Waiver Wire:  NL, Week 18

Dan Hudson | Arizona | SP | 3 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.85 K/9, 1.50 K/BB, 27.9 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.03 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 2.18 K/BB

After the Diamondbacks dealt Dan Haren for a package that was widely met with criticism, they traded Edwin Jackson for a package that included Dan Hudson, a deal that was much better-received. While Hudson moves from one hitter-friendly home ballpark to another, he should be aided by switching leagues. Hudson’s pedigree immediately makes him a player of interest even in re-draft leagues. Those in dynasty and keeper formats should be especially stoked about the change of leagues.

While the sample size is small, it should be concerning in the short term that Hudson’s groundball rate stands at 27.9 percent, and he pitches in a home run-friendly home ballpark. On the promising end of the spectrum are his Triple-A numbers: 93.1 innings pitched, 3.47 ERA, 31 walks, 108 strikeouts and a more promising 40.7 GB rate, all good for a 3.67 FIP. Once Hudson makes the necessary adjustments to pitching to major league hitters, he should be of value in strikeouts, and post at least non-damaging ratios.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Joel Hanrahan | Pittsburgh | CL | 23 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12.65 K/9, 4.79 K/BB, 35.8 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.29 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.3 K/BB

In the wake of Octavio Dotel being dealt from the Pirates to the Dodgers, Hanrahan closed the door on the first save opportunity that has presented itself since. It appears that unless he falters, he should be the closer with Evan Meek handling the eighth inning duties. Before inheriting the closer role, Hanrahan was of value and ownable in deeper leagues just based on his awesome strikeout rate. Now that he’s in line to rack up saves, even poor teams like the Pirates provide save opportunities, and he has a chance to post top-15 closer numbers, so he’s a necessary own in all leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Drew Storen | Washington | CL | 35 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.64 K/9, 2.00 K/BB, 37.5 GB
Oliver ROS: 3.87 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 2.66 K/BB

Coming into the 2010 season, Storen was the closer of the future for the Nats, and midway through the 2010 season he is also the closer of the now. All is not rosy for Storen; his walk rate is a bit high at 3.82 BB/9, he’s currently striking out less than a batter an inning and his GB rate leaves something to be desired. Storen has been a bit lucky in posting his 2.45 ERA as his xFIP stands at 4.31.

On the bright side, Storen uses a nice three-pitch mix with a show-me change-up, and is able to get a solid number of swings on pitches outside the strike zone at 33.6 percent. Saves are saves, so owners who need some should be willing to take some of the lumps that are likely to ensue for Storen until he’s able to see an increase in his strikeout rate and/or a decrease in his walk rate.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Jake Westbrook | St. Louis | SP | 8 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.58 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 5.39 K/9, 1.78 K/BB, 54.4 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.59 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 1.72 K/BB

Remember Brad Penny circa 2009, post-Boston? Well Jake Westbrook fits the mold of this year’s B-Penny version 2.0. Westbrook doesn’t own an elite skill set, hence his wide availability, but he does enough well to keep an eye on him, and own him in deeper leagues.

Westbrook pounds the strike zone (3.03 BB/9), induces tons of ground balls, and should even see a spike to his modest 5.39 K/9 switching leagues. Given the fact that his skill set already matches what Dave Duncan looks for in his pitchers (keep walks in check, induce ground balls), it seems unlikely he’ll see a huge boost from the Duncan effect that has helped less talented scrap heap pitchers in the past.

Those who are nearing their innings pitched limits and need some strikeouts should take a pass, but those without innings limits, or innings to burn, should keep an eye on Westbrook. He’s got a chance to post useful ratios, chip in some strikeouts, and receive a large number of decisions (not necessarily wins given the volatility of them) based on his ability to work late into games.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Retroactive Review: Ace
Looking back at some of Justin Verlander's most interesting moments.

Brett Wallace | Houston | 3B | 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .300/.417/.300 (12 plate appearances)
Oliver ROS: .264/.332/.421

Once considered a blue chip prospect, Brett Wallace‘s status has faded a bit as he’s once again been dealt, this time from the Blue Jays to the Astros. Wallace’s value in fantasy will almost entirely hinge on whether he remains at third base or if he’s shifted across the diamond to first base (where he’s been playing to open his Astros career). Wallace’s power potential appears to be mid-20s home run type, with a solid average, which puts him in Lyle Overbay prime territory, making him useful, but not a future fantasy star.

