Adam LaRoche: Waiver Wire Addition

Adam LaRoche: 16% Yahoo!, 11.8% ESPN

There are those types of players in fantasy that everyone has owned at one point or another. I’m not talking about the Albert Pujolses of the world. The player I’m talking about is good, but not great. He won’t win you a league but he’ll contribute in enough places to be a valuable asset. One such player is Adam LaRoche. In his ninth season, the 32-year-old has carved out a nice career. While he’s been overshadowed by the bigger, better, slugging first basemen in the National League (Howard,Votto, Pujols, Fielder, etc) he’s managed to put up solid numbers year in and year out. From 2005-2010 he averaged 24 home runs and 87 runs batted in, including a 100 RBI season two years ago. With Pujols and Fielder in the American League and Howard on the disabled list, first base has been weakened significantly, especially in the NL, upping LaRoche’s value.

Michael Morse was the Nationals first basemen in 2011 and had a fantastic season. He’s currently injured but will be coming off the disabled list very soon which should make for an interesting decision from Washington. Luckily for them Morse is able to play the outfield. Currently, their outfield consists of Mark DeRosa, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth. When Morse returns he should be able to slide into left field, relegating DeRosa to a super utility role and allowing LaRoche to continue to man first base. Another factor in LaRoche getting continued playing time is his salary. He’ll make $8 million this season, hardly a number you want riding the pine next to the likes of Brett Carroll and Steve Lombardozzi.

Most of his 2011 season was lost due to a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff. So far in 2012 he’s shown no ill effects from the injuries, hitting .467/.529./.867 with two home runs and six runs batted in through four games. Is he going to keep that up? Unless he suddenly morphs into Barry Bonds circa 2002, probably not. But, if the shoulder is healthy, he’ll provide solid production to any lineup. Yes, he’s one of the few players that actually has pronounced splits in the first and second half of the season. Pre-All Star break his OPS is .763, Post-All Star break it’s .889. His batting average also takes a 47 point jump to .295. He’s owned in just 16% of Yahoo! Leagues while Justin Smoak is at 18% and Mitch Moreland is 33%. James “No Power” Loney is owned in 15%(!).

In his last full season (2010) he ranked as the 15th best first basemen. With continued health and playing time there’s no reason he can’t at least replicate that. A .270/25/85 season should be within reach, which is excellent value for a waiver wire addition.

Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

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LaRoche also has a pronounced split against LHP. He’s better in daily leagues where he can be benched in those situations.