Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 3
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out the oven.
From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top player pickups right here every Monday as you face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Some players mentioned last week—including Michael Pineda, Melky Cabrera, Yordano Ventura and Nick Castellanos—are already owned in many leagues by now, but they remain quality pickups if they're still available.
In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats. Here are the top-10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 3.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 51 percent of leagues were not considered.
Eric Young Jr., OF, Mets (20.6 percent owned)
Ian Kennedy, SP, Padres (21.7 percent owned)
Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates (34.6 percent owned)
Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers (1.5 percent owned)
Kelly Johnson, 2B/OF, Yankees (37.8 percent owned)
Raul Ibanez, OF, Angels (2.0 percent owned) (video)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility this early in the season, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers are ranked in one location as follows:
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Colorado Rockies (46.3 percent owned)
Edward Mujica, RP, Boston Red Sox (14.0 percent owned)
Shawn Kelley, RP, New York Yankees (22.4 percent owned)
Luke Gregerson, RP, Oakland Athletics (6.1 percent owned)
Jonathon Broxton, RP, Cincinnati Reds (28.5 percent owned)
Matt Lindstrom, RP, Chicago White Sox (41.1 percent owned)
Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs (17.2 percent owned)
Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (3.3 Percent Owned)
Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (7.6 Percent Owned)
Sean Doolittle, RP, Oakland Athletics (2.8 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, Mariners (49.0 Percent Owned)
Dustin Ackley isn't going to win a fantasy league for anyone, but the former No. 2 overall draft pick still can be a perfectly useful pickup. The 26-year-old is hitting .308 (12-for-39) with seven runs, six RBI and a homer and steal apiece, and he has the skill set to post a helpful batting average and reach 12-15 homers and steals each.
Super exciting? Of course not, but the fact that Ackley is eligible at both second base and outfield does add to his utility as a spot starter at each position, and he's capable of filling in for a stretch in the event that a starter gets injured. Deep-league owners or those in formats that have a middle infield position would be wise to snatch him up if he's out there.
No. 9: Rajai Davis, OF, Tigers (15.5 Percent Owned)
First question: Could you find some value in—and a place on your roster for—a player who is guaranteed to swipe 30 bases? Second question: Then why haven't you picked up Rajai Davis yet?
Davis, 33, doesn't do much other than run, but he does that a lot, with an average of 43 steals per season over the past five years, and as the Tigers' semi-regular left fielder at the start of 2014, Davis could top that figure. Plus, he's hot of late with a seven-game hitting streak (10-for-26) during which he's thieved five bags. Pick him up, put him in either every day or as an as-needed fill-in for speed and he'll keep your SB total up to, well, speed.
No. 8: Garrett Richards, SP, Angels (14.6 Percent Owned)
Garrett Richards has spent parts of four seasons in the majors now, but he's still just 25 years old. Also? His last turn in the rotation was the best one yet of his career. The hard-throwing right-hander—his average fastball velocity of 96.1 is the highest among starters, per FanGraphs—absolutely dominated the Mariners last week, hurling seven scoreless, one-hit frames with six strikeouts.
Richards' stuff has yet to fully translate to high-strikeout totals (6.3 K/9 career), but that could change if he figures it out as a full-time starter in the big leagues for the first time. For now, add him ahead of his next start against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday—you just may want to keep him around after.
No. 7: Kyle Lohse, SP, Brewers (31.8 Percent Owned)
Kyle Lohse doesn't have the appeal of, say, a Garrett Richards, and you're already more than familiar with the 35-year-old, but if steady gets you going, then the veteran righty needs to be owned. Then again, Lohse has been a bit more than steady to start 2014.
Through his first three turns, including an 8.2-inning, one-run, nine-strikeout gem Sunday against the Pirates, Lohse has a spiffy 3.05 ERA and a where'd-that-come-from 9.1 K/9. Don't expect the latter to remain north of 6.0-6.5 per nine, but the former hasn't been higher than 3.39 since 2010. With the Brewers on a roll to kick things off, the 2-1 Lohse could do better than last year's 11 wins.
No. 6: Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels (34.3 Percent Owned)
A month ago, Kole Calhoun was a popular preseason sleeper for a profile that looked capable of a 15-homer, 15-steal campaign in what is his first full big league season. A couple so-so weeks into things, and already the 26-year-old is popular on the other end of the spectrum—as a drop.
