Reviewing the good, the bad, and the Edwin Jackson.
Welcome to the 2014 installment of “Bret looks back on his preseason endgame targets and conveniently forgets that he recommended Edwin Jackson yet again.” It’s always a fun time of year—even moreso with the craziest start to a post-season I can recall—but with atonement being en vogue this week, it’s time to focus there so that we can all move on. My favorite column to write every year looks at my favorite endgame sleepers just as spring training is coming to a close. As this column has evolved over the years, it’s acquired more quantity, and this year’s crop of 22 was the largest yet.
As you can tell by the list below, it runs the gamut from very strong picks to almost laughable ones (okay, you can remove the almost in one or two choice examples). And as a reminder, any players who were in the top-250 in ADP at the time of the column (March 26) were ineligible here, so we’re not dealing with abstractions—at least using the assumption that ADP data (NFBC) in late March is not an abstraction. Either way, it’s the best we’ve got.
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For the last time this season, looking at players who might be on the waiver wire and are worth rostering, depending on the format of your league.
As you’ve seen many of us say this week at Baseball Prospectus, this will be the last Free Agent Watch of the season. We hope you’ve found it useful at best and legible at worst. We’re also going to be playing around with the format of this piece for next season, so if there’s anything that you think we should be providing in this space that we are currently not, drop us a note in the comments. It’s been real, der readers. This column will see you next in April.
If these players are on the waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format of your league.
Juan Lagares, OF, New York Mets
September fantasy baseball is all about positioning. And it seems only fitting that a player who is so great at it in the field has made himself awfully useful to those looking to make a push in stolen bases over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season. Lagares has been better than anticipated all season at the plate and as good as advertised in the field—leading to a ridiculous season per some stats (he’s been worth 3.6 WARP and 5.6 rWAR). He’s been making it count down the stretch, though, as he’s hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games, hitting .338/.370/.456 with only eight strikeouts in 73 plate appearances in that time frame. However, the most interesting aspect of his performance has been how many liberties he’s been taking on the base paths. After only stealing four bases over the first four-and-a-half months, Lagares has heisted eight since the start of his hitting streak. With the Mets going nowhere, despite what math may say, Lagares may find himself with the green light as often as he wants it throughout September. That would turn him into a mixed-league play nearly across the board. —Bret Sayre
Scouting and fantasy takes on this week's second-tier, but still intriguing, call-ups.
We’ve devoted full articles to the most promising prospects promoted to the majors late this season, but we're offering scouting and fantasy takes on the best of the rest here.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP, Phillies
Scouting Take: The Cuban import entered 2014 having not thrown a competitive pitch since he left his home country. Gonzalez’s medicals revealed some injury concerns that prompted the Phillies to rework his deal and turn him into a reliever this year. He worked in the low 90s as a starter but can work in the mid-90s as a reliever. He also has a splitter and a spotty breaking ball. The Phillies still have plans to convert him back into a starter next year but he’ll have to tighten up the command and work on the breaking ball. —Mauricio Rubio
If these players are on your waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format of your league.
Mookie Betts, OF/SS/2B, Boston Red Sox
It’s been a roller-coaster season for the diminutive Red Sox rookie, as Betts tore through the upper minors during the first half of the year, and then was briefly shunned after struggling out of the gate at the major league level. The shock of a top prospect not being super awesome right away must have just paralyzed the organization and fan base. Lo and behold, after some experience and soul searching, Betts is doing pretty much was Betts was expected to do by those with unrealistic expectations. After being recalled on August 1st, Betts is just hitting .311/.400/.525 with three homers and three steals in 61 at-bats. In fact, he’s been hitting so well that his 132 OPS+ ranks second on the team, among players with 50 plate appearances or more. With the shallowness of middle infield (and the fact that he carries outfield eligibility to boot), there’s no reason he should be owned in only 26 percent of Yahoo leagues and 18 percent of ESPN leagues. —Bret Sayre
There's not much room at the moment for the Dodgers' top outfield prospect, but he's up and exciting anyway.
The Situation: The Dodgers, just 15-14 since the beginning of August, look for a spark from a much-hyped outfield prospect. It’s happened before.
Background: Pederson, a former 11th round pick, has been one of the most dynamic players in the minor leagues all season, going 30/30 and winning his league’s MVP award. While he might not have that ceiling in the major leagues, Pederson can hit the baseball with authority and, after starting the season as the Dodgers’ no. 3 prospect, moved up to no. 2 (behind Julio Urias) and no. 17 overall in our midseason top 50.