RotoGraphs’ Waiver Wire League Update, Starring Jason Kipnis, Javy Guerra and Brandon McCarthy

Prior to the All-Star break, four RotoGraphs writers — Eno Sarris, Jeff Zimmerman, Howard Bender and me — engaged in the just-for-fun activity of drafting Pick Six-style teams, with the pool of players limited to those available in 10% or less in ESPN leagues (at the time of the draft). Given those parameters, the exercise proved to be challenging, but if you paid attention to our picks, you may have managed to snag a useful fantasy player or three off the waiver wire — no matter what kind of league you play in. Let’s update the scoring and hit on each owner’s best and worst selections. In other words, it’s time to see who’s in line for some bragging rights.

Remember, we’re using standard 5×5 scoring from the second half of the season, and the positions are: Catcher, Corner Infielder, Middle Infielder, Outfielder, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher.


*Standings as of games played through Tuesday, August 16th.

1st Place: 32 points — Catania
2nd Place: 31 points — Sarris
3rd Place: 24 points — Zimmerman
4th Place: 13 points — Bender

With 10 categories and 4 owners, the max score is 40 points, while the minimum possible tally is 10, so Eno and I are in a battle for top dog that could very well go down to the wire, provided his players stop getting injured (more on that later). Jeff’s respectable performance puts him within shouting distance, so if everything breaks right for him, there’s a possibility he could make a jump. Howard? Well, there’s always prayer. Or next year.


*I took the liberty of making up the team names to add some terrible puns and jokes to the fun.

Owner: Howard Bender (1st Pick)
Catcher: Nick Hundley (RD 4)
Corner Infielder: Chris Johnson (RD 2)
Middle Infielder: Chris Getz (RD 3)
Outfielder: Cody Ross (RD 1)
Starting Pitcher: Barry Zito (RD 6)
Relief Pitcher: Koji Uehara (RD 5)

Best Pick: Uehara. At the time of the pick, Howard was figuring Koji would factor into the Orioles closer situation like he did last year, thus giving Mr. Bender a shot at 4 points for winning the saves category, while also maintaining well enough in ERA, WHIP and Ks. Alas, the Japanese right-hander was traded to Texas, where he’s now third in the saves pecking order, wiping out a big portion of his value.
Worst Pick: Getz. Let’s see, he posted a gawdawful .291 SLG in the first half. He lost his job to prospect Johnny Giavotella about two weeks into this. And, oh yeah, he’s Chris Getz. Lucky for Mr. Zimmerman, who actually was hoping Getz would fall to him with his next pick, Howard took the plunge first.
One Change: Um, re-doing the entire draft, perhaps?

Owner: Jason Catania (2nd Pick)
Catcher: Wilson Ramos (RD 2)
Corner Infielder: Danny Valencia (RD 1)
Middle Infielder: Jason Kipnis (RD 5)
Outfielder: Will Venable (RD 3)
Starting Pitcher: Doug Fister (RD 4)
Relief Pitcher: Cory Luebke (RD 6)

Best Pick: Kipnis. As I predicted when I made this pick, Kip was called up shortly thereafter, and he’s not only dwarfed all other middle infielders, he’s basically been the best player in this entire league, hitting a solid .279 with 6 HRs and 2 SBs. That’s mixed-league starter production that I stole — STOLE, I say — in the second-to-last round.
Worst Pick: Ramos. I really thought he’d be the best catcher taken coming off his 3-HR, 12-RBI, .856-OPS July, but he’s cooled considerably since and may actually turn out to be the worst backstop in the end.
One Change: Preventing Fister from being traded away from Safeco’s comfy pitcher’s park and the Mariners’ solid defense (3rd-best in defensive efficiency, or the percentage of balls in play that become outs). As planned, I have a healthy lead in Ks — thanks to my dual-SP approach, in which Luebke’s been great (1.12 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) — but Fister the Tiger (6.14 ERA, 1.70 WHIP) has been so bad I may wind up with just 1 point in WHIP anyway. Shades of Jarrod Washburn who fell apart after going from Seattle to Detroit in 2009, when I also owned him in a deep AL-only league.

Owner: Eno Sarris (3rd Pick)
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (RD 2)
Corner Infielder: Matt LaPorta (RD 6)
Middle Infielder: Jason Bartlett (RD 3)
Outfielder: Chris Heisey (RD 1)
Starting Pitcher: Rubby De La Rosa (RD 5)
Relief Pitcher: Javy Guerra (RD 4)

Best Pick: Guerra. Unlike Bender’s gamble on a closer, Eno’s choice paid off in a big way. Guerra, who wasn’t yet the Dodgers’ end game guy when the pick was made, has been nearly flawless since the break (0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP). He’s settled nicely into the closer role (6 second-half SVs), so much so that he’s become mixed-league relevant. Because of him, no one will catch Mr. Sarris in saves. In fact, he’s got a monopoly on that category to this point.
Worst Pick: De La Rosa. This isn’t really a bad pick so much as it was an unlucky one. Rubby joined his fellow De La Rosa (that’d be Jorge) on the TJ surgery table only 15 innings into this “season” of ours. Without a starter, Eno’s going to have trouble making up ground in Ks and wins, but at least he’ll have a good chance to maintain his leads in ERA, WHIP and SVs.
One Change: Better health for his players, as Heisey has also been stuck on the DL.

Owner: Jeff Zimmerman (4th Pick)
Catcher: John Buck (RD 1)
Corner Infielder: Casey Blake (RD 6)
Middle Infielder: Scott Sizemore (RD 4)
Outfielder: Jonny Gomes (RD 2)
Starting Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy (RD 5)
Relief Pitcher: Aaron Crow (RD 3)

Best Pick: McCarthy. Since coming back from six weeks on the DL mid-season, the righty has continued his breakout campaign (3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) and returned to being a useable spot starter or streaming option against the right matchup in mixed leagues. Even better, his 4 wins have helped Jeff to the top spot in that category.
Worst Pick: Gomes. Again, this wasn’t a horrible pick at the time, but it turned out to be unlucky, as Gomes was jettisoned to the Nationals almost immediately after being selected. He was already losing some time to Heisey in Cincy, but the outfield rotation in Washington is perhaps even dicier, if that’s possible — and there’s no Dusty Baker love for Gomes there.
One Change: Finding another legitimate starting hitter would have helped Mr. Zimmerman a lot, since he’s not too far behind in the counting stats (HR, RBI, R), but only Buck is a regular as of now, which is going to make it tough to play catch-up.


We’ll check back in on things next month, as the season winds down. Because, hey, even us RotoGraphers aren’t above bragging rights.

We hoped you liked reading RotoGraphs’ Waiver Wire League Update, Starring Jason Kipnis, Javy Guerra and Brandon McCarthy by Jason Catania!

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Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11

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Howard Bender