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Head-to-Head Points League Strategy: Waiver Wire Week 1

Can you believe that in less than 24 hours from now a MLB game with actual significance will have been played? Albeit a game featuring two sub .500 teams playing at a time when none of us are likely to be awake, but a game nonetheless. Yup. I’m pumped.

That’s right; the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s will take the field for the first of a two game series at the Tokyo Dome in Japan to kickoff the 2012 season. "Two teams enter. Umm … Two teams leave." Hooray! And this post, the first of a weekly series to occur throughout the regular season, will focus entirely on the players available in that Japan series that could be helpful in starting you off with a 1-0 record en route to your league championship.

For those in daily points leagues, it would make all the sense in the world to stock up on two to three of these players, start them on both Wednesday and Thursday and then drop them immediately afterwards for players available in key series next week. Do it!

Remember, extra ABs and pitching appearances in a points league are almost always an advantage. Simply put, more is more more often than not. Was that simple? It actually sounded kind of confusing at the end there. My bad.

For those in weekly points leagues, be sure to check your league rules as to when rosters must be set for a matchup (typically Sunday by midnight) and if there are any special rules in place in regards to your Week 1 matchup and the unique nature of this Japan series. In large part, these waiver wire posts will focus on Yahoo! settings/player availability and on the Yahoo! league page the rules states this:

Leagues that use the Weekly lineup deadline will have two lineups deadlines for Week 1. The first weekly deadline will be on March 27th at 11:59 PM PT. This will cover the Japan games. The second weekly lineup deadline will be on April 1st at 11:59 PM PT. This will cover games played from April 2nd through April 8th.

Therefore, similar to those in daily leagues, those in Yahoo! weekly points leagues will be able to (should) pick up two to three of these players, start them Wednesday and Thursday, drop them and reset their lineup prior to the following Monday. Bing. Bang. Boom. Points.

Strategy/Player list below:

In the Fake Teams H2H Points League, I had already drafted Jesus Montero, Coco Crisp, Brandon McCarthy and Brandon League then I dropped Chris Capuano for Bartolo Colon, who is slated to start the second game for the A’s and also dropped AJ Pierzynski for Justin Smoak.

My lineup looks a wee bit odd at the moment since I currently don’t own a player eligible at catcher and Albert Pujols is on my bench in favor of the Smoak Monster (an odd sight to say the least), but as the Yahoo! rules state, I’ll be able to drop Colon after his start and pick up a pitcher with a favorable matchup in the second half of the Week 1 matchup, drop ole Smoaky and pick up a catcher and swap Pujols into my starting lineup all in time for the real season kickoff in Miami next week. Easy. Peasy. Japanesey.

Therefore, with that strategy in mind, let’s get to some of the players on the Mariners and A’s that could jump start your 2012 fantasy baseball season:

All players in this post and following waiver wire posts are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.


Kurt Suzuki, Oakland A’s – 29%

Suzuki should start both games behind the plate for the A’s in Japan. While he isn’t flashy, he’s a player that doesn’t strike out too often and could get you 4-5 points while your opponent’s catcher doesn’t appear in a game for another week. It’s important to remember that Suzuki, along with all other A’s hitters, will have to face Felix Hernandez in the first game of the series. If there is an attractive Mariners hitter available, I might lean in that direction first. Although, facing Jason Vargas in game two should strike fear in the heart of no hitter.

Others to consider:

Miguel Olivo, Seattle Mariners – 9%, Josh Donaldson, Oakland A’s – 0%

First base:

Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners – 16%

Smoak should bat cleanup for the Mariners in both the games in Japan, behind Chone Figgins, Dustin Ackley and Ichiro Suzuki and in front of Jesus Montero. When searching your waiver wire for players in this series, I’d first look for Smoak as he has the ability to both drive in and score runs while facing Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. There is some strikeout risk with Smoak, but there is also the potential for a long ball as it sounds like the Tokyo Dome plays slightly in favor of hitters.

