RotoGraphs’ Waiver Wire League Final Results and Takeaways

Prior to the All-Star break, four RotoGraphs writers — Eno Sarris, Jeff Zimmerman, Howard Bender and me — engaged in the just-for-fun activity of drafting Pick Six-style teams, with the pool of players limited to those available in 10% or less in ESPN leagues (at the time of the draft).

Given those parameters, the exercise proved to be challenging, but if you paid attention to our picks, you may have managed to snag a useful fantasy player or three off the waiver wire — no matter what kind of league you play in.

I took the temperature of our picks back in August, but now that the season is finished, let’s tally up the scoring to get the final results. And while we’re at it, we’ll rank the players based on their fantasy impact in 2012.

Remember, we used standard 5×5 scoring from the second half of the season, and the positions were: Catcher, Corner Infielder, Middle Infielder, Outfielder, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher.

SCORING
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1st Place: 37 points — Catania
2nd Place: 27 points — Sarris
3rd Place: 21.5 points — Zimmerman
4th Place: 15.5 points — Bender

With 10 categories and 4 owners, the max score is 40 points, while the minimum possible tally is 10. In other words, it’s time for this guy to cash in on his bragging rights. Not only did I earn a sizable 10-point margin of victory, I also achieved near perfection, coming up short in only two categories (2 points in saves and 3 in ERA). But enough about me.

TEAMS
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BENDER? I HARDLY KNOW HER
__________________________
Owner: Howard Bender (1st Pick)
ROSTER
Catcher: Nick Hundley (RD 4)
Corner Infielder: Chris Johnson (RD 2)
Middle Infielder: Chris Getz (RD 3)
Outfielder: Cody Ross (RD 1)
Starting Pitcher: Barry Zito (RD 6)
Relief Pitcher: Koji Uehara (RD 5)

THE CAN’T-STAND-YAS
___________________
Owner: Jason Catania (2nd Pick)
ROSTER
Catcher: Wilson Ramos (RD 2)
Corner Infielder: Danny Valencia (RD 1)
Middle Infielder: Jason Kipnis (RD 5)
Outfielder: Will Venable (RD 3)
Starting Pitcher: Doug Fister (RD 4)
Relief Pitcher: Cory Luebke (RD 6)

ENO KAMOZE
__________
Owner: Eno Sarris (3rd Pick)
ROSTER
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (RD 2)
Corner Infielder: Matt LaPorta (RD 6)
Middle Infielder: Jason Bartlett (RD 3)
Outfielder: Chris Heisey (RD 1)
Starting Pitcher: Rubby De La Rosa (RD 5)
Relief Pitcher: Javy Guerra (RD 4)

NO, NOT THAT JEFF ZIMMERMAN
___________________________
Owner: Jeff Zimmerman (4th Pick)
ROSTER
Catcher: John Buck (RD 1)
Corner Infielder: Casey Blake (RD 6)
Middle Infielder: Scott Sizemore (RD 4)
Outfielder: Jonny Gomes (RD 2)
Starting Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy (RD 5)
Relief Pitcher: Aaron Crow (RD 3)

Final 2011 Ownership Percentages* and 2012 Expectations
*Ownership percentages from ESPN leagues

Javy Guerra (88.7%): As good as Guerra was after finally solidifying the Dodgers closer job in mid-July (2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 21 saves), he’s not a guarantee to enter 2012 with the same role. He’ll have to fend off hard-throwing Kenley Jansen, who really came on in the second half to finish with a 2.85 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 16.1 K/9. This is a situation that will have to be monitored through next spring.

Doug Fister (70.4%): Fister, 27, looked to be a pitcher who benefitted greatly from the Mariners’ defense and Safeco Field, then he went and got better (1.79 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) after getting traded to the Tigers. Heck, his K/9 even upticked from an iffy 5.5 to a nifty 7.3. For a guy who owns an elite 1.7 BB/9, if Fister can continue to mix his pitches like he did this season, while maintaining a whiff rate anything close to what he did over the season’s final two months, he would be a legitimate SP4/5 in mixed leagues.

Brandon McCarthy (46.2%): Although he wasn’t fully healthy all year — he missed a month-and-a-half with another shoulder injury — McCarthy managed career-bests in innings (170 2/3), ERA (3.32) and WHIP (1.13). Pitching in Oakland’s spacious park certainly doesn’t hurt, nor does the 28-year-old’s elite control (1.3 BB/9). I don’t like him quite as much as the next guy because of the lower K rate, but McCarthy is a fine spot starter in mixed leagues.

Cory Luebke (43.7%): A third straight unsung starter, Luebke, 26, pitched a little over his head (3.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.9 K/9), but he could be the next Ted Lilly. Perhaps better, if he can actually learn to take advantage of Petco (4.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 at home vs. 2.55, 1.00, 11.2 on road). A legit SP5 in mixed leagues, and I think he flew under the radar enough that he’ll be available for cheap on draft day next year.

