Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 4
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of 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 Jose Quintana, Kyle Lohse, Ian Kennedy, Wily Peralta and Neil Walker—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 4.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered.
Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds (16.9 Percent Owned)
Drew Hutchison, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (2.1 Percent Owned)
Jason Hammel, SP, Chicago Cubs (16.8 Percent Owned)
Ike Davis, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (0.7 Percent Owned) (pictured)
Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, New York Mets (4.6 Percent Owned)
Josmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins (0.8 Percent Owned)
Alfredo Simon, SP/RP, Cincinnati Reds (25.2 Percent Owned)
Tom Koehler, SP, Miami Marlins (0.3 Percent Owned)
Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota Twins (12.0 Percent Owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility this early in the season, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are ranked in one location as follows:
Jonathon Broxton, RP, Cincinnati Reds (44.5 Percent Owned)
Kyle Farnsworth, RP, New York Mets (1.1 Percent Owned)
Luke Gregerson, RP, Oakland Athletics (20.1 Percent Owned)
Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs (13.0 Percent Owned)
Mark Melancon, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates (11.0 Percent Owned)
Matt Lindstrom, RP, Chicago White Sox (35.7 Percent Owned)
Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (4.9 Percent Owned)
Sean Doolittle, RP, Oakland Athletics (4.6 Percent Owned)
Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (2.2 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Juan Uribe, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (32.3 Percent Owned)
Let's start with an oldie but goodie, shall we? At 35 years old, Juan Uribe is a known commodity, but these days, he's also proving to be a pretty productive one.
Following a decent 2013 campaign (.278 BA, 12 HR, 50 RBI in only 426 PA), the veteran is off to a mighty fine start this year, hitting a robust .333 (25-for-75) with an impressive 11 extra-base hits—three homers and eight doubles—and his five games with three or more hits is the most in baseball at the moment.
Will this continue all year? No, but that doesn't mean owners shouldn't take advantage of Uribe while he's hot, especially considering that he gets to hit in a quality Dodgers lineup.
No. 9: Dillon Gee, SP, New York Mets (30.6 Percent Owned)
If you've remained dismissive of Dillon Gee because you still recall his poor beginning last year, well, you've missed quite a bit since his ERA sat at an ugly 6.34 near the end of May, 2013.
In his final 22 starts last season, the soon-to-be 28-year-old posted a remarkable 2.71 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Sure, the strikeout rate—just 6.3 per nine—was little more than tolerable and likely won't improve much, but Gee can pitch.
While Gee can be hit- and homer-prone because he doesn't throw hard (remember what we just said about his strikeouts?), he's also shown he can have success over an extended period and should be owned in more leagues as an ERA and WHIP helper.
No. 8: Josh Beckett, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (7.1 Percent Owned)
Folks, Josh Beckett's time as a useful fantasy pitcher might not yet be over. His 2013 season was a lost one, swallowed up by surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, the same procedure former St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter underwent and then couldn't quite make it back from. Beckett, however, appears to be faring better so far.
Now 33, the right-hander isn't the flamethrower he was in his prime, but he's been sitting in the 92-93 range with his heater through his first three starts of 2014, per Brooks Baseball, and still has that signature sharp curveball. Granted, it was against the lost Arizona Diamondbacks, but Beckett looked good Sunday in throwing five scoreless innings of one-hit ball while whiffing seven.
This might be a short-term add—who knows how long he can stay healthy?—but while he's going good, Beckett could be an intriguing addition to your fantasy rotation.
No. 7: Tyson Ross, SP, San Diego Padres (8.1 Percent Owned)
Last year, it took a while for folks to catch onto—and believe in—Tyson Ross, which was only fair. After all, Ross, a 2008 second-rounder who was once a prospect in the Oakland Athletics system, took a while to figure things out at the big league level. When he did, though, the right-hander was really good.
Last July, after swapping back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, Ross officially rejoined the five-man rotation and did this over his final 13 starts: 2.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 9.6 K/9 across 80.0 IP.
Ross, who turns 27 Tuesday, was a little shaky his first two times out in 2014, but his past two turns have been reminiscent of his late-2013 renaissance, as he's allowed just one run on only 10 hits with a 16:2 K:BB ratio over 15 frames while earning wins over the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.
No. 6: Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins (21.2 Percent Owned)
Christian Yelich is the more well-known young outfield commodity in fantasy circles, but Marcell Ozuna is doing his best to make everyone remember that he, too, was a legitimate prospect before being rushed to the bigs last season from Double-A.
