Fantasy players have long memories. If you burn us, we won't quickly forget it. The defense mechanism can be useful, but too often it leads us to ignore useful players in the present because of what they've done in the past.
The theme of this week's first waiver-wire column, then, is simple: Redemption.
Let's look at five players who are currently under-owned in Fantasy, because of their past failures. Let's forgive and forget, and get some wins:
Byron Buxton Minnesota Twins CF
|Buxton's career has been mostly defined by disappointment, as the former top prospect in baseball sports a .229/.289/.382 line in 241 games. He hasn't been much better than that this season, and most Fantasy players likely wrote him off after another disastrous, strikeout-filled start. However, as he did a year ago, Buxton is finding his way late in the season, riding a 10-game hitting streak after Sunday, and hitting .328 with three homers and six steals in 19 August games. Skepticism is understandable, but Buxton doesn't have to keep this pace up to be Fantasy relevant. His stolen bases give him a high floor as it is. But, if this is the start of a breakout, you could get an all-around stud for the last month and a half of the season. Let bygones be bygones.|
Josh Bell Pittsburgh Pirates 1B
|Unlike some of the other names on this list, Josh Bell has never really had that bottoming-out moment for Fantasy players. He was solid in a cup of coffee last season, and was solid in the early going this season. However, solid doesn't cut it at first base, and he was pretty much written off as a low-upside option at a position where upside is all that matters. That may have been a mistake, because Bell may have more going for him than you think. Bell hit .231/.315/.463 over the first 80 games of the season, through the end of June; he has hit .313/.384/.547 in 42 games since. The difference? His BABIP has gone from .242 in the first sample to .339 since. Bad luck might have hidden what should have been obvious all along; Bell might just be a very good hitter|
Blake Snell Tampa Bay Rays SP
|Blake Snell might as well be the pitching version of Buxton; a hugely hyped prospect with one glaring flaw he couldn't overcome. For Buxton, it was strikeouts; for Snell, it was control. That is why the last six starts have been so promising for Snell. It's not just the 3.53 ERA -- he had a 3.54 mark a year ago, after all -- but the way he has gone about it. Snell has just nine walks in his past six starts, after walking 12 in his first three starts back from the minors. Something has clicked for the 24-year-old, and he has been able to pitch six innings in four of those six starts as a result. Snell does a great job of limiting solid contact as it is, so limiting free passes might be all he needs to make the leap. The signs are there, so let's buy in.|
Adam Conley Miami Marlins SP
|Though he doesn't have quite the pedigree of Snell, Adam Conley has a lot in common with his fellow southpaw. When things are going bad, Conley can't find the strike zone, which totally negates his natural ability to limit hard contact. However, like Snell, he seems to have figured things out lately, with a 3.25 ERA over his past seven starts since returning from the minors. Conley has walked just 6.9 percent of opposing hitters in that span, and is coming off a massive 11-strikeout performance against the Mets on Sunday. He doesn't have the upside Snell does, but Conley can be a useful option, as he proved in posting a 3.38 ERA in his first 21 starts last season before his season came off the rails due to an injury. The Marlins are actually competitive these days, so forgive Conley for his early-season struggles.|
Curtis Granderson Los Angeles Dodgers CF
|We'll veer from our narrative slightly for this last pick, because Curtis Granderson needs some love. The veteran looked finished in April, when he hit .128/.174/.221, and he's been digging himself out of that hole all season. However, if you've been ignoring him, it's to your own detriment, as he is hitting .259/.376/.568 in 90 games since the start of May. Sure, it's largely as a part-time player who rarely sees left-handed pitching much anymore, but that shouldn't worry you -- at least for Week 21. The Dodgers have seven games on the schedule this week, all of which are set to be against righties. If nothing else, Granderson is a terrific plug-and-play option for this week, if not longer.|