Pat Burrell and Hank Conger: Waiver Wire

It’s always tough to find power on the waiver wire. If your team doesn’t seem to be hitting home runs, it’s not as if you would expect to find 30+ home runs out on the wire. Fortunately, it’s still early in the season and there’s a chance to grab some power before other owners realize what’s out there. Pat Burrell and Hank Conger are two players that should help you out in the power department. Right now, both are available in many leagues.

Everybody knows what to expect from Pat Burrell (only 5% owned in Yahoo leagues) at this point. He’s the type of player that is typically underrated in fantasy leagues because he has a reputation as a disappointment. While that sentiment was true when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, Burrell has experienced somewhat of a rebirth in San Francisco. Now that he’s playing everyday, Burrell has value again in fantasy leagues.

When Burrell has received this type of playing time in the past, he was capable of providing big power. Three out of his final four seasons in Philadelphia, Burrell crossed the 30 home runs threshold (the other year he hit 29). So, if Burrell clearly has the power to propel your fantasy team forward, why is he on the waiver wire?

Well, Burrell isn’t a high batting average guy. His 28.2% career strikeout rate is a direct reason for his .254 career batting average. Of course, Burrell could always luck his way into a good BABIP and hit .280+, which actually happened in 2002 and 2005. More than likely, Burrell will hit around .250 with 25 home runs. There’s certainly value in those numbers if you can live with the strikeouts and the frustration of owning Pat Burrell. He’s a borderline OF3 in mixed leagues depending on what stats you need.

It looks like Mike Scioscia’s fixation with Jeff Mathis may have finally ended. As a result, Hank Conger (owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues) is an interesting waiver wire option. Always a top prospect with the Los Angeles Angels, Conger has received the majority of starts at the catcher position for the Angels recently. As a full time starter, Conger could provide some solid stats at a weak position.

Throughout his rise through the minors, Conger displayed strong batting averages, decent power, and good walk rates. For a catcher, that’s extremely valuable. While he’s only had 36 plate appearances this season, those skills seem to be translating to his major league performance. He’s also cut his strikeout rate to much more acceptable 21.9% in those plate appearances; which shows Conger is adjusting to major league pitching. If Conger can keep his role, he might hit 15 home runs. How many catchers can you say that about?

There’s risk in employing Conger, though. Scioscia loves catcher defense, and that’s not one of Conger’s strong suits. Scioscia also loves Jeff Mathis, who is still on the team. If Conger starts making errors, Scioscia could easily return to Mathis. Conger has already developed a bond with Jered Weaver, however, so that could buy him some time if he struggles defensively. If Conger continues to grab playing time, he could play himself into a starter’s role in mixed leagues. Right now, he’s a guy to keep an eye on.

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Chris is a blogger for He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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I picked up Conger last week and he’s been a good mix-and-match player along with Alex Avila since Mauer went to the DL. Here’s hoping Hank plays well enough behind the plate to convince Scioscia to start him more often!