been in a funk for two-plus seasons; so why should fantasy owners take a flier on him now? The reasoning is simple: Few free-agent middle infielders can match Beckham's all-around tools and tangible upside.
It's a leap of faith, for sure, but GMs will see a payoff come September.
13: (OF) Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays
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Don't let the sluggish start fool you (.188 average, two RBI). Thames has 18-HR, 70-RBI, 75-run potential in his first full MLB season.
As proof, Toronto will likely give the 25-year-old Thames every chance to succeed in left field this year.
12: (OF) Jordan Schafer, Houston Astros
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Schafer's track record suggests his .316 batting average won't hold up over 162 games, but the kid also has a knack for stuffing the stat sheet in short bursts.
Against the Braves on April 10, Schafer tallied two runs, three hits and three steals. He's a classic hot-and-cold commodity in fantasy circles.
11: (OF) Alex Presley, Pittsburgh Pirates
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Presley may be the least heralded of the Pirates outfielders, but he's making the most of his full-time opportunity in left field, leading the club in batting (.353) and RBI after four games.
Assuming 500 at-bats, the 26-year-old Presley has the capacity for 12 homers, 70 runs, 60 RBI and 15 steals this season.
10: (SP) Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
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Samardzija (1-0, 1.04 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 8/0 K-BB) could evolve into the National League version of Neftali Feliz, a big-armed asset who can handle the stealth conversion from reliever to starter.
But nothing is set in stone here: Samardzija must limit his walks to stay relevant in fantasy circles.
9: (SP) Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies
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Nicasio (1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, four strikeouts) flourished in his first regular-season start since last year's C1 vertebrae neck fracture, the result of a scary line drive in live action. In spring training, he also led the Rockies with a 15/2 K-BB ratio.
When physically and mentally ready to go, the 25-year-old Nicasio has the potential to be Colorado's No. 2 starter.
8: (3B) Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners
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This ranking extends past Figgins' silky-smooth start to the season (.333 batting, one steal, three runs, four RBI). By logging regular starts in left field, he should have 3B-OF eligibility before May 1.
And with the move, Figgins has allowed our No. 6 asset to garner full-time reps at third base.
7: (SP) Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers
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The 23-year-old Porcello (2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, four strikeouts) may be ready to make a big fantasy jump with ERA and WHIP this season, complementing his capacity for 13-16 wins with the vaunted Tigers.
To become a fantasy stalwart in 12-team leagues, though, Porcello will need to average five strikeouts per outing, putting him in the range of 160 Ks by season's end.
6: (3B) Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
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The rookie Seager (.350 batting, two runs, one steal) has made the most of his opportunity with the up-and-coming Mariners, leading the club in RBI and OPS after just six games.
This ranking goes deeper than a few games, though: In 2010, Seager scored 126 runs and batted .345 in just 135 games of Single-A ball. He's a potential 10-year star.
5: (RP) Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals
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From a talent standpoint, Rodriguez is far from the No. 5 asset in this countdown. But given the potentially serious injury to Nationals closer Drew Storen, Rodriguez has a golden chance for 20 saves this season...even if he has to share the job with Brad Lidge and/or Tyler Clippard.
(Quite frankly, Clippard should garner greater consideration for interim closer; but hey, perhaps I'm reading too much into his stellar career marks: 2.96 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 311/125 K-BB, 10.0 K/9.)
4: (SP) Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
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Duffy (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 8/4 K-BB ratio) may be primed for a sizable leap in year two of his development. This 23-year-old lefty (407 strikeouts in 350 minor league innings) has the tools to dominate major leaguers for sustained stretches.
Kansas City may possess the best 25-and-under nucleus of any team in baseball (including its rich farm system); and Duffy, the club's top pitching prospect, has the makeup of a future fantasy ace.
3: (SP) Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals
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The Cardinals may have stumbled upon the ideal replacement for the injured Chris Carpenter.
A bullpen linchpin last season for the world champs, Lynn (1-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 8/1 K-BB ratio) has the track record to be a fantasy factor with wins, ERA and strikeouts. By minimizing walks, he could be a viable No. 5 starter in mixed leagues.
2: (SS) Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
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Cozart (.471 batting, one HR, two RBI) is off to a torrid start in his first full MLB season, leading the Reds in triples, runs and hits. As a bonus, the 25-year-old shortstop also has the capacity for 25 steals.
Fantasy GMs in need of a potentially dynamic 2B-SS hybrid should explore trade talks with Cozart's current owners.
1: (OF) Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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By all indications, Trout has recovered from a lengthy illness that curtailed his spring training.
For his extended-rehab stay in Triple-A ball (Salt Lake City), the 20-year-old outfielder is already batting .458 (with two steals) and pushing for a permanent major-league promotion before Memorial Day.
This lofty ranking does not necessarily serve the impatient fantasy owner's short-term interests. It's for the forward-thinking GM who believes in Trout's 20-20 potential from June 1-Sept. 30.