May 26, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (17) celebrates after he hits a three run walk off home run in the ninth inning to win 6-3 against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
In this weeks column, writer Cody Ulm puts together a team of scrappy misfits that may be available in your league.
Ever see "The Replacements?" If you haven't, don't. You're not missing much. But i thought it was appropriate to reference a quote from the film since we're talking about make believe baseball fill-ins and Keanu Reeves is a make believe actor.
In the film, Reeves tries his best to give an inspiring speech with a line that sounds mostly Bill and Ted-ish, proclaiming "pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory...lasts forever."
As a point of reference, I don't like to deal with "forever" in fantasy baseball due to it's unpredictability. But if you've played fantasy sports before then you know the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the league can be 3-5 useful waiver acquisitions.
So in the spirit of Shane Falco's short and not-so-sweet soliloquy, here's a list of players that most likely started the year on the waivers but could easily be a contributor on your team for the rest of the season:
[Note: Every player on this list had to have an average draft position (ADP) of 260 on ESPN since that number means they most likely began the year on the waivers]
Catcher - A.J. Ellis (LAD) - Surprisingly, catcher has been an easy position to fill on the waivers this season. Ellis, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski and Jonathan Lucroy have been more than useful in fantasy through the first two months of the season (and I doubt any were drafted unless you play two catcher leagues). Ellis gets the nod here because he's the only one I trust to keep up the high average thanks to his ability to take consistently strong at bats.
Runner up - Carlos Ruiz (PHI), Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)
First Baseman - Chris Davis (BAL) - A few weeks ago, Bryan LaHair would have been here but now he's not even honorable mention. My one worry with Davis is that unsustainable average but the 26-year-old lefty should make a quality UTL or corner infielder as long he continues to get at-bats in underrated lineup. Adam LaRoche has been slumping but he's another name to remember with his tendency for big second halfs and Mike Morse returning as protection.
Runner up - Adam LaRoche (WAS), Matt Adams (STL)
Second Baseman - Mike Aviles (BOS) - Jose Altuve and Omar Infante would be the obvious choices here but their ADP was 233 and 222 respectively. Hopefully you don't have to rely on Aviles as a starter due to his streaky tendencies but he has nice power for a middle infielder and is eligible at 3B and SS as well. Perfect player to keep on your bench to fill in during off days.
Shortstop - Rafael Furcal (STL) - I know, doesn't take a genius to point this one out but believe it or not he went undrafted in most ESPN leagues. Hitting at the top of that Cardinals' lineup, the only thing that well keep Furcal from reaching 100 runs for the first time since 2006 would be an injury.
Runner up - Zach Cozart (CIN), Jed Lowrie (HOU)
Third Baseman - Will Middlebrooks (BOS) - Middlebrooks is actually one of the more quality starters on this list. Playing time shouldn't be an issue going forward, especially with all the injuries to Boston's lineup. If he keeps up with the RBI numbers, he could finish as a top-8 third baseman.
Outfielders - Josh Reddick (OAK), Yonder Alonso (SD), Andy Dirks (DET)- This position was easily the most difficult to fill because of the sheer amount of outfielders that get drafted. And honestly, if any of these gentlemen are starting for you all year round, you're destined for last place.But as for injury fill-ins or bench bats, you could do much worse. Yes, Mike Trout was technically undrafted in most leagues but I feel like that's cheating this point. Of these three, I like Alonso's upside the most but the Padres' lineup will undoubtedly put a damper on his RBI numbers. Reddick is the best sell-high candidate as he wont continue to crank out the homers in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum. Dirks will probably be the most productive of the three as long as he continues to hit ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder
Starting Pitching - James McDonald (PIT), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Jerome Williams (LAA), Edison Volquez (SD), Lance Lynn (STL) - Yes, these are in order of most value to least value in my humble opinion. McDonald is the highest on my list because he's always had the talent to be in the upper echelon and he's finally putting it together. Pettitte won't continue this torrid pace but he could easily win 16 games with that Yankees offense behind him. Williams and Volquez are always capable of blowing your ERA with a bad start but Volquez's Ks and Williams win capability make them worth the risk in deeper leagues. As for Lynn, you might be surprised he's last on my list. I'm just worried as the innings continue to pile up, he'll wear down making him the most likely candidate to be replaced when Chris Carpenter makes his way back to the rotation. And for those clamoring for Chris Capuano on this list...yeah, good luck with that.
Closer - Santiago Casilla (SF) - Most of you are probably wondering how I didn't put Fernando Rodney here and rightfully so; the man has been absolutely filthy this year and gets his save chances from one of the best teams in baseball. Truth is though that Rodney has a career ERA of over 4.00 and has always given out too many free passes. Sure, this year he looks like a changed man but are you willing to go all in on that considering his history and the Rays tendency to cycle through closers at will? Casilla on the other hand is in a situation where no true threat is lurking around the corner. Brian Wilson isn't coming back anytime soon and Casilla has never had an ERA above 2.00 with the Giants. His arm would have to fall if for him to lose his job. Rafael Soriano also has potential to be one of the best if he ends up securing the Yankees job but I haven't given up hope on David Robertson yet.
Runner up - Fernando Rodney (TB), Jonathan Broxton (KC)