Fantasy baseball Waiver Wire: Best pickups of the season's first half
With the All-Star break upon us this week, we're going to do something a little different with this week's waiver wire. Instead of offering up some guys you should consider adding, we're going to take a look back at the season's first three-and-a-half months and pick our Waiver Wire All-Star Team. These guys were overlooked during draft season and, at one point during the season, were considered little more than waiver-wire fodder. Now, they're all crucial players for their fantasy owners, and probably won't ever find themselves on a waiver wire again.
We'll consider this a standard 12-team league, with 22 players apiece. That means we're looking for players who were outside the top 264 in average draft position.
• Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 273) -- One year ago at this time, Segura was about to be something of a footnote in a trade that sent Zach Greinke to the Angels. Now, he's hitting .324/.364/.485 with 11 homers and 27 steals. He's third in the majors with 124 hits, and is the No. 1-ranked shortstop in standard 5x5 fantasy leagues. Moreover, he has been doing it since Opening Day this year, providing value to his owners from the moment they added him. Not only is he an easy member of this team and the real All-Star team, he's my return on investment MVP of the first half.
• Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians (338) -- Coming into this season, Masterson's best year was back in 2011 when he went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA, 3.28 FIP and 158 strikeouts in 216 innings. As such, you'd have to be in a very deep mixed league to have had him anywhere near your radar back in March. On the sudden strength of one of the league's best sliders, Masterson has turned into a dominant strikeout pitcher this season, fanning 137 batters in 135.1 innings. With his newfound ability to miss bats, he's 10-7 with a 3.72 ERA and 3.41 FIP, and is a huge part of the reason why the Indians remain in the playoff hunt.
• Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays (361) -- Many people around the league had given up on Lind before this year. With each passing season, it looked as though his monster 2009 was nothing but a fluke, especially after bottoming out last year at .255/.314/.414 with just 11 homers in 353 plate appearances. He finally looks like the hitter he was in '09, hitting .307/.362/.511 with 11 homers this season. His walk rate is up to 8.5 percent, the highest it has been since being 8.9 percent in that 2009 season. His 22.5-percent line-drive rate would be a career high if it holds for the entire season.
• Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates (383) -- Liriano was one of the most electric pitchers back in his days with the Twins, but after numerous injuries, it appeared those days were over. He made his season debut on May 11, striking out nine Mets in 5.1 innings, allowing just one run on six hits. He ended up striking out at least seven batters in four of his first six starts, and hasn't looked back. Through 12 starts, he's 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA, 2.58 FIP and 80 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. The two best signs: His average fastball velocity is 92.8 mph, and he's walking just 3.29 batters per nine innings, his best rate since he burst on the scene with the Twins in 2006.
• Bartolo Colon, Oakland A's (N/A) -- I used the ADPs compiled by the fine folks over at FantasyPros.com for this column. They went to 407. Colon was not listed. All he's done after getting drafted outside the first 407 picks in an average draft is go 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 3.31 FIP. He has walked just 15 batters in 126.2 innings and has surrendered just nine homers. He's one of two pitchers with fewer than 20 walks and single-digit home runs allowed this year. The other? Adam Wainwright. Yeah, I'd say that's pretty good for a guy who couldn't crack the top-407 players back in March.