Lavarnway & McLouth: Deep League Waiver Wire

There’s only about 3 1/2 weeks left of the season, so it’s scrambling time if you’re lucky enough to be in contention. Any hitter with a pulse who’s receiving every day or near regular at-bats could get hot and be the guy to bring home the trophy for your team. Here are two possibilities for that honor.

Ryan Lavarnway | BOS C | CBS 10% Owned

The 25-year old has been playing nearly every day, splitting his at-bats between catcher and designated hitter. He has good plate patience, posting walk rates of at least 10.5% at every single minor league stop, except his debut stint back at Low-A ball in 2008 (and even there his BB% was 9.8%). Though he would certainly never be confused for a contact hitter, Lavarnway’s strikeout rates have been decent given his level of power. He also made excellent strides in that department this season at Triple-A. Speaking of power, he has a lot of it. Although he was a bit disappointing this year at Triple-A, having posted just a .144 ISO and 8 homers in 319 at-bats, he has displayed better power in the past. During his first tour of duty at Triple-A last year, he posted a ridiculous .317 ISO, which included 18 home runs in 227 at-bats.

He has typically posted solid BABIP marks in the minors, though they likely translate to right about league average rates in the Majors. His resulting batting average will heavily depend on whether he could sustain his improved contact rate. However, I would imagine that at worst, he shouldn’t kill you in the category compared with replacement level at catcher. He probably has the potential to add slightly positive value at best. So although he has yet to homer this year with the Red Sox, the bottom line is you’d be adding him for his power potential.

Nate McLouth | BAL OF | 5% Owned

Who would have though that McLouth would have become a featured waiver wire option at any point this season? After a promising half season in 2007 and good years in 2008 and 2009, he’s been terrible every season since. And this year has been no exception, as he’s hitting just .212 with just 2 homers in 151 at-bats. But, there’s a reason he’s here. After being released by the Pirates and then signing with the Orioles, he made his debut with the Baltimore in early August. For whatever reason, Buck Showalter has been inserting him into the third hole in the batting order and giving him near regular playing time. I have no idea why he believes that this gives the team the best chance to win, but fantasy owners might as well take advantage.

Oriole Park inflates left-handed home runs by 11%, so he is in a nice park for a potential power uptick. In addition, all six of his steals have come during his time in Baltimore, which is a good sign. Batting third though is one of the biggest reasons to take the gamble as it should afford him excellent RBI and run scoring opportunities, and of course earn him more at-bats than had he been buried at the bottom of the order (which he probably should be). If his BABIP could finally hover around the league average like it has so far with the Orioles, he might only slightly hurt your average, rather than kill it. That could allow him to contribute a bit in all four remaining categories.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Nate McLouth’s name should be in the spelling bee.