It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again — the start of a new baseball season and the return of the deep league waiver wire. Ownership rates are sometimes dramatically different depending on the league site, so it’s always a little difficult to determine what pool of players to choose from for recommending. Just like in previous years, I will only consider players owned in 10% or less of leagues on CBS.
Jesus Guzman | HOU 1B/OF | 2% Owned
I am frankly surprised his ownership rate is this low. Of course, after his home run yesterday, it’s sure to increase. Now an Astro, Guzman has an opportunity for more significant playing time than he did in San Diego. But, he’ll have to hit to keep getting penciled into the lineup as the Astros 1B/DH/OF situation is quite crowded as well. He’ll have to fend off Chris Carter from stealing first base at-bats, Jonathan Singleton in the future and Marc Krauss. As a right-handed batter, the downside here is that he falls into a straight platoon, only starting against lefties.
Guzman has made pretty good contact in the minor leagues, but that skill has deteriorated at the MLB level. His strikeout rate has jumped every year he has played, as he continues to swing and miss more frequently. That’s obviously not a good trend, but he’s shown better in the past, providing at least a glimmer of hope that things will improve. He has some power and even a bit of speed, as he has swiped 15 bags during his short Major League career.
If he can’t improve that strikeout rate, the other opportunity for upside is in his BABIP. Only once in parts of four seasons has he recorded a BABIP mark above the league average, but he has typically posted elevated marks in the minors. If he can regain that skill, he could be neutral in batting average without needing to significantly cut down on the strikeouts. Minute Maid Park is also a much better hitting environment than Petco Park is, so he should benefit from the ballpark move as well.
Ryan Flaherty | BAL 2B | 7% Owned
With Manny Machado on the DL as he recovers from last year’s knee injury, Flaherty is going to play every day at third base. Once Machado returns, he’ll battle rookie Jonathan Schoop for second base at-bats. But, even if he doesn’t become the primary second baseman, he’ll stick around as a super utility player and still accumulate enough at-bats to earn value.
He possesses pretty good power for a middle infielder and could even chip in the odd stolen base. The problem stems from his potential batting average. He has struck out at least 20% of the time at every level since his stint at Triple-A in 2011 and has had trouble hitting line drives. A league average IFFB% and fly ball rate isn’t good enough to offset the damage that his lack of liners has had on his BABIP. But we know that LD% is the flakiest of the batted ball type statistics, so perhaps that jumps toward the league average. If he could hit just .250, he’ll be that much more appealing to fantasy owners.
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.