Others to consider:

Mike Carp, Seattle Mariners – 26%, Brandon Allen, Oakland A’s – 1%

Second base:

Both Dustin Ackley and Jemile Weeks are owned in over 50% of Yahoo! leagues leaving no worth while players available for 2B in this series.

Others to consider:


Third base:

Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners – 4%

Be honest. You don't pronounce his name "Sean" either, do you? No one does. It's OK. Picking up Figgins would definitely take some moxie, but, as of now, he is slated to be the leadoff hitter for the Mariners in the series and could offer the potential for points via XBH, SB and R. Were it not for this odd series, Figgins wouldn’t even sniff one of my teams this year, and, even as is, he wouldn’t be my first choice, but there still is the potential to earn a few points over your opponent with Figgins in your lineup Wednesday and Thursday. How is that for a ringing endorsement?

Others to consider:

Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners – 1%, Eric Sogard, Oakland A’s – 0%, Josh Donaldson, Oakland A’s – 0%


Cliff Pennington, Oakland A’s – 6%

Wow! People really don’t own many A’s or Mariners. Maybe it’s because they’re both fairly terrible MLB teams? Yeah … that could be it. Anyways, Pennington will definitely be in the lineup both days and can steal bases and score runs, however, it should be noted that he was fifth amongst shortstops in strikeouts in 2011 with 104.

Others to consider:

Brendan Ryan, Seattle Mariners – 1%, Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners – 1%, Eric Sogard, Oakland A’s – 0%


Mike Carp, Seattle Mariners – 26%

Carp would be my second choice after Smoak if he is available in your league. Similar to Smoak, there are some strikeout concerns when slating Carp into your lineup (maybe even more so), however, there is a better chance for a home run and it sounds as if the ball carries in the condensed air in the Tokyo Dome … although, Brandon McCarthy didn’t allow many HR last season. In fact, he only allowed 11 all year.

Josh Reddick, Oakland A’s – 2%

Reddick put up a fairly impressive half season for the Boston Red Sox in 2011 when he had 71 hits in 254 AB along with 7 HR. He should see everyday playing time in Oakland this season, or close to it, and could be a nice option in this series as his strikeout rate isn’t a real concern.

Seth Smith, Oakland A’s – 12%

Based on talent, I’d probably grab Smith before Carp or Reddick, but considering there is no guarantee he starts in game two vs. Vargas (LHP) and he has to face King Felix in game one, I’d have to lean toward the player more likely to get ABs in both games.

Others to consider:


Starting pitchers:

Bartolo Colon, Oakland A’s – 3%

Colon had an excellent start to the 2011 season before tiring and suffering injury near the end. His big problem last year was the long ball, particularly at home at Yankee Stadium. That shouldn’t be as much of an issue in Oakland. If he is able to limit the BB as he did last season, and cut down the HR (likely), there’s a chance Colon could be not only a solid option for this week, but someone to consider over the first month or two of the season. Based on the matchup, I’d say Colon has the better chance than Brandon McCarthy to walk away with a win.

Others to consider:

Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners – 3%

Relief pitcher:

Brian Fuentes, Oakland A’s – 16%

Both the closers, Grant Balfour and Brandon League, are owned in over 50% of Yahoo! leagues. If your league values holds, there is a chance Fuentes could come away with one in game two of the series. If your league doesn’t value holds (and even if it does), I wouldn’t target any RP in this series and would rather focus my moves on Colon and another hitter or two.

Others to consider:

Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners – 0%

If this isn’t the most exciting list of players I’ve ever seen, well, then I don’t what is. But, in sincerity, this Japan series offers a chance at points, and I for one like to be active on the waiver wire, rather than sitting on my hands and hoping for the best.

Please comment on these players, the Japan series itself or ask any other questions you might have about H2H points leagues entering Week 1 of the 2012 season.