Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for NL-only leagues, AL-only leagues and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that might help you boost your fantasy team in 2011.
Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues
Friday August 26th, 2011
With all of the unpredictable injuries, slumps, and job changes, many fantasy owners are looking to the waiver wire for help in keeping their season hopes alive. This week we have quite a few options that can give your team a push in the stolen base as we enter the final weeks of 2011, as well as some players to contribute in the other categories. Here are some mixed league options for owners looking to make additions for the final push of the 2011 season.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Orlando Hudson - 2B, San Diego Padres (16% owned)
When healthy this season, San Diego infielder Orlando Hudson (the O-Dogg) has seen a resurgence in fantasy value as a member of the Padres, mainly because of the team's approach on the bases. Hudson, now 33 years old, had a season-high of 10 stolen bases in his previous nine seasons of the major league play, but this season, in only 303 at-bats, the veteran second baseman has swiped a remarkable 17 bases. August has definitely been the best month of his season, as he's posted a .319/.390/.500 triple-slash (average/on-base/slugging) line with two home runs and three stolen bases. Expecting too many more long balls from Hudson is probably unrealistic, but five or more stolen bases and a respectable average is very possible between now and the end of the season.
Franklin Gutierrez - OF, Seattle Mariners (4% owned)
Seattle Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez started the 2011 season on the disabled list, causing most fantasy owners to completely forget about the defensive-minded outfielder. When activated from the DL, Gutierrez joined, arguably, the worst offense in the major leagues, further causing fantasy owners to ignore him, but over the last two weeks the Mariners offense has come to life and the Venezuelan native has done his part by driving in seven RBI, scoring six runs, and stealing three bases. Though he has limited upside at the plate, you can expect him to continue to steal bases once he gets on base, and that makes him a useful fantasy player right now.
Mike Minor - SP, Atlanta Braves (18% owned)
Atlanta starting pitcher Mike Minor has been in and out of the Braves rotation throughout the 2011 season, but with the recent injuries to fellow starters Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, he may finish the season as one of Atlanta's starting five. The 2009 first-round draft pick has had his ups and downs over 10 starts this season, but allowing just one home run, 19 walks, and recording 52 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings is exceptional for any pitcher, let alone a rookie. Not only will Minor be able to contribute strikeouts for one's fantasy team, but pitching for a good offense like the Braves should increase his chances of picking up more wins than other waiver wire options.
Ben Revere - OF, Minnesota Twins (4% owned)
With fellow outfielder Delmon Young joining the Tigers and teammate Denard Span struggling with concussion-related migraines, Minnesota youngster Ben Revere will see everyday playing time for the rest of the season. The second-year player from Georgia has not seen a lot of success at the plate this year, with just a .255 average and a .299 on-base percentage, but he has proven that, when he does reach base, he can very likely steal another. His 23 stolen bases in 321 at-bats this season makes him a legit source of steals going forward, and if for owners who can make up ground in the steals category but have a slight cushion in batting average, Revere should be strongly considered as a lineup addition.
J.D. Martinez - OF, Houston Astros (9% owned)
Houston outfielder J.D. Martinez made his major league debut for the on July 30th and, though Baseball America ranked the barely 24-year old Miami native as the sixth-best prospect in the Astros system entering 2011, there was not much hype surrounding J.D.'s arrival in the big leagues. The lack of media attention may have allowed J.D. to relax at the plate, where he has posted a .295 batting average, five home runs, and 22 RBI, despite hitting in an anemic Houston offense. Considering his .342 career batting average in the minor leagues, it seems quite possible for Martinez to maintain a .290-plus mark for the rest of the season while contributing about five more home runs. These numbers should be welcomed by most mixed league owners that have a fourth or fifth outfield hole to fill late in the season.
Jose Altuve - 2B, Houston Astros (5% owned)
Second baseman Jose Altuve, like J.D. Martinez, made his major league debut for Houston in late July of this year. Unlike Martinez, Baseball America did not name as a top-10 prospect in the Astros organization, but his promotion did generate some buzz among industry scouts, due to his great 2011 minor league start. Since his arrival at the major league level, he has not disappointed and has posted better than a .300 average for most of his short tenure with the Astros (he's currently at .310) while contributing a home run and two stolen bases. The Venezuelan native can contribute in both the stolen base and home run categories but owners shouldn't expect more than a handful of either. His greatest value is likely his ability to boost a squad's batting average for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Brandon Allen - 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics (3% owned)
First baseman and outfielder Brandon Allen, who made an appearance in our AL/NL-only Under the Radar shortly after he was recalled by the Arizona Diamondbacks in July, is now mixed league-worthy when considering his recent performance with his new team, the Oakland Athletics. On August 13th, the 25-year old slugger was again recalled (this time as an Athletic) and has been red-hot since, hitting .351 with a .676 slugging percentage and two home runs. The A's initially planned to platoon Allen with first baseman Conor Jackson, but Allen's performance has forced Oakland manager Bob Melvin to make the former Diamondback the club's everyday starter. Owners trying to make up ground in the home run and/or RBI categories might want to gamble on Allen as a corner infielder or utility man for the rest of the season, or at least until he cools off.
Rafael Betancourt - RP, Colorado Rockies (28% owned)
Even though incumbent closer Huston Street has successfully thrown without bicep pain while on a recent minor league rehab assignment, any fantasy team prospecting for saves for the remainder of the season should take a look at Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt. Since Street was placed on the DL, Betancourt has converted three of Colorado's four saves and has tossed lights-out ball since the All-Star Break by allowing zero runs, one walk, and striking out 28 batters in 16 2/3 innings pitched. That success, when paired with Street's struggles this season (especially with home runs allowed) may force the Rockies to make Street earn the closer job back upon his return. If the ninth inning role is handed to Street, one should expect a short leash, especially if the Rockies can put together one of their tremendous September runs and overtake the two struggling teams currently ahead of them in the National League West.
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