As the injuries mount, and playoffs rapidly approach I will provide a look at some of the top options off the waiver wire in your fantasy baseball leagues. Whether you need a short term stop gap, or are looking to fill a long term need at a certain position, this article is for you.
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Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
Hard as it is to believe, Carlos Santana is available in approximately 20% of fantasy leagues out there. He was projected to be the top fantasy catcher of 2012 by many, including us, and was a terrible disappointment in the first half. Well, don’t look now, but Carlos has finally started to mash the ball. Over the last 2 weeks he is hitting a solid .300 with 4 HR and 11 RBI. While the average won’t remain that high, he should hit for decent power down the stretch as the Indians look to contend in the AL Central.
Ryan Doumit – Minnesota Twins
Doumit was supposed to be a part-timer for the Twins this season, but his bat has kept him in the lineup. On the year he is hitting .289 with 10 HR and 49 RBI, and in the last 2 weeks he has put up solid numbers across the board to the tune of .297/3/10. If you need help at catcher in the average and HR department this could be your guy. Don’t worry about his playing time, when a guy is able to put up better numbers than Brian McCann from the waiver wire he should be owned in most formats.
Chris Johnson – Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks recently landed Johnson from the Astros, and Chris has a surprising chance at fantasy relevance now. It remains to be seen if he will find everyday playing time at 3B for the Dbacks, but with Ryan Roberts out of town it is looking more and more likely. Another reason Kirk Gibson will keep putting his name in the lineup? For starters, he hit a grand slam in his first game for the team, which is sure to win over a few fans, plus in his last 14 days Chris Johnson is hitting .347 with 3 HR and 10 RBI. Traditionally one of the deepest positions in fantasy sports, if you need some help at first, Johnson is a worthwhile add.
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
Chances are Rizzo went flying off waivers the week he was brought up to the big leagues, but in shallower formats he may still be available as there are a plethora of solid first basemen to choose from. Rizzo is expected to be a fantasy mainstay for years to come as he helps Theo Epstein and the Cubs bring home a championship. In the last couple weeks Rizzo is hitting .300 with 4 HR and 11 RBI. He and Starlin Castro make a heck of a 1-2 punch, and with a little more lineup protection in years to come these guys will start putting up elite numbers. In keeper leagues Rizzo is a must have at a discount price.
Stephen Lombardozzi – Washington Nationals
Lombardozzi makes this list for one reason, volume. That might be a confusing statement, so allow me to explain. Stephen doesn’t offer elite power or speed, as he has just 1 HR and 1 SB in the last two weeks, but in a time frame when most players have accumulated between 45-53 at-bats, Lombardozzi has been to the plate an astonishing 65 times. Leading off for a potent Nationals lineup has its perks, and at a thin position such as second base, Lombardozzi can be a nice addition to any roster. He is best used as a temporary stop gap, as he won’t fill up the sheet across multiple categories, but he will add to your base hit and run scored numbers nicely, and he is available in most leagues at 2B, 3B and OF.
Most of the top third basemen heading into week 19 are already rostered. If you need advice on who to look for, please post a message in the forums, I am always happy to help.
Josh Rutledge – Colorado Rockies
How does a guy who bats in the 8th hole for one of the worst teams in baseball make the list? By mashing the hell out of the ball. In the last two weeks the top scoring SS in points formats is Jose Reyes, #2 is none other than Josh Rutledge of the Colorado Rockies. Rutledge is the definition of a stop-gap as he is merely keeping SS warm until Tulowitzki gets back, but if he keeps hitting like this the Rockies are going to have to find a place for him on the big league roster. In his last 2 weeks Josh is hitting a blistering .413 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and 1 SB. If you are still waiting on Furcal to return, pickup Rutledge and plug him in there as long as he remains hot.
Luis Cruz – Los Angeles Dodgers
Another surprise promotion from the minors this year has been Luis Cruz of the Dodgers. Dee Gordon was expected to be the SS for years to come in LA, while stealing a whole lot of bases, but the Dodgers quickly realized that a .210 hitter doesn’t get the opportunity to steal very often. In steps Luis Cruz, who in the last 2 weeks is hitting .277/2/12 while scoring 7 runs. If you are in a league that is very thin at MI, and need some help give Cruz a look as he could provide some solid stats for the stretch run of the season.
Paul Maholm – Atlanta Braves
The Braves landed SP Paul Maholm from the Chicago Cubs a few days before the trade deadline, and in doing so, they landed one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. In the last month, Maholm has posted a 1.22 ERA with 26 K’s in 36.2 innings, all while going 4-0. Maholm will be one of the big waiver wire adds for weeks 18 and 19, but for me I see him more as a spot starter. His 3 year average numbers show an ERA of 4.43 while recording 106 K’s per 180 innings pitched. While he will see his share of wins pitching for the Braves, Paul doesn’t have a history of elite K/9 numbers, and a very pedestrian ERA. In deep formats of 14 teams or more he is a must add, but in shallow formats pick him up and drop him more on the basis of his matchups.
A.J. Griffin – Oakland Athletics
The surprising Oakland A’s are still in the hunt for the playoffs due in large part to their stable of terrific starting pitchers. For the last 10 years the A’s have shown a consistent eye for talent when it comes to starting pitching, and A.J. Griffin is doing his part to keep the tradition alive. Going 3-0 over the past month with an ERA of 2.61 and 27 K in 31 IP. This kid is the real deal, and his ownership numbers should be on the rise. Admittedly the A’s were one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past month, and once their offense comes back to earth Griffin may have trouble adding to his win totals; but with a low WHIP and ERA he should be a solid SP for years to come.
Relief Pitcher/ Closer
Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
Hurry and check your league, if Holland is available and you need a closer, pick him up NOW. Don’t worry this article will still be here when you get back. Ok, assuming you picked up Holland let me explain why you just did that. This guy provides the sort of stats you are looking for in a closer. Namely, he has the job and will be called upon for most saves situations by Ned Yost and the Royals, he strikes out more than a batter per inning as evidenced by his 56 Ks in 39.2 IP, and he has been hot lately, recording 10 K’s in his last 7.2 IP. With Jonathon Broxton out of town on his way to be a setup man for the Reds, Holland will be one of the top adds of the week in fantasy baseball.
Thanks for reading, that is it for today. I will be releasing a weekly waiver wire advice column here on the site for anyone interested, we do have an email link where you can sign up to receive these articles straight to your inbox.