After third base was the headline of last week’s article, it’s catcher-need that dominates the week 3 waiver wire. With the loss of Travis d’Arnaud, Yan Gomes and Jonathan Lucroy, as well as the continuing issues with Devin Mesoraco, there is a lot of desperate fantasy owners who wish they had got themselves some Stephen Vogt or Derek Norris shares. Of course, for those who have not suffered at catcher chances are you may be getting ready to give up on late round picks so this week I have highlighted at least two guys at every position I think should be considered in various leagues.
Caleb Joseph, C, BAL: Joseph has come out the blue to be fantasy relevant this year. Handed the starting job by Matt Wieters injury, Joseph was seen a defensive choice by all in the fantasy community. However, he has started the year hitting 0.333 with seven walks and has scored eight runs and drove in four. Hopefully he can keep up this hot start and then he should still see decent playing time when Wieters returns. Right now he is a short term fill in if you have lost Lucroy or d’Arnaud, but don’t expect to be thrilled to be using him because he is nothing more than a guy you hope will give you some stats without hurting your average.
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Derek Norris, C, SD: Norris is off to a really good start in his new home in San Diego. Batting second in the re-vamped Padres line-up has seen him score 10 runs whilst driving in eight – all at a 0.317 average. In roto leagues all his value lies in the counting stats and the average because he has yet to hit a homer or attempt a steal. He has increased value in points leagues based on the eight doubles he has hit in a doubles- friendly environment in San Diego.
AJ Pierzynski, C, ATL: Pierzynski seems to become mixed league relevant at some point every year no matter how much he is written off in pre-season. Although injuries are a big reason he has relevance, the fact his bat has started hot in limited playing time definitely helps. Three long balls in 27 AB’s whilst hitting around 0.400 is extremely positive even if he has only played 7 games so far in 2015. AJ is an injury fill in guy in 12-plus team mixed leagues who has more value in roto leagues than points.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD: Alonso hasn’t just started off 2015 hot, he is SMOKING! A 0.400 average with seven runs and eight RBI to go with one homer and a steal so far in 55 AB’s. Playing near enough everyday, Alonso has managed to make a position that San Diego were initially concerned about into his own. No more is there talk of a Will Myers shift to first base and even if Alonso regresses somewhat he still finds himself in the middle of a powerful line-up, which should give him plenty of opportunities.
Ike Davis, 1B, OAK: Ike’s value for fantasy is hurt by his pure lack of ability to hit left handed pitching, meaning Oakland are using him strictly in a platoon role so far this year. Davis has yet to start a game against a lefty, but against righties he has been extremely solid. Hitting 0.340 in 50 AB’s with one homer and eight runs and RBI make him a solid option if you need a Corner Infielder to cover someone in a massive slump, such as Pearce or for injury cover if you were using a third baseman in that position. Davis’ value will always be slightly depressed while he is a strict platoon player – and being in Oakland doesn’t help, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth investigating in 12 team leagues if you need some production.
Devon Travis, 2B, TOR: Devon Travis is crushing it so far this season having come into the year with a lot of doubt surrounding him. He currently has four home runs with 15 RBI and 11 runs whilst hitting a superb 0.385. Whilst he is currently batting second in the order there is a good chance he ends up moving up to the number one spot when Reyes inevitably ends up on the disabled list. With middle infield being such a garbage position there is no way you can’t at least see whether Travis can keep being productive and be a top 10 second baseman come years end.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, COL: Colorado hitters are always tempting but no one expected LeMahieu to be someone that would be considered fantasy relevant in 12-14 team roto leagues, but right now he’s very close to being just that. He came out of the gate really fast but now the average is naturally regressing to the mean. Batting ninth in the order isn’t ideal for his fantasy value, and the only way he gets relevance in shallower leagues is if he can get himself up the batting order at least a couple of spots, but I cannot see that happening soon, unfortunately. He must be owned in 16 team mixed and should be on the radar for 14 teamer’s.
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, HOU: Valbuena started slow this year before going off with five homers in no time at all including a two-homer outing. However, the fact he is hitting just 0.220 should mean you pump the breaks fast. Having spent last year as a strictly platoon player there is no reason to think he can suddenly mash lefties, but his power outburst should at least mean he keeps the third base job to himself for a while with no clear options available to replace him. In 14 team leagues he can be adequate third base cover with some power upside, but for now he isn’t hitting regularly enough for me to use him in 12 teamer’s.
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Will Middlebrooks, 3B, SD: I feel like I get excited over Middlebrooks every year and every year he disappoints. Right now the Padres haven’t quite worked out how they are using their second and third basemen but as long as Middlebrooks is getting the majority of the AB’s at third he should have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs batting lower down in that line-up. The three homers so far is promising and if can remain hitting in 0.260 region then he can give you power and RBI potential without damaging your average too much. I would consider him in 12 team leagues as a CI/utility guy just for the power potential alone.
Zack Cosart, SS, CIN: Coming off an horrific 2014, you won’t have found Cozart recommended anywhere entering 2015. However, Cozart has already matched his 2014 total for home runs and at a position that is as poor as shortstop, little things such as power surges really stand out. In his fifth year in the majors Cozart has yet to hit over 0.255 so you can expect some regression from his currently lofty 0.328. With so many SS struggling to start the year you can do far worse than going after Cozart this week in the hope he is breaking out at age 29.
Addison Russell, SS, ChC: I will keep this brief, I do not see Russell being much more than a top 15 SS/2B even with the power/steals potential. Russell is much more raw than his teammate Bryant, and in anything shallower than a 14 teamer I’m not rushing out to get him. I would much rather have Lowrie or Semien if they are available (they aren’t in many cases).
