Michael Bourn & Michael Feliz: Deep League Waiver Wire

If you were dying to roster a Michael, today’s deep league waiver wire gives you two options. Given that Michael is the world’s best name (I’m obviously not biased), then why wouldn’t you be racing to the free agent pool to dive in and catch one?

Michael Bourn | OF ARI | CBS 4% Owned

What happens when your star center fielder gets hurt in spring training and is likely to miss the rest of the season? You scramble for a replacement. Popular sleeper Socrates Brito didn’t work out, so now it’s up to Chris Owings to hold down the fort. With a .330 wOBA and excellent defense, he’s done an admirable job so far. Will it last? I wouldn’t count on a .354 BABIP being sustained. Besides, Owings’ natural position is at shortstop, though he’s been up and down defensively there. Nick Ahmed is doing his standard good defense, terrible offense thing, so Owings is going to find himself at short every so often.

That opens up an opportunity for the recently signed Bourn. Yes, he’s still alive. And despite him being at the ripe old age of 33, he has already swiped three bases over just 36 plate appearances. Speed is the one thing we know wanes with age, but maybe Bourn’s hasn’t dried up just yet. In nearly every game he has started, Bourn has been slotted into the two hole. That’s probably a silly decision, but it will certainly boost his value.

Although Bourn isn’t exactly the type of hitter to be greatly affected by his home park, this is the first time in a while that he has called a hitter friendly park home. At the very least, maybe it will lead to his first home run since 2014!

Michael Feliz | RP HOU | 6% Owned

Head on over to the leaderboards, click on Pitching, Relievers and then the Advanced tab, before sorting by K%-BB%. The top two are no surprise as the pair of Yankees are established dominators at this point. The third pitcher might be a mild surprise, but Hector Rondon has simply taken an already strong skill set another notch higher. It’s the number four guy that might result in a collective “WHO?!?!?!”.

Thanks to a near 40% strikeout rate and sub-5% walk rate, Feliz finds himself fourth on the list which is a pure measure of underlying skill. His SIERA stands at 1.50. His SwStk% is a robust 13.5%. This is from a guy who pitched as a starter over the majority of his professional career. We know that strikeout rates tend to rise going from starting to relieving, but Feliz’s has skyrocketed compared to his minor league rates. He’s doing it with a fastball-slider combination that both get well above average whiffs.

The funny thing is, you would have no idea how fantastic Feliz has been if you’re just browsing through ERAs. It’s absurd that his ERA sits above 4.00, but it’s what happens when your LOB% is a lowly 54.1%, partially due to an inflated 23.1% HR/FB rate.

I rarely recommend middle relievers who have little chance of closing, but in deep leagues, middle reliever do have the chance to earn reasonable value, even with nary a save. When your choice is a strong middle reliever or Mike Pelfrey, you should choose the right Mike or Michael.

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.

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baltic wolf
baltic wolf

Hey Mike: I really appreciate the information found here and in any of your columns but I added Feliz in both my AL-only league and my 16 team points league a week ago.
Part of it was watching him pitch vs. the Orioles (wicked slider and high 90’s fastball) but primarily it was kind of hard to ignore his stats. One earned run allowed for the entire month of May! And he still has not given up another ER since then. And a phenomenal K/BB ratio. (Now standing at 26:1, with the one walk coming in his last appearance.) In 16 IPs!
Yeah, I guess you could say you want him over Mike Pelfrey.

I do have one question for you about a pitcher who is used in all formats: Drew Smyly. Was I wrong to expect a good season from him? Looking at his PITCH/fx data I don’t see that much difference from the last couple of months of 2015 when he was really good. Velocity the same, whiff rates about the same with his primary pitches. The only thing that really stands out is his strand rate—it’s much lower than in previous seasons. I guess he was due for some regression in that department since his strand % was so high last year, but can we expect some positive regression ROS? One other thing: I’ve only seen him pitch a couple of times this year so my observations have little value, but it seems to me that he has abandoned using that high strike that made him so successful once he came over to the Rays. Are you seeing the same thing, either visually or through other means?

And finally: are pitchers getting squeezed more this spring? Seems like it in the games I’ve watched, though I’ve watched fewer this year than I normally do.

Thanks for your articles.