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How 'bout the middle infielders making noise this time of year? That's a nice change of pace, huh?
Of course, it stands to reason that since middle infielders are in higher demand, you're going to be taking bigger chances with them off the waiver wire. Anyone doing anything of note -- be it Jonathan Schoop with his three home runs or Jose Iglesias with his four stolen bases -- is worth a flier, provided you have the leeway to take a flier.
That's the catch. Al Melchior, Chris Towers and I are throwing three possible waiver claims your way every day when most often you don't have the roster space to act on all or even one of them.
Fortunately, enough middle infielders made enough noise Wednesday that I can focus on the ones I'm most confident will stick.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Astros (71 percent ownership)
Last year was a lost year for Lowrie because of a nagging neck injury, but two years ago, he ranked fifth among shortstops in Head-to-Head points leagues and seventh in Rotisserie. He told our Al Melchior this offseason that he retooled his swing prior to that first season in Oakland to become more line drive-oriented in a bigger ballpark, and it seemed to work.
Now, he's taking that revamped swing to Houston, where he had his best season in terms of home runs in 2012, which makes sense since it's a much smaller park. This is a potential best-of-both-worlds scenario, and so far, that's exactly how it's gone. Lowrie hit his third home run Wednesday and is hitting .286 with a 1.037 OPS.
Devon Travis, 2B, Blue Jays (62 percent ownership)
I've been hyping Travis for a while now, but his ownership has stagnated at around 60 percent, which I guess makes some measure of sense. In a 12-team league with no middle infield spot, there are enough quality second basemen to go around.
But just barely. The waiver wire won't be abounding in second basemen come midseason, so if I owned one of the shakier top 12, like Jason Kipnis, Kolten Wong or Chase Utley, I'd want to ensure him with Travis, who I believe has top 10 potential himself. He's just so polished for a rookie, having struck out only six times in 31 at-bats, so I expect his high batting average in the minors to translate immediately. And while he's not going to contend for a home run title, he clearly has pop for a middle infielder with two home runs and two doubles already.
Travis may end up being what we're all wanting Wong to be this year.
Steven Souza, OF, Rays (63 percent ownership)No, Souza isn't a middle infielder and, therefore, has to do more to grab your attention on waivers, but he has the kind of upside that could change the course of your season.
Did you see the home run he hit Tuesday? It hit off the third deck in straightaway center, conservatively estimated as 463 feet away from home plate. And his followup blast Tuesday was no cheapie either.
"It's not so much the distance, it's just how hard the ball comes off his bat," manager Kevin Cash told MLB.com. "And the sound. Seems like those just-misses are becoming just-connections now. So that's good to see."
A lot of Fantasy owners gave up on Souza when he got off to a 2-for-16 start, but man, 16 at-bats is nothing. This guy hit .350 with 18 home runs in just 346 at-bats at Triple-A Syracuse last year, which isn't in a crazy hitter's league. And his base-stealing ability may actually be his best attribute.
Don't waste your time on someone like Nick Markakis if Souza is available.