Dr. Stat’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Prescription

June 13, 2009


Marcus Robbins asked:


The Doctor is in! Here is my weekly showcase of players who are most likely available in your league and could be valuable to your team.


Delmon Young: OF, Minnesota  Twins                                                                    After showing so much promise in his first full season (.288/13/93), Young has struggled since being traded to Minnesota. Not only has he yet to hit a home run, and he’s had difficulty reaching base altogether. That said, the former first overall pick is showing signs of finally getting it going. His average is .270, and this week saw him have a three doubles game against the Yankees on Monday and another 2-hit night on Friday. His OPS has jumped a full point in the last month, and last week he hit .321 and had 5 RBIs.                                                                                                                                  Fantasy Diagnosis: His issue all season has been consistentcy, so this is hopefully the start. He’s proven he can hit and be a valuable fantasy player, and I fully expect him to do so again over the rest of the season.

Alexi Casilla: 2B/SS, Minnesota Twins                                                                          If you’ve never heard of Casilla, he had a cup of coffee in the majors last year, hitting .222 with no home runs and 9 RBIs in 56 games. He was struggling in AAA-Rochester this season, until an injury to Nick Punto gave Casilla another chance, which he’s taken full advantage of. In 70 at-bats, he wass hitting .347 with 3 HRs, 18 RBIs, 14 runs and 2 stolen bases. He’s on an eight game hitting streak and has hit in 16 of his last 18  games.                                                                                                                                  Fantasy Diagnosis: If you’re in need of a middle infielder, or one of your current ones just isn’t getting it done, Casilla is well-worth your consideration. He’ll boost your batting average and give you runs and the occasional stolen base. Think of him along the lines of a Luis Castillo-type player. While it remains to be seen what Casilla can do over a whole season, you really have nothing to lose by giving him a chance.

Ben Francisco: OF, Cleveland Indians                                                                        Who’s the only Indians player hitting over .300? That would be rookie outfielder Ben Francisco. Nevermind his name sounds like a pasta dish and makes you want to say it with an Italian accent. After getting called up in late April, Francisco has quietly put together some very fantasy-worthy numbers. In 30 games, he’s hitting .330 with 3 HRs, 17 RBIs, 14 runs and 2 stolen bases. His .OPS is over .900, and he hit .407 and drove in 5 runs last week.             

Fantasy Diagnosis: Francisco is a great option as a third or fourth OF. So far, what’s there not to like about him? If you don’t pick him up, someone else in your league most likely will soon.                           

Fred Lewis: OF, San Francisco Giants                                                                           Lewis made a good first impression last season, but got off to a slow start this season. His numbers (.273/4/14) are hardly anything to give a second glance, but he has 38 runs and 11 stolen bases. He’s hit .310 over his last ten games, so hopefully his average will continue to rise. As it does, the rest of the numbers will come. His home ballpark hurts him, but the Giants offense has been much better than expected.                                                                                                                                        

Fantasy Diagnosis: Unless you’re desperate for runs and/or steals, I’d wait and see. This is his first full season in the majors, but he’s shown some promise.

Rod Barajas: C, Toronto Blue Jays

After the top eight or so catchers, you often wonder if it’s even worth having one on your fantasy team. They drag down your average, hit for little power and don’t drive in many runs. Thus, it’s important to note when a catcher gets hot like Barajas has. His current numbers (.297/5/19) are boosted by his recent 16-game tear, in which he hit .392 with 3 HRs and 13 RBIs. In fact, over the last month, only Benji Molina had better numbers at the catcher position, and Barajas led all catchers with a 1.126 OPS.                                                                                                                  

Fantasy Diagnosis: He’s a career .242 hitter and typically a player who’s almost worthless in fantasy, but if you didn’t draft one of the top catchers or yours is not producing, Barajas is your man. At worst, you can ride out his hot streak, and then drop him. 

Mark Teahen: 1B/OF, Kansas City Royals                                                                  At first glance, Teahen’s .258 average steers fantasy owners away almost immediately. Yet he hit .304 and homered in three straight games this week, and he’s hit in 9 of his last 10 games.

Fantasy Diagnosis: After hitting 18 HRs in 2006, Teahen hit just 7 last season. He’s career batting average is 15 points higher after the All-Star Break than before, while his OPS is 66 points higher. June has always been his best month (career .295 hitter), so now is the time to pick him up. Just don’t expect gaudy numbers.


