Week 14 Fantasy baseball waiver-wire talk
Some unexpected sources of power highlight this week's list of the most-added players in Fantasy baseball.
J.D. Martinez , OF, Detroit Tigers ; 77 percent owned, + 53 percent
An improved hitter
Coming up through the Houston Astros system, Martinez was viewed as a solid hitter whose ceiling might be somewhat limited due to his advanced age and a lack of power. He was a high-average hitter with moderate gap power, good plate coverage and an advanced recognition of the strike zone.
That is not the guy Fantasy owners are rushing out to add. The 26-year-old has been on a tear since the Tigers called him up, after he was cut by the Astros surprisingly in spring training. Martinez has been strikeout prone throughout his major-league career, but is making up for that with a monstrous power season -- and a bit of luck.
Martinez has adapted his approach since entering the league, becoming a bit more of a free-swinger who tries to reach for the fences. That approach has worked so far this season, as he has hit more fly balls than ever -- and seen those fly balls go over the fence at a career-best pace. If he qualified for the batting title, Martinez's .305 ISO would rank third in the league.
Of course, though Martinez is clearly a better hitter now than during his first two-plus major-league seasons. He is hitting the ball with authority, and should be able to sustain some of his improved production thanks to a change in approach, which he has credited to a reworked swing this offseason. Martinez is racking up extra-base hits thanks to a career-low 39.4-percent ground ball rate.
However, the question isn't whether Martinez is better than he was a year ago, but whether he can help Fantasy owners moving forward. Though he should remain useful, especially thanks to a swing that looks like it could easily provide 10-15 more home runs from this point on, even with some regression on his rate of home runs per fly ball. However, he is striking out too much to sustain a batting average over .300, as evidenced by his too-high .356 BABIP.
Still, if Martinez hits 13 more home runs and bats .280 from here on out, would anyone complain?
Jesse Hahn , SP, San Diego Padres ; 52 percent owned, + 38 percent
Not just a Petco Park phenomenon
The Padres might have found a hidden gem in Hahn, who was acquired in an offseason trade involving little in the way of big names. He got his career off to a late start, as the 2010 sixth-rounder did not make his debut until 2012 due to injuries. The Tampa Bay Rays handled him with kid gloves through two seasons in their system, when averaged fewer than four innings per start, while combining for an ERA well below 3.00 over 121 innings of work.
His small workload prior to this season might suggest Hahn is destined for the bullpen full time, but he has been stretched out in the majors without his good results taking a hit . He has finished six innings in each of his last three starts, and has topped 85 pitches in four straight starts going back to the minors, while racking up 27 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings in that time.
Hahn may yet end up as a reliever, but his combination of swing-and-miss stuff and tons of groundballs profiles well at Petco Park. He has induced swinging strikes on 10.2 percent of his pitches, a better mark than more high-profile names like Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner on the Padres staff. As long as he is healthy and starting, Hahn might be a solid high-upside play in that park.
Josh Harrison , OF, Pittsburgh Pirates ; 57 percent owned, + 26 percent
Probably not a long-term fix
Josh Harrison has been very good while filling in all over the field for the Pirates, but it is a bit tough to make sense of his recent upsurge in ownership. He is hitting .312 in the month of June with two home runs, after hitting .317 in May, so why has his ownership almost doubled recently?
Harrison has been a solid source of RBI over the last month, which helps entice owners, but that can be a pretty fickle thing for Fantasy owners to base a roster decision on. He has nine extra-base hits with 14 RBI in June, compared to eight RBI on eight extra-base hits in May. If you're picking up Harrison on the strength of his recent run production, it is hard to argue you won't end up disappointed.
Picking up Harrison seems like a fine hot hand play, but his run-of-the-mill power, only-decent speed and BABIP-inflated average seem unlikely to help over the long run.
C.J. Cron , DH, Los Angeles Angels ; 43 percent owned, + 25 percent
Looking like a keeper
Cron has become more of a free-swinger this season, with his strikeout rate jumping both in the minors and the majors. The upside of this is that Cron's power has played well at the major-league level, and he is still sporting a .300 batting average through his first 128 at-bats in the majors.
The average probably cannot sustain itself, though Cron has been stinging the ball at the plate. He is sporting a 26.8 percent line-drive rate, and isn't striking out so much that we should worry about his average falling off to embarrasing levels. And, with Cron's extreme fly-ball tendencies (45.4 percent), his power should have little trouble sustaining, even if that average doesn't.
The Angels released Raul Ibanez in order to get Cron consistent playing time, so Fantasy owners won't have to worry about him losing his job. He might slow down a bit moving forward, especially against right-handed pitchers (15-to-1 K/BB ratio), but Cron looks like a cheap source of power at a time when that has been a bit hard to come by for Fantasy owners.
Jake Arrieta , SP, Chicago Cubs ; 83 percent owned, +21 percent
I think Scott White summed this one up nicely last week, when he declared Arrieta "too promising not to add." White was clear to hedge his bets with Arrieta, who has been a disappointment overall in his major-league career, but it is getting hard to argue against his success this season.
Arrieta has, quite simply, been one of the best pitchers in baseball in his 57 innings this season. He has a 2.05 ERA, and his 2.10 FIP suggests it's not all smoke and mirrors. Arrieta is averaging 10.11 strikeouts per nine innings, and that is held up by a career-best 9.5 percent whiff rate. While that isn't necessarily an elite mark, he has been generating weak contact on pitches both inside and out of the strike zone, indicating that batters are having trouble picking him up.
With how many pitchers have gotten hurt this season, it is hard to believe Arrieta is still unowned in nearly one-fifth of all CBSSports.com leagues at this point in the season. The upside he is showing right now makes him a must-add.
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