As the trade season has ended for most of us, it’s natural to transition from rankings to posts about players that might be on your wire. Here is a duo that might just help at baseball’s second-most plentiful position.
Brad Hawpe, Free Agent (29%)
Brad Hawpe is a free agent in August, which must be both disconcerting and possibly exciting to him, and is also making his fantasy value very nebulous and context-specific. He’s always been a little context-specific anyway, with a .227 ISO at home and a .197 ISO on the road. Though Hawpe has been having a bad year, only his ISO and HR/FB rates are far off his norms, and those statistics take more than his current 300 plate appearances to stabilize. He could easily return to his old ways in a new stadium… especially if his new stadium is in Texas, which has a nice 120 park factor for home runs by left-handed batters. The Rangers are rumored to be in on the former Rockies outfielder as a backup 1B/DH/OF to help them survive through some current injury and poor play. Hawpe would have to beat out Jorge Cantu and Mitch Moreland for playing time at first base, which sounds doable. Even easier for Hawpe would be beating Willy Aybar and Dan Johnson out for time in Tampa Bay. While Tampa doesn’t offer the same left-handed park factor (88), it does offer an easier path to regular time. In deep leagues with five outfielders, he makes for a sneaky waiver claim.
Chris Denorfia, Padres (7% owned)
When Tony Gwynn Jr. (or Thin Gwynn) went down this year, it was San Diego’s loss but Denorfia’s gain. Well, actually, it might have even been San Diego’s gain, other than Denorfia’s career -19.6 UZR/150 in center field. No matter, Scott Hairston can shift over to center defensively (career 7.6 UZR/150) and allow Denorfia more time at a corner position. Either way, Denorfia is the brand new owner of steady playing time without a real threat in sight. A career .282/.354/.429 line is eminently decent already, but he’s showing more power with a .477 slugging percentage and a .192 ISO this year. That power surge may not continue – his ISO in the minor leagues was a below-average .106 and his major league career has only spanned 479 plate appearances to date. But Denorfia has a little speed (5.5 speed score this year, 5.0 is average), some ability to control the stick and get on base, and a tiny bit of pop. In deeper leagues, it’s the playing time that makes him attractive enough to pick up. Hopefully ‘Unbreakable’ can stay in one piece for the rest of the season.