Jason Kipnis (27.0%): For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a big Kipnis fan. He’s a 24-year-old left-handed hitter with a good mix of pop and speed, and he lacks any real weakness. He’ll enter 2012 with the Indians’ second base gig, and even better, he might not fall victim to the hype machine because of a hamstring injury that kept him out of action just as he was in a groove. There’s 15-15 upside here for 2012, making Kip a back-end Top 10 2B.

Danny Valencia (22.3%): Ah, the unavoidable accruer. Valencia went through a streaky, inconsistent 2011, but wound up with solid enough counting stats (15 HRs, 73 RBIs, 62 runs) to be a worthy fill-in at third in deeper mixed leagues. If he can bump up his BABIP (.275), his average (.246) would see a spike and at 27, he could be ready to enter his power prime. I wouldn’t draft him next year to be anything other than a bench option in mixed leagues, but he does have the potential to be a very nice plug-in/injury fill-in when your starting 3B is off or hurt.

Nick Hundley (15.3%): When mining for possible No. 2 candidates in leagues that start two catchers, I tend to target those who have some pop and play in a good environment (i.e. home park, lineup). So basically, the opposite of Hundley.

Jason Bartlett (8.6%): I know short is arguably the shallowest position in fantasy baseball and Bartlett has swiped 20+ four of the past five seasons, but next year he’ll be 32 and still playing half his games at Petco Park.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (8.4%): I’m not sold on Salty’s “breakout” campaign. Sure, the 16 HRs and 50+ runs and RBIs might make him intriguing as a potential starter in 15-team mixed leagues, but the continue plate discipline problems (7% BB vs. 33% K) indicate he’s not actually getting much better.

Scott Sizemore (5.9%): The 26-year-old finally showed some life by hitting .249/.345/.433 with 11 HRs and 21 doubles in just over 300 ABs after being dealt to the A’s. If he has dual eligibility at 2B/3B in your AL-only next year, he’s a nice guy to own.

Koji Uehara (5.7%): His 2012 option vested, so he’s staying in Texas, where he could enter spring with a shot at closer if Neftali Feliz is moved into the rotation, as expected. But with Mike Adams still around, too, Uehara will likely have to settle for being one of the better setup men — one who posts strong holds, Ks and WHIP stats — in the AL.

John Buck (5.2%): Buck is good for double-digit homers — and that’s about it. At best, he’s a passable No. 2 catcher in leagues that require two backstops.

Jonny Gomes (5.1%): His career is at a crossroads as he enters the offseason a free agent with a bad rep on D and no real shot at a starting job. I’ll pass.

Wilson Ramos (3.8%): Should only get better after a .267-15-52 (in only 389 ABs) rookie campaign, especially now that Pudge is gone. A potential Top 10 catcher next year.

Will Venable (3.7%): Got shafted some early this year with the demotion, then came up and produced enough to finish with 9 HRs and 26 SBs. A nice sleeper for 2012 in deep NL play, given the Padres’ lack of outfield options.

Aaron Crow (3.1%): Depending on what happens with the trade rumors swirling around Joakim Soria, the 24-year-old Crow could factor into the closer’s role. But he’ll have stiff competition from Louis Coleman and Greg Holland.

Cody Ross (2.9%): Still capable when he gets PT, but no longer relevant in mixed leagues.

Barry Zito (2.1%): If you’re still drafting and owning Zito, you’re not paying attention.

Chris Heisey (1.9%): A truly undervalued commodity who is a useful starter in deep NL leagues. The next Seth Smith — as long as the Reds let him get at least 350 ABs.

Matt LaPorta (1.3%): He’s gone from promising prospect to overdrafted disappointment to failed post-hype sleeper. Next? Some poor schmuck’s fantasy kryptonite.

Chris Getz (1.1%): His only value — stolen bases — will take a huge hit because it’s hard to accrue counting stats when you’re in a utility role now that Johnny Giavotella is in K.C.

Casey Blake (0.6%): He’s got a $1.25 M buyout that the Dodgers would be wise to use. It’s been a while since we’ve heard the last from him in fantasy circles, and frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is the last we hear from him. Period.

Chris Johnson (0.5%): He isn’t any team’s third baseman of the future, but then again, he should have his opportunities in Houston, where the main competition is…Jimmy Paredes?

Rubby De La Rosa (0.5%): An electric arm, but TJ surgery will keep this 22-year-old out for most, if not all, of 2012. In keeper auctions next year, he’ll make a savvy $1 gamble with an eye toward 2013.



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Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11


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Brad Johnson
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I took over a roster from my baseball illiterate roommate two years ago – a team he drafted alphabetically. I cut everyone except Aardsma and Abreu and conducted a Waiver Wire Challenge. I came in 6 of 12, not bad.

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