AL Waiver Wire: Week 22

Derek Ambrosino (the first four entries) and Paul Singman fill in this week for for Josh Shepardson, who is updating THT’s “Top 100” prospect list.

Mike Moustakas | Kansas City | 3B | 9 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: .232/.284/.292
OLIVER ROS: .254/.296/.427

Wow! What is there to say about the disappointing hot corner prospect extraordinaire? In 250 at-bats, Moustakas hasn’t managed to slug Prince Fielder’s weight, collecting all of 13 extra base hits, and failing to homer in his last 245 ABS. Duane Kuiper, look out!

But things are actually looking up for Moustakas. He’s in the midst of a 14-game hitting streak, over which he’s popped six doubles, raising his batting average approximately 40 points and his OPS by about 80. Other good news is that his contact rate is not a major problem, as it often is for rookies who are touted as having power. Additionally, Moustakas is sitting a 38 percent flyball rate, and a HR/FB mark of under 2 percent. That simply is not going to last.

Even if Moustakas is not set to be the second coming of George Brett at third base in Kansas City, these numbers correcting themselves in the fashion of an average professional third-sacker would be a windfall for an owner looking for deep value if he had Moustakas when the pendulum swings the other way.

Totally anecdotally, and as a Mets fan, the type of struggles Moustakas is having reminded me of Lucas Duda. A big and powerful young hitter, Duda saw nothing go his way in his first taste of the Show, but his failure was so astounding that it was simply unsustainable. Duda finally got some breaks and got hot at the very end of last season, and now actually strikes me as an intriguing young hitter with a potentially bright future.

Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues. Should be considered in larger, mixed formats as a replacement for an injured player, or bench depth.

Eric Thames | Toronto | OF | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: .281/.324/.487
OLIVER ROS: .267/.327/.455

Eric Thames gets regular at bats in a perfectly adequate lineup and is sporting an OPS of .811 over about a half season’s worth of at-bats. If you double his numbers to get him to 140 games, he’d be offering 86 runs, 20 homers, and 60 RBI. Does this sound like a player who should be owned in a mere 5 percent of Yahoo! leagues?

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet; there are probably several players on the current rosters in your fantasy league, many of whom are getting regular fantasy reps, over whom Thames’ production would be a clear and immediate improvement. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense for the player who is penciled into his team’s lineup card right ahead of Jose Bautista to be unowned in 95 percent of leagues.

Recommendation: Should be considered in standard mixed league formats and owned in all AL-only leagues.

David Robertson | New York | RP | 19 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 1.35 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 13.7 K/9, 4.9 BB/9
OLIVER ROS: 3.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

Reliever wins are unpredictable. Owners don’t have enough room on their rosters to load up on players who skew your likelihood of getting at least one big source of middle relief wins. I issue this preamble because the only reason David Robertson’s ownership is current number is because he has only three wins. If he had six or seven, it would be due to nothing but randomness and minimally predictive of his ability to continue to accrue wins at a similar rate, but it would boost his ranking and cause plenty more owners to own him.

But those no-earned run, two strikeout innings add up over time. Owning elite middle relievers is like saving your quarters over the course of a year: You don’t think much of it at the time, but at the end of the year you’re staring at a couple hundred bucks. Robertson is a great asset for teams whose starting staff is a bit light on the K-power.

Recommendation: Should be owned in standard mixed leagues and beyond

Brandon McCarthy | Oakland | SP | 21 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 3.64 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
OLIVER ROS: 3.78 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.8 K/9

The Incompleat Starting Pitcher
The end of the nine-inning start and how we got here.

McCarthy is a competent major league pitcher with an impressive minor league record and a bit of upside. The 2011 season represents the first time he’s been in a relaxed and pitcher-friendly situation and he is showing us some of what made many scouts perk up and notice. Fantasy-wise, McCarthy pitches for a team that plays in a very weak offensive division and in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. In the minors, McCarthy flashed both excellent control and plus punch-out ability. Thus far in the bigs, he has demonstrated his exceptional control, but pedestrian K numbers. However, he has shown glimpses of an ability to elevate his strikeouts a bit, and a little improvement in that area is all is needed to move McCarthy to a shallow league rotation guy.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all mixed leagues with more than 12 teams.

Coke would have made a great truck driver if pitching didn’t get in the way. (Icon/SMI)

Phil Coke | Detroit | SP/RP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 4.28 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 5.61 K/9, 1.75 K/BB
OLIVER ROS: 4.03 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 5.5 K/9

The Tigers’ experiment with Coke in the rotation earlier in the season was a clear failure, producing an ugly 4.82 ERA. In July, a transition to the bullpen didn’t work either, but Coke persevered and finally all his hard work paid off in August. In 12 August innings he struck out 20 batters, allowed 10 baserunners, and nary a runner crossed the plate. Yesterday, in his first September appearance, Coke coughed up three runs. Assuming last night’s events are not a precursor for the rest of September, Coke is a potentially valuable reliever to own down the stretch with starting pitcher eligibilty, important for leagues that distinguish between starters and relievers.

