We are starting to see some interesting things in the week seven waiver wire, with players gaining intriguing eligibility and some international players who may be becoming fantasy relevant. One thing that surprised me this week is that a certain hitter has been dropped in a lot of leagues after a mediocre start. But when that player gets hot he can be a devastating fantasy option. Therefore, I want to further preach patience on high upside players who aren’t tearing it up right now. There is a long way to go in the season and chasing hot stats can be a disastrous tactic in the long run.
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Derek Norris, C, SD: Norris is a must own catcher in leagues of all size supporting a stat line of three homers, one steal, 19 runs and 25 RBI whilst hitting an impressive 0.291. With Norris making appearances nearly every day he is well on pace to be in the range of a top five catcher come the end of the season. Norris is owned in over 80% of leagues but it should be 95+.
Yasmani Grandal, C, LAD: Since his monster night a couple of weeks ago, Grandal has cooled off somewhat but he is still a must own catcher in all one catcher leagues which are 12 teams or deeper. Four homers to go with 17 runs scored and 17 RBI at a 0.287 is pace for him to be in the reckoning as a top 10 catcher come seasons end.
Wilson Ramos, C, WSH: Ramos lost a 19 game hitting streak when he recently went 0 for 4, but the fact he had hit in 19 games shows you why Ramos should on your team in 12 team or deeper leagues. He has a season stat line of two homers, 12 runs scored and 20 driven in at a 0.302 batting average. In a week where no catchers have stood out it is worth checking your waiver wire to see if any of the above three guys have slipped through the cracks in your league.
Chris Carter, 1B, HOU: The fact Carter has dropped to 50% ownership is crazy. Yes when he is cold it’s tough for owners, but when he gets hot he can hit homers for fun. If Carter is available in your league and you need power and can afford a small drop in average then you go and get Carter to fill those CI and Util spots because I can assure you it will be worth it.
Brandon Belt, 1B, SF: Belt has been hitting like crazy in the last couple of weeks supporting a 0.408 average with three home runs in that period. That includes a four hit game and three three hit games in three days. All of that has brought his season numbers to three homers, 17 runs and 14 RBI with a batting average of 0.313. With San Fran’s line up receiving major reinforcement with the arrival of Hunter Pence this week expect to there to be plenty pof opportunities for Belt to drive in or score runs this season.
Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Howard started the season horrifically but with two homers in two days in hitter friendly Colorado, he’s now up to eight homers on the season. He now has 13 runs scored and 20 RBI whilst hitting a nose-bleedingly high average of 0.257 so far in 2015. To begin the season he didn’t look capable of hitting a fast ball but he has come out of that slump and is now presenting himself as a viable option at first base if you need power and can afford to risk a drop in your average.
Steve Pearce, 2B/1B/OF, BAL: This one may seem a little off when you look at his stats, but Pearce is a streaky player and he has started this season with almighty cold streak. But there are signs of life with two homers in the last week. Add in the newly-gained second base eligibility and all of a sudden Pearce goes from a so-so fantasy option to almost a must-owned. Laws of regression suggest he cannot be this bad all year and the Orioles seem to be willing to keep giving him chances, so he could easily be a top 15 second baseman come seasons end. The chances you are totally happy with your middle infield is small and Pearce is someone that could be a difference maker in that position for you.
Delino DeShields, 2B/OF, TEX: DeShields struggled out of the gate but in the last month he has been money. Currently he is batting 0.279 on the season with 16 runs scored, nine RBI and a superb 11 stolen bases. With Josh Hamilton returning this weekend there is the potential DeShields could lose some playing time but the way he is running he can still be a very productive fantasy options in a part time situation. DeShields could potentially be a 30-plus steals guy for your team and he can do that from that pesky middle infield spot. The downside is he may do a lot of that from the bench so don’t expect much in the way of RBI, power or average. A must own for any team that need help with steals.
Yasmany Tomas, 3B, ARI: Since getting his chance in the majors Tomas has been quietly decent with the bat, but the fact his defense has not been as catastrophic as had been feared, has also meant he could stay in the line-up for the majority of the season. He is currently batting 0.349 with one homer and two steals whilst scoring 10 and driving in 12 and is playing virtually every day either as a starter or as a pinch hitter. He is just outside my top 12 third baseman but in 14 team leagues or deeper he should be owned.
