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Searching through the waiver wire and making the right pickups at the right times can result in huge benefits. The Stealthy Ninjas column is here to let you know the kinds of players you’ll find available on your wire and whether it’s worth wasting a roster spot on them or not.
Each week, I’ll outline a couple hitters and a couple pitchers that had great weeks and are more than likely available on your waiver wire based on ownership rates in Yahoo’s leagues. This week we’ll start with hitters:
Invisible Ninjas (Owned in 10% of leagues or less)
Willie Bloomquist, SS/OF, Royals (1%) Key stats: .474 average, .1.402 OPS, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 SB, 16 TB.
- Advice: The batting average and OPS will correct considerably, and you cant’ expect a homer a week out of Bloomquist either. He’ll finish with more than just two positions of eligibility and 15-15 numbers.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins (2%) Key stats: .412 AVG, 1.365 OPS, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 13 TB
- Advice: From 2005 through 2007 Cuddyer put up helpful fantasy numbers, including his career year. He couldn’t stay healthy last year and sputtered to just 71 games. His average and RBI will correct downward, but if he stays healthy he’s good for 80 runs, 20 homers and 80 RBIs.
Mike Fontenot (10%) Key Stats: .333 AVG, 1.179 OPS, 5R, 8 H, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 20 TB
- Advice: The four homers are ridiculous, but he’s filling in nicely as a replacement for Mark DeRosa. He’s got DeRosa’s dual-infield eligibility. He’s never had full-time ABs, but last year he put up some nice numbers (.305, 9 homers, 22 doubles, 42 runs, 40 RBIs) in about half a season last year.
What was that? Ninjas. (Owned in 14% to 15% of leagues)
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies (14%) Key Stats: .292 AVG, .935 OPS, 5 R, 7 H, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 SB, 16 TB
- Advice: This guy has hit in every spot of the order they put him in. Still surprised he’s available in so many leagues. You’ll come for his average and stay for his speed.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies (14%) Key stats: ..478 AVG, .1.171 OPS, 4 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 15 TB
- Advice: Helton’s a side salad, he won’t fill up your stat sheet, especially for a first baseman, but as a pure hitter he’ll fill a need. Helton’s homers are gone, but if healthy he’ll be in contention for a batting title.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B/SS, Royals (15%) Key stats: .385 AVG, 1.121 OPS, 9 R, 10 H, 7 2B, 4 RBI, 17 TB
- Advice: That’s right, seven of Callaspo’s 10 hits were doubles. He’s never had an opportunity to be an everyday player, but doubles seem to be his thing. Some of those could translate into homers eventually, but at this point, he’s little more than an injury fill-in, especially in 5×5 leagues.
I thought I saw a Ninjas (owned in 21% to 51% of leagues)
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals (21%) Key stats: .357 AVG, 1.129 OPS, 4 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 21 TB
- Advice: Google “streaky hitter” and Guillen’s wikipedia page pops up. No, seriously, it does. The thing is, Guillen’s streaks can be so dominant, he’s worth riding. Don’t drop somebody who’s producing, but I’m sure you have worse options on your roster.
Billy Butler, 1B, Royals (22%) Key stats: .333 AVG, 1.105 OPS, 7 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 15 TB
- Advice: The fourth Royal on this list — they are the Rays of 2009, get on the bus now. I was hard on Billy Butler during draft season. His 7 R and 7 hits, including a pair each of doubles and homers, are nice. The team’s success makes Butler a useable commodity.
Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks (51%) Key stats: .346 AVG, .985 OPS, 6 R, 9 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 16 TB.
- Advice: You probably saw that subhead and thought “a 50% player is so not ninja.” But Upton is finally showing why he was high on some draft boards this year. Surprising that he’s still available in half of Yahoo’s leagues.
Invisible Ninjas (Owned in 7% or less)
Matt Hairston, SP, Rangers (0%) Key stats: 12.0 IP, 2 W, 13 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP.
- Advice: Ahh, the benefits of a two-start week. Despite giving up 13 hits and a walk, the Rangers won two games for Hairston. That’s not happening next week, move along.
Renyel Pinto, RP, Marlins (0%) Key stats: 4.1 IP, 2W, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2.08 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
- Advice: Hey win vulture, improve that nearly 1:1 K:BB rate over the rest of the season and you might be worth an add. Based on his previous performance, he’s more likely to lose 4 games the rest of the year than have another 2-win week.
Bartolo Colon, SP, White Sox (7%) Key Stats: 7.0 IP, 1 W, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
- Advice: Pitching a little over his head right now on the downside of his career, but the 2:1 K-to-BB rate is legit.
Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox (7%) Key Stats: 3 IP, 1 W, 1 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP
- Advice: Thornton will crank Ks and holds while vulturing a few wins and saves. He’s one of the best setup men you could have on your team, if you need some relief help.
What was that? Ninjas (Owned in 12% to 19% of leagues)
Jason Marquis, SP, COL (12%) Key Stats: 9.0 IP, 1 W, 1CG, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
- Advice: Other than a thrashing by the Diamondbacks, Marquis has gone at least seven innings in every game this year. He’s not going to help your Ks or walks.
Doug Davis, SP, Diamondbacks (17%) Key stats: 7.0 IP, 1 W, 3 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 1 QS
- Advice: It’s been three years since Davis finished with a sub-4.00 ERA season and teams have hit .281 or better off him in each of the last two years. This means one of two things, either there’s a huge correction coming, or Davis found the fountain youth and it took him back to his 222-IP, 208-K self from 2005.
Bronson Arroyo, SP, CIN (19%) Key stats: 8.0 IP, 1 W, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
- Advice: Baseball has hit .280 or better off Arroyo in each of the last two years. His ERA will probably settle into the never-spectacular 4.50s, but he’s an innings eater (200 guaranteed) who usually has a near 3:1 K-to-BB ratio. If you need IP or K help and want to roll the dice on the other stats. He’s a good and available option.
I thought I saw a Ninjas (owned in 32% to 44% of leagues)
Scott Richmond, SP, Blue Jays (32%) Key stats: 14.0 IP, 2 W, 10 H, 5 BB, 11 K, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 2 QS
- Advice: Another starter who benefited from a two-start week, Richmond looks like he’ll provide a solid K rate, but he also might be prone to tossing HR derby. To think he’s breaking out now at the age of 29 is a bit of stretch, but in 27 innings last year he had 20 Ks and only 2 BBs. Let’s wait another start.
Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees (44%) Key stats: 6.0 IP, 1 W, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
- Advice: Yeah, yeah, 44% is a little un-ninja, but it’s still worth double-checking to make sure Hughes is not available on your wire. He was a highly touted prospect not too long ago, and is starting to show some of that promise. And with that lineup, the wins should come easy.
What do you think? Going after Davis? How about Fontenot? What players have you targeted? Let us know in the comments, or visit our message boards and start a conversation.