With trade deadlines well in the rear-view mirror, the only way to bolster fantasy teams at this point in the season is via the waiver wire. Fortunately, we here at Rotographs have you covered in this regard. A couple weeks ago, Adam McFadden wrote about a bunch of underowned players, which spawned my own column on the topic. Steven Shumansky expanded our list even further last week, and I’ve still managed to find four players — owned in 20% or fewer leagues on Yahoo! — to recommend for those of you trying to pad your power or speed numbers down the stretch.
Carl Crawford (20%) – With Yasiel Puig’s hamstring injury opening up playing time in the Dodgers outfield, Crawford has seized the opportunity. The 34-year-old is the team’s regular left fielder against right-handers, and recently moved from 5th/6th in the lineup to batting leadoff.
Crawford missed nearly three months with an oblique strain, and missed a couple games with a stiff back after returning in late July. He was also absent from the Dodgers lineup on Sunday due to hamstring tightness, but isn’t expected to miss more than a day or two, as he was seen running sprints before Sunday’s game.
When Crawford is on the field, he’s producing in a big way right now. Since Puig’s injury gave Crawford a regular spot in the lineup, he’s hit 13-for-44 (.295), and he’s a perfect 6-for-6 on stolen-base attempts. He’s also chipped in two homers.
With Crawford running wild atop the Dodgers lineup, he could provide a major shot in the arm for fantasy owners in search of some September speed.
Anthony Gose (9%) – Despite the fact that he’s got 20 steals on the year, Gose is lightly owned in fantasy leagues. The 25-year-old suffered a severe month-long slump in June (.169/.213/.183), and received irregular playing time in July (17 starts), a two-month stretch which probably explains his low ownership rate. The Yoenis Cespedes trade gave Gose an opportunity to play nearly every day, and he’s responded by producing enough to be promoted from batting ninth to hitting leadoff.
Since the calendar turned to August, Gose is getting on base at a solid clip, hitting a respectable .246/.338/.400. In those 36 games, he’s swiped six bases, scored 22 runs and swatted three homers. Furthermore, his already-solid run totals should see a boost with his recent move up the batting order. Just make sure you bench him against lefties, as he’s slashing just .140/.222/.228 against southpaws. (19 of his 20 steals and all five of his homers this year came against right-handers.)
Michael Conforto (10%) – With the Mets sitting atop the NL East, the 22-year-old Conforto has entrenched himself as the club’s everyday left fielder. Widely regarded as a top-100 prospect entering 2015, Conforto hit an impressive .297/.372/.482 in the minors this year, splitting time between High-A and Double-A.
Now 40 games into his major-league career, Conforto started 12 of the last 13 games in left for the Mets. In that 12-game stretch, he’s crushed four homers and compiled five multi-hit games, pushing his season line to .290/.371/.540 with the big-league club.
Michael Cuddyer — expected to return from wrist tendinitis on Monday — will take some starts away from Conforto, especially against lefties. Still, the 36-year-old is a major liability in the field, and his .264/.317/.402 slash isn’t exactly forcing the team to get him in the lineup.
I think the Mets will do everything they can to make sure Conforto remains a regular piece of the lineup as they hit the stretch run, and his 10% ownership rate is one of the most baffling in all of fantasy baseball right now.
J.P. Arencibia (15%) – Once considered a consensus top-50 prospect, Arencibia never developed the on-base skills necessary to be more than a replacement-level player. He strikes out a ton and doesn’t walk — as indicated by his career .258 OBP — but the one thing he does is hit bombs.
When Curt Casali hit the disabled list on August 26, the Rays turned to Arencibia behind the dish, calling the 29-year-old up from Triple-A. Since then, he’s been doing lots of J.P. Arencibia things, including:
- Hitting home runs (5 HR in 39 PA)
- Striking out (15 Ks)
- Refusing to take walks (0 BB)
The story here is pretty simple. If you need power — and your AVG/OBP can handle taking a hit — Arencibia’s getting regular playing time, and hitting lots of homers when he’s not striking out.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.