Fantasy Baseball 2013 Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 4
It's not too late.
Just because roles, spots and jobs have started to settle down and solidify now that we're entering the season's fourth week doesn't mean there aren't still plenty of valuable players to target on the waiver wire. Like some of those to follow. So review and choose wisely.
Some players mentioned last time, including Andrew Bailey and Ervin Santana, are already owned in most leagues but remain quality pickups if still available. In the interest of keeping the names fresh, let's avoid any repeats.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN fantasy baseball. Players owned in more than 51 percent of leagues were not considered.
Rajai Davis, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (4.5 Percent Owned)
If the Jays stick to their plan to try Brett Lawrie at second and Jose Bautista at third, even if on occasion, it'll open up a chance for more playing time for Davis.
He's averaged 43 steals in just over 400 at-bats per season since 2009.
Santiago Casilla, RHP, San Francisco Giants (7.4 Percent Owned)
Closer Sergio Romo is really, really good. Except the Giants have made it known that they won't pitch him too often on back-to-back days.
Casilla, who saved 25 games last year, could pick up 10-12 more this year even if Romo stays healthy.
Didi Gregorius, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (2.2 Percent Owned)
The 23-year-old got the call when Aaron Hill hit the DL. While he's never shown much power or speed in the minors, he did hit two homers in his first three games since coming up.
Keep tabs if you need shortstop help.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals (5.4 Percent Owned)
The 22-year-old is likely only up until Ryan Zimmerman's hammy heals, but Rendon (pictured) has a big league bat and approach. Worst-case scenario, we know the Nats aren't afraid to give him a shot as an injury fill-in.
If his debut makes him available in your keeper league's player pool, Rendon is a good one to snatch up.
Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox (0.9 Percent Owned)
While he's expected to be returned to Triple-A immediately, Webster could be back up sooner rather than later.
10. Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox (7.0 Percent Owned)
Last year, Jose Quintana came out of nowhere to be a useful fantasy starting pitcher for about two months. Then, just as owners started to really buy in, he turned back into a pumpkin.
To put some numbers to that, after making his MLB debut in early May, the 24-year-old lefty had a 2.04 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in the first half. In the second half? Try 5.01 and 1.62.
There's still blowup potential here. He allowed eight hits and five runs against the Mariners in his first outing of 2013. But Quintana also has held the Indians and Blue Jays scoreless over his last two starts, surrendering just six hits and two walks against 14 whiffs.
As luck would have it, he gets the Indians again Tuesday.
Don't get married to the idea of keeping Quintana on your roster, but until he slips up, there's no harm in dating for a while.
9. A.J. Griffin, RHP, Oakland Athletics (44.7 Percent Owned)
The scouting report on A.J. Griffin sounds sort of like one of those boring infomercials: Not flashy, just gets results.
Armed with an 89-mph "fastball", this 25-year-old broke into the bigs and put up some gaudy numbers as a rookie last year: 7-1 record, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP.
The right-hander is off to a similar start this year too. He's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
If you're hurting for strikeouts, look elsewhere, but if you're on the prowl to bring down your peripherals, Griffin is your guy.
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers (43.0 Percent Owned)
Jonathan Lucroy is the Rodney Dangerfield of catchers: He gets no respect.
The 26-year-old backstop got off to a slow start, hitting below the Mendoza Line heading into last week. But he hit three long balls, drove in seven and raised his average to .259 over his last six games.
Lucroy tends to be overlooked because he missed almost half of 2012 with injury, but then again, he did hit .320 with 12 homers in only 316 at-bats.
You could do a heck of a lot worse at catcher, especially once the Brewers offense picks up after Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart get back in a few weeks.
7. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals (23.0 Percent Owned)
Finally healthy, Lorenzo Cain might be ready to prove he's a useful fantasy outfielder yet.
The 27-year-old righty had a big week, going 12-for-22 with a homer and two steals.
The approach could use some work, as Cain sports a six percent walk rate in his major league career, but he has the tools to hit for a decent average and reach double digits in both homers and stolen bases.
