Welcome to the inaugural edition of the deep league waiver wire. Join me every Wednesday morning decked out in your scuba gear ready to dive into the free agent pool searching for hidden treasure. I have limited the pool of players to those owned in 10% or less in CBS leagues, which should be deep enough for most. Unfortunately, Only leaguers sometimes have to choose between any Major Leaguer with a roster spot or going empty, so it’s a much easier decision!
Chris Heisey | 4% Owned
Ryan Ludwick’s shoulder injury opens the door for Heisey to once again get every day at-bats as a starting outfielder. Last season, he was unhelpful to fantasy leaguers, despite receiving nearly 70 more at-bats than he earned in 2011. Basically, his power went MIA after coming off a year in which he posted a .233 ISO and nearly 19% HR/FB rate. Sure enough, his average home run and fly ball distance actually supports the disappearance of his power, tumbling about 25 feet, which is very significant. Maybe he was playing through an injury or some other randomness affected him, but you have to assume a 28 year old didn’t suddenly lose his power.
So at his best, Heisey does provide power, as his 600 at-bat pace over his career is 24 long balls. In addition to that power, he has some speed, as he has stolen about 9 bases in that 600 at-bat window. The issue is what kind of batting average he might provide. Though he sports a better than league average career BABIP, I’m not sure how long that will last. His career IFFB% is absurd and he’s a fly ball hitter. That combination suggests a BABIP below .300, so if he hits above .250-.255, thank the luck dragons. That said, he’ll be hitting in a good lineup and ballpark and the Reds are not calling up Billy Hamilton anytime soon. As long as he’s starting, he may even earn some shallow mixed league value.
Alex Gonzalez | 3% Owned
What is this, 2010 (when Gonzalez actually earned positive fantasy value)? The 37 year old former shortstop is back. This time he’s with Milwaukee and has shifted around the infield to first base to start in place of the injured Corey Hart. He still has that shortstop eligibility, so that’s all that matters. He has always shown pretty good pop for a middle infielder, and his power is boosted by his penchant for fly balls. Of course, those fly balls have paired with lots of pop-ups, which have conspired to keep his BABIP below the league average. In fact, he has only posted a BABIP above .300 twice over his entire career.
Like Heisey above, he is unlikely to contribute in batting average, though over a smallish sample size, anything could happen of course. But he does have decent power, hits in a good lineup and park and is probably going to play every day. For a short-term stopgap if you are dealing with a Derek Jeter injury or some other problem, at least he has some identifiable upside.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.