By Sam McPherson
It happens every spring: Former All-Stars either get hurt in Spring Training and miss the first six weeks of the season, or they get off to a slow start to end up on the waiver wire by the end of May. This is the time to look over those offerings and see if you can’t grab some good production when the other owners in your fantasy baseball league aren’t looking.
Of course, this doesn’t come without risk. The older the players are, the more likely they may get injured again. So assess the injury itself and whether or not the team took its time bringing the player back to the major leagues. Often, contending teams with no depth can rush a player back too soon, and that kind of risk is not one you want right now.
Look for veterans with reliable track records and few DL visits in their careers; those players work out best in terms of risk. With pitchers, it’s often good to pick them up and stash them on the bench for a little while until they make a few appearances to work out any hitches on the mound.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers: Forget the negativity coming from the Los Angeles Angels organization, and also forget Hamilton’s monster years with the Rangers back in 2010-12. He’s not going to reproduce those numbers. But Hamilton will be better than he was last year in L.A. when he had shoulder problems that impacted his swing, so you can probably get 15 home runs and 60 RBIs out of him for the rest of the year. That’s better than what most guys that have been playing since Opening Day will give you over a full season.
2. Jaime García, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: This guy should have been Rookie of the Year in 2010, and although he’s made only 37 MLB starts since the start of 2012, they’ve been good starts. García is coming back from a shoulder injury, which is better than coming back from an elbow surgery. Plus, you know how the St. Louis organization develops its pitchers; trust in that when you grab him off waivers.
3. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers: Not only will he benefit from having Hamilton in the lineup, but Choo is also recovering from that horrendous start to the season now. Grab him quickly; at his best, he’s a 20-20 player, and his worst is already behind him this season. Look for him to finish the season with numbers like he put up in Cleveland three years ago (.283, 16 HR, 67 RBI). Since the slump is out of the way, you’ll reap the rebound benefits all the way to October.
4. Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants: He got off to a hot start last year and then faded, but Crawford’s career is trending up. His OBP and SLG have improved every season, and he’s now 28 years old. Don’t expect the current .906 OPS to last for the rest of the year, but it should stay close to .800 by the end of the season. That’s good for a shortstop, of course.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds: You had high hopes when you drafted him, but in leagues where strikeouts matter, Leake just hurts any fantasy owner. With just 30 Ks in 54 2/3 innings this year, once again he is a liability in your rotation. On the whole, he’s giving up fewer hits than ever before, but that could change at any time with Leake. There’s little need to keep him on your roster.
2. Chris B. Young, OF, New York Yankees: He hasn’t hit more than 14 HRs in a season since 2011, and now that Young already has six this year, you know he’s due for regression. There’s a reason he’s with his third team in three seasons, and Young shouldn’t be taking up a roster spot on your team.
3. Addison Reed, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Do not drop him. Just bench him for awhile. Reed isn’t closing any more for the D’backs, but he will again soon. Believe it. He’s only 26, and Reed saved 101 games from 2012-14. This is just a temporary bump in the road for a kid with a good arm (220 Ks in 207 career IP).
4. Jean Segura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers: Yes, he’s injured, and with any finger/hand/wrist injury, there’s always a risk when they come back that the swing is off. But Segura isn’t worth keeping on your roster, either way. He has limited power, and his speed isn’t what it was back in 2013 when he stole 44 bases. He’s about half that player when healthy, and Segura isn’t healthy anymore.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball and fantasy sports for many online sites, including CBS, AXS and Examiner.