Fantasy baseball Waiver Wire: Darin Ruf a source of cheap power
Maybe it runs in the name. First it was Chris Davis launching baseballs into the stratosphere and himself into the AL MVP discussion. Now Milwaukee's Khris Davis is doing his best impression of his namesake, and that makes him quite the weapon with just one week left in the fantasy regular season.
If there's one positive the Brewers can take away from Ryan Braun's suspension, it's that it cleared an everyday position for Davis (available in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues, 34 percent of ESPN leagues, and 53 percent of CBS leagues). In just 89 plate appearances, the 25-year-old is hitting .338/.416/.727 with eight homers, six doubles and 18 RBI. He's coming off a particularly hot weekend in Cincinnati, in which he hit two homers and drove in five runs against the hard-charging Reds.
Understand that Davis' power surge, at least at this frequency, might be short-lived. He did hit 22 homers in a minor league season, but that was back at Low-A Wisconsin in 2010. In 69 games with Triple-A Nashville this season, he hit .255/.349/.473 with 13 homers, and that was in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He's striking out in nearly one-quarter of his plate appearances, which is basically in line with his minor league numbers. Even if he does cool off a bit, he can be a real asset for the rest of the year.
• Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies (82, 44, 56): Ruf may not be young enough to truly represent the youth movement the Phillies need to build a bridge from this era to the next, but, at 27, he can be part of the next winner in Philadelphia. More importantly for our purposes, he's a source of cheap power for owners who need it. He's on a nice run, going 8-for-25 with three homers and five RBI in his last five games. For the year, he's hitting .272/.363/.551 with 11 homers. Even though he has a .354 BABIP, the OBP isn't a mirage; Ruf posted a double-digit walk rate at all his stops in the minors. Moreover, he hit 38 homers in a full season at Double-A Reading last year. Davis may have led this column, but only because his story is more interesting. I prefer Ruf for the rest of the season.
• Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (83, 82, 84): Gennett had a decent season for a 23-year-old at Triple-A Nashville, hitting .280/.327/.371 in 349 plate appearances, but the only reason he's getting an extended look with the Brewers right now is because of Rickie Week's injury. He's making the most of it though, belting five homers in his first 37 games. Unfortunately, the power is not going to last. Gennett never hit more than nine homers in a full season at any level of the minors. However, he carries eligibility at second and short, should play every day, and is swinging a hot bat. In this last week of the regular season, he could be the difference between going to the playoffs and focusing solely on your fantasy football teams.
• Donnie Murphy, Chicago Cubs (77, 76, 84): Speaking of swinging a hot bat, the journeyman Murphy has been the hottest hitter on the Cubs since getting the call to the majors early this month. In 72 plate appearances, the 30-year-old is slashing .308/.375/.738 with eight homers and 15 RBI. When it seemed his dream month couldn't get any better, he belted a game-tying, two-run homer of Stephen Strasburg in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday. Now, let's be frank. There's a reason he's on pace for a career high in plate appearances at age 30. As long as he's hitting like this, though, he's worth a shot in deeper leagues.
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (86, 90, 67) -- Ruiz finally got going in the last week, going 15-for-30 with two homers in his last seven games. His season slash now sits at .284/.326/.382. Like most of the guys in this week's version of the wire, you're probably not going to want to count to Ruiz as you head into the playoffs. However, if you need immediate help at catcher, he's your best bet of the widely available backstops.
• Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels: Kendrick still can't run full speed, and the Angels still don't have a timetable for his return. Given that they're completely out of playoff contention, they don't have any reason to chance it with Kendrick. If he factors into your keeper plans you can ignore this, but otherwise there isn't any reason to hold onto the second baseman.
• Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians: This may be contingent upon there being an option or two on your league's waiver wire, but we did present at least one in this column in Scooter Gennett. Cabrera has been a real disappointment this year, hitting .237/.292/.389 with just nine homers. Things have gotten particularly ugly in August, as he's hitting .189/.238/.324 this month.