Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 20
Nowadays, MLB front offices are only concerned about reaching the playoffs or setting their clubs up for success in 2015 and beyond. Fantasy baseball owners, on the other hand, only care about who’s available in Week 20 that will help them win.
So in keeping with the running column at Bleacher Report, another Monday brings with it another examination of the week’s intriguing options available on the waiver wire.
None of them are stars, of course. Those are long gone. Rather, the players we examine are widely available, but, for various reasons, should have very productive weeks.
As always, this list will be fresh, meaning that no one who was featured last week will be included. Here are the top 10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 20.
Jake Peavy, SP, San Francisco Giants (40.9 Percent Owned)
Brock Holt, UT, Boston Red Sox (49.8 Percent Owned)
Bartolo Colon, SP, New York Mets (35.6 Percent Owned)
Emilio Bonifacio, UT, Atlanta Braves (30.3 Percent Owned)
Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros (15.5 Percent Owned)
Drew Stubbs, CF, Colorado Rockies (21.0 Percent Owned)
Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Chicago White Sox (21.9 Percent Owned)
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres (50.1 Percent Owned)
Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals (53.5 Percent Owned)
Jake Petricka, CL, Chicago White Sox (47.5 Percent Owned)
A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (40.0 Percent Owned)
10. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (28.4 Percent Owned)
That isn’t a bad thing for those who have a chance to grab him, though. After all, he has turned into one of the top second baseman in the National League, posting a .306/.339/.475 slash line with 23 doubles, eight home runs and 38 RBI in only 314 at-bats.
True, he only has 35 at-bats versus left-handed pitching, but in deeper leagues, he is a fantastic pickup. One thing to be concerned about is a lingering right quadriceps injury, but he doesn’t appear to be in danger of landing on the disabled list.
9. Dustin Ackley, LF, Seattle Mariners (57.6 Percent Owned)
Since July 1, he is hitting .339 with an incredible .886 on-base plus slugging percentage, per splits obtained from Baseball-Reference. Over that stretch, he has hit four home runs, stroked 10 doubles, driven in 15 runs and scored 16 times.
To say that he came out of nowhere would be disingenuous, of course. He has a wealth of talent but entered July slashing out at .214/.273/.329. Either way, his run has been an extended one that shows no signs of abating.
You'd better act quickly, though. Ackley is getting picked up at an incredible rate, going from an ownership percentage of 21.2 last week to his current 57.6 mark.
8. Vance Worley, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (31.2 Percent Owned)
He’s been even better as of late.
In his last five starts, for example, Worley has only surrounded five earned runs and has a .245 batting average against en route to a 1.50 ERA, per splits over at Baseball-Reference. He has also induced at least nine ground-ball outs in each of his last four outings.
Simply put, he is controlling each start and is giving the Pirates a chance to win each time out.
True, the strikeout numbers aren’t where anyone wants them to be, but he is a solid option. And if you are in a mixed league, Worley makes a great matchup play.
7. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs (6.5 Percent Owned)
Yes, he has only started five games in his career, but he has already shown enough to be grabbed without further delay.
Consider that four of his five starts have been quality ones, leading to an impressive 3-1 record with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.019 WHIP. He is also holding opposing hitters to a .218/.271/.306 slash line against, via splits obtained from Baseball-Reference.
Any way you look at it, there are legitimate reasons for excitement surrounding the young right-hander.
He is also doing it against some stiff competition. In his start on Aug. 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, he went 7.0 innings and only gave up one earned run on four hits while striking out three. In his start prior to that, he scattered seven hits over 6.1 innings and held the St. Louis Cardinals to only one run.
Hendricks is also in line to start on Tuesday versus the Milwaukee Brewers and on Sunday against the New York Mets, increasing his value as a waiver-wire addition.
6. Brandon McCarthy, RHP, New York Yankees (42.7 Percent Owned)
Lou DiPietro from the Yes Network wrote that at the time general manager Brian Cashman added McCarthy, some viewed it as “a Band-Aid applied to help the Yankees stem the tide on one of the worst rashes of rotation injuries Major League Baseball has ever seen.”
DiPietro is right. And for those who thought that way, there is no question that McCarthy has turned into so much more. For all that success, though, he is still available in a majority of leagues, making him one of the better waiver-wire options around.
McCarthy only has one scheduled start next week, but he is still worth adding.
5. Angel Pagan, CF, San Francisco Giants (44.5 Percent Owned)
And in case you forgot, he is capable of very big things. Look no further than the fact that he scored 37 runs and hit 14 doubles while compiling a .307/.356/.411 slash line in 63 games before hitting the disabled list for proof.
Besides his individual ability, there are two other things to consider here.
First, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence have been hitting the ball very well lately, meaning that there will be plenty of run-scoring opportunities for Pagan. In fact, his return changes the entire dynamic of the lineup.
Second, the Giants face the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies this week. In other words, Pagan will be facing pitching he should be able to take advantage of. To be sure, there are a couple of pitchers on each staff that can cause fits, but overall, both teams are hittable.
There is no doubt that Pagan makes for a wise pickup at this point.
4. Lorenzo Cain, CF, Kansas City Royals (32.3 Percent Owned)
It’s not like he hasn’t been productive recently. In his last 14 games going into action on Sunday, Cain had a .340/.360/.404 slash line, according to splits over at Baseball-Reference. In the process, he raised his batting average from .294 to .302.
True, he had a .410 batting average on balls in play over that same stretch, but he has been squaring the ball up quite well. And with the recent success the Royals have found as a team, it is a safe bet that he will be able to continue producing at a high level.
From all angles, adding Cain is a smart play, especially in deeper leagues.
3. Jordy Mercer, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (21.8 Percent Owned)
Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Jordy Mercer is a must-have in most leagues.
Flat out, he is on a tear at the plate. In his last 14 games, Mercer is slashing out at .327/.375/.519 with five doubles, six RBI, eight runs scored and a home run, per splits over at Baseball-Reference. That type of production goes a long way.
It must be noted that the Pirates have four games against the Detroit Tigers and three versus the Washington Nationals this week, making the matchups difficult. That said, Mercer has been seeing the ball so well lately that he should still be able to find a way to make the most of it and give a boost to owners in deeper leagues.
On the season, Mercer has a .257/.300/.374 slash line with seven home runs, 39 RBI and a respectable 20 doubles.
2. Kevin Kiermaier, RF, Tampa Bay Rays (12.1 Percent Owned)
Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier is going through a rough stretch. In his last 18 games going into action on Sunday, he had a .184/.286/.286 slash line with two extra-base hits, per splits pulled from Baseball-Reference.com.
He’s shown signs of pulling out of it, however. Last Wednesday, for example, Kiermaier hit a two-run home run that helped the Rays avoid getting swept at the hands of the Oakland A’s. Two days later, he hit a game-winning single in the 10th inning against the Chicago Cubs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the next four games are against the Texas Rangers. In other words, he will have a chance to face the staff with the American League’s worst ERA. If he fails to capitalize on his recent successes, a re-evaluation is in order, but there is a good chance he is up to the task.
1. Caleb Joseph, C, Baltimore Orioles (4.2 Percent Owned)
What’s more important is that he is putting up solid numbers across the board over his last 12 games. Over that stretch, he has a .357/.372/.786 slash line with three doubles, nine RBI and six runs scored in addition to the five home runs. He has also seen his playing time increase considerably as a result.
The dominance has the potential to continue. Joseph noted that he’d “been working on some mechanical things, and they’re slowly starting to show their head in terms of results,” via Eduardo A. Encina from The Baltimore Sun.
Given the fact that there are so few solid catching options to begin with, adding Joseph makes a lot of sense.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Friday, August 8. Advanced splits have links included. Transaction, game and injury information are courtesy of MLB.com. Owned percentage is courtesy of ESPN.com’s fantasy page.