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 June 24th, 2011
With all of the unpredictable injuries, slumps, and job changes, many fantasy owners are already looking to the waiver wire for help in keeping their early season hopes alive. Here are some mixed league options for owners looking to make additions at this point in the season.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Alcides Escobar - SS, Kansas City Royals (29% owned)
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar's slick fielding has won him plenty of praise in his young career, and his minor league contact numbers and base-stealing ability made him one of the key components in the Zack Greinke deal this winter, but the shortstop's .216 batting average and 5 steals (4 caught) through April and May of 2011 made it appear that he was destined for a disappointing season similar to the one had had last year with the Brewers. June has been a different story, however, as Escobar has hit .333 with 7 stolen bases (1 caught) and raised his season average to nearly .250. If he can consistently make good contact the rest of the way, he has a legitimate shot at 30 stolen bases and a respectable batting average, and fantasy owners in need of some help in the middle infield should take notice.
James Loney - 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers (22% owned)
Dodgers first baseman James Loney has been a fantasy enigma for much of his career, mainly because he plays a power position but provides little in the way of home run numbers. Loney has made up for this lack of power by hitting a pretty high batting average and posting good RBI stats, but even that has slipped in recent seasons. In 2011, Loney struggled greatly to begin the year, and the Dodgers even tried installing prospect Jerry Sands in Loney's place, though Sands failed to seized the opportunity. In the last two months, though, almost no hitter in baseball has been hotter than Loney, and he's raised his average almost 70 points since the end of April. He still doesn't hit many home runs, but if Loney can continue to push his batting average higher and be a run producer, he could be worth a look in fantasy leagues.
Roger Bernadina - OF, Washington Nationals (9% owned)
Washington Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina compiled 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 414 at-bats last season, though his numbers were largely overlooked because of his .246 batting average and his time-splitting role on a bad team. This season, Bernadina is a mainstay at the top of the Nats lineup and he his 4 home runs, 10 steals, and respectable .276 average have earned him more notice, including a mention in a past Under the Radar - AL/NL Only article. His good stolen base numbers and double-digit home run power is of value to most fantasy owners (at least as an occasional pickup), and his hot hitting lately has raised his batting average and boosted his stock. He's worth consideration for any fantasy league, so long as he keeps getting on base.
Chase Headley - 3B, San Diego Padres (26% owned)
Highly-touted Padres prospect Chase Headley never really developed into the star many thought he would be, but his combination of power and speed in 2009 and 2010 earned him some fantasy notice, even if he was nothing more than a .265 batting average hitter. However, in 2011, he has hit for a much better average and his string of multi-hit games have put him on track for a near-.300 season batting line. His 2 home runs this year are lower than expected, but if he can start turning some of his doubles into home runs, he could end up with a career-best campaign. He's hitting .346 this month and any fantasy owner looking for some help at the hot corner may want to enlist his services.
Mike Pelfrey - SP, New York Mets (7% owned)
Starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey was one of the biggest bright spots for the Mets last season when he notched 15 wins and a 3.66 season ERA. This year, Pelfrey got off to a rough start and his struggles were punctuated by a 7 earned run outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 2nd. But since then, Pelfrey has allowed just 5 runs in 22 innings and capped that three-game streak by logging a 1-run complete game win over the Angels. He'll never strike out many hitters, but Pelfrey showed the ability to limit home runs last season (he allowed just 12 in 204 innings) and if he can minimize those and get back to the way he was dealing in 2010, he could turn in an excellent few months to finish the year. Depending on matchups, he could be worth consideration in certain mixed fantasy leagues.
Josh Outman - SP, Oakland Athletics (3% owned)
Oakland's Josh Outman was touted just a few weeks ago in one of our AL/NL Only Under the Radar pieces, and the young lefty has pitched well enough recently to earn notice in mixed leagues. Outman is not much of a strikeout pitcher, but he keeps the ball in the park and has given his improving Athletics club chances to win ballgames. Five of his six outings this year have been quality starts, and he has lowered his season ERA to an impressive 2.86. As long as he is in Oakland's rotation, he should be on your fantasy radar, and his minor league numbers suggest that he is capable of at least average strikeout figures as he continues to improve (he averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 115 minor league games).
David Hernandez - RP/SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (6% owned)
Middle relievers don't typically get a lot of fantasy notice in leagues that don't count holds as a category, but Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez is an exception. Hernandez is a converted starter who has found much more success out of the bullpen than he did in the rotation, and his excellent strikeout numbers are helpful to any fantasy roster. Arizona has used him a lot this year, and he has already appeared in 36 games for the club. If he can continue his success as a setup man to closer J.J. Putz, Hernandez could see himself appearing in over 80 games this year and should help fantasy rosters in search of help in the ERA, WHIP, and strikeout columns, and he may even chip in some wins and saves too.
Carl Pavano - SP, Minnesota Twins (25% owned)
Veteran Twins pitcher Carl Pavano was one of baseball's best stories last season, as his mustache and right arm notched 17 wins for a Minnesota club that won 94 games and the AL Central crown. The start of Pavano's 2011 was very unlike his start last year, however, and it appeared as if his success last season may have been a bit of a fluke. Pavano has pitched well enough lately to quell some of that talk, and the 35 year-old is just one start away from wrapping up a fantastic June. This month, he has won three of his four starts and allowed just 6 runs in 33 innings, good for a 1.64 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He won't do much for a fantasy team's strikeout total, but if he can reclaim some of the magic from his 2010 season, he could help owners out in other categories, especially if the Twins can stay competitive and give him a chance to rack up some wins.
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