By Sam McPherson
The not-so-serious fantasy baseball owners often lose interest in the season around Memorial Day Weekend, when they go away for three days or more and stop checking their fantasy rosters when they get back. The casual owners get distracted, and the owners with teams at the bottom of the standings just give up. This creates opportunity for everyone else in the league: Less competition for players on the waiver wire means you have a better chance at turning over your roster right now and throughout the summer.
There are always productive players on waivers, just waiting to be picked up by the more-engaged fantasy owners. Baseball season lasts six months, and there are many highs and lows to be endured throughout the spring and summer. Every team suffers injuries, and every team needs replacement players to compensate for those injuries. As a result, the smart fantasy owner can constantly replace poor-performing players on her/his roster with new finds out there that the other owners are missing. With a holiday weekend now almost behind us, there’s no better time to start rebuilding.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics: He followed up an All-Star season in 2015 with an injury-plagued year in 2016, and when Gray got hurt again early in 2017, most owners probably wrote him off. You’ll find him on the waiver wire in most leagues, despite his last three starts (22 strikeouts in 19 innings, only six earned runs allowed). Now, he may not win a lot of games with the A’s, but if Gray keeps those K numbers up while capping his ERA and WHIP at acceptable levels, he’s going to help any owner win this summer.
2. Adam Frazier, UTL, Pittsburgh Pirates: As a 24-year-old rookie last year, he hit .301 in 66 games. This year, he’s getting more playing time, thanks to his bat (.340 average, 18 RBI) and a teammate’s suspension. He’s drawing just as many walks as he is striking out, and Frazier is on his way to being eligible at three infield positions, too, depending on your league rules. He has a little power and a little speed, and those are just bonuses for whichever owner picks up Frazier’s live bat right now.
3. Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays: After hitting over .300 in his first two MLB seasons combined, he got off to a slow start this year. Travis is hitting .361 in May now, though, with three HRs and 15 RBI this month alone. He is leading the American League in doubles right now, too. His patience at the plate still isn’t great, with just seven walks this year so far, so don’t expect him to hit .350 for the rest of the season. However, with the potent lineup around him healthy now, Travis can put up big numbers for his position.
4. Koda Glover, RP, Washington Nationals: At age 24 now, he’s thrown just 35 MLB innings, but Glover is the closer for one of the best teams in baseball. It may not last, as he had a 5.03 ERA in 2016, but for now, grabbing him is a quick way to get some cheap saves. Washington Manager Dusty Baker is known to be loyal to his pitchers once they earn it, so watch Glover closely. He has one blown save this year, but his overall numbers (2.35 ERA) look solid right now.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels: He won’t be 30 until October, but perhaps Calhoun’s career has peaked already. After hitting .266 and averaging 20-plus HRs a year from 2014-2016, he is hitting just .212 this season. He does have five HRs, but that’s not enough power to justify the garbage average. His .617 OPS is also the lowest of Calhoun’s career so far. His glove will keep him in the Angels lineup, but Calhoun should not be in your lineup in 2017.
2. A.J. Griffin, SP, Texas Rangers: He’s had so many injury problems already in his career that it’s hard to take a chance on him ever again. After helping lead the A’s to consecutive AL West Division titles in 2012-2013, he then missed the next two seasons with arm problems. He’s been up and down in the last season-plus with Texas, but it’s too hard to count on Griffin for quality innings anymore. His biggest issue has been the long ball, where he’s coughed up 12 in just 39 innings this year—and 86 total in just over 440 IP in his career. Let him go.
3. Jesse Hahn, SP, Oakland Athletics: Why is it some players just cannot escape the injury bug no matter which teams they play for? Hahn has shown a lot of promise since coming to the majors with San Diego in 2014, but he cannot stay healthy. His numbers this season are decent enough (3.81 ERA, 1.289 WHIP), but if Hahn isn’t on the field often, what does it matter? Remember, he’s never thrown more than 97 innings in any single MLB year, so expecting him to get there this year is folly.
4. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: He was an All-Star selection at age 23 back in 2015, but Pederson is another player that either has peaked already or desperately needs a change of scenery. After hitting 51 HRs combined the last two years, he has just two dingers so far this season to go with a Mendoza Line batting average. If Pederson had ten HRs right now, we could see the justification for keeping him on your bench in hope of a batting-average rebound. However, let someone else take that chance on him.