Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups for Week 23
The following slideshow touts the top 12 waiver-wire pickups right now, recognizing 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 2012 season.
Savvy readers will notice the rankings are different from last week's offering. These changes can be attributed to the waiver-wire graduations of Mitch Moreland, David Murphy, Sergio Romo, Mike Moustakas and Brett Anderson—forgotten (or largely ignored) assets on draft day, but now contributing pieces with their current teams.
That's how it should be with this countdown: Here today, gone tomorrow.
Enjoy the show!
10. (SS) Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
Skinny: Jurickson Profar's status in this countdown goes deeper than him being the youngest American Leaguer in MLB history (19 years, 195 days) to belt a home run in his inaugural MLB at-bat.
The shortstop (who might soon have second-base eligibility thanks to Ian Kinsler's ailing back) is also the Rangers' No. 1 prospect—which is saying a lot, since the club remains knee-deep in corner-infield assets and power pitchers.
From April 19 to May 19 in Double-A ball, Profar hit safely in 29 straight games, a run of dominance that included five steals, nine multiple-hit efforts and 21 runs. And on Aug. 22, the slick-fielding, super-quick prospect laced five hits.
Verdict: In 12-team roto leagues, Profar is certainly worth a low-risk flier in free agency—especially if he lands dual-position versatility.
9. (2B/3B/OF) Donovan Solano, Miami Marlins
Skinny: Looking for a reason why the underachieving Marlins will finish this season on a high note—aside from the amazing Giancarlo Stanton and his red-hot August (10 HR/22 RBI/.313 BA/1.100 OPS)?
Donovan Solano, the three-position fantasy asset, has been a real gem of late. Since Aug. 18, Solano has been hitting at a .396 clip (five multiple-hit games) with four RBI, seven runs and one steal.
In other words, Miami hasn't really skipped a middle-infield beat with the absences of Emilio Bonifacio (injuries) or Omar Infante (traded to Detroit).
Solano's consistent production shouldn't be much of a surprise to fantasy owners who dig for minor league stats on a weekly basis. In 36 Triple-A games before his mid-May call-up to the majors, Solano hit safely in 22 of 36 games.
8. (SP) Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks
Skinny: At first blush, it seems odd to endorse a rookie who got plowed for eight runs and 10 hits in a Triple-A game (Aug. 14).
But one clunker outing isn't enough to sway me from taking a low-risk, high-upside flier on rookie Tyler Skaggs, one of the Diamondbacks' three pitching dynamos under the age of 24 (along with Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley).
From July 13 to Aug. 8, spanning six minor league starts and 37.2 innings, Skaggs had a 3-1 record, 1.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 35/12 K-BB ratio.
And in his first three MLB starts (totaling 17.1 innings), Skaggs has one win, a 2.60 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
Of equal importance, Baseball America has Skaggs ranked as Arizona's No. 3 prospect and projects him to be a high-end No. 3 starter in the majors.
In the fantasy realm, Skaggs may be a No. 3 starter this time next year too.
7. (SP) Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
Skinny: Patrick Corbin has led a quirky, Noah-esque existence (as in Noah's Ark) the last two months.
For eight consecutive appearances from July 3 to Aug. 24, Corbin had "two of everything" in runs allowed, as in back-to-back appearances of one run, zero runs, two runs and four runs.
In his last outing, where Corbin notched eight strikeouts and allowed just one walk against the Reds on Aug. 29, the Diamondbacks rookie surrendered three runs and scattered six hits over 6.2 innings.
So, invoking the Noah scale of predictability, how many runs will Corbin allow on Monday against the Giants?
The answer: Three. (Duh.)
The reasoning for Corbin's countdown inclusion goes deeper than an apt biblical comparison. Of his last six starts, Corbin is a perfect 6-for-6 in yielding three or less walks. In that span, he also has a sterling strikeout-to-walk ratio of 34/8.
6. (1B/OF) Tyler Colvin, Colorado Rockies
Skinny: Citing the seven-day (.375 BA), 15-day (four homers, .327 BA) and 30-day windows (five steals, .322 batting), Tyler Colvin has the look of another sweet-swinging, stats-toting asset in the Rockies lineup.
And for fantasy owners in dire need of a combo infielder/outfielder with good power and pure-hitting prowess, Colvin is the ideal player for that role.
Just wait until Troy Tulowitzki (injury) returns to the Colorado lineup and Carlos Gonzalez busts out of a mini-slump.
Come then, opposing pitchers will no longer have the option of feeding Colvin unsatisfactory pitches.
5. (SP) Eric Stults, San Diego Padres
Skinny: Eric Stults has certainly made the most of his time with the Padres this season after getting an unceremonious boot from the White Sox back in May.
In 13 outings with San Diego, Stults boasts a 5-2 record, 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 30/14 K-BB ratio. And of his last five starts, spanning 32 innings, he has four wins, a 1.63 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.
Put it all together, and it's a shame fantasy owners are missing out on a low-key gem like Stults for the final pennant push.
Verdict: Stults is an ideal No. 5 or 6 starter in 12-teamers.
4. (OF) Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres
Skinny: Apparently, you can only keep a good man like Cameron Maybin down for so long.
Yes, his wretched numbers for April, May and June were a real sucker punch to those who touted Maybin as a top-40 outfielder in the preseason and a reasonable bet for 40 steals.
But things have dramatically changed for the better of late—especially since Aug. 18.
In the last 15 days, Maybin is hitting at a .478 clip (including six multiple-hit games) with five steals. And from a 30-day perspective, he's batting .345.
Bottom line: It may be late in the season, but Maybin is finally fulfilling the promise of a rock-solid No. 7 hitter and No. 4 outfielder in the fantasy realm.
3. (SP) Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies
Skinny: Echoing similar thoughts from last week, I expect the Phillies to have a fantastic September run to respectability—a product of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels being healthy and (presumably) happy with their recent numbers.
Those good tidings have trickled down to Kyle Kendrick, who has four wins, a 2.76 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 23/6 K-BB ratio in his last four outings.
Need more incentive to install Kendrick as a No. 6 pitcher in 12-team leagues?
His five-start road to finish the season isn't full of petulant potholes—Reds, Rockies, Astros, Braves and Marlins.
2. (SP) Miguel Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles
Skinny: At various points of the season, Miguel Gonzalez has garnered much fantasy love in this countdown.
But his highest accolades come this week at No. 2 thanks to two impressive recent feats:
1. Over the last 30 days, Gonzalez has three wins, a 1.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 22/10 K-BB ratio in five starts.
2. On Aug. 31, Gonzalez blanked the first-place Yankees over seven innings while racking up nine strikeouts and only one walk.
Bottom line: There is nothing fluky about the Orioles' prime position in the American League playoff race (wild card/threatening the Yankees for the division crown)—especially when intriguing assets like Gonzalez are saving their best performances for the biggest games.
1. (1B/OF) John Mayberry, Jr., Philadelphia Phillies
Skinny: Fantasy owners (and if memory serves, chicks) really dig the long ball in September, especially from corner-infield-eligible assets with everyday at-bats.
In the last 30 days, John Mayberry, Jr. has been a hallmark of consistency in the Philly lineup, tallying five homers, 14 RBI, 14 runs and a .304 batting average.
And with Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino no longer wreaking havoc in the Phillies outfield, there's reason to believe Mayberry's recent power surge will continue, uninterrupted, for another four weeks.
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