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AL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 25

By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

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AL-Only Team of the Week

C - Christian Vazquez (C, BOS) - 2% owned

After a bit of time off, it looks as if Vazquez will be back in the starting lineup down the stretch for Boston. So far this campaign, in 70 games, he is slashing .212/.255/.296 with three homers and three steals. The offensive production is not great, but with most of the passable catchers being owned in most leagues, the pickings are a bit slim at the position. Why is Vazquez the add this week in that case? First, even without much of a batting average he has scored 21 runs and driven in 15 this year. For catchers, these are decent numbers and some of the best on the wire. For teams looking to pad counting stats, and not worried about rate stats, this would be a good move. Second, he has dropped the K rate from 18.6% last year, to 15.4% this year. With this moving in the right direction there are some positive signs in the profile, meaning that the skills are still there to compete. For owners looking for a dart at catcher the rest of the way, this seems like the option.

1B - Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX) - 2% owned

Guzman splits industry opinion regarding his long-term potential, but for now, looks to be an easy buy-low with that park and his skill set. First, in 112 games he has 15 homers showing that there is a solid baseline for his power numbers. When Fangraphs puts his raw power at 60, there is hope that he will be a 25 homer player with more time to develop. For owners chasing power, expect a few more to leave the yard due to a hitter-friendly park the rest of the way. Second, he has been an RBI machine in limited playing time, with 56 to date. Again, this is tied to the park, but also limited by the lack of help around him. If he is this productive without support, imagine what this looks like with another bat in that lineup. Finally, the .236 batting average is decent at the position, and will not hurt owners chasing the power numbers. More of an add for next year, Guzman will still help in the next two weeks for owners in need of points the rest of the way.

2B - Devon Travis (2B, TOR) - 2% owned

Another name that has been on and off the list this campaign, Travis highlights a weak second base slot this week and offers the most upside of the replacement level options. First, in 99 games, he is slashing .236/.280/.391 with 11 homers and three steals. Fantasy owners might never see the speed that many expected when he first arrived, but the power might be a bit more than expected. Travis projects as a Jason Kipnis type option but might not have the All-Star ceiling that Kipnis once did. Second, the K rate is down to 17.6% from 19.3% last year, which is only good news. For owners looking for a flash the rest of the way, the .261 BABIP might be a place to watch, as one good week and the rest of the line improves. For a player in a starting job the rest of the way, with some power and speed upside, this is an excellent dart to throw.

3B - Renato Nunez (3B/OF, BAL) - 0% owned

After failing to make an impact in Oakland, Nunez looks to have a real shot to stick with the Orioles as they enter their rebuild. Not only does he offer good cover at a few positions, but might benefit from the park enough to keep him around and relevant. Since joining Baltimore, he is hitting .268 with four homers in 40 games. Over a full season, Nunez is a projected .270 hitter with 15 homers, which, while not great, still should add a bit more pop due to the park factors alone. The other good news is that since he moved to Baltimore he has hit seven doubles after only three before, showing that even without homer pop, there is value in the switch in points league specifically. The K rate is a bit high at 24.9%, but that should come down to his minor league numbers with time an experience versus big league pitching. Not a sexy pick at all, but there is enough upside here that the team will give him a real shot, and fantasy owners desperate enough to add should as well.

SS - Jose Rondon (SS/3B, CWS) - 0% owned

To be honest, Rondon was on my sleeper lists entering the season, but has not gotten the playing time needed to make that prediction work out. A flexible infielder with a decent hit tool and some speed, this looked to be a good MI stash at the very least to start the year. The latest news is that he might get some time in the outfield this offseason, and with that, this might be an Alen Hanson type profile. Still, for this season, there has been enough production to keep owners interested. In 33 games he is slashing .256/.318/.513 with five homers and two steals. That power will be something to watch as he has little track record of power, but if he can hit 15 in a full season would creep up the infielder ranks. The downside is the K rate, with 27.2 K% so far this year, but some of that can be tied to pressing for a spot on a lousy team. If that comes down, and the rest of the profile stays, expect Rondon to be a real sleeper entering next year.