Wallace’s surface stats looked good in Triple-A this season, but what’s hidden is that he played in an offensive-friendly home ballpark and league (Pacific Coast League). His Triple-A slash was .301/.359/.509, and his MLE was a disappointing .239/.277/.389. He’s worth a look in deep leagues given the fact scouts like his bat, and while MLEs are helpful, sometimes it is beneficial to trust the tools and scouting aspect of prospecting.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues using a MI. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Juan Francisco | Cincinnati | 3B | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .143/.143/.143
Oliver ROS: No projection

Juan Francisco is not likely to be a useful player this year in re-draft leagues unless Scott Rolen misses extended time. After being called up by the Reds, he is in this week’s article as a heads-up to dynasty and deep keeper league owners.

Francisco is still a free swinger, with 14 walks and 69 strikeouts in 269 Triple-A at-bats, but his power is legit with 16 home runs. He was also age appropriate for his level, just 23 years old, and should grow into even more power. Because he’s a third basemen with pop, he certainly warrants owning in dynasty leagues where owners have an open roster spot or simply want to take a flyer on some youth. Francisco’s Triple-A slash was .286/.326/.569 which was good for an MLE of .250/.279/.474.

Recommendation: Should be watched in deep leagues in the event of Rolen missing time. Should be owned in deep NL-only leagues. Good speculative add in dynasty leagues for power.

Rick Ankiel | Atlanta | OF | 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .262/.319/.456
Oliver ROS: .232/.290/.415

While it’s easy to pick apart what Ankiel isn’t, what Ankiel is a source for, when he’s healthy, is home runs. He continues to walk less than owners would like, just a 7.1 percent walk rate and strike out too much at 32.0 percen. That said, his ISO sits at .194, which is solid, and only a few ticks below his .201 career mark. Further hurting Ankiel, however, is his continued inability to hit lefties, and his spike in ground ball rate this year (50.7 pedrcent this year compared to a 40.2 percent career mark).

Ankiel’s HR/FB is actually up a bit this year at 18.2 percent compared to 14.9 percent for his career. If he’s able to turn some more of his ground balls into fly balls he could be a sneaky source of home runs. Those in leagues with daily lineup changes will also be able to minimize batting average damage by sitting him against leftiesa .

Recommendation: Should be home run speculative add in 12-team mixed leagues or larger using five outfielders. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Ryan Ludwick | San Diego | OF | 67 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .281/.341/.476
Oliver ROS: .257/.324/.459

Now that Ludwick calls PETCO his home ballpark, he sees his fantasy value take a steep nosedive. Ludwick’s value is largely derived from his ability to hit the ball out of the park while posting a decent batting average. Unfortunately for him, he’s going to have a much more difficult time doing that now. One and a half years removed from a career year in 2008, in which 19.9 percent of his fly balls left the yard, Ludwick’s true HR/FB rate appears to be 10.0-12.0 percent, a number sure to drop with his new digs.

Because Ludwick hits so many fly balls, 48.0 percent this year and 47.7 percent for his career, he’s still able to generate a useful number of home runs even with a mediocre HR/FB rate. Unfortunately for Ludwick, many more of his fly balls are likely to turn into outs in the spacious PETCO, which will not only hurt his home run total, but also likely significantly impact his batting average. Those who own Ludwick should probably try to sell him, as he’s still ownable given his lineup spot in San Diego and with it the opportunity to post useful run and RBI totals, but not nearly as useful as prior to the trade.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues or larger using five outfielders. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

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buck turgidson
buck turgidson

Wallace is a 1B.  Plain and simple.


Nice column.  In reference to Ankiel, would you recommend him over Pat Burrell?

Josh Shepardson
Josh Shepardson

@ Buck
He’s played 1B all this year, and is likely to stay there as he’s not a good defensive 3B.  That said, Pedro Feliz only inked a one year deal coming into this season, and being that he’s with a new organization (Wallace) perhaps the Astros will decide to see if his bat can make up for his defensive short comings at 3B.  Unlikely, but possible given how underwhelming Wallace’s stick is likely to be for a 1B.

Josh Shepardson
Josh Shepardson

@ bennythedog

I’d prefer Pat the Bat.  I like that he has a better walk rate, and that he’s hitting more fly balls than Ankiel.


lazy research on Ludwick—I know it’s easy to assume any power hitter will suffer moving from any park to San Diego, but Petco Park is actually a better hitter’s park than STL for righty power hitters.  New Busch has one of the worst RH HR park factors in baseball.


@ bennythedog – I agree with Josh – plus, Pat is getting near full-time ABs.  I don’t see the same for Ankiel.