This article originally appeared on Fantasyfootballmaniaxs.com.
Week 5 is now upon us as several unlikely teams continue to dominate the league. For example, the Toronto Blue Jays remain in first place in the AL East while the Seattle Mariners lead the AL West, and the Florida Marlins are still the kings of the NL East. We are not here to discuss each team as a whole, though. Instead, we here at the waiver wire tend to focus on the men aiding the developments of their growing teams. Now, let’s take a look at the Week 5 Waiver Wire.
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B) (CLE)- Looking back in time a few years, I can remember a young second baseman in Cleveland that was making a name for himself as his Indians moved throughout the playoffs. This young man was Asdrubal Cabrera, At the moment, Cabrera is hitting for a .329 average, with one home run, nine RBI, 16 runs scored, and four stolen bases. Just recently, Cabrera was moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, providing him with a greater opportunity of picking up RBI with superstar outfielder Grady Sizemore leading off. Sizemore is known for his exceptional speed, so if he hits a ball into the gap, he can easily stretch a double into a triple. If he reaches base on a single, he has the capability to swipe second with little effort. All of these factors help Cabrera’s production.
With Sizemore consistently getting into scoring position, Cabrera should be able to keep the RBI coming. With this one-two punch, the Tribe has deadly weapons leading the way for the rest of the lineup. Cabrera should be available in most leagues, as he is currently owned in only 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues. For RBI, stolen bases, and even runs scored, Cabrera is the way to go.
Nick Johnson (1B) (WSH)- Like Cabrera, Nick Johnson has also been shifted into the No. 2 spot in the order. Since being moved, he has hit for a .352 average (19-for-54) with a .426 on-base percentage. Overall, he is hitting for a .338 average, with two homers, five RBI, and 13 runs scored. Many people seem to bypass several Nationals’ players due to the simple fact that they play in Washington. The team has now won a mere five contests, a stat that is not enticing to many fantasy owners. In this case, however, one must focus on the players at hand.
Johnson has plenty of protection in the batting order, as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes, and Jesus Flores are all capable sending air-mail into the outfield seats. If you’re looking for a bench player or injury reserve, then Johnson is a solid pickup. With the way he’s hitting at the moment, though, he could very well be a starter in any fantasy format. The main concern with Nick is his health, but for the time being, it doesn’t appear to be an issue. In the end, he could prove useful to your squad.
David Ross (CA) (ATL)- With starting backstop Brian McCann dealing with blurred vision and other eye related issues, backup David Ross has had to step in for the time being. Ross is currently hitting for a .321 average, with two homers, six RBI, and six runs scored. Now, many of you may be asking, “What’s the point of grabbing him if McCann will be back after this week?”
This is where strategy comes into play. Say you drafted McCann in your fantasy league, and now you are left without a solid option to fill in that vacant hole in your lineup. With Ross producing the way he has, that gap can be filled with ease. As long as McCann is out, Ross is the guy that the Braves intend on sending out onto the field every day. I say, grab him for the week if you would like his services. He seems to be fitting in nicely as the starter for now.
Russell Branyan (1B, 3B) (SEA)- It’s about time Branyan got the chance to play every day. Now in Seattle, the Mariners are giving him the opportunity to produce on a daily basis, and Branyan is not disappointing. He is currently hitting for a .333 average, with four homers, ten RBI, 14 runs scored, and a stolen base. Without a doubt, Branyan is benefiting from receiving consistent at-bats.
Here’s what he had to say about his new role: "I've never been given a shot to really play this game on an every day basis," Branyan said. "What is happening this year is a first go around for me." If this guy is available in your league—which he should be—grab him ASAP. He should continue with his hot hitting throughout the week, and for all we know, throughout the year. Monitor his progress after this week. He could end up being one of the bigger steals of the season.
