Friday, March 14, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Peter Bourjos, Raul Ibanez, Dustin Ackley, Junior Lake, Josh Willingham

Peter Bourjos (12%)

Bourjos got traded over to the Cardinals in the offseason and is looking  to bounce back from a season shortened by injury and being on a team where he's not behind Mike Trout on the depth chart for center field.

I think that Bourjos ultimately is one of those players that is more valuable (due to his defense) in real life than he is in fantasy. Batting average wise, he has been inconsistent (.251/.306 career average/obp), he doesn't draw very many walks which could lead to his performance regressing sooner rather than later.

He will hit some homers (career high of 12) and steal some bases (22) but not enough to justify a starting spot on most fantasy teams.

But then again, I could be reading things all wrong. Through age 26, his most similar player was Carl Everett aka Jurassic Carl. In addition to not believing in dinosaurs, he did overcome a show start to his career  and produce a .296/.359/.482 15 homers & 14 steals at age 27 and ultimately hitting 20 plus homers four times in his career.

With Bourjos, my guess is that his ceiling on power is about 15 homers, his ceiling on steals is around 30 and he may get the batting average in the .270 range. These aren't necessarily terrible numbers, there's just better outfield options available.

Raul Ibanez (11%)

Raul Ibanez may be like really old, Raul Ibanez may be absolutely brutal on defense. Raul Ibanez will likely return poor average/obp numbers. The one thing Raul Ibanez can do really well is hit a baseball a really, really long way. He hit for enough power (29 homers) while playing during a time where power is down and for a team that plays its home games at a stadium that is not very power friendly and still churned out a respectable 123 OPS+.

If Ibanez is going to help, it's primarily going to be one category (home runs). The question remains is whether there is another productive season left in the tank. At this point, i'd give him the benefit of the doubt that he can still produce double digit home runs but don't expect much more than that.

His most similar player through age 41 is Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine. Conine retired before his age 42 season but in his age 41 season he had a lot less in the tank .254/.317/.383 than Ibanez.

Dustin Ackley (11%)

Ackley is still young and his career could go either way. The question is which Ackley is going to show up. Is it going to be the Ackley that justifies his past status as a top 15 prospect, his respectable showing in his first year in the bigs or are we going to see more of the Ackley that struggled bad enough that he got sent down to the minor leagues for awhile last year.

If Spring Training even remotely resembles a preview of what to come when the games start to count, he could be sneaky good sleeper pick. In 30 spring training plate appearances (small sample size alert) Ackley is absolutely crushing the ball to the tune of an 1.321 OPS.

His most similar player through age 25 is Reno Bertoia. In his age 26 season he was pretty brutal .226/.302/.267 52 OPS+. Even in a worse case scenario, I think Ackley would put up much better numbers than that. Best case scenario would be a return to 2011 form and numbers around .275/.350 average/obp and 15-20 homers.

Junior Lake (10%)

Lake got his first taste of major league experience last year and put in respectable numbers in 64 games .284/.332/.428 106 OPS+. As it stands right now, he's slated to start in left field.

He'll ge the plate appearances but  the question remains of whether value will be produced from them. He's been an okay hitter in the minors but only has a .732 OPS in the minors and a .803 in 40 AAA games last year which sounds okay but was done in the offense friendly pacific coast league. A repeat of his numbers from last year is likely the best case scenario.

Josh Willingham (10%)

I thought Willingham would be a good bet in fantasy in 2013 as he showed that he could be productive while playing at target field. I was totally wrong. Along with only playing 111 games, he also had his first below average OPS+ since 2004 (when he only had 29 plate appearances).

If your in a league that counts OBP instead of average he'd have slightly more value. Despite a near mendoza line average (.208) he still but up a .342 OBP. Even though there is the hope that he can return to his older form, he already is 35 so last year may have been the beginning of the end and he's off to a very cold start in spring.

His most similar player through age 34 is Jason Werth. That season happened to be last year. Unlike Willingham, Werth had one of his best seasons last year and gets the benefit of playing on a team with a chance to win something instead of Willingham who's on a Twins team that will be lucky if they lose less than 90 games.