Robbie Grossman & Tim Lincecum: Deep League Waiver Wire

It’s deep league waiver time. Please contain your excitement.

Robbie Grossman | OF MIN | CBS 1% Owned

On May 17, the Twins signed Grossman to a minor league contract. On May 18, he got the call to Minnesota to replace Eddie Rosario, who was demoted to the minors. How’s that for a quick move through the system?! Grossman has started each game since May 20, ensuring once again that Oswaldo Arcia will not be a regular. That Twins team sure hates Arcia! But what’s bad news for Arcia owners is good news for all those stashing Grossman. Oh wait, that’s zero of you. Well, if you have some FAAB, at least he’s a warm body to spend it on.

Though it seems like he’s been around forever, he’s still just 26 years old. He owns a touch of power and some speed and has averaged nine homers and 12 steals per 600 plate appearances. That’s going to be an undervalued package as he doesn’t particularly stand out in either category. He does strike out often, which is surprising given his measly .106 career ISO. But it’s not because he’s swings and misses frequently. In fact, he makes excellent contact.

Instead, he has been extremely passive throughout his career, as in, he just doesn’t swing. His career Swing% is just 38.3% versus a league average around 46%, so if we had a metric that tracks looking strikeout rate, you better believe he would be near the top. That approach has helped him maintain a strong walk rate, which means he’ll likely produce far more value in leagues that count OBP instead of batting average.

With outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler knocking on the door in the minors, Grossman isn’t going to remain the starting left fielder all season. But he does likely have some time to earn deep league value for the time being and can contribute a bit all around, except possibly average.

Tim Lincecum | SP LAA | 14% Owned

First of all, I’m cheating, as I typically include just players owned in 10% and fewer of CBS leagues. Lincecum is clearly above that limit. However, I wanted to discuss him here. Don’t click the back button or onto someone else’s article. Hear me out.

So we all know by now that Lincecum signed with the Angels last week and surprise, surprise, pass his physical. He is coming off major hip surgery, so that’s a good sign. Given his poor performances since 2012, I would imagine that any questionable findings in that physical would have resulted in the team passing. Speculation now is that Lincecum will need a bunch of rehab starts in the minors and he could be ready to join the battered Angels rotation in mid-June. That makes now a good time to proactively speculate before he gets called up and there’s a rush (haha) in your league to add him.

Of course, he has been terrible for years now, so why would you want to pick him up? First off, he really hasn’t pitched as poorly as his ERAs have indicated. From 2012-2014, his LOB% was quite suppressed, falling under 70% each season. He never had problems stranding runners previously, and while underlying skills (like strikeout and walk rates) definitely influence LOB%, there’s a ton of luck involved as well. Furthermore, he suffered from inflated HR/FB rates over those years as well, which was another factor that reduced his LOB%. AT&T Park is a very pitcher friendly venue, so he had no excuse, but Angel Stadium is also pitcher friendly in terms of home runs allowed. In addition, the Angels defense has been strong this year, as they currently rank seventh in baseball in UZR/150.

Though his strikeout rate has declined, he still had no problems generating swings and misses. Last year, his SwStk% was a robust 10.7%. Moving to the American League is obviously not going to help fuel a strikeout rate rebound, but maybe his hip had been a problem and lead to his declining skills. If he’s truly healthy, his performance may recover. Perhaps it just comes down to velocity, which had been in free fall. It will be interesting to see where he’s sitting during his rehab games. If he’s still struggling to touch 90 mph, then I’ll be much more pessimistic.

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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