We’re out of April. May is the time of year when Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder come out of their slumps. The weather starts warming up, and stadium attendances begin to approach capacity.
The rain is still here, however, so we’re not totally out of the woods yet. But just because the White Sox are in a rain delay doesn’t mean that you need to delay your waiver wire claims.
There are two things you’re looking for on the free agent wire this time of year. First, you want to find players who have been hot for the first month of the season and are here to stay. Last year Ben Zobrist hit .285 and OPS’d 1.004 in April.
So, when teams finding themselves in need of an injury stopgap at shortstop added Zobrist to their teams, he rewarded them by hitting even better in May and finishing the season strong. He was a player that virtually nobody owned for the first month of the season, but after getting hot in April, he stayed hot and actually helped many fantasy teams win a championship.
But who cares about last year? Who are this year’s Zobrist?
Daric Barton is still available in 97% of fantasy baseball leagues. He won’t help you with HR, but he’s hitting .296 and scoring plenty of runs with the red hot A’s. He’s a great add if you need a corner infielder or utility man.
Ryan Sweeney‘s stats are basically interchangeable with Barton’s. If these two stay hot, the A’s will remain contenders, and so could your fantasy team.
Josh Willingham has belted 6 HR and 20 RBIs. He’s been a huge reason that the Nationals offense has been outperforming people’s expectations.
He’s shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, so if he’s for real in 2010, it’s not as if he came out of the abyss.
Orlando Hudson isn’t having a breakout year. He’s not coming out of nowhere at all, but fantasy players are still avoiding him like he has Lupus. It’s almost as if people think he’s a backup.
It’s truly baffling. He does everything. He scores a ton of runs, hits .300, he can hit double-digit HRs, and he steals bases. Yup, that’s everything. He’s a top ten 2nd Baseman when healthy, so add him now, before he gets hurt.
The other thing you’re looking for on the waiver wire is a proven player, off to a slow start, that an impatient manager dropped. Generally, if you drafted a player in the early-to-mid rounds and he gets off to a slow start, you need to stick with him.
Players go through extended streaks and slumps, but they tend to find their way back to their career numbers.
Some managers find themselves struggling like crazy this time of year, and May is really a make-or-break month, so they need to make a move. But hey, if you’ve got room to add a player, you might as well take advantage of another manager’s desperation.
Gordon Beckham was recently dropped in one of my leagues. I added him immediately. As a matter of fact, he’s available in more than 25% of leagues. And it’s all because he’s not playing as well as people expected.
He’s in a colossal slump right now, but if you’ve got room on your bench, you should be able to wait out that slump without hurting your team.
Corey Hart‘s slump goes beyond this season. It goes back to midseason 2008. He does, however, seem to be playing much closer to his potential. While he may not be totally there, yet, he’s still hitting close to .270 with sparse playing time. He’ll have to find more starts, though, if he’s going to be worth a pickup.
He’s splitting time with Jim Edmonds and Jody Gerut in Right Field, but he has an oppurtunity to get in the lineup more now that Gomez has been put on the DL. If he can make the most of the next couple weeks, he could be back as the Brewers everyday Right Fielder, and on his way to a 20/20 season.
Chris Coghlan won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2009 by hitting .321. This year he’s finding himself around the Mendoza line. He’s a better player than this, and he should prove his fantasy worth sooner than later.