Manny Parra: SP, Milwaukee Brewers                                                                    

In his last two starts (13 combined innings), Parra is 2-0, has allowed 2 runs on 8 hits and has struck out 14. Both starts came at home, where he’s been remarkably better this season. His ERA at home is 2.90, but it’s 6.95 on the road. He hasn’t lost since May 3, and is 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA and 31 Ks over the last month.                                                                                                                                                      

Fantasy Diagnosis: Pretty self-explanatory. He’ll help you when he pitches at home, and kill you when he pitches on the road. Thus, if you pick him up, don’t start him away from Milwaukee.

Josh Banks: SP, San Diego Padres                                                                            Who? He’s so fresh, I couldn’t even find a picture of him in a Padres uniform. You’ve most likely never heard of Josh Banks, but he’s quickly become a name you should know. With three of the Padres starting pitchers on the DL, Banks got the call and answered it with stellar numbers. Up until Thursday night, he’d pitched in just three games, but hadn’t allowed a run and had struck out 10 in 17 innings. On Thursday against the Mets, he gave up 1 run in 6 innings, walking none and striking out 3.                                                                                                                                               

Fantasy Diagnosis: No matter how young or inexperienced he is, 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 23 innings is nothing to sneeze at. My biggest concern is the Padres lack of ability to score runs. That said, his fantasy value is questionable. He most likely won’t get many wins and his K/BB ratio isn’t great, but he’ll help you in ERA and WHIP. Tread cautiously.

Jonathan Sanchez: SP, San Francisco Giants                                                              After the imploded Zito, hard-luck Cain and lights-out Lincecum, no Giants starting pitchers are worth anything in fantasy, right? Wrong. Let me introduce you to Jonathan Sanchez. Because of his 4-3 record, 4.08 ERA and general lack of run support, Sanchez is still a free agent in some leagues. The Giants organization has been high on this kid for several years, and this season Sanchez is showing us why. He’s tied for 10th in baseball with 71 Ks, and has given up just 2 runs in each of his last 4 starts.                                                                                                                                  

Fantasy Diagnosis: If he can bring his walks down (36 in 68.1 innings), and subsequently lower his WHIP (1.43), Sanchez’s value will go up. If you need strikeouts and Sanchez is available, pick him up.                                                                                                                             

Ricky Nolasco: SP, Florida Marlins                                                                            He hasn’t lost since May 3 and has given up just 9 combined runs over his last 5 starts. He’s 4-0 in that stretch, lowering his ERA from 5.35 to 4.48.                                                                                                   

Fantasy Diagnosis: His K/BB ratio is only 1.72, but he’s pitching well and getting wins. More importantly, the Marlins have scored 6+ runs in four of his last five starts. Over the last month, he’s 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA. Nolasco is definitely worth picking up if you’ve got pitchers on the DL or struggle in the wins category.

Jose Contreras: SP, Chicago White Sox                                                                    Contreras is a mystery. After going 10-17 with a 5.57 ERA last season, he’s 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA this season. He’s allowed only one run in six of his 11 starts. An interesting note is that since he first came to the majors, he’s never put together good back-to-back seasons. His good seasons (2003, 2005) are always followed by bad seasons (2004, 2006, 2007). It’s crazy, but apparently it’s time for Contreras to have another good season, as he’s on pace for his best one yet.                                                                                                                                                              

Fantasy Diagnosis: The only reason he’s still a free agent in many leagues is that fantasy owners don’t believe he can keep it up. The way he is pitching, give him a chance. However, if he begins to blow up, drop him faster than Tony Romo did Jessica Simpson. Like Simpson, he’ll be your sweetheart for a while, but deserves to be shown the door when he starts costing your team wins.

Keep An Eye On

Alexei Ramirez: 2B/OF, Chicago White Sox                                                                  Ozzie Guillen refers to him as “the Missile”. He’s raised his average from .194 to .275 in two weeks. He’s hit .329 over the past month, and last week he hit .391 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs.                                             

Fantasy Diagnosis: He’s taken over Juan Uribe’s starting spot and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. In shallow leagues, he doesn’t warrant your attention just yet, but keep an eye on him. In deep leagues, especially those with multiple IF positions, Ramirez deserves your consideration.

Sean Gallagher: SP, Chicago Cubs

He got called up in early May and entered the rotation shortly after. In his last 4 starts, he’s 3-1, twice giving up only 1 run. His 4.55 ERA is due to two bad outings, but he went 6 innings in his last start, giving up 3 runs and striking out 8.

Fantasy Diagnosis: He’s young (22) and inconsistent, but you know he’ll get run support. Watch his next few starts carefully, as they will help to better determine his fantasy value.


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