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Deeper AL-Only Waiver Wire Sleepers for Week 3


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 for 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. Now, onto the AL version of the Island of Misfit Fantasy Toys.

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C - Austin Romine (C, NY)

2% owned

An injury to Gary Sanchez has opened the door, and Romine has continued to be a productive bat, much like the rest of his Yankee career. While only playing in six games so far, Romine has one homer and three RBI to his name. The .227 batting average should improve, but also, sadly, is productive at the position. Last year, in 77 games, he hit 10 homers with a .244 batting average, which owners should expect moving forward.

While the Yankee offense isn’t the same without some of the key players, it still will score with the top half of the league. The more he plays, the more value he offers, which is precisely what owners in need of a catcher are looking to add at this stage. With semi-regular playing time, expect a .240, 12 homer season from the backstop. With others starting to produce around him, Romine could score 50 runs, and that would be a welcome addition,

 

1B - Mike Ford (1B, NY)

1% owned

Recalled from Triple-A to cover for the injured Greg Bird, the fact that Ford even shows up on this list demonstrates how the injury bug has hit the Yankees. While not the ideal option at first, Ford makes up for his lack of power with the ability to post a carrying batting line. All of his numbers are from the minors, as he is yet to make his debut, but Ford has been a consistent prospect with the floor to make up for the lack of the ceiling.

In 102 games last year, Ford hit .253 with 15 homers. If this continues, and so does the 13.5 K%, Ford will pay off for owners. Look for him to post a decent batting line, but still need to turn those hits into runs for owners to get back the right value to keep him. Ford will also need to produce to get more chances, so like Romine, expect him to earn more playing time as he starts to hit. Decent buy-early pick, Ford will be a name that owners should keep in mind for later in the year as well.

 

2B - Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CWS) 

1% owned

Sanchez has struggled to start his career with the White Sox but still offers the flexibility to be a valuable bench add. A .143 batting average to start the year keeps his value down, but the .240 career mark shows that better days are ahead. Add in 29 homers in 510 games, and the value can be seen. Even more, Sanchez has stretches with extra steal attempts, so there is some helium with the stolen bases if the timing is right.

Sanchez’s best role for fantasy owners is at MI since the batting order allows him to score more than his batting line would suggest. Over a full season, he averages 63 runs, and this was before he assumed part-time lead-off duties. Sanchez is a player to add for free and drop when needed, but also a player with the skills to add some sneaky value.

 

3B - Chris Owings (2B/3B/OF, KC)

1% owned

The swing change did not help last year, and therefore Owings is now with the lowly Royals. With Ned Yost being willing to run, and the team built to create runs on the bases, Owings should top his career best of 21 steals. Starting most games, and even while batting. 190, the Royals have no reason to move on from him. In the short-term, he is a potential piece towards a contending team or a trade piece at the deadline. Long-term he could grow into decent fantasy regular. 

Even more, he has been a productive player when he has played, with a bit more power than most other utility types. The production due to the playing time and division alone make Owings the call this week.

 

SS - Zack Cozart (2B/3B/SS, LAA) 

5% owned

Cozart is valuable for fantasy owners, only if he rebounds from a terrible start to the year. In 49 PAs he is batting 0.87 with just four hits. When the Angels signed Cozart, they were expecting to get his 2017 production, but fantasy owners will settle for 2015 or 2016 instead. Over those two seasons, Cozart slashed .256/.309/.437 with 14 homers and four steals.

If that is what he can get back to, then Cozart is easily worth a starting spot. If not, then he is cuttable in most formats. When fishing the waiver wire, any player with a terrible start, but also, a track record of solid production, needs to be owned. Stash Cozart, and settle for the rebound, or cut him if the tailspin seems to be in full Chris Davis effect.

 

OF - Leonys Martin (OF, CLE)

4% owned

Martin was supposed to be the breakout this year. Or at least, that is what my draft pattern said. After a slow start, Martin has come into his own. Over the past eight games, Martin is batting .387, with three homers and one steal. The only downside was that he was thrown out twice trying to steal, but with Cleveland running again this year the attempts are encouraging. Martin is also the chief lead-off batter, with the rest of the team starting to hit as well. This will roost his counting stats, and continue to put him into good hitting positions. 

Carlos Gonzalez has been quiet to start his career but has delivered two critical hits over this hot stretch. On both occasions, Martin came around to score, so he is situated to take advantage of these knocks. Take it from me; I watch Cleveland every day; Martin is back to the player what Cleveland traded Willi Castro for last July.

 

OF - Robbie Grossman (OF, OAK) 

2% owned

Grossman ticks off a lot of boxes being a switch-hitter and hitting in the two spot when he plays. Through 14 games he is slashing .245/.310/.340 with one homer and two steals. At his peak with Minnesota, Grossman was a lock for a .250 batting line and 11 homers. So far, Grossman is on a pace to top that, and mostly due to more playing time. Even more, Grossman is hitting the ball in the air 6% more to start this year, so there is some interest in a bit more power.

When Grossman playing a bit more than expected when he signed, the line-up will drive him in, and turn that .250 batting average into 80 runs. This outfielder will, at worst, be a reliable option, and at best, could be an OF3 value for free.

 

OF - Brian Goodwin (OF, LAA) 

2% owned

After a solid start to his career with the Nationals, Goodwin seemed to fall out of favor quickly. With the Angels, in 14 games, he is slashing .333/.386/.564 with two homers and seven RBI. With playing time opening due to some injuries and slumps, Goodwin has taken advantage of the time to get off to a quick start. His K percentage is down close to 10 points, while swinging at close to eight percent more pitches. A more aggressive approach has worked thus far, and owners will hope it continues.

While Goodwin could lose playing time even is he hits due to the hidden quality on the Angels, there is no real pressure from the minors. Jo Adell could be up this year, but that would be July at the earliest. For owners needing a short term bat, Goodwin is one of the better values this week.

 

SP - Felix Pena (SP, LAA) 

2% owned

After moving from reliever to starter, seemingly overnight, Pena has turned into a serviceable arm. With Tyler Skaggs already struggling with health, Pena has turned into a critical weapon for the Halos. While yet to win a game this year, that is out of his control, with a 3.64 ERA showing that he is doing his part. The stuff is steady from last year, with a 22 K%. Since moving to the rotation, Pena has started to throw a curveball, with decreased usage of the fastball. This has led to the per nine line dropping a bit, but the 1.24 WHIP, Pena is turning that contact into outs.

While the expectations are still an SP4, Pena should continue to grow in value. If the Angels start to score when he gets the call, Pena will be a solid bet for 12 wins. The stuff will be solid for ratios, but he will post lower K rates than others in his spot. A potential top-40 arm if he stays in the rotation all year, Pena has a solid floor at top-60, making this an easy add.

 

RP - Nick Wittgren (RP, CLE) 

0% owned

A needed addition to the Cleveland bullpen, Wittgren has already shot to 220 in the overall scoring on Yahoo. With six Ks through four innings, Wittgren has been thrown right into critical roles. After shutting down Seattle over two innings to earn the save versus Seattle, Wittgren might be taking the set-up role moving forward. After a strong spring, the only reason he was not on the opening day roster were his option years. He was the easy cut when the team would not lose him compared to the likes of Jon Edwards and Tyler Olson.

Last year, in Miami, he was one of the most effective arms in that pen, and it was a surprise to see him DFA’d to start the offseason. Buy into the stuff, and watch if Tito begins use Hand in different roles. Wittgren might be the next big FAAB target to jump in early on.

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