Melky Cabrera (CF) (NYY)- Coming into the season, it was unsure whether or not Cabrera or youngster Brett Gardner would receive the starting job in center. After Gardner won the position, Cabrera had to begin to produce in order to get it back, and produce he has. Cabrera is hitting for a .327 average, with four homers, nine RBI, 11 runs scored, and two stolen bases. So a few of you may be saying, “There’s no way that he’s available in all that many leagues.” Looking at the numbers, he is currently owned in 8 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues and in 9.4 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
One thing that may produce a jump in his percentage owned was something said by manager Joe Girardi. According to the Yankees official site, Girardi acknowledged Wednesday that Cabrera will get regular playing time in center field. This is encouraging news for fantasy owners. If he’s available, grab him. If you’d like, start him. He may prove useful while he’s still hot.
Chris Duncan (LF, RF) (STL)- Last season, Duncan sustained a neck injury that held him back; however, this year he has come back with a vengeance. So far in 22 games, Duncan is hitting for a .304 average, with two home runs, 14 RBI, and eight runs scored. The key to Duncan’s success is the lineup around him. The protection in the Cardinals’ batting order is immense, as Pujols, Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, and Yadier Molina surround him. Heck, with that kind of backup, I could probably get a base hit or two at the pro level.
The thing to watch with Duncan will be his batting average. He has never been one to put up high numbers in this category, so don’t be expecting too much out of him here. Otherwise, you can look for 20-plus homers and 75-plus RBI over the course of the ‘09 campaign. Duncan should be available in most leagues, so if he is, grab him and put him on your bench. He should make a solid number four outfielder for the long run, with the potential to move up on your roster.
Scott Hairston (CF) (SD)- Normally moving around in the outfield, it’s about time the Padres gave Scott Hairston a spot all to his own. The guy is raking at the moment, hitting for a .390 average, with three homers, 11 RBI, seven runs scored, and two stolen bases. The key for Scott will be his playing time, a factor that should be addressed soon enough if he continues to hit the way he has.
The main concern with Hairston should be the lineup around him, due to the fact that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is his only true protection. If I were you, I would watch and see how Hairston’s week unfolds. If he begins to receive more starts, pick him up and stick him on your bench. He has the potential to be a sleeper in deeper mixed formats, so if you see him in the outfield more often, be sure to grab him.
Mitchell Boggs (SP) (STL)- Boggs found himself on one of my waiver wires from last season, and there’s no reason why he doesn’t deserve to be on it once again. Thus far after two starts, Boggs sits at 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and four walks. The one factor going in Boggs’ favor is the offense he has behind him. Whenever a pitcher has Albert Pujols in his lineup, the guy on the mound is sure to have an easier time than most others.
So, the question is, when should you pick him up? I say monitor his progress over the next week (He gets two starts this week.) and make a final decision later on. He may impress, and he may not. Only time will tell.
Phil Hughes (SP) (NYY)- It’s about time! After watching the tandem of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy being sent down, it was finally nice to see one of them have a solid start in the bigs. In his return, Hughes went six innings, allowing no runs on two hits. He would also strikeout six and walk two. Now, the true test is at hand.
The issue is this: How will he respond? So he has a good outing. Big deal. What he has to do is follow up. This is why you need to monitor his progress over the next week. He is a two-start pitcher in Week 5, so see how he fares. If he performs well, then you may have a huge sleeper on your hands.
Brad Bergesen (SP) (BAL)- The one name that many Orioles’ fans have been waiting to see in the big leagues is finally here, and he has had his moments of triumph and downfall thus far. Bergesen is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA and seven strikeouts. The prototypical starter in Baltimore is known for being a wild thrower, usually seeing the ball go every which-way pitch after pitch. This is what Bergesen is not.
He is a control starter who likes to work at a quick pace. This way, he can easily maneuver through tough situations and more easily escape jams. Though he got shelled in his last outing, it occurred against the high-powered Texas Rangers, so many fans may be over-exaggerating it just a bit. He next start is on Saturday (5/2) at Toronto. Watch and see if he can handle this lineup.