While Ozuna's intro to the majors was a bit up and down, he wasn't overmatched despite debuting at the very end of last April at the age of 22. This year, though, the righty swinger is flashing a bigger bat, already having matched his 2013 total of three homers—achieved in 291 PA (plate appearances)—in a mere 76 PA. Ozuna is also 23-for-69 (.333) and showing improved plate discipline.
The power that didn't show up last year is in there—Ozuna topped 20 homers in each of his three years of full-season ball—so this could be a breakout on the way.
No. 5: Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds (48.1 Percent Owned)
Devin Mesoraco, it seems, is not only trying to make up for missed time after starting 2014 on the DL, he's also trying to make up for missed opportunities the past three seasons.
The former first-round pick and top prospect debuted in 2011 but had never been entrusted with the full-time catcher's gig—until now. At 25 and with enough experience by now, Mesoraco is making good on both the chance and his promise. Since getting healthy, he's gone 17-for-33 (.515!) with six doubles, three homers and 11 RBI in only nine games.
If you're the kind of owner who likes to ride the backstop bat that's producing best at any point, Mesoraco is that right now. And while he still has a lot to prove over a full season, it's not out of the question that he could be top-10 fantasy catcher when all is said and done.
No. 4: Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Miami Marlins (23.2 Percent Owned)
For the first three years of his major league career, Nathan Eovaldi was little more than a hard thrower trying to find his way. Well, the 24-year-old may have found it.
The right-hander, who averages 95-plus mph on his fastball—among the highest in the sport—is starting to get results that line up with his stuff. Through four turns, Eovaldi has thrown 25.1 innings and allowed 10 earned runs for a respectable 3.55 ERA, but what fantasy owners should be most excited about so far is his 23:3 K:BB ratio. For a guy whose strikeout and walk rates have gotten slightly better every year, his current 8.2 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 are marked improvements.
There still may be adjustments, growing pains and bad outings ahead, but Eovaldi is a high-upside arm who looks to be taking the next step.
No. 3: Justin Morneau, 1B, Colorado Rockies (47.4 Percent Owned)
Look, you know Justin Morneau, so rather than waste time introducing him, let's just focus on his stats now that he's been getting to enjoy playing at hitter-haven Coors Field rather than pitcher's-paradise Target Field in Minnesota.
The 32-year-old former MVP (2006) has started off with 22 hits in his first 64 at-bats of 2014—that's a .344 average—to go with four homers and 15 RBI in 18 games. Oh, and after smacking a long ball on both Saturday and Sunday, Morneau has totaled all four of his four-baggers and 13 of his RBI over his past eight games.
Searching for a hot bat with some staying power for your roster? Not anymore.
No. 2: Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (0.0 Percent Owned)
Ranking Jonathan Singleton this high might be jumping the gun a bit, but after fellow Astros prospect George Springer got the call during the middle of last week, saw his ownership level jump to near-100 percent, and thus become ineligible for this waiver wire column, well, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to recommend Singleton to owners. And frankly, given how white-hot Singleton is right now, this could be the only chance to do so.
The top first base prospect around, Singleton is a 22-year-old lefty hitter with a good mix of power and patience, and through 17 games at Triple-A, he's gone 24-for-70 (.343) with—get this—14 extra-base hits, seven homers, 19 runs and 23 RBI. In other words, he's doing a heck of a lot to put his forgettable 2013 season behind him and force his way to Houston, where first base is being held down by a mishmash trio of Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss and Chris Carter, each of whom is hitting under .200.
While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has been playing coy with Singleton's ETA, it's pretty clear that things can't carry on this way—Singleton mashing while the Astros' first base threesome floundering—for too much longer. While a call up could happen any day, just be prepared for the possibility that Singleton isn't up until mid-to-late May, so if you're in a format where every roster spot is precious, this might not be the add for you.
Once he does debut, Singleton should hit enough to warrant use as a fill-in first baseman or corner infielder with upside for more. Don't expect lightning in a bottle, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, either.
No. 1: Martin Perez, SP, Texas Rangers (40.8 Percent Owned)
With the Rangers' rotation ailing and struggling early on, Martin Perez has come up big recently. He could do just the same for your fantasy pitching staff.
Following a scoreless eight-inning outing against the woeful Houston Astros, the 23-year-old former top prospect went the distance for the first shutout of his career Friday in beating a much more formidable opponent, the Chicago White Sox, who currently lead the majors in runs scored. The left-hander also walked only one batter while whiffing a career-high-tying eight.
Given his pedigree, ever-improving repertoire and his next start set to come at pitcher-friendly Oakland, Perez earns this week's top spot.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11