NL ONLY Jimmy Nelson
SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Now that Wily Peralta
has been shut down due to a groin injury, Nelson will start in his place Saturday against the Mets. The 24-year-old has made three relief appearances this month, but this will be his first major league start. One of the team's better pitching prospects, his stock is on the rise after he posted a solid 3.25 ERA and 163/65 K/BB ratio over 152 1/3 innings this season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. He's worth a spin against a team who has struggled to score runs this month and has issues winning in their own building. AL ONLYJonathan Schoop
SS, Orioles (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
With the Orioles out of the race, Schoop finally made his major league debut at second base on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays. And it was a memorable one. The 21-year-old went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and three runs scored. He dealt with a back issue this season, which is why he was limited to 70 games in Triple-A, but the Orioles believe in his pop. He might get another look or two this weekend and should be someone to monitor in 2014 if he can stay healthy.
The 2013 Waiver Wired Awards:
Keeping up a long-standing tradition (OK, well, a three-year tradition), each category is named after an obscure Met from my formative years. I'm going to continue to roll with that until someone forces me otherwise.
As you'll see below, we hit on some pretty big names in Waiver Wired this year. However, you aren't going to find the likes of Yasiel Puig or Matt Carpenter. Keep reading for full explanations. But all in all, I'm still happy with what we accomplished with this column this year.
The Phil Lombardi Award (best waiver wire catcher)
Evan Gattis was a waiver wire sensation early on and Wilson Ramos has come on strong during the second half, but I'm giving this award to Jason Castro. After batting .235 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over his first 512 plate appearances in the majors, the 26-year-old backstop batted .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI over 120 games this year. His season ended early due to a knee issue, but he should enter 2014 as a top-12 catcher.
The Roberto Petagine Award (best waiver wire first baseman)
Kendrys Morales, Adam Lind, Brandon Belt, and Chris Carter have all produced for fantasy owners, but Brandon Moss will walk away with top honors. Propelled by a strong second half, the 30-year-old is eighth among first base-eligible players in home runs, 12th in OPS, and tied for 15th in RBI. He has been especially useful in daily leagues, producing 24 homers and an .896 OPS against right-handed pitching. He may never hit for a high batting average, but he has established himself as a legitimate power threat over the past two seasons. Imagine if he played in a more favorable home park?
The Jason Hardtke Award (best waiver wire second baseman)
This award would have gone to Matt Carpenter or Daniel Murphy, but both players were just over my 50 percent threshold for the first Waiver Wired of the season. With that in mind, we'll cheat a bit and give this one to Jed Lowrie. The 29-year-old has mostly stayed healthy for once, hitting .288/.344/.445 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI. He has also finished strong, amassing seven home runs and 32 RBI since the start of August.
The Al Pedrique Award (best waiver wire shortstop)
This is a pretty easy call. While Segura has slowed down considerably since the All-Star break, the 23-year-old is batting .296/.331/.426 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI, 44 stolen bases and 74 RBI over 145 games. That's enough to make him a top-50 player in Yahoo! leagues. His second half fade puts his 2014 outlook in question, but I expect him to be drafted among the top five shortstops.
The Junior Noboa Award (best waiver wire third baseman)
Yes, the Athletics are taking over the Waiver Wired Awards. After going undrafted in most standard leagues, Donaldson has compiled a .305/.386/.506 batting line to go along with 24 home runs, 92 RBI, and 88 runs scored this season. And the 27-year-old has been hot at just the right time for fantasy owners, hitting .379 with six home runs and 20 RBI while reaching base in 28 straight games from August 25-September 23. Winning the Junior Noboa Award is a big deal (to me, anyway), but he also deserves plenty of support for the American League MVP Award.
The Wayne Housie Award (best waiver wire outfielder)
Once again, you aren't going to find Yasiel Puig here, but that's mostly a matter of timing. If you recall, Puig was called up on a Sunday and quickly took the league by storm, so by the time I did my next Waiver Wired column on Thursday, he was well over my 50 percent ownership threshold. Oh well. The good news is that there were still plenty of other excellent contributors.
Top honors here go to Jayson Werth, who has batted .316/.395/.526 with 24 home runs, 70 RBI, 82 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in a resurgent campaign. His .921 OPS is tied for his career-best from 2010. My optimism that his power would return one year removed from wrist surgery has been validated.
Some other notables in the outfield include Coco Crisp (his first 20-20 season, 92 runs scored), Domonic Brown (post-hype breakout with 27 homers and 82 RBI), Starling Marte (.283 batting average, 48 extra-base hits, 40 stolen bases, and 82 runs scored), Marlon Byrd (23 home runs and 84 RBI) and Will Venable (22 homers and 22 stolen bases).
The Brett Hinchcliffe Award (best waiver wire starting pitcher)
It took a pretty special season for Hisashi Iwakuma to not win this award, but that's exactly what we got from Jose Fernandez in his rookie season. The 21-year-old right-hander finished with a 2.19 ERA and 187/58 K/BB ratio over 172 2/3 innings. It would be nice to see him get a little more run support, but he should drafted as a top-10 starting pitcher in 2014 with the expected innings jump.
The rest of my waiver wire starting rotation includes the aforementioned Iwakuma (2.66 ERA in 33 starts), Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 163 strikeouts over 161 innings), Bartolo Colon (17 wins, AL-leading 2.64 ERA), and Shelby Miller (15 wins, 3.06 ERA, 169 strikeouts in 173 1/3 innings). I'd be remiss to overlook Clay Buchholz, who is 11-1 with a 1.60 ERA in an injury-shortened season.
The Edwin Almonte Award (best waiver wire relief pitcher)
Koji Uehara didn't take over the closer role with the Red Sox until late June, but he has gone 20-for-22 in save chances since while posting a ridiculous 0.43 ERA and 57/2 K/BB ratio over 42 1/3 innings. He didn't allow a run in 31 consecutive appearances from July 2 to September 13. Long regarded as one of the game's best relief pitchers, he's finally getting the attention he deserves.