OF - Tony Kemp (OF, HOU) - 1% owned

Kemp has had a much better than expected campaign and has managed to play in 86 games with Houston this year. In that time, he has slashed .288/.377/.429 with six homers and eight steals. With those numbers so far, the fact that he is free in 99% of leagues is a bit shocking. To be fair, he has not stolen as many bases as one might expect, but the addition of the power makes this an easy add in four outfielder leagues at least. The other good news, and perhaps more looking to next year, is that Kemp has added close to nine points onto his BB%. Last year, he walked in 2.6% of his plate appearances with Houston, and this year, that number is up to 11.7%. Add that to a declining K rate, and overall Kemp looks to be a much better player than expected, or at least, more than just a glove and speed option. For owners looking for a short-term fit in the outfield, Kemp is the number one add this week.

OF - Brandon Guyer (OF, CLE) - 0% owned

With Cleveland clinching the AL Central already, owners should expect Guyer to get a bit more playing time down the stretch for a few reasons. First, the team is trying to figure out who it has for the outfield in the playoffs. With Jason Kipnis looking like a fit in center, the team should be able to keep Guyer around as a late game platoon option versus lefties. Still, he needs to hit a bit better for that to be a realistic option, and hence, will get a chance in the last few weeks to prove that he can serve in that role. Second, while not an elite fielder, the team has been willing to use him in all three spots in the outfield, so as players get time off, he seems to the easy fit concerning a replacement. Again, to be fair, his numbers are not great, meaning he is available in most leagues. And yet, for owners in need of hits, this is an add that should get a real look down the stretch.

OF  - Steve Pearce (1B/OF, BOS) - 5% owned

Since his trade to Boston, Pearce has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride, with hot streaks and then a lack of playing time due to match-ups. Still, this add is much like the Guyer play from above, in that, with the team looking to prepare for the playoffs, expect Pearce to spell some of the other Boston players. In August, Pearce only batted .214 but has rebounded in September with a .421 batting line. If owners can hope for something in the middle, with a bit of pop, this should be a decent add with some flexibility on where he plays. The other thing with Pearce is that even with some rotation in prep for the playoffs, the lineup around him is good enough to count on for runs and RBI production as well. Pearce should be owned a bit more, and the rest of the way should be a starter on most teams looking for streaky offense and homers.

P - Yusmeiro Petit (RP, OAK) - 3% owned

One of the first free agents to sign this past offseason, Petit has put together a solid campaign and is anchoring a decent front end to the Oakland bullpen. In 69 games this year, he has seven wins and a 3.17 ERA. Both are great for the relief arm in fantasy leagues, and while no real risk of saves, the length and ratios are critical to this play. The homers are a bit high at 1.33, but this has not sunk the rest of the stat line. The other exciting mark is that in those 69 games he has 88 total innings, so if leagues take innings into account, this is a sneaky add to pad the stat line. For owners looking for a solid option, with safe upside, Petit is a good add this week.

P - Juan Minaya (RP, CWS) - 0% owned

Another reliever on a bad team, Minaya is free everywhere, but also offers upside that makes a relief option worth the stash in fantasy leagues. First, in 46, innings he has posted a 3.38 ERA, and even with a higher FIP at 3.72, this is not a concerning difference. Second, 11.39 K/9 keeps the ratios up, and balances out the 5.91 BB/9 rate to date as well. The walks have been down a bit recently, so rest of the way owners should not be worried about getting that full penalty. The other good news is that he is only allowing 0.63 HR/9, keeping the rest of the line in play. Therefore, if playing in a league that does not measure WHIP, the walks will not kill the other lines as well. While not in line for saves, yet, the stuff alone should help in roto leagues. Even more, when the team is trying to find who will be on this team next year, look to Minaya to get a real chance to show what he has.  

P - Matt Magill (SP/RP, MIN) - 0% owned

This is the ultimate dart of the week, with the Twins looking to plan for next year and giving Magill some chances recently. First, in the past month, he has been ready to come in for a save chance on a few occasions only to see the offense rebound and push the game out of reach. This means that he might be a save option with no other real, firm options in that pen. Second, the ratios are not excellent, but also look to have some appeal for free on the wire. The K rate sits at 8.36 per nine, and the walks at 3.48 per nine. While both could be better, neither will hurt on their own, and could change based on opponent and match-up. While not a burner, sitting in the low 90s, he does have a chance to add some Ks down the way and has shown better control in past season. Finally, the ERA is not great at 4.01, but the .306 BABIP and park factors also might play into this. Owners needing production should look away, but for owners needing that risk to win a league, Magill is that play.

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