Odubel Herrera, SS/OF, PHI: As someone who inherited Herrera in a dynasty league following his rule five selection, he is someone I have been keeping a close eye on. Batting at the top of an order is usually a massive plus, but when it is the Phillies some of that excitement is diminished. Herrera is currently on a six game hitting streak which has seen him score five of his seven runs and steal two of his three bases. Atop any other order and he would probably have double digit runs if he was batting 0.291, but unfortunately he isn’t and that will always depress his value. There is intriguing 20-steal potential and the SS eligibility is always a boost to a players value, but for now I’d limit my interest in Herrera to 14 team mixed or deeper.
Ender Inciarte, OF, ARI: Inciarte has earned and solidified a job as a starting outfielder for Arizona in 2015. So far he has scored 13 runs whilst hitting 0.310. There is definite 20-homer potential and even if there is limited power potential, Inciarte still has great value for leagues of all size.
Jake Marisnick, OF, HOU: Entering the year Marisnick’s role was surrounded by questions, but he has dispelled those and made himself a full time outfielder by hitting 0.350 with one home run and four steals. Marisnick is extremely intriguing especially if the Astros power bats get going, as he seems to be getting on base regularly so his runs scored should increase if he can solidify a spot atop the order. A definite consideration in 12 team mixed five OF leagues and is widely available in most leagues.
Chris Young, OF, NYY: Young has been a regular in the Yankees line-up against left handed pitching and the success he has had means he is now seeing more playing time against righties. Four homers so far this year has been a big part of that success and if you are power deficient in the outfield he is definitely someone I would consider in 12 team leagues or deeper.
Miguel Gonzalez, BAL: I wrote last week that Sunday’s game against Boston would be a big test for Gonzalez and when Hanley took him deep for a three run shot I briefly stopped believing. But then Gonzalez came roaring back going five innings without giving up any more than those three runs, whilst striking out five. That gives him 20 K’s across 17.2 innings this year with a 2.55 ERA. The four walks against Boston was a worry when you consider he had five as well in his first outing, but Gonzalez was immense to end last season and I really think this could be his big breakout year. Unfortunately Boston got him this week but against one of the best offences in baseball that can sometime happen. I am still a believer but I will always consider sitting him against the big bats of Boston.
Anthony DeSclefani, CIN: DeSclefani is an option I am slowly getting more and more excited about and someone I wish I had added in all leagues last week when his value was lower. He pitched eight innings this week against the Brewers giving up just two hits and one walk whilst striking out five. That outing means he has now given up just two runs in 21 innings. The only thing keeping him below Gonzalez is their respective strikeout rates, as DeSclefani as has only got 16 so far this year.
Chris Heston, SF: I officially gave up on Matt Cain this week with the news he is still not ready to start throwing yet, and therefore I am now fully brought in to the Heston hype. He had another brilliant outing Sunday against the Diamondbacks giving up one run on five hits and one walk. That gave him a 0.86 ERA across 20.2 innings which is going a long way towards earning him the chance to stay in the rotation even when Cain does return. I stupidly used him last night in Coors and immediately regretted it when before I even looked at the box score this morning. He is still someone I would go out and get but I would always be hesitant using him in Colorado.
Carlos Martinez, STL: I originally had Martinez at the bottom of this list but the start last night following up on two really good ones to start the season has convinced me somewhat. OK it was against the terrible Brewers offence but Martinez has great strikeout potential and that is definitely something I am willing to take a risk on if I need a high upside guy in 12 teamers. He should be owned in all 14 teamers or deeper.
Alfredo Simon, DET: The man nicknamed “Big Pasta” has started the season on fire in 2015. Another seven innings, one run game has seen him move to 3-0 across 20.2 innings, which have seen him give up four runs. Pitching in Detroit means he should win a fair few games even if he has bad day, but if he carries on pitching this well then he won’t have to rely on that offensive firepower. The fact he has only struck out 12 is what stops him creeping up this list and means he is a streamer in most leagues. In deep leagues he’s definitely worth consideration given the way his 2014 and 2015 have gone so far.
Edinson Volquez, KC: Volquez’s hot start may have something to do with the severe difference between his current walk rate compared with his career walk rate. He has walked just three batters compared to 17 strikeouts across 22.2 innings giving up just five earned runs. The reason Volquez is not higher on this list is because we can’t just disregard a career full of walks based on three starts. So, I do expect the walks to increase and with it the level of fantasy production to drop. However, in a 14 team mixed league he is worth a speculative pick up just in case the Royals have performed some dark magic on Volquez.
Joel Peralta, LAD: A slow week for relievers in general means that Peralta is probably the main target for saves this week. He has had issues with a neck injury to start the season but he is three for three in save opportunities so far this year and appears to be the man the Dodgers trust until Kenley Jansen returns. Jansen has started throwing again so this may be a short term saves solution but he has the job until then.
Miguel Castro, TOR: Castro nearly leap frogged Peralta with his save on Wednesday but he has had a blown save and had some strange usage in the last week making me question whether he has the job long term. With no other blindingly obvious options in the Toronto bullpen he is the guy for now but he doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Tony Watson, PIT: Melancon had a terrible outing on Tuesday and then Watson got a save Wednesday. However, it wasn’t a conventional save as he came in with the bases loaded in the 8th and got all three outs before going on to close out the game in the 9th. However, Melancon was confirmed as the closer and got the save on Thursday so Watson is nothing more than apeculative add right now.