Fantasy Baseball: Vernon Wells and the 9 Best Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 13
When Tiki Barber announced that he would return to the NFL after a four-year absence, the sound you heard resembled a collective "oh well."
Barber's return to the NFL has been overshadowed by the impending lockout, Plaxico Burress' release from prison and with news from players who have actually done something in the last four years.
Barber has not, and his signing (if signed) will surely produce a genuine "WTF" moment from fans of his new team.
This got us to thinking, which other free agent signings of the past few seasons were the least embraced by their fan base?
9. Nyjer Morgan
Nyjer Morgan isn't exactly the model of consistency, nor is he a picture of solid decision making (on or off the field).
But the dude is streaky, and right now he is playing well enough to help your fantasy team.
He has overtaken Carlos Gomez and Mark Kotsay for the Brewers' starting spot in center field, and has consistently hit for high average all season (currently he stands at .347).
Although his power numbers are nonexistent, and he's one of the few players in baseball who could do something stupid, land a massive suspension and surprise no one in the process, he could still conceivably help your team.
Pick Morgan up and ride him like a thoroughbred until his hot streak dies down, or he assaults a teammate and earns a 20 game vacation.
8. Travis Hafner
Despite his MVP-type start to the 2011 season, there is an excellent chance that Pronk is available on a waiver wire near you.
Sure he’s injury-prone. Sure he has been one of baseball’s most up-and-down players the last few years. But before he got injured, he was having a killer season.
Maybe you don’t trust Travis Hafner—I understand. But take a chance on him. He has just returned from injury and if you don’t pounce on him now, somebody else will.
And with splits like .345/.412/.552/.964, do you really want to watch another owner reap the benefits of a rejuvenated Hafner?
7. Phil Hughes
Hughes is probably the biggest reach on this list.
He was tagged as a possible breakout pitcher in spring training, and then promptly went on to make three terrible starts for the Yankees before being placed on the DL with mysterious and non-descript “Right Arm Fatigue”.
Hughes is now working his way back, and while your expectations should remain tempered, a healthy and effective Hughes would be a welcome addition to any fantasy roster.
Should he be able to regain his effectiveness, Hughes will certainly be in line for plenty of wins with one of baseball’s best lineups behind him, and should deliver a sub 4.00 ERA with a decent K rate.
If you can afford to stash him on your bench for a few weeks, Hughes could end up being a difference-maker for your staff.
6. Justin Turner
You’ve probably seen Turner’s name on the waiver wire many times, and passed him over for a myriad of reasons, the least of which is his lack of success at the major league level and concern over the consistency of his playing time.
But Turner has been mashing, and while your rival owners are waiting for the pixie dust to wear off, you could benefitting from one of baseball’s quietest success stories.
Turner has positional flexibility (he’s likely eligible for second and third base), is hitting .280 on the season and leads the Mets in batting average with runners in scoring position (.400).
Most importantly he has solidified his spot in the New York lineup and seems to have won the second base job. The opportunity for production will be there all season and so far Turner has not disappointed.
5. Nick Blackburn
If you are in need of a spot starter, you could do a lot worse than Nick Blackburn.
Blackburn is almost certainly available in most leagues, and has posted quality numbers all season. His ERA is just over 3.00 (3.16), and he seems to be getting hot, posting eight scoreless innings in his last start.
However that is not the reason you should give Blackburn a shot this week. You should pick him up because he faces the light-hitting San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, which will certainly provide him with an opportunity for a win.
The Giants haven’t been hitting much of anything lately, and although Blackburn’s numbers on the season won’t blow you away, they should be more than enough to dispatch Miguel Tejada and the injury-riddled champs.
4. Desmond Jennings
Jennings would be a purely speculative add and would certainly be of more value for those in keeper leagues than standard leagues.
However no matter what kind of league you are playing in, there is an excellent chance that someone will take a chance on Jennings’ considerable upside once he is called up (which is rumored to be sooner rather than later), and if you are in need of speed stats or a toolsy outfielder, now is the time to jump on the Desmond Jennings bandwagon.
3. John Danks
Danks is likely available in your league due to the small, insignificant fact that he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball through the first two months of the season.
But he seems to be at the beginning of a resurgence, and now is the time to pick him up. I mean really, there’s no way he can continue to be as bad as his start would indicate.
In each of his last three starts, Danks has thrown at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs. His strikeouts have been up, his walks have been down, and he seems to be finding his groove.
If you are in need of starting pitching help, Danks could be a great bargain going forward.
2. Dustin Ackley
Despite his pedestrian minor league stats, the Mariners, desperate for offense of any kind, decided to call up Ackley and hope for the best.
So far he’s been pretty good. Granted he’s only played in three major league games, but he’s gotten a hit in every one of them (including his first homer last night), and seems to be comfortable at the major league level.
Second base is a notoriously hard position to fill offensively, and grabbling Ackley before he really starts to get hot could give you a leg up at one of baseball’s most offensively deficient positions.
1. Vernon Wells
The opportunity to grab a team-changing offensive force off the waiver wire is a rare one.
And while Vernon Wells may not have been this type of player so far in 2011, he is certainly capable of elite producation and seems to be back on the path to redemption.
Wells has been playing well enough to earn a roster spot for the last week or so, and although his numbers haven’t been great up to this point, he has shown flashes of the kind of across-the-board production that is so hard to find in fantasy baseball.
Wells can still hit for power and average, and his upside is considerably higher than many of his waiver wire contemporaries. He could end up being the best gamble you take all season.
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