As long as he's healthy and hitting in the middle of the Royals order, Cain is a worthy starting outfielder in most formats.
6. Lucas Duda, OF, New York Mets (12.9 Percent Owned)
An under-the-radar fantasy sleeper in 2012, Lucas Duda has started 2013 off by making up for disappointing those who bought into his power a year ago.
Duda's two-homer effort Friday night, including one against the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, gave the lefty slugger five on the season.
Duda is also showing good patience—he's second in the majors with 15 walks—so his approach seems to be improving. He's going to strike out a good amount and might not hit much better than .250-.260, but we could be looking at 25-plus homers in the making.
5. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (11.2 Percent Owned)
At just 23 years old, Patrick Corbin won the fifth starter's job in the Diamondbacks rotation with a solid spring.
All the left-hander has done since is follow that up with three straight quality starts to open 2013. In his most recent, Corbin held the Yankees to just one run on two hits and three walks with seven whiffs on Thursday in Yankee Stadium. That's no small feat for a young pup in only his first full big league season.
After struggling some as a starter in limited time last year (4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), Corbin looks to be improving. And quickly.
4. Wade Davis, RHP, Kansas City Royals (4.1 Percent Owned)
Much like Wandy Rodriguez did, Wade Davis had his way with the Braves last week.
The 27-year-old right-hander went seven scoreless with seven strikeouts in handing Atlanta its second loss of the year. Performances like that make Davis an intriguing addition, given his upside and return to a rotation spot after being acquired from the Rays over the winter.
There's still some risk here, but through his first 16 frames, Davis has a 15-to-3 strikeout-to-walk rate and could be in line for a breakout campaign.
3. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (50.5 Percent Owned)
If, on the other hand, you're on the upside track, Tony Cingrani would be your pick.
Filling in for the injured Johnny Cueto, the 23-year-old rookie made his season debut Thursday and struck out eight over five innings, allowing just five hits and one run. Basically, the left-hander carried over his fast start at Triple-A—no runs, three hits, two walks and 26 whiffs over 14.1 innings—to the majors.
The stuff is good but not quite as ridiculous as the minor league numbers appear. Cingrani makes it work with good command and deception, as Baseball America pointed out in its in-depth breakdown (subscription required).
Cingrani would rank a notch or two higher if not for the fact that he might be pushed back to the minors once Cueto is healthy. Of course, Cingrani could also out-pitch Mike Leake and hang onto a rotation spot, so he's worth grabbing to see how it plays out.
2. Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (36.9 Percent Owned)
Returning from a balky hamstring that cut short his second start of the season on April 8, Wandy Rodriguez pitched a gem Friday against the Braves, allowing just one hit over seven scoreless.
That's the kind of outing that gets you noticed.
The 34-year-old isn't a stud, but he's been remarkably consistent and useful for fantasy purposes over the past four years. In each, he's won between 11 and 14 games while posting an ERA between 3.02 and 3.76 and a WHIP between 1.24 and 1.31.
Sure, the strikeout rate has dropped from 8.4 per nine in 2009 to 6.1 in 2012. But if you're looking for certainty over upside, Rodriguez will help you.
1. Edward Mujica, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (44.3 Percent Owned)
Although Edward Mujica probably isn't the most enticing name from a skills standpoint, opportunity is at least half the battle in fantasy. Mujica has that right now.
The righty reliever is easily the most stable end-game option in the shaky Cardinals bullpen at the moment. With Jason Motte's return this season up in the air and initial replacement Mitchell Boggs continuing to falter (he gave up four more runs Sunday), ninth-inning duties have fallen to Mujica. He converted the club's last save opportunity Thursday.
That's good enough to earn the closer gig, at least for now. While Mujica may not have the typical profile for that role—the 28-year-old doesn't throw especially hard and only had four career saves entering the year—he could get the job done on the strength of his elite walk percentage (4.1 percent) and increasing ground-ball rates.
Mujica might not wind up with 20 saves by season's end—flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal still lurks—but the Cards need to find a solution. Mujica looks like the next attempt at an answer.
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