Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Waiver Pickups: NHL Playoffs Edition
Mining the waiver wire is crucial in the early weeks of the fantasy baseball season. Many of the players available now will earn a spot on somebody's team for the rest of the season.
Don't you want it to be yours?
This week's exercise in roto-fueled silliness revolves around the NHL playoffs, unquestionably one of the greatest events in professional sports. I'll match up up each player with an NHL contender.
And like always, you'll come for the precise fantasy analysis, but you'll stay for the garbled analogies.
“Fantasy Chicago Blackhawks”: Colby Rasmus (47% Owned)
For both the Chicago Blackhawks and Colby Rasmus, the talent hasn't matched the results.
The Hawks, like Rasmus, are loaded with talent, but haven't produced as expected this season.
I've been leading the Rasmus bandwagon for weeks, and though he was benched in favor of Rajai Davis on Wednesday, I'm not getting off now. He was buried by a spiteful manager in St. Louis, but Toronto is led by arguably the sharpest GM in baseball, Alex Anthopoulos. He recognizes the immense talent of his centerfielder and will ensure that Rasmus gets a real shot to hold down the job.
It's a ridiculously small sample size, but if you're worried about Rasmus' current .095 batting average, consider this: He's put 19 balls in play this year, and four of them have been line drives. That 21 percent rate would be a career best.
He can hit, and he will hit.
“Fantasy Pittsburgh Penguins”: Erik Bedard (48% Owned)
Much like the hockey team that shares his current city, Erik Bedard is fantastic when he's healthy. Unfortunately, neither Bedard nor those Pittsburgh Penguins can seem to stay healthy for any extended period of time.
Bedard is going to get hurt. This is a fact that you must be prepared to accept as his prospective fantasy owner.
However, you must also remember the fact that Bedard's checkered injury past gives you an opportunity to grab ace-level production at a bargain basement price.
In his last six seasons, Bedard has registered a FIP worse than 3.65 exactly once, while maintaining a K/9 rate that has never dipped below 7.84. When he's able to take the mound every fifth day, he produces.
Especially in a roto league, even 120 innings of terrific production is incredibly valuable. Pick him up and ride it for as long as you can.
“Fantasy Washington Capitals”: Jeff Samardzija (34% Owned)
Like Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechin, Jeff Samardzija has seen his relationship with his fanbase turn from one of unconditional adoration to one of consistent consternation over the last few years.
Samardzija had to switch sports to get there, but that's beside the point.
After years of being long on hype and short on results in his baseball career, it appears that Samardzija has finally figured it out. After walking nearly 13 percent of the hitters he faced, he's finally found the strike zone.
In 20 innings this spring, he racked up 16 punchouts against only one walk. In his first regular season start, he fanned eight without issuing a free pass.
Something has clicked with Jeff Samardzija. Pick him up now, before everybody else figures it out.
“Fantasy Ottawa Senators”: Alex Presley (14% Owned)
Although they play in Canada's capital city (no, seriously, Ottawa really is the capital), the Senators never seem to garner much attention around the NHL.
Similarly, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielders tend not to draw the eye of most fantasy owners.
Take advantage of that by picking up Alex Presley because he won't be under the radar for much longer.
Presley played well in 52 games in the bigs last season, and he'll continue to do so in a full-time role this year. He has an everyday job as the leadoff hitter in a halfway decent offense, as well as enough skill to hit .290, swipe 25 bases and pop 10 home runs.
“Fantasy Boston Bruins”: Lance Lynn (39% Owned)
Although Lance Lynn played a different role during the St. Louis Cardinals' run to the 2011 World Series title, he, like the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, enters this season fueled by the afterglow.
Lynn was outstanding as a reliever last season, whiffing nearly a third of the hitters he faced while maintaining a sub-3.00 FIP.
Early returns on his 2012 run as a starter are fantastic; Lynn maintained that gaudy strikeout rate while tallying a win in his first start.
Lynn is supported by a solid defense and an excellent offense. He has the stuff to be an outstanding fantasy starter, and given his advantageous situation, he's a good bet to do just that.
“Fantasy Vancouver Canucks”: Henry Rodriguez (29% Owned)
There's no questioning the talent of either Henry Rodriguez or the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks. The question for both parties is: Can they deliver when the lights are at their brightest?
For the Canucks, it's the fact that years of regular season dominance has yet to deliver Lord Stanley's Cup.
For Rodriguez, it's the fact that his 100 mph gas has translated to only three career saves.
Yet, while the Canucks are already facing resistance, the door is swinging wide open for Rodriguez.
Snag him as a cheap source of saves, at least until the All-Star break.
“Fantasy Florida Panthers”: Marco Scutaro (16% Owned)
Marco Scutaro is not a great player, nor are the Florida Panthers a great hockey team, but both are in position to take advantage of a fortuitous situation.
Scutaro's position atop of the Colorado Rockies lineup is much like the Panthers' spot atop the NHL's Southeast division.
Just like Florida stumbled its way into home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, so too will Scuatro fall into solid production.
Specifically, his owners can expect at least 75 runs, double-digit homers and steals and a .280 batting average. Not too shabby for a guy with eligibility at both middle infield positions
“Fantasy Phoenix Coyotes”: John Mayberry (16% Owned)
It doesn't feel great to pick the Phoenix Coyotes (they're +3,000 to win the Stanley Cup), nor will the click to add John Mayberry to your fantasy team send goosebumps up the back of your neck.
Still, in either case, it's valuable just to have a somebody with a chance. More so than any player with such minimal ownership, John Mayberry will get his chance.
He's got a lock on an outfield job as long as the Phillies continue to give Domonic Brown the Brandon Belt treatment, and with Ryan Howard out, he'll get plenty of chances at first base as well. That not only guarantees at-bats, but also provides some nice position flexibility.
In just 296 plate appearances last season, Mayberry cranked 15 homers and swiped eight bags while maintaining a .273 average. With 500 plate appearances this season, he's a good bet to produce at least 20 home runs and 10 steals.
“Fantasy Philadelphia Flyers”: Juan Nicasio (11% Owned)
Like Philadelphia Flyers superstar Claude Giroux, Juan Nicasio has recovered from a scary head injury and returned to excellent form.
His first start of the year came against the worst team in baseball, but his 82-pitch gem is encouraging nonetheless.
Nicasio might have a tough outing or two early on as he builds up strength, but once he hits his stride, he'll be the best pitcher on his team.
With a career ground ball rate around 45 percent, his style is a perfect fit in Coors Field. On top of that, Nicasio's sub-2.50 walk rate means he'll help your WHIP, a hard stat to boost from the waiver wire.
“Fantasy St. Louis Blues”: Ruben Tejada (8% Owned)
Both Ruben Tejada and the St. Louis Blues flew under the radar in 2011, but both showed signs of an impending emergence in 2012
As a 21-year-old, Tejada batted .284 in the big leagues. As a young team in the toughest division in hockey, the Blues posted a positive goal differential while narrowly missing the playoffs.
St. Louis rode that momentum to within an eyelash of the President's Trophy. Tejada should ride his right into your fantasy lineup.
His 2011 batting average is no joke. Tejada hit .280 or better at three of his five minor league stops, and his sub-15 percent strikeout rate ensures that he'll be able to use his speed on plenty of balls in play.
Tejada won't help you at all in the power department, but he'll provide batting average stability over 550-plus plate appearances and chip in a few steals as well. He's a perfect complement for flawed, yet productive power sources like Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn.