Every year, there are those waiver wire wonders that carry your team through the fantasy baseball season. In 2010, fantasy stars like Jose Bautista, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana and Angel Pagan are just a few of the many players who made an impact despite their undrafted status on draft day.
Believe it or not, fantasy analysts are not always correct (shocking I know). There are countless players who are coming off injuries or down years who recover faster than anyone could have expected. There are rookies who win out the starting job out of spring training who were expected to say in the minors for a longer period of time.
If you are fortunate enough to put in that waiver claim before anyone else, you may have just found yourself lightening in a bottle.
The following slide show will discuss fantasy baseball’s post-draft steals that you can find off the waiver wire after draft day.
This article can be found on MLB Fantasy Guru
One year after having Buster Posey won the NL Rookie of the Year award, the Giants seem to have another phenom on their hands. Brandon Belt has been consistently labeled as a left-handed version of Buster Posey and has really burst onto the scene in his first professional campaign, hitting .352 with 23 HRs, 112 RBIs and 99 Rs in 2010.
As the top prospect in the Giants organization, Belt has shown that he is ready to become a staple in the Giants organization for years to come.
Although Belt has shown a great deal of potential, there isn’t a starting spot for him in the Giants' lineup. With Aubrey Huff currently slated at first base, Belt will have a hard time finding consistent at-bats at the major league level. As a result, he will most likely begin the season starting at the AAA level, just like they did with Buster Posey one season ago.
Since Belt most likely won’t start the season in the majors, he will go undrafted in most standard leagues. If you are willing to keep him on your bench for the first one or two months of the season, you will most likely receive huge dividends come the middle of the season when Belt makes an impact, just like Posey did last year.
Slowey’s career has always been filled with potential, but due to injuries throughout his first three seasons he hasn’t lived up to expectations. In the minor leagues, he boasted a 1.94 ERA with a K/9 ratio of 8.8, cementing himself as a top prospect in their organization.
As a member of the Twins, two statistics stick out in my mind.
The first number is his career 39-21 W-L record. This proves that he is a career winner, which can be overlooked at times when discussing a player's overall worth.
The second number his minuscule BB/9 ratio of 1.5. This demonstrates that he has an amazing sense of the strike zone, a concept that many young pitchers in the league lack.
Despite these assets, Slowey is still undrafted in most leagues and seems to be one of the top waiver wire pickups in this year’s draft. Although he may not have the upside of a Tim Lincecum or Roy Halladay, he can provide a consistency in your rotation and provide to be useful in spot starts against not-so-good offenses.
Bedard is a player who has all of the potential in the world, but can’t seem to stay healthy for an entire season. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t pitched in a game since the 2009 season and has experienced numerous setbacks in his recovery back to the mound. As a result, Bedard is a player that you can get off the waiver wire in this year’s fantasy draft.
Since Bedard, at best, is a late round pick in the deepest of leagues, he essentially poses no risk by taking a spot on your fantasy team. So, it only makes sense to discuss his potential upside for this up-and-coming season.
In his last full season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, Bedard lead the league in K/9 and H/9, while finishing the season fifth in Cy Young award votes. Bedard has proved that he can pitch in this league and be a dominate force on the pitching mound.
If Bedard can show that he is finally healthy, he can claim a spot on the Mariners rotation where he can complement Felix Hernandez as one of the better 1-2 punches in the league.
If you question that Bedard can actually return to the mound and pitch effectively, just look at Chris Carpenter in 2009. He essentially didn’t pitch for two whole seasons, only to finish the year second in Cy Young votes in his return.
Keep an eye on Bedard this spring training, he could be one of the top pickups in this year’s draft.
If you’re looking to find this year’s Buster Posey, look no further. Arencibia has some of the best pure power in all of the minor leagues and seems ready to shoulder the load as the full time catcher on the Toronto Blue Jays.
Last season, Arencibia put up less-than-stellar numbers in limited at bats with the Blue Jays, largely because they had John Buck putting up a career year behind the plate. However, with Buck now out of the picture, Arencibia now has a shot to claim the starting job and contribute to the already power-stacked Toronto lineup.
With a career average under .300 in the minor leagues, you can’t expect him to hit for a high average this year. But with some of the best raw power in the minors (he hit 32 in AAA last season), you can expect at least 20 homeruns with the potential to finish the year as a top 10 backstop.
If you miss out on the top catchers in this year’s draft, be sure to keep tabs on Arencibia’s performance. With offense at the catcher position a premium these days, Arencibia could have a ton of value in this year’s draft.
After signing a long term deal with the Mariners last season, Gutierrez digressed in 2010 with his HR and AVG dipping by a large margin. As a result, Gutierrez has been going undrafted in many mock drafts and seems to have fallen into fantasy irrelevance.
However, Gutierrez also saw a large dip in his BABIP which is a great indicator that his lower batting average is more of a result of bad luck, not bad play.
Gutierrez has several things going for him. First of all, you know that he is going to get his at bats. He won the gold glove award this past season and is considered to be the best center fielder in the game of baseball.
Second, Gutierrez is also a great source of stolen bases. In 2010, he logged a career high 25 SB while only getting caught three times. If he can’t help you with his bat, he can with his feet.
At the end of the day, Gutierrez is another great option that you can get off the waiver wire. He is a low risk alternative at the outfield position and would be a great pickup if he can revert back to his 2009 form as a member of the Mariners.
Life sure isn’t easy for Alex Gordon. How could it be with all-stars Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki all drafted after him in 2005?
After being considered the future of the Royals organization a few short years ago, Gordon’s career has been derailed by injuries, inconsistency and lack of production. After playing in only 74 games last season, he has dipped in the draft boards and has become an afterthought in everyone’s mind.
Gordon currently is going undrafted in all mock drafts, and justifiably so. But he is reportedly healthy this season and seems ready to change his label as a "draft bust" in 2011. Entering his physical peak at the age of 27, this seems to be a now-or-never year for Gordon.
He still has the potential that made him the number two prospect in the league four years ago, and it may be worth a roster spot on your team to find out if he can finally prove why.
After three straight declining years as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it appeared as if Martin was on the downturn of his career. His numbers had lowered in every statistical category and he didn’t appear fit to be on any fantasy team’s roster.
And then he signed to be the backstop for the New York Yankees.
This is a major signing for several reasons. This proves that the Yankees don’t believe Jorge Posada is fit to be an everyday catcher and that they believe Jesus Montero isn’t ready for the New York spotlight.
But focusing back on Martin, this is a huge signing for his fantasy value. If you disregard his declining numbers, you would realize that he gets to be a part of one of the most potent offenses in the league. Naturally, you would expect his runs and RBIs to increase solely because of the talent around him. You could also expect his homeruns to increase because of the live ballpark he will play in.
Early reports claim that Russell Martin is in the best shape of his career, all the more reason to believe he can return to his former All-Star self.
With catchers being one of the harder positions to draft for, you may want to pick up Martin off the waiver wire to cash in on his production.
Despite not playing professional baseball for over a year, Colon is another pitcher who can be a steal off the waiver wire.
The current Yankees depth chart for starting pitchers goes as follows: CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Have you heard of the last two guys? Because I haven’t.
So moving forward, it is apparent that the Yankees could use Colon’s veteran presence as a member of their rotation. Even if he posts an ERA around 4.00 over the course of the year, it is more than enough to produce a good amount of wins considering the Yankees' present lineup.
The biggest issue with Colon is whether or not he will actually make the team out of spring training. But after looking at their track record on dealing with young hurlers, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy for starters, I think it’s safe to say they will go with the veteran.
Colon will prove to be a low risk option to provide you with a cheap source of wins on the Yankees.
Dice-K is another pitcher who has battled injuries for the past two seasons. After going 18-3 in his second year, he hasn’t been the same pitcher since as shown by his ERA of 5.76 and 4.60 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
For Dice-K, you know that you are going to get the strikeouts (he has averaged 8.3 K/9 over his career). The real question is, can he limit the walks enough to stay effective in the league?
I don’t have an answer for that, but considering his upside it wouldn’t be a bad thing to pick him up and find out.
With the acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Red Sox have arguably the best lineup in the entire league. With that said, any pitcher for the Red Sox, regardless of statistics, should be considered on draft day.
Considering Matsuzaka’s former success, he should be someone worth checking out when you are looking at the free agent pool come April.
Fresh out of Japan, Nishioka is a giant question mark in this year’s draft. It is always hard to gauge how a new player will do in the league, which is a main reason why he will go undrafted in most leagues later this month. Will he perform like Ichiro? Or more like a Kaz Matsui?
Currently penciled in as the opening day second baseman, Nishioka suddenly becomes an important part of the Minnesota lineup. Although he won’t impress you with his power numbers, he can bring you a batting average around .300 and a blend of stolen bases and runs.
In his final season with the Chiba Lotte Marines, he posted an AVG of .346 with 22 SB. I’m not claiming he will reproduce those numbers, but if he comes anywhere close to that he will be a top ten second baseman by year’s end.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka could be a huge steal if someone is willing to take a risk on the generally unknown player out of Japan.