Wednesday night was the first full night of baseball of the young season with all 30 teams in action all across the country. There weren’t even any rain-outs although some games were played in pretty frigid conditions. While most of the time colder conditions tend to help pitchers, there are some offensive players stepping up as well. These emerging players could be just the jolt your fantasy team needs.
There’s lots of production still on Waiver Wires as the baseball season gets fired up, and many of them could help if you have a positional or categorical need. All the players listed in sleeper central (archive here) are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues (ownership % included). Here’s the breakouts from yesterday’s boxscores who you need to at least be aware of in your league:
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C- Tyler Flowers-Chicago White Sox: (1.5%) Flowers connected on his second home run in as many games as part of his 2-3 game yesterday. Flowers may be ready to replace A.J. Pierzynski’s power production as he steps in as Chicago’s everyday catcher, but his batting average is still a long-term concern. He’s almost universally available and does provide some pop at catcher where there aren’t many home runs to be had. Flowers makes a good pick if you need a catcher for as long as he stays hot.
1B- Jordan Pacheco- Colorado Rockies: (0.8%) Pacheco’s bat isn’t really a question-mark. The reason his value is capped is his limited playing time. He’s stuck behind Colorado’s elder-statesman Todd Helton at 1B, and manager Walt Weiss has said he’ll need to “get creative” to find Pacheco at-bats. He hit well yesterday going 2-4 with a double and a run scored as well as picking up a walk. Keep an eye on Pacheco to see if he starts getting playing time. With the thin air and his solid batting average, he’ll be worth an add if he can get into the lineup on a daily basis.
2B- Daniel Descalso-St. Louis Cardinals: (1.8%) In the Cardinals marathon loss in Arizona, Descalso collected four hits in seven trips while adding two runs scored and three RBI. His long-term playing time may be limited when David Freese returns, but he’s proven himself to be a valuable contributor across the board as a fill-in although he doesn’t stand out in any single category. Monitor how playing time shakes out, but he could work as a middle infield stop gap.
3B- Alberto Callaspo- LA Angels: (1.7%) Just as expected (or not), the Angels offense has been powered by Chris Iannetta and Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo had a big spring and carried it over last night going 2-4 with a run scored and 2 RBI on his first home run of the season. He is more known for his glove work at the hot corner but could have valuable totals in runs, RBI, and OBP. The lineup around him will eventually start producing and depending on where he ends up slotted he could end up with plenty of RBI opportunities or getting driven in by the meaty middle of the Angels lineup.
SS- Jose Iglesias-Boston Red Sox: (1.4%) Iglesias’s days are apparently numbered with Stephen Drew close to a return to take the full-time SS position in Boston. However, if Iggy gets an extended look at some point, he’s showing his offense may not be a total lost cause. He has collected multiple hits in each of the Sox first two games this season. He went 2-4 with a double and a run scored last night after going 3-5 in the opener. His window of opportunity appears to be closing, but keep these numbers in mind if his situation changes.
OF- Michael Brantley-Cleveland Indians: (9.9%) A sleeper I’ve been in on since preseason, Brantley had a huge game for the Tribe last night as they beat Toronto again and moved to 2-0. Brantley went 4-5 with a run scored and an RBI. He’s hitting in the middle of the Indians lineup and should be an everyday player who could hit upwards of .300 with some decent steals and power numbers. I’m surprised he’s this under-rated and he may be the first hot commodity of the fantasy baseball season if he keeps up his production.
OF- Gerardo Parra- Arizona Diamondbacks: (4.0%) Parra has started the year tearing the cover off the ball and already has three doubles, a triple, and a home run on the season while hitting .500 (8-16). Parra added his first steal of the season last night as part of his 3-7 night with three runs scored, and his first homer and RBI of the year. Parra is a prototypical leadoff hitter who should stay in that role for a while as long as he keeps seeing the ball this well. If you’re trying to decide between him and Brantley, Parra is a better short-term pickup and offers more speed while Brantley has more long-term upside and projects to have more power numbers.
OF- Domonic Brown- Philadelphia Phillies: (32.4%) Brown collected a pair of hits against the Braves last night and is 3-7 so far on the season. The Phils look committed to giving him a long look in LF, so feel free to add him accordingly.
AL Starting Pitcher- Ubaldo Jimenez-Cleveland Indians: (5.6%) The key to the Indians season is getting something from their rotation. So far, So good. After Justin Masterson looked good on Opening Day, Jimenez hurled six innings of three-hit, one-run ball while striking out six and walking two. He didn’t figure into the decision, but looked solid in his first start of the year. He’s a risky play until he shows more consistency, but there is potential here and he’s only 29 so he could still have a solid season or two left if he can adjust. I wouldn’t add him in most formats yet, but he may be a spot or streaming option in the right matchups.
NL Starting Pitcher- Paul Maholm-Atlanta Braves: (28.4%) One pitcher I would consider adding is Paul Maholm. The Braves lefty held the Phillies scoreless while pitching around six hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings yesterday to move to 1-0 on the season. He had six strikeouts and is now set up for a two-start week next week (in theory). Maholm has a potent lineup behind him which should net him some wins and his ERA and WHIP numbers have been solid the last few seasons. If you want a more long-term addition than a streaming starter, he’s an option you should definitely consider.
Relief Pitcher- Garrett Richards-LA Angels: (0.0%) Richards pitched for the second time in as many games against Cincinnati yesterday. Richards has entered both games when they were tied in the late innings. If your league credits you for holds, that kind of role could pay off in the long run. He pitched a perfect inning yesterday picking up a pair of strikeouts. He’s pitches 2 2/3 of shutout baseball in his first two appearances and could also be useful if/when he’s pressed into the Angels rotation. He’s more of a watch list or potential stash pickup at this point, so I’d hold off an adding and just observe for now.