Article originally from Fantasyfootballmaniaxs.com.
Fantasy owners around the country should be through with their respective fantasy drafts as we storm into Opening Day.
From my personal experiences, I watched as sleepers were skipped, busts were grabbed, and future studs were plainly passed over.
Today, and every week throughout the Major League Baseball season, we will look at 10 players (four infielders, three outfielders, and three pitchers) who may be sitting on the “free agents" list in your fantasy league.
So, without further ado, we take a glance at the Fantasy Baseball Week One waiver wire for 2009.
Ivan Rodriguez (C) (HOU)
Is it just me, or has Pudge’s career just kept on sliding downhill as each year flies by?
It appeared as though this would be the case once again in 2009, as his production showed no signs of improvement after a dismal 2008.
Last season, he hit for a .276 average, with seven homers, 35 RBI, 44 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases for the Tigers and Yankees.
So what makes him so special this season?
Heading into the World Baseball Classic, Pudge looked as though he needed a boost. He sure got one while playing for his home country of Puerto Rico.
After his successful reign in the WBC ended without a championship, the 37-year old backstop searched for something a little different—a new team.
He has now found a home with the Houston Astros, and he has already been named the squad’s starting catcher.
Watch out for him through the first week of play. He may end up shocking a lot of fans out there.
Aaron Hill (2B) (TOR)
Looking back at last season, it is a shame to see that Hill’s production was so little.
In 2008, the young Toronto second baseman hit for a .263 average, with two homeruns, 20 RBI, 19 runs scored, and four stolen bases.
He seemed to be a stud on the rise, until everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Last May, a shallow fly ball was hit towards center field. Both Hill and shortstop David Eckstein raced back to make the play, only to have a collision occur between the two. Hill would suffer a concussion, and we would see little of him for the remainder of the ‘08 campaign.
Now in 2009, Hill is looking for a fresh start.
He can only go up from here, so if he went undrafted in your fantasy setup, grab him.
He may prove to be a better option than the second baseman on your current roster.
Elvis Andrus (SS) (TEX)
The Texas Rangers lineup seems to be more impressive with each coming season, and I see no reason to believe why that won’t be the case in 2009.
One addition to a team of growing young stars is shortstop Elvis Andrus. With the prospect assuming the middle infield role this year, the coaching staff made the decision to move veteran Michael Young to the “hot corner”.
This gives Andrus every opportunity to shine while under the pressure of performing on the big-league stage.
If Elvis lives up to several analysts’ expectations, we may just witness one of the better young shortstops in all of baseball before season’s end.
Andrus should be available in most fantasy formats, so if you’re looking for an extra bench player, Elvis is your guy.
Ty Wigginton (2B, 3B, 1B, OF) (BAL)
If you would like to know the definition of a “super-utility man”, then all you have to do is watch Ty Wigginton take the field.
The guy can play everywhere; he has suited up as a third baseman, second baseman, first baseman, and even an outfielder in years' past.
Look for his eligibility if you decide to grab him out of free agency. This is not the best part of his game, though.
His main weapon is his bat.
In only 386 at bats with the Houston Astros last season, Wigginton hit for a .285 average, with 23 homers, 58 RBI, 50 runs scored, and four stolen bases.
During the upcoming year, the Baltimore Orioles are expected to give him anywhere from 400-450 shots at the plate, ultimately, increasing his production and skyrocketing his fantasy value.
If you want the perfect bench player and injury replacement, “Wiggie” is your guy.
Jordan Schafer (CF) (ATL)
The former Braves top hitting prospect ran into some trouble last season, as he was caught using human growth hormone and had to serve a 50-game suspension.
Going into 2009, he plans to come back with a vengeance.
He has hit .373 for the spring, and he looks to be a rising young stud coming out of the Atlanta organization.
Some analysts at CBS Sports project him to have 12 home runs and 12 steals this year, with him being a 20-20 candidate in the long run.
He now has the starting center field job in his grasp, after a trade dealing Josh Anderson to the Tigers, so look for him to be a pleasant surprise from the National League East in ‘09.
Colby Rasmus (OF) (STL)
Continuing on with the prospects trend, we see Colby Rasmus join Schafer as an up-and-coming NL star.
Thus far in spring training, Rasmus has hit for a .293 average, most going for extra bases.
The key for the young outfielder, though, is playing time.
He is currently slotted as a backup center fielder/right fielder, with Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick starting ahead of him.
If one of these two were to falter, Colby will be right there waiting in the wings.
If you want, grab Rasmus and keep him on your bench.
Before the season comes to a close, you may have one of the better outfield options in baseball going into 2010.
Matt Joyce (RF) (TB)
Dealt from the Tigers to the Rays this past offseason, Matt Joyce is looking to assume the starting right fielder role in Tampa Bay.
Though he missed much of the spring with a calf injury, he appears to be back at full force after nine games.
So far, he has hit for a .348 average, with one home run and five RBI. Joyce is a solid sleeper for the 2009 campaign, due to the simple fact he has a solid core of talent around him.
Hitting beside Joyce in the Rays' batting order are Carl Crawford, Carlos Peña, B.J. Upton, Dioner Navarro, Evan Longoria, and Pat Burrell, a set of heavy hitters that should provide the youthful outfielder with plenty of protection.
Grab Joyce if you want a solid outfield option in week one. Before you know it, he could be an everyday starter on your fantasy squad.
Chris Ray (RP) (BAL)
The second Oriole to make this list, Chris Ray probably went unnoticed in many fantasy drafts this season, due to his current status as a seventh-inning/setup man.
Don’t let this fool you. In spring training thus far, Ray has failed to give up a run (or any hits, really), while current closer George Sherrill appears to be struggling.
Though manager Dave Trembley seems confident in the veteran Sherrill, Ray is making a strong case to take back his former spot.
Ray is a power-pitcher, with a solid fastball, slicing sinker, and average changeup.
Watch out fantasy owners, this guy could be a Top-10 closer before season’s end. Grab him if he’s still available.
Carlos Villanueva (RP) (MIL)
With future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman being placed on the 15-day disabled list, the Brewers must assign a replacement for the time being.
This is where Villanueva comes into play.
Look for Carlos to grab a couple of saves during week one, giving fantasy owners the chance to pick up a few points before the veteran returns from his injury.
If you need saves and you don’t have any solid closers at the moment, grab Villanueva.
He could provide many fans with a pleasant surprise. Who knows? He may impress so much that he will give Hoffman a run for his money in the future.
James McDonald (SP) (LAD)
Before spring training began, it was unsure whether McDonald would be able to grab a spot in the Dodgers' starting rotation.
Now as the season approaches, there is only one way to sum up his offseason: He did it.
McDonald looks to be the frontrunner for the No. 5 spot in LA, giving the youngster the opportunity to prove himself at the major league level.
Watch his progress throughout week one. If he impresses, don’t be afraid to grab him.
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