Fantasy Baseball: The First Half All-Waiver Wire Team

Back in mid-April, when many of you still had visions of Brian McCann swatting 25 dingers and Carlos Santana being an elite multi-position cornerstone, there was one catcher I was advertising as a must-get in mixed league formats:

Why? (Devin) Mesoraco has the potential to become a solid second-tier catcher, and kids; those do not pop up often, especially as the season wears on. Mesoraco hit 15 homers and sported a .289/.371/.484 slash line as a 22-year-old at Triple-A Louisville in 2011. Older, stronger and confident about his current status, I can see him equaling his 2011 HR total (at the least), while also providing a line of .270/.350/.470.

OK, so I lied. Mesoraco entered Thursday with a slash line of .306/.369/.607. He’s also eclipsed his 11 homers with 15, and he’s on pace to a 29 HR season. He’s second only to the Braves Evan Gattis in yard work amongst catchers, while Mesoraco trails just Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks) and Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers) in RBI at the position.

Despite those numbers, Mesoraco didn’t get a whiff of making the NL All-Star team, as Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Buster Posey (Giants) were locks (although Molina’s injury could open the door for Mesoraco), while Gattis would have made it had he not been placed on the DL. Lucroy has put together a bust out season for the Central-leading Brewers.

Yet, it’s with great joy for me that, while Mesoraco won’t (for now) be participating in the fun and frivolities in Minneapolis next week, the Reds backstop is the headliner for my Waiver Wire All-Star team, composed simply of players that were hyped here over the first half of the season. See me (well, you can’t see me, so just imagine it) beaming with pride? Huh? Huh?

For each “D’oh!” that was Oswaldo Arcia or Kendrys Morales (note to self: avoid hyping Twins players in the second half), there is a Jesse Chavez or James Jones that has delivered a jolt to many teams. Here’s my squad, along with what I mentioned about them at the time:

1B: Garrett Jones, Marlins (“Jones is a near-daily fixture in the Miami lineup and also has the position flexibility to make him a useful short-term option at four positions. He also is prone to stretches where he can single-handedly jolt your offensive production.”): First is perhaps the weakest position, although Jones should hit 20 homers and garner 70 RBI in a spot where the waiver wire hasn’t be as fruitful this season.

2B: Josh Harrison, Pirates (“His multi-position status makes him appealing in deeper mixed leagues, although, the arrival (finally!) of Gregory Polanco will reduce his time in the outfield. Still, look for manager Clint Hurdle to keep finding ways to get Harrison’s bat in the lineup.”): I was on the Harrison bandwagon when he was owned in less than 10 percent of polled leagues. Currently on pace for 18 steals and 10-12 homers atop the order, the All-Star would be a strong candidate for waiver wire MVP status if not for….

SS: Dee Gordon, Dodgers (You jump on the chance to improve your SB numbers at every opportunity, which means Gordon (available in 29 percent of leagues) is a must-grab. He’s in the lineup daily, and while he offers little power, Gordon will potentially give you 25-30 SB, totals that no one on most waiver wires can provide.”): Most knew Gordon would swipe bags, yet most didn’t think he’d be on pace for 79 SBs while also giving his owners’ batting average an unexpected .298, with a surprising .351/.409 OBP/SLG.

3B: Todd Frazier, Reds: (He’s better than his .234 average from last season.”): Oh, so much better than .234. Frazier’s .291-17-48 leads Cincy in each category. While the average is an eye-opener, no one saw the 13 steals, vaulting his value.

OF: Corey Dickerson, Rockies (Dickerson offers power and speed potential. He’s worth a look in deeper mixed leagues and is a FAAB darling in NL-only leagues.”): Michael Cuddyer’s injury issues swung the door wide open for Dickerson to become a must-start option. Hitting .327-11-34-6 entering Thursday, Dickerson will remain in the Colorado lineup over the second half.

OF: J.D. Martinez, Tigers (Manager Brad Ausmus feels Martinez could be a middle of the order hitter, which is more reason to make a play for him.”): Martinez began the season buried on the Detroit bench; he may end the season with 25 homers and 80 ribbies, solid numbers for someone who didn’t work his way into the lineup until late May.

OF: James Jones, Mariners (“As of now, Jones has the look of a player who is one-dimensional, but for those willing to gamble on him, I feel he’s going to pay off in batting average and runs scored as well.”): You won’t find a bigger Jones supporter beyond this column. Yeah, he has yet to go deep and his .311 OBP is a red flag, but those 17 steals translate to 35 at his current year-end pace, while I still feel his power will emerge.

DH: Chris Owings, Diamondbacks (“ There are not many players available that are on pace to give you double-digit production in both homers and steals while also batting in the .280 range.”): Currently on the DL, I give him a nod because I really loved his pace after Owings started off slow. If I needed to replace him here, Marcel Ozuna (Marlins) would fill the role.

SP: Garrett Richards, Angels (Richards has the potential to give you a bargain basement price for wins.): How he was left off the All-Star roster is beyond me (although Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka’s trip to the DL could change that), but he’s won six of his last seven decisions, paying huge dividends to those who heeded my mid-April call. At the time, I wasn’t sold on his strikeout potential, yet Richards has silenced that to the tune of 119 Ks over 116.1 innings.

RP: Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers (“….he still offers enough to convince Fantasy owners that he will keep it over the long haul.”): He’s 27 for 30 in save opportunities to go along with a 2.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 50 Ks in 43.1 innings. Enough said.

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Photo Credit: Shawna Pairan