Recommendation: Can be owned in any league with a limited number of relief spots or in deep AL-only leagues.

Dayan Viciedo | Chicago | 3B | 12 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD (AAA): .296/.364/.489
YTD (Majors): .538 (7-for-13), 1 HR, 1 SB
OLIVER ROS: .268/.310/.432

Earlier in the summer there was much anticipation surrounding a Viciedo call-up because of the blech the White Sox were using at third base and his solid Triple-A numbers, but for whatever reason he remained in the minors. Finally after a lot of people forgot about him, Viciedo was called up five days ago. In the four games since he’s been on a tea,r batting over .500 with a homer and steal. Viciedo should continue to find his way into the lineup all over the field (meaning outfield and maybe first base eligibility soon) and keep producing.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Cliff Pennington | Oakland | SS | 13 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: .266/.322/.365
OLIVER ROS: .261/.315/.371

Coming into this year Pennington was a popular shortstop flier because he stole 30 bases the year prior without laying waste to your average. By June, though, hopes of him as a fantasy-relevant player were lost when he wasn’t doing much hitting or stealing many bases. Since the All-Star break however, Pennington has been a different player. He’s batted .331 since the break and over the past week has swiped four bags. Particularly at shortstop, I think he can be a valuable player down the stretch.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues 14 teams and deeper. Can and probably should simply be universally owned.

Lookin’ good, Alfredo. (Icon/SMI)

Alfredo Aceves | Boston | SP/RP | 11 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 2.83 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 6.07 K/9, 1.88 K/BB
OLIVER ROS: 3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 5.5 K/9

At first glance it may appear like Aceves is in line for a major regression to his high-twos ERA given his mediocre strikeout rate and .229 BABIP. Looking at his monthly splits, though, reveals that lately his pitching has been worthy of such a mark. Over the month of August Aceves achieved a 1.79 FIP while striking out more than a batter an inning. Interestingly, Aceves credits his success to the Red Sox nutrionist, which either means this nutrionist is world-class or that Aceves just wasn’t too great to being with.

While I’m not necessarily endorsing Aceves for anything long-term, he could be a sneakily valuable reliever in Septembe,r picking up the occasional win, as he has nine times already, and also by working more an inning at a time, unlike typical setup men owned in fantasy. As with Coke, Aceves also has that desirable SP eligibility (and he also allowed two runs to score last night).

Recommendation: Can be owned in any league where his skill set could be useful.

David Murphy | Texas | OF | 17 percent Yahoo Ownership
YTD: .251/.317/.352
OLIVER ROS: .271/.330/.416

Nelson Cruz is out for a couple of weeks with a hamstring strain, so David Murphy should get fairly regular playing time for a few weeks. Murphy is an all-around guy who contributes everywhere but doesn’t excel in any one dimension. In deeper leagues he should make for a good fourth or fifth outfielder. If you are desperately looking for speed, Leonys Martin might be the better add of the two Rangers outfielder

Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only and 16-team mixed leagues or deeper. Can be owned in most 14-team and some 12-team leagues.

Mike Trout | Angels | OF | 16 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD (AA): .326/.414/.544
YTD (Majors): .250/.307/.515
OLIVER ROS: .277/.335/.429

The 20 year old phenom is back in the bigs and making more of an impact this time with four homers in just eight games. This kid is gonna be a superstar; it is only a matter of when. He obviously won’t realize his full potential this September, but I think he will be a productive fantasy player with regular playing time.

Trout has not stolen many bases in the majors, but people seem to overlook his 45 steals in 2010 and 33 in Double-A this year. If he wasn’t the No. 1 prospect, people wouldn’t worry about his hitting stats so much and advise adding him just for speed. Well, Trout offers a lot more than just a pair of legs and I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to own him, even if just for a month.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

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Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson

I had no idea Eric Thames was only 5% owned. I’ve been running a Thames/Reddick platoon for a long long time in multiple leagues.

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

I’ve paired Thames and Smith smile


Any thoughts on Leonys Martin? What does Oliver think? Big difference between AA and AAA this year.

Paul Singman
Paul Singman

I mentioned in the article that Leonys might be the better add for someone looking purely for steals, but overall I wouldn’t expect too much hitting-wise.  Oliver projects a .264/.313/.373 line which seems pretty reasonable. Unless you are in a deep AL-only league, I’m guessing there are better guys out there.