Jose Tabata (Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 39 percent owned)
This time of the season, most teams have their core set, and you’re looking to grab the hot hand off the wire. The great equalizer here is when a mid-tier player like Tabata spends an extended amount of time on the disabled list. If he had played all season, he would surely be rostered in more leagues than he is, but 50 days off can tax even the most patient owners, especially in leagues with few DL spots.
It’s been a whole week since Tabata came off the disabled list, so citing his line is almost futile because of the sample, but the fact that he has hits in all seven games in which he’s appeared — and multiple hits in four of the seven — isn’t just a bit of small sample size shenanigans.
Wrist injuries are known to linger, and while Tabata’s contusion was on his hand, there’s always some concern that injuries in that area will affect a hitter’s swing. With his seven game hitting streak, Tabata has effectively assuaged those fears. Will he hit .414/.469/.655 for the remaining six weeks of the season? Sorry, probably not, but if he hits close to his ZiPS ROS projection of .283/.363/.385, that’s certainly positive production from a wire grab this late in the season.
Tabata’s ability to help you in several categories makes him worth immediately rostering in NL-Only and probably in mixed as well, dependent, as always, on league depth. Eno Sarris noted some playing time concerns when Alex Presley rejoins the team later this month, and they’re still very much in play, but with the team having committed to Tabata long-term earlier this week and having long since been lapped in the NL Central race by the Brewers, it’s looking less likely that Tabata will lose too much time going forward.
Darwin Barney (Yahoo: 44 percent owned, ESPN: 57 percent owned)
Replacing Jimmy Rollins during his time on the DL isn’t going to be an easy task. Not only is shortstop one of those chronically shallow positions, but Stephen Drew, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes owners have probably already snapped up the best wire options. Perhaps the best way to replace Rollins is to figure out what categories he was most influential in for your team, and then target that.
Yuniesky Betancourt has 10 home runs and won’t be as big of a drain on your average as Alex Gonzalez might be. Emilio Bonifacio has six steals this month, but is mired in a 0-for-16 streak. Eduardo Nunez has four steals and isn’t quite as offensively inept as Bonifacio at the moment, but his playing time has been reduced to virtually nil with Alex Rodriguez’s return, which makes Bonifacio the better play if you need desperately speed from your SS.
The best all-around play that’s available in about 50 percent of leagues is Darwin Barney, who is technically a 2B, but has SS eligibility in most leagues. He’s having a solid month, hitting .310/.380/.408 with a home run and 2 SB. If you’re uninspired, I can’t blame you, but he’s not going to single-handedly weigh down your average, will swipe you a base or two, and may get driven in at a decent rate if the Cubs offense can stay as active as it has been so far in August. With who else is available, believe me when I say that you could do much worse.
Barney isn’t going to win you your league, but he isn’t likely to cost you a shot at the playoffs either. If he helps you tread water while waiting for an injured SS to come back, you’ve won the day. Keep an eye on the wire as well, as Reyes should be coming off the DL before too long. His owner may drop a better option back into the pool, in which case you can drop Barney and move forward with someone like Yunel Escobar.