The 2014 MLB season is still relatively young, and while there is always plenty of action on the waiver wire in the early weeks, it’s not too late to find a quality pickup or two. This is especially true at the corner infield spots where both young players and veterans that didn’t have a lot of hype heading into the year have gotten off to fast starts and have been producing useful numbers. Here is a closer look at a few of those corner infielders that are still widely available that need to be on your radar. All ownership %'s from Yahoo!
Third Base Waiver Wire Pickups
Trevor Plouffe (3B, MIN) - 43% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper Formats
ANALYSIS: Thanks to a much-improved approach at the plate, Plouffe is off to a great start for Minnesota. Entering this season, his career high in walks was 37 in 2012. He has already drawn 15 walks in 2014 while his .310 batting and .419 on-base percentage are both well above his career averages. On the flip side, Plouffe has hit just one home run so far, but since he has scored 18 runs and driven in 17, it’s tough to complain too much. I’m more inclined to believe his sudden boost in production is legit because of his improved patience at the plate, and a career year appears on tap for Plouffe. He is 43% owned in Yahoo! leagues, and if he is still out there in your league, you are probably running out of time to snatch him up.
Yangervis Solarte (3B, NYY) - 36% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Continue Scouting
ANALYSIS: The 26-year-old rookie has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees thus far, and after 21 games, he is hitting .301 with 13 RBI and 8 runs scored. He has also destroyed right-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.044 OPS. Perhaps more encouraging is the fact that he has walked as many times as he has struck out so far. Solarte is currently owned in just 36% of Yahoo! leagues, and he is eligible at every infield position except first base. Given the age and injury history of many of New York’s starters, especially Brian Roberts, Solarte should continue to get regular at-bats. Whether or not he can maintain his current pace is tough to say given his lack of experience, but Solarte is worth keeping an eye on after his strong start.
DJ LeMahieu (3B, COL) - 10% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Continue Scouting; Add in NL-Only Formats
ANALYSIS: LeMahieu was a platoon player in his first three years in the majors, but he has been a regular starter for the Rockies so far in 2014. More importantly, he has been thriving in the expanded role and currently boasts a .301 average to go along with 13 runs scored and 10 RBI. He is also a .285 hitter for his career so his current batting average could be sustainable. Granted, he only has 4 homers in 766 at-bats so his power is obviously nonexistent. However, LeMahieu is just 10 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and is certainly able to help out in the batting average department. Not to mention that with regular playing time, he should have no problem setting career-highs in runs scored and RBI. With a spot in the bottom of Colorado’s batting order, he is probably best suited for NL-Only formats at the moment, but if he were to play himself into the top of the order, his value will increase significantly.
First Base Waiver Wire Pickups
Adam LaRoche (1B, WAS) - 57% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Formats
ANALYSIS: LaRoche is off to a great start in 2014, hitting .307 with 4 home runs, 15 RBI and 17 runs scored in the early weeks. However, he remains available in almost half of Yahoo! leagues. I imagine his dismal 2013 campaign has a lot to do with owners being slow to come around, but don’t forget, LaRoche had 25 homers and 100 RBI for Arizona in 2010 and 33 homers and 100 RBI in 2012 for Washington.
His average is likely going to end up somewhere in the .270 range, but if you throw out his injury-plagued 2011 season when he played just 43 games, this a guy that has had at least 20 homers in his last three seasons and has reached 100 RBI twice during the stretch. LaRoche is worthy of a roster spot in just about any format.
Adam Dunn (1B, CWS) - 40% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper Leagues
ANALYSIS: Dunn continues to plug away at the plate, and after launching a couple of more home runs the past week, he remains on pace to top 30 homers yet again. Dunn also remains widely available in Yahoo! leagues, checking in at just 39 percent owned. The downside with Dunn has always been his horrible average, but he is hitting .265 overall in 2014, including .294 against righties. Meanwhile, four of his five homers have come against right-handed pitchers. Dunn remains a steady source for power, and while he isn't an all-around contributor, his weaknesses can be masked to a degree by using him solely against right-handed starters. Expect his average to drop as the season progresses, but if you need home runs, Dunn will continue to deliver.
James Loney (1B, TAM) - 18% Owned
BALLER MOVE: Add in AL-Only Formats
ANALYSIS: A lack of power tends to keep Loney flying under the radar, and at just 16 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, this year is no exception. However, he is also hitting .321 with 15 RBI, and as a career .286 hitter, there is no reason to expect his average to tail off all that much. It is also worth noting that in the five previous seasons in which he has played at least 150 games, he has had at least 65 RBI, including 75 RBI as Tampa Bay's full-time first baseman last year. Don't expect more than 10-15 homers out of Loney, but a solid average and a respectable RBI total make him worth adding in AL-Only formats.