That's understandable, given Calhoun's sub-.200 average at the moment, but he's been hitting either atop or in the middle third of a potent Angels lineup, neither of which is a bad place to be. The upside here is limited, and Calhoun probably isn't as good as he was when he sported an .808 OPS in 58 games a year ago, but his little-bit-of-everything ability makes him a fine reserve outfielder with OF4/5 potential when he's going well.
No. 5: Brad Miller, SS, Mariners (45.8 Percent Owned)
Like Calhoun, Brad Miller was a sought-after yet still under-the-radar middle infield option during drafts, based on a strong spring training and an intriguing introduction to the majors in 2013. The 24-year-old then started the season with a bang—two, in fact, in the second game of the year—while going 5-for-15 through three contests.
Only five games—and just two hits—later, and many owners decided it was no longer Miller time. A four-hit weekend, including his third home run Friday, puts Miller back on the map. He's a high-end middle infield or shortstop reserve and has the potential to start at either spot while on one of his hot streaks. His sneaky power—he has 30 extra-base hits in 86 career games!—gets overlooked but shouldn't, especially among middle-of-the-diamond players.
No. 4: Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox (14.7 Percent Owned)
After a really underrated season in 2013 in which he posted a 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with a 7.4 K/9 over 200.0 innings in his second year, Jose Quintana had perhaps the worst spring training of any pitcher in baseball. The 25-year-old allowed a ridiculous 20 runs on 18 hits in 11 frames in March, which may have scared away the few owners who were aware of what he did last year and were interested in drafting him.
Fear not, folks: The southpaw has started 2014 with three straight quality starts, something he specialized in a season ago, when he compiled 17 of them (just over half of his 33 outings). Heck, he even pitched a dandy seven innings of two-run ball for a win at Coors Field last week, before following that up with one run over six frames against the Indians Sunday. Quintana isn't a game-changer, but he is consistent, and that counts for something.
No. 3: Travis Wood, SP, Cubs (11.5 Percent Owned)
What Quintana is on the South Side of Chicago, Travis Wood is on the North Side: A finesse left-hander who has proved to be durable and stable—and completely unsexy—as a back-end starter in fantasy. Wood, though, was even a bit better than Quintana in 2013, notching an even-more-impressive 24 quality starts out of 32—only five pitchers had more—to go with a 3.11 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
Sure, the 6.4 strikeouts-per-nine rate left something to be desired, but if you owned him, you enjoyed him, even if he won but nine games (the trials of being a Cubs pitcher these days). Wood is off to much the same start in 2014, with a pair of quality outings against the Phillies and Pirates so far, and hey, he's even whiffed 17 in 12.1 frames. Get on board and stay on board, will ya?
No. 2: Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays (3.5 Percent Owned)
Brandon Morrow is in his eighth big league season, and yet he's never put it all together in the same one. Back in 2010 and 2011, he struck out over 10.0 per nine but had ERAs of 4.49 and 4.72. Then in 2012, his ERA dropped to 2.96, but his K rate fell, too, to 7.8 per, and he missed about half the year with injury.
Injury, in fact, has been a big problem for Morrow, who made only 10 starts in 2013 due to yet another forearm ailment that seems to have cleared up with an offseason of rest, according to John Lott of the National Post. The other good news is that the 29-year-old still throws as hard as ever, averaging over 96 mph and registering 98 on several pitches while whiffing nine over six strong innings in a victory over the Astros last week, per Brooks Baseball. Might as well take advantage of Morrow and his potential to finally put it all together while he's actually pitching, starting Tuesday against the Twins.
No. 1: Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners (26.4 Percent Owned)
A troublesome bout of shoulder soreness (always a scary situation for a starter) put Taijuan Walker behind in his quest to make the Mariners out of camp for the first time in the top prospect's career. Ultimately, now that the 21-year-old appears to be all systems go, he'll have been worth the (slightly extra) wait.
The big, athletic right-hander has made two rehab starts so far (1 ER, 17 K over 9.1 IP) and is slated for what may be his final one Tuesday at Triple-A, per Adam Lewis of MLB.com. In other words, if that goes well (i.e., if Walker gets his pitch count up near 100), he could be back in the bigs Sunday against the Marlins, which means you'll need to add him now to get ahead of the game. Provided Walker stays healthy, he should among the best in what is shaping up to be a crazy-good rookie class in the AL.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11
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