Welcome to this week’s version of the waiver wire report. This is a weekly report that spotlights players that are still widely available in most leagues (defined as being owned in less than 50% of leagues) but have recently gained momentum in ownership. We will take a close look at the numbers to investigate whether they are worth picking up in your league or whether you should look into closer options. For the 5-6-16 Waiver Wire Report, our focus will be on the AL West.
Chris Devenski, RP, SP, Houston Astros 3.7%
The Astros have been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball so far. However, Devenski is not one of the main culprits as he has pitched well in his first eight games 1.46 ERA/2.43 FIP. While he started by pitching out of the bullpen, he has pitched well in his first two starts as part of the Astros rotation.
While his first couple of starts have gone smoothly, Devenski had also never pitched above AA prior to this season and even then put up modest numbers last year 3.01 ERA/3.74 FIP and a 7.82 K/9. In Devenski’s case, it would be worth seeing whether he can string together 3-4 solid starts in a row before giving him serious consideration.
Joe Smith, RP, Los Angeles Angels 25.6%
The good news on the fantasy side for Smith is that he is set to temporarily take over the closer role for the Angels while Huston Street is on the disabled list. While he has been a solid pitcher for much of his career, the bad news is that his numbers have not been great so far this season as he has a 3.60 ERA/4.73 FIP and his K/9 this season is well below his career totals. While there is the short term ability to get saves out of him, the trends related to his underlying numbers (compared to past seasons) is a cause for concern.
A.J. Griffin, SP, Texas Rangers 38.9%
Griffin had a solid start to his career in 2012-2013 however he had lost the last two seasons due to injuries. Based on this, it was unknown how he would do once he returned to action. The early returns are pretty solid as he is 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA/3.29 FIP in his first five starts with the Rangers. His K/9 rate of 7.55 is pretty close to where it was during his time with the Athletics and there’s a chance he could be a solid back end starter. The two concerns which could accelerate the inevitable regression is a higher BB/9 rate of 3.19 and that opposing hitters have a .217 BABIP against him. Even with that being said, the track record for Griffin indicates that he has at least some value.
Seth Smith, OF, Seattle Mariners 11.9%
Historically, Smith has been somewhat more valuable in daily formats versus season long formats due to his strong ability to hit right handed pitching and his subsequent inability to do the same against lefties. While he has been an above average hitter in his career (114 career wRC+), he has never had more than 521 PA in a season and has never hit more than 17 HR in as season.
This year, he is off to a strong start as he is hitting .284 with four HR and a 155 wRC+. One encouraging sign for the long term is that this strong play is not a BABIP induced fluke as his BABIP is only 12 points above his career total. In addition his BB% and K% are trending in the right direction. The one primary concern is a limited ceiling for Smith when it comes to his power totals. So far this year, his HR/FB rate is twice as high as his career total and the percentage of hard contact is actually slightly lower than his career total. While there is some value for Smith in deeper leagues and daily formats, his value is standard leagues is much more limited.
Jed Lowrie, 3B, 2B, Oakland Athletics 25.3%
Lowrie is off to a solid start this season, as he is hitting .313 with 15 RBI in 28 games. While he may be helpful in the short-term, his long-term value is shaky at best. Even if we move past his history of being injury prone, much of his early success appears to be the product of good luck as his BABIP is 70 points higher than his career total. Based on this, it is much more likely he will hit closer to his .259 career total than the .313 that he has so far.
Another concern is the absence of power (0 HR in 109 PA). While some of this may be some bad luck (his hard contact% is slightly better than his career total), his ceiling for power is not very high (career high of 16 HR in 2012). While he will eventually hit for a little bit more power, he’s also eventually to give you a much lower batting average.
Ownership Rates Based on ESPN
Numbers found on Fangraphs and through 5/5/16