Marcus Semien, 2B/3B/SS, OAK: I am highlighting Semien because I feel he should be 100% owned. Semien is a top 10 SS – and, in fact, is almost in my top five – so the fact he isn’t owned in 100% of leagues is stunning to me. His defensive miscues as a small issue because it could cause him to miss time if he cools off. Currently though he is hitting 0.302 with 22 runs, 15 RBI, six home runs and seven steals making him one of the best al round performers in fantasy right now let alone just in the middle infield.
Jung-Ho Kang, 3B/SS, PIT: Kang has slowly worked his way into full time play this year and now that he appears to have it he should be owned in all 12 team or deeper leagues especially if there is a middle infield requirement. Whilst Kang hasn’t lit the world on fire he is hitting 0.313 with seven runs, 10 RBI, two homers and two steals in relatively limited playing time. He was a power guy in Korea and while he won’t replicate that completely he could still reasonably be a 15/15 guy which is a nice addition to the middle infield.
Freddy Galvis, SS, PHI: Because he plays for Philly – and they’ve been awful – Galvis’ nice start has slid under the radar somewhat, but he has scored 18 runs, drove in 11 with one homer and five steals showing he is producing for fantasy owners. When you add in the 0.319 batting average and Galvis is another guy who should be owned in any 12 team or deeper leagues that require middle infield because he has offered genuine reliability at a poor position so far.
Dexter Fowler, OF, CHC: Fowler is another man who has slipped under the radar a little because in a team with Rizzo, Soler and Bryant he was never going to be a headline. But for fantasy owners who have taken note they have got some decent production. 29 runs with 12 driven in on four homers and nine steals with a 0.267 batting average is a stat line of someone who should be owned in all five outfielder leagues right now.
Jimmy Paredes, OF, BAL: The Orioles are going out of their way to make sure that Paredes plays every day be it at DH, in the outfield or even at second occasionally, and he is rewarding their faith with some wonderful stats so far. On the season he currently has 19 runs, 23 RBI with six homers and one steal whilst batting at a 0.342 average. With others in the Baltimore line-up still struggling, Paredes should continue to get a lot of playing time as we go forward.
Jason Hammel, CHC: I am surprised Hammel is available in 25% of leagues hence his inclusion here. He has a 2.70 ERA and 0.92 WHIP whilst striking out a batter an innings and has walked just six hitters in 53.1 innings. Hammel should be owned in all leagues because the Cubs seem to know how to bring the best out of him.
Hector Santiago, LAA: Santiago has been another under the radar guy, but so far he has a 2.25 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP with 44 strikeouts in 48 innings. The reason for the relatively high WHIP is that he has walked 21 batters so far this season. And whilst that doesn’t appear to be costing him runs that could around to bite him.
Mike Fiers, MIL: Fiers can strike out batters for fun but those strikeouts come with a healthy dose of hits and runs with a few walks sprinkled in for good measure. His last five starts have seen him give up just 11 runs across 27 innings so maybe he is starting to work it out and can bring that ERA down from 4.75. In Milwaukee he won’t get a great deal of run support and that will cost you wins but he could easily give you 200+ strikeouts this year.
Lance McCullers, HOU: McCullers is another guy who is included for the upside, but there are worries. Generally young guys who rely on strikeouts don’t go deep into games, which limits his usefulness in fantasy, but if he can start to get his pitches under control he could be a real useful option.
John Axford, COL: Axford has been really solid since getting the Colorado closer job. And while there is still the occasional worry, he is settling in as a decent saves pick-up. The elite strikeout rate is not there and playing in Colorado means he will have limited save opportunites, but in roto leagues where every save is vital Axford is a solid pick-up.
Arizona: This is something to watch because Burgos got the first two opportunities but then Ziegler got the next and Burgos was used oddly in the extra innings game. So frankly, who knows. Burgos can offer a decent strikeout rate so he may be worth a short term gamble just to see if he is the answer but it’s looking likely it will be Ziegler.