Before we get to this week's waiver wire, remember that this weekend ushers in two solid weeks of interleague play. That means some lineups will look a little bit different from what were used to, and some guys will have fleeting moments of fantasy relevance. The latter, of course, is something waiver-wire dreams are made of.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins -- Remember way back in draft season when Nishioka was the next big import from Japan? Remember when Nick Swisher broke the second baseman's leg with a slide a few weeks later? Well, all signs point to Nishioka making his return from the disabled list in the very near future, and with eligibility at second and short, he becomes an interesting commodity. Back in March, if you were excited about Nishioka, you were no doubt pumped about his ability to contribute in batting average, steals and runs. He's still the same guy and he can still be a major contributor in those three categories. I have trouble believing there are 24 superior middle-infield options out there, making Nishioka a starter in 12-team mixed leagues.
Todd Helton, Rockies -- There was a time when Helton was a first-round lock, an elite player, really the Adrian Gonzalez of the early-2000s. Those days are long gone, and sometimes a player who was once one of the best in the sport gets unfairly overlooked once his best days are behind him. That's really the only way to explain Helton's relatively low ownership. He's not going to hit 35 homers anymore, but he's an on-base machine (.392 OBP as of Wednesday) and hits in the middle of a very good lineup with one of the league's best home environments. First base is deep, and most owners want to get plenty of pop out of the position, but give me Helton over Billy Butler, who is almost universally owned.
Laynce Nix, Nationals -- Michael Morse, aka the hottest hitter in baseball, isn't the only player on the Nats to benefit personally from Adam LaRoche's season-ending shoulder surgery. Now that Morse has locked down Washington's everyday first base spot, Nix should see the majority of the playing time in left field. Nix carries a .296/.335/.546 slash with nine homers in 152 at-bats this season. He's a good play for deeper leagues that start five outfielders.
Josh Willingham, A's -- Willingham is 32 years old. That has nothing to do with whether or not you should add him, it just surprised me that he was that old and I wanted to include it here. Since he is in his early 30s, we pretty much know what we're going to get out of him: 20-22 homers, 70-80 RBI and a low batting average. It's nothing to write home about, but you could certainly do worse in the outfield. He'll even chip in a handful of steals the rest of the season. For sake of comparison, I'd prefer him to Nix.
Juan Miranda, Diamondbacks -- Arizona's ascent to the top of the NL West has been one of the big surprises of the season, and the D'backs have done it with one of the best statistical offenses in the majors. The Diamondbacks are fourth in the majors with a team OPS of .749, and their 321 runs are sixth most. Having said that, there's always room for more power in any offense, and that's where Miranda comes in. The slugging first baseman has just 127 at-bats this year, yet he has six homers and an .812 OPS this year. While he's hitting just .244, he has a .356 OBP, showing good plate discipline. Kirk Gibson's treatment of his talented first baseman is maddening, but he's certainly worth the add in deep mixed leagues.
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies -- The rookie outfielder likely has at least until the All-Star break to make an impression on Jim Tracy. He's got great speed and decent power, and could eventually lead off for Colorado.
Jeff Baker, Cubs -- With Darwin Barney on the DL, Baker should see plenty of time at second base the next few weeks. He's hitting .351/.365/.457 in 94 at-bats and qualifies at second, third and outfield.
Adam Kennedy, Mariners -- Qualifies at first, second and third, will give you double-digit homers and steals.
Jason Kipnis, Indians -- Keep an eye on Kipnis, who is tearing it up for Triple-A Columbus with a .296/.368/.506 line with seven homers and 10 steals (without being caught once). With the Indians faltering, change may be on the horizon.
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