Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: NL Only Leagues
The first week of Major League Baseball action is in the books, and there have been plenty of pleasant surprises so far. That means that there are numerous gems and sleepers just sitting out there on most waiver wires, ready to give savvy owners a leg up on the competition.
Sure it's early, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be looking to tweak your roster. Even if you are the most patient of fantasy players, it's still a wise idea to keep tabs on the trends of your league's waiver list. Injuries and slumps can happen in the blink of an eye, and usually the most successful fantasy owners are the ones who are first to jump on the guy with a new starting gig, injury replacement, or hot minor league call-up.
We do most of the research work for you here at RotoBaller.com, so you can be as informed as possible when deciding on what roster moves to make. For those of you in NL-only leagues, you can check back here every week, all season long, for advice on hot pick-ups.
So, after the first week of the 2014 baseball season, here are five guys that are likely still available in your league, who should be owned.
Editor’s Note: be sure to check out our famous Waiver Wire Pickups List, updated daily with waiver wire options for different positions. Our Waiver Wire Pickups iPhone app is also free, and available for download in the Apple Store.
Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (62% owned CBS, 67% owned Yahoo!)
This is an obvious one, and Bonifacio is likely already owned in most NL-only leagues, but we needed to reinforce the point briefly. The hottest start to the baseball season has come from a guy who didn't even have a major league contract going into the Spring in Cubs' super-utility man Emilio Bonafacio. Bonafacio is 13 for his first 24 with three runs scored, and four stolen bases already. There's no question that the guy is not going to keep up the .541 batting average all season, but that doesn't mean that Bonafacio will do a disappearing act this year either.
There's a lot to like here. First, the Cubs are terrible, so despite technically not having a set position, Bonifacio is arguably the team's best outfielder. He's also their best option at the top of the line-up, especially since new manager Rick Renteria has shown that he wants to be aggressive on the bases.
Bonifacio's real value is the fact that he offers something very few other players do: multi-position eligibility and elite level speed. The guy had a terrible 2013, and still managed to swipe 28 bags, meaning that with regular playing time, he's a lock for 40. He won't offer much in the way of power, and he's not going to hit .300, but he'll score runs and swipe bags when he does get on base. He has staying power, and needs to be owned in all NL-only leagues. Pick him up immediately if he is somehow still available on your waiver wire.
Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, New York Mets (15% owned CBS, 2% owned Yahoo!)
The Mets are another NL team that are a mess. They were already going into this season without Matt Harvey, then they lost Bobby Parnell, and they totally mishandled the Ike Davis situation at first base (his game winning grand slam yesterday not withstanding). That doesn't mean you shouldn't capitalize on this situation, however.
The Mets announced this week that rather than go with a platoon at first base, Ike Davis is out, and Lucas Duda will get an extended look at the position. Duda quickly responded by reaching base three times, and belting two homers against the Reds on Friday. Duda had been hitless in his previous six at bats, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities that the vote of confidence from the team sparked something.
The Mets are desperate for offense, and desperate to find line-up protection for Curtis Granderson. If nothing else, Duda offers some home run and on-base potential. While I don't think he'll be a superstar, I do think that the Mets have seen enough of Ike Davis. With a few more successful pinch hit opportunities, who knows what would happen. But it's more likely Davis gets demoted or traded than get his starting first base gig back, meaning that Duda has little competition for playing time going forward. That may be enough for Duda to really get going, and it's not crazy to think that he can offer a team Brandon Moss-type production. If you need a first baseman in an NL-only league, Duda is worth a shot.
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (44% owned CBS, 25% owned Yahoo!)
With the demotion of Didi Gregorious, the future of the shortstop position in Arizona officially belongs to Chris Owings. At one of the thinnest positions in fantasy baseball, especially in a league-specific format, Owings needs to be owned in all leagues. He's likely owned in your NL only league already, but if he's not, pounce on him now!
After a strong showing in the Spring, Owings is off to a fast start. He's 10 for his first 26 at bats, good for a .384 batting average, and he already has 3 SB. His average is surely going to dip, and his lack of plate discipline will lead to a good number of strikeouts, but he's shown in the minors that he's capable of providing solid power/speed numbers. With playing time, and a home ballpark that benefits hitters, a 15/20 season is not out of the question. If you need a shortstop, Owings is your guy.
Jose Valverde, RP, New York Mets (43% owned CBS, 50% owned Yahoo!)
I have zero confidence in Jose Valverde. I think he's a disastrous outing waiting to happen and has shown a bad combination of walking too many guys and not having the stuff to miss as many bats as he used to. That being said, he needs to be owned in all NL-only leagues.
Is Jose Valverde going to be a headache for fantasy owners all year? Probably. Still, the Mets bullpen was already going to be one of the worst in the league even with closer Bobby Parnell. Now that Parnell is likely done for the season, the Mets named Valverde their closer, and despite being picked off the scrap heap this Spring, he's the only option the Mets have who has any closing experience.
Saves are saves, and they are valuable, especially in league-specific formats where the number of closers is cut in half. He's going to hurt your ratios without a doubt, but Valverde will get save chances. With the lack of depth and closing experience in the Mets' bullpen, he'll also have a fairly long leash. Barring a trade, complete implosion, or miracle return of Parnell, I don't see anyone taking the closing job from Valverde, meaning that he's probably a better waiver wire grab for saves than a guy like, say, Jonathan Broxton. I hate to say it, but Valverde needs to be owned in all NL-only leagues as a closer with a solid chance of holding the spot for the entire year.
Casey McGehee, 1B/3B, Miami Marlins (30% owned CBS, 13% owned Yahoo!)
Speaking of guys coming off of the scrap heap, the guy who's 2nd in NL RBI is a guy who was playing in Japan in 2013.
Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee has driven in 10 runs through five games so far this year. That's more than some whole teams have scored, and it's amazing that a guy who qualifies at such a shallow position of third base is not owned in more leagues.
While it's entirely possible that McGehee comes back to earth, there are also some signs that he could remain a productive bat this year. First, McGehee is currently batting clean-up for Miami. Sure the line-up is nothing special, but batting fourth will offer McGehee plenty of opportunities to plate runs. He has proven he could do so in the past as a full time player in Milwaukee when he averaged 79 RBI a season from 2009-11 (including a career high 104 RBI in 2010). Sometimes, production is directly tied to playing time, and it's entirely possible that is what's happening here with McGehee.
McGehee is going to get to play everyday for the Marlins, and so far that's lead to solid production. While he probably won't lead the league in RBI all season, there's no reason not expect a solid RBI total and 15-20 homers. I wouldn't call McGehee a must own player yet, but he's worth a look for anyone who needs help at the hot corner.
Keep checking your waiver wire, and keep checking back here each week throughout the season for more NL-only waiver wire gems. Good luck!