Welcome back to another edition of the Waiver Wire Watch!
The fantasy baseball season has already seen some incredible breakout performances by players such as Adam Jones, Josh Reddick, and Carlos Ruiz to name a few.
There have been a number of rookies that have contributed early on as well like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Yu Darvish.
Then there are the players like Josh Hamilton, Justin Verlander, and Ryan Braun that are on top of their game no matter what.
These players have surely been taken in your fantasy league. However, there’s no need to panic. That’s why I’m here.
Over the course of the summer I will be posting “players to watch” on a weekly basis. These are players that are going under the radar yet producing ownership-worthy numbers.
For those of you that did not follow me last year, here is the format for how I make my selections:
- 50-75% Owned- Player qualifies for 10-team league
- 25-49% Owned- Player qualifies for 12-team league
- Less than 25% Owned- Player qualifies for 14-team league
These percentages are found on Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball.
Let’s get down to this week’s selections.
10-team league hitter to watch
Ian Desmond, SS, WAS
It looks like Ian Desmond has finally turned himself into a legitimate fantasy option at shortstop this season.
Something that has really boosted his fantasy value this season has been his power numbers. Prior to 2012, Desmond’s career high in HR for a season was 10 back in 2010. He already has 6 HR in the first two months of the season, and he is also driving in runs at a pace that will easily shatter his career best 65 RBI in 2010 as well.
Now throw in the fact that Desmond has great speed, and will likely steal anywhere from 20-30 bases per season, and you have yourself a very dynamic fantasy option.
Desmond could be well on his way to being one of the only shortstops in 2012 to have a 20/20 season.
10-team league pitcher to watch
James McDonald, SP, PIT
Honestly, it’s probably only a matter of time before James McDonald is owned in 99% of all fantasy leagues. This guy is the real deal, and there’s no doubt about it.
In his last start against the Nationals, McDonald fanned 11 in just 5.2 IP, reaching double-digit strikeouts for the second game this season. Overall his K/IP ratio is great as he has 50 K’s in 50.1 IP. In addition, McDonald has a phenomenal 2.68 ERA on the season along with a 1.01 WHIP, and a .201 BAA.
He throws an electric slider, and he has a track record of putting up good strikeout numbers dating back to the minor leagues. He has all the tools to be a potential ace.
12-team league hitter to watch
Chris Davis, 1B/3B, BAL
Dating back to his days as a youngster with the Rangers, Chris Davis has always had a lot of power potential and everyone knew it. Unfortunately, Davis never seemed to truly figure out pitching at the Major League level. This year could be the year that his career turns around.
Davis has a .293 AVG so far on the season with the Orioles to go along with 5 HR. The .293 AVG is extremely important though because it shows that he has been able to handle Major League pitching well for the first couple months of 2012. If he continues to hit for a decent average, the power numbers will start to arrive.
Add in the factor that Davis plays at hitter-friendly Oriole Park, and suddenly he becomes a very intriguing option to keep an eye on.
12-team league pitcher to watch
Jason Vargas, SP, SEA
Despite the fact that he is going under the radar, Jason Vargas has turned out to be a very consistent pitcher for the Mariners so far this season.
He has allowed 3 or less runs in 7 out of his 10 starts this season. In addition, Vargas has pitched at least 6 innings in all but one of his starts too. He has a solid ERA of 3.34 on the season to go along with a fantastic 1.02 WHIP.
Also, fantasy owners should take into consideration that he makes around half of his starts at SAFECO Field where he has been nearly untouchable this season. At SAFECO Field in 2012 Vargas has a record of 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, and a .181 BAA.
He’s solid pickup for any 12-team league.
14-team league hitter to watch
A.J. Ellis, C, LAD
It’s always difficult gauge whether an inexperienced player is for real or not whenever he has a hot start to the season. So it’s fair to question whether A.J. Ellis’ hot start is just a fluke and whether he will be able to maintain his production over the course of a whole season.
However, let’s take a look at his track record in the minor leagues. In parts of 9 seasons in the minor leagues, Ellis had a career AVG of .280 and an OBP of .406. Ellis had over a .300 AVG in 3 of his past 4 seasons in the minor leagues, so that indicates that his .321 AVG with the Dodgers in 2012 is probably not a complete fluke.
Also, the number of catcher that can post an OBP around .400 are few and far between, so fantasy owners that take a chance on Ellis now have the potential to experience a great low-risk, high-reward player on their fantasy team.
14-team league pitcher to watch
Aaron Harang, SP, LAD
I will continue to show the Dodgers some love by making Aaron Harang my 14-team league pitcher to watch this week. After experiencing a great bounce back season with the Padres last year, Harang seems to have regained some of that form that made him the ace of the Reds for a number of seasons.
After getting off to somewhat of a slow start in April, Harang has been great in May with a record of 2-0, and an ERA of 1.29. His WHIP is 0.95 for the month, and his BAA is .203. Harang has always been a workhorse on the mound, so he will definitely be able to eat up some innings for your fantasy team as well.
Also, with the Dodgers playing well, the likelihood of Harang earning some more wins is good too.