So it hit me: Could I put together an All-Waiver Wire team with my 20 percent or less ownership rules? Why, yes, Brandon, yes (Then again, it’s not as if I would listen if told not to).
Keep your Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper. I don’t need Max Scherzer or Chris Sale on this team. Bring me the unwanted, unkempt afterthoughts in leagues both standard and deeper. Eighty percent of owners may not want you, yet there is a warm bed, satellite radio and a horn of plenty on this side of the fence.
I picked this team on the notion that not only are (almost) each of them are capable of helping your roster now, they are also in position to become key contributors in the second half. While none of them sizzles with name value, this team is built to help a Fantasy owner push through a tight race and cash in come October.
Name the time and place. Best of seven, and I’ll take the following in my lineup. Here are your Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire All-Stars:
1B: Justin Bour, Marlins (owned in 12 percent of polled mixed leagues): Strictly a platoon player, the lefty-hitting Bour has an .883 OPS against righties and has an Isolated Power number of .235. He also shows off decent plate discipline (10.2 percent walk rate) while swinging at just 43.1 percent of his pitches thrown at him. I feel good about Bour’s chances of approaching 20 homers, especially once Giancarlo Stanton returns to the lineup next month. A .163 batting average last month took off some of the shine on a once-hidden gem, yet Bour has started the month with a respectable .263 mark. I love him in Daily Fantasy leagues, more so if the Fish are playing in the daytime, when Bour has a .363 average and an 1.102 OPS.
2B: Delino DeShields, Jr., Rangers (22 percent): DeShields had three hits and three runs scored in his first two games back from the DL. He had ranked among the league leaders in steals before his hamstring forced him to sit on June 16, and I expect he will return to form shortly. Unlike Billy Hamilton, DeShields gets on base frequently (.362 OBP) and as the ignitor of a Rangers lineup that really hasn’t hit its stride, DeShields has a good chance to become a category-altering presence that lies unused in more than three out of four mixed leagues. For shame.
SS: Corey Seager, Dodgers (20 percent): Every two-hopper to third base and every well-intentioned flyball that dies short of the warning track off the bat of Jimmy Rollins brings the Dodgers one step closer to breaking the glass and ushering the Next Big Thing in a season filled with NBTs. Rollins entered Wednesday batting .209 with a .582 OPS. Compare that to Seager’s .280/.796. He’s ready, a reality that is coming sooner than later. We talked here a few weeks ago about Seager’s arrival, and with the Dodgers committed to Justin Turner at third and using Alex Guerrero as the utility option, the club has no excuse to keep Seager’s potential impact bat languishing in Oklahoma City much longer.
3B: Nick Castellanos, Tigers (12 percent): He’s beginning to look like the offensive force of nature many envision he can become, as Castellanos has opened July with a .345 average and a .953 OPS. He entered Wednesday with an eight-game hitting streak that included a pair of homers and eight RBI, a stretch that raised his average to .244. His walk rate (5.8 percent) and his .129 Isolated Power are minor concerns to me, yet I feel both numbers will take a step up after the All-Star break. Castellanos still needs to solve righties (.226 average), yet the potential is there for him to emerge as a good source of power and ribbies as the Tigers keep rolling along without Miguel Cabrera for the rest of the month.
OF: Preston Tucker, Astros (five percent): Like Bour, Tucker’s not going to see much action against lefties, yet as Monday’s four-hit game attests, he will work over right-handers, whom Tucker has hit all five of his homers off of en route to a .270/.350/.538/.878 slash line against those of the dominant hand. With George Springer likely out until early August, Tucker is thrust into an opportunity to display why he’s regarded as one of the franchise’s best prospects, as he will see time in both outfield corners. Tucker’s .178 Isolated Power number and his .320 OBP each have room to grow to point where the Astros could have a very pleasant problem on their hands once Springer returns. In the meantime, he’s a good deeper league option and should be considered a stealth play in daily leagues.
OF: Khris Davis, Brewers (eight percent): Lookie here….guess who’s back? Davis showed up in the Brew Crew’s lineup for the first time since May 30 when he appeared on Monday, and while he’ll need a few ABs to get into form, there’s plenty of reasons to consider Davis, who had five homers and 16 RBI before being shelved. He does have the barrier that is Gerardo Parra creating a roadblock in left, yet should be able to at least force a platoon where Davis gets the bulk of starts versus lefties. Keep in mind that Davis had 22 homers last season, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Brewers parlayed Parra into a prospect or two come trade deadline time. Davis would also have some appeal for a pennant contender in need of a power bat, but either way, Davis will be a factor in the second half.
OF: Odubel Herrera, Phillies (eight percent): Top prospect J.P. Crawford will be up before season’s end, which means that Herrera (who is SS eligible) will have to settle on patrolling the outfield. He’s a very interesting player who has the potential to emerge as a 15-homer, 20-stolen base performer, a process that would come quicker if Herrera admits to his addiction to swinging at anything within a 70-foot radius of home plate and joins a 12-step group. His .296 OBP dampens the fact his .266 average is respectable for a rookie, yet there’s a feeling that once he gets it, Herrera will become a productive player who can help a Fantasy team in a variety of ways. He’s someone I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the second half.
DH: Jayson Werth, Nationals (18 percent): His arrival time from the DL is on schedule for later this month, as Werth (wrist) has begun taking cuts off a tee. I’d gladly ignore his first 119 ABs this season and treat Werth as the same player who hit at least 20 homers in five of the previous seven years, while also capable of stealing a base or two. Werth is the one player in this lineup with the ability to seriously benefit Fantasy rosters over the last two months.
SP: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (18 percent): On May 16, Hendricks was 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA and had already been banished to the Mound of Misfit Pitchers by his few believers. Since then, Hendricks has added four wins while dropping his ERA to 3.82 and entered his next start versus the White Sox (on Friday) on a 15.1 inning scoreless streak. The one hidden gem Hendricks has carried with him all season is a low WHIP, which now stands at 1.15. He’s not a hurler who’ll go deep, but as the Cubs continue to gel as a possible October threat, Hendricks is a arm worth grabbing in deeper leagues who appears poised to repeat the solid yet unspectacular run he had the late last season.
RP: Brandon Finnegan, Royals (nine percent): Searching for a closer was like the cartilage in my left shoulder: neither exists, so let’s take a roll of the dice on Finnegan, who is shaking off the control problems that led him to a couple of stints in the minors. While he won’t be the first option in case of a Greg Holland injury, Finnegan should develop into a strikeout machine the remainder of the season, as he’ll show flashes of the dominant showings he displayed during the Royals run to the postseason last fall.