Three Fantasy Baseball Pickups

May 23, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin (12) stands in the dugout before a game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field. Oakland defeated Seattle, 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin (12) stands in the dugout before a game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field. Oakland defeated Seattle, 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

I know that most fantasy baseball week-to-week, head-to-head matchups have already begun, but maybe these three waiver adds will help you pull out a win.

If you play in a head-to-head, weekly matchup league like I do, you have to keep an eye on the future and the present. Who is playing well enough to start today and who needs to be benched? Who needs to be added to the roster immediately and who could we do without? I was faced with these quandaries early in the season this year.

At the end of the draft, my fantasy baseball team, Yes We Cano, ended up with three first basemen: Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, and Mark Teixeira. Our lineups in our Yahoo! league have 1B, Infield, and Utility slots, so I could start all three of them if I wanted. As the season wore on, however, not one of these fine first basemen hit well. Teixeira has posted a .577 OPS this year, and is ranked 979 in our custom league after posting a .906 OPS last year and hitting 31 home runs. I thought I had a steal in the later rounds of this year’s draft with him.

Fielder hasn’t been much better, he’s ranked 923 in our league and is hitting just .198. After a slow start, Votto has shown some signs of life in recent weeks, but he’s still currently hitting only .213 on the year. He’s ranked 350 on the season.

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So what to do with three underperforming hitters playing the same position? Gotta drop at least one of them. Teixeira was the odd man out for my team. I figured if he starts to heat up again, I’ll pick him up or live without him, but in the meantime I simply couldn’t put him in my lineup regularly and expect to win. It’s not like I spent an early round pick on him anyway.

I spent a second round pick on Votto. Spending that kind of draft capital makes is tough to drop a player scuffling in the early going. Especially a guy with a .307/.420/.528 career slash line. It’s important to create and maintain a ‘win now’ attitude throughout the fantasy baseball season, because when the playoffs come around in weeks 22 or 23, what your team has done up to that point doesn’t matter for anything except seeding. As long as you make the playoffs, you have to build your team to win that week.

Since we’re still in May, however, it makes more sense to keep Joey Votto. He hit his eighth home run of the year yesterday, and even though his batting average is down, he’s still getting on base with that excellent batting eye of his. Even though his season totals will likely be hurt by his slow start to 2016, I’m willing to bet that his rest-of-season numbers will be useful.

I spent a sixth round pick on Fielder. While I didn’t expect him to hit over .300 this year as he did in 2015, I was expecting more than the .573 OPS he’s given me this year. Still, I’m hanging onto the slumping slugger. I just can’t afford him to heat up and turn in quality rest-of-season numbers for my opponents.

Fantasy Baseball
I didn’t think Fielder would be a .300 hitter this year, but I also didn’t think he’d be under the Mendoza Line, either. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Fantasy baseball is like poker. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. I’ve found in my experience that it’s better to suffer through prolonged slumps early in the year than find yourself scraping up waiver wire adds at the end to try to replace the guys you drafted in the second and sixth round and released.

Now that my 577-word diatribe on holding onto Prince Fielder is over, let’s look at some common waiver wire residents in Yahoo! leagues who might be of service to your fantasy baseball squad:

Jake Lamb

Lamb has been a useful platoon player for the DBs this year. Normally I don’t like to get involved in platoons if I can help it, but Lamb at least has the honor of hitting against righties, affording him more at-bats. His .280/.367/.537 slash is useful and he’s contributed some category juice with eight home runs and three steals. Plus he’s a Seattle kid and former UW Husky. Don’t hold his Bishop Blanchet attendance against him if you’re looking for a useful third baseman, which have been hard to come by this year.

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  • Jose Ramirez. SS. Cleveland Indians. 42% owned. I listed Ramirez as a shortstop because I didn’t want to list all of the positions he’s eligible for in Yahoo! leagues. All right, fine. Ramirez qualifies as a shortstop, second baseman, outfielder, and third baseman in the Yahoo! game. He was a bench player for Terry Francona‘s Indians last year, but with regular playing time in 2016, he’s hit .305/.381/.447. His cat juice leaves something to be desired: he only has three home runs (he had six all of last year) and is only 4-for-7 in base stealing attempts. But he’s walked more (16) than he’s struck out (15) so far this season, and there’s value in his ability to play many positions. He’s a good fill-in if you have a weak infield.
  • Leonys Martin. OF. Seattle Mariners. 35% owned. I could be wrong, and I have a tendency to inflate random moments of the long MLB season with superfluous significance, but Martin could be at a fantasy baseball, and real baseball, crossroads. After tweaking his hammy, Martin landed on the DL just as he was getting hot. I know it’s weird to see Leonys Martin in a fantasy baseball article. I’m as shocked as you are, but due to a new approach at the plate and learning from Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez, Martin has already eclipsed his career high in home runs with nine this season. Throw in eight steals and it’s shocking he’s only owned in 35% of Yahoo! leagues. This guy is well on his way to a 20/20+ season, guys. That’s rare. Stash him if you have an available DL spot and reap the rewards when he comes back, which should be soon. He’ll have his ups and downs this year, but on the whole I believe his newfound power is legitimate, and we already knew he could steal bases.
  • Next: Player Profile: Dae-Ho Lee

    I hope these three players help guide you to victory in your fantasy baseball league (unless you’re in my league). Good luck, and toss some names my way if you feel like sharing your deep waiver wire dive findings. @emeraldcityswag