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 12th, 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. Here are some mixed league options for owners looking to make additions at this point in the season.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Jason Kipnis - 2B, Cleveland Indians (31% owned)
At Baseball Press, we certainly hope that our readers take some time to peruse all of our posted articles because, if you have, then you are already well aware of our analysis of Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. Kipnis was featured in the AL/NL Only Under the Radar piece on July 21st and in a Prospect Press feature on July 23rd, and he's continued his hot hitting since then. His 5 for 5 performance on Wednesday against Detroit, which included his sixth home run in just 16 games, has cemented him as a must-own fantasy player in any league format.
Ivan Nova - SP, New York Yankees (30% owned)
With seven straight wins (in just eight starts) Yankees hurler Ivan Nova has catapulted himself into fantasy baseball relevance. His 11-4 record this year has come, of course, at due to some help from the potent Yankees offense, but wins are still a fantasy category and when a player keeps piling them up, fantasy owners need to take notice. His 3.85 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 5.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings (K/9) rate are far from ideal fantasy lines, but Nova has a 3.09 ERA since June 1st and appears to be mostly improving as the season rolls on. He's not flashy, but fantasy teams who stream pitchers or need a solid source of wins at the back end of a fantasy rotation could do much worse than New York's 24 year-old righty.
Chris Iannetta - C, Colorado Rockies (27% owned)
After an impressive month of May, Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta earned a spot in our June 3rd Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues piece, then hit just .176 in June (though he did smack three home runs that month). But in 19 games since the All-Star break, Iannetta is hitting .328 with two home runs, nine RBI, and 12 walks. Despite his .240 batting average, Iannetta is set for his best season since 2008, due mostly to his solid home run numbers and outstanding plate discipline (his 62 walks this year is already a career-high). His low batting average certainly doesn't help fantasy teams, but with 12 homers, 41 RBI, and a .385 on-base percentage in 2011, it's amazing that Iannetta is still available in so many fantasy leagues, particularly at a position with few offensive stars and many injuries this year.
Brandon McCarthy - SP, Oakland Athletics (24% owned)
We featured Oakland starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy in an AL/NL Under the Radar article back in April, but a string of impressive outings have made the 28 year-old righthander worthy of serious fantasy attention in mixed leagues too. McCarthy had a decent first half this season while posting a 3.54 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 11 starts, but his 1-5 win-loss record and just 46 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings made him a so-so fantasy piece, particularly with so many starting pitchers performing better this year. But in five starts since the break, McCarthy has seemingly turned a corner, as evidenced by his 4-0 record, 2.78 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Most impressive, though, are his strikeout totals. His first half mark of 5.4 K/9 didn't earn much acclaim, but with 28 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings (8.0 K/9) since then, he looks more like a viable mixed league option, especially now that his season ERA has sunk to 3.31. His Friday outing against the Rangers will be an excellent test of these second half trends, but if McCarthy can notch another solid outing, he may cement himself as a desirable fantasy starter.
Luke Gregerson - RP, San Diego Padres (20% owned)
Padres righthander Luke Gregerson is currently in his third season of solid big league relief pitching and, after the departure of setup man Mike Adams, he has assumed a bigger role in the San Diego bullpen. Heath Bell remains the club's closer, but if he is dealt via waivers (as some expect), Gregerson would likely be the primary option to finish out games. It's possible Chad Qualls would be in the closer mix too, but Gregerson has a more consistent record of success and, at the age of 27, could be looked to as a possible endgame hurler for years to come. Beyond just a speculative play as a closer, Gregerson is a solid play at several fantasy pitching categories, even though his 6.6 K/9 rate this season is well off of the 10.7 career mark he had in 2008 and 2009.
Jose Constanza - OF, Atlanta Braves (3% owned)
Despite a possible playing time crunch with Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, and Jason Heyward, Braves outfielder Jose Constanza has won well-deserved fantasy praise lately and, due to his impressive play, has made a surprising leap into mixed league relevance. Constanza will be 28 years old next month and, after a long stint in the Cleveland Indians farm system, had left most of his prospect status behind him, but big league performance speaks volumes, and in his first 12 major league games Constanza has seven multi-hit games and a .413 batting average with a home run and three stolen bases. The average will obviously level off and he lacks any real home run power, but Constanza has a long minor league history as a prolific basestealer (he had 23 stolen bases in 86 games prior to his call-up and has averaged 33 stolen bases per season on the farm) and could be a valuable fantasy contributor in a couple of categories, assuming he can keep getting playing time.
Johnny Giavotella - 2B, Kansas City Royals (3% owned)
While teammates Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have gathered most of the hype this season, Royals rookie second baseman Johnny Giavotella has made a very good impression since his major league debut on August 6th. The 24 year-old Louisiana native entered 2011 as Kansas City's 18th best prospect (according to Baseball America) and was noted for his impressive offensive skills after a .322 average with a .395 on-base percentage and nine home runs for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2010. However, Giavotella's questionable defensive skills needed polish and, to some, signaled an eventual move to an outfield spot. Now, though, Giavotella looks like a solid major league regular with passable second baseman skills, and he could be a mainstay in the Royals lineup for years to come. He won't pile up home runs or stolen bases, but a good batting average and moderate contributions in all fantasy categories make him worth consideration for fantasy owners seeking middle infield help.
Lucas Duda - 1B/OF, New York Mets (3% owned)
Young 25 year-old Lucas Duda, due to injury and trade, has become a very valuable part of the New York Mets hitting attack this season and worked his way into fantasy relevance, as proven by his profile in our July 28th AL/NL Only Under the Radar article. Now, though, he's pushed his way into mixed league relevance. Mets first baseman Ike Davis has been out of action since May 10th and will miss the remainder of the season, and Duda has seen most of his playing time filling in there and in right field for traded slugger Carlos Beltran. Duda was the Mets' minor league player of the year last season and has hit well since his call-up, though he lacks ideal power numbers for a first baseman. Still, he doesn't strike out a lot and could be good for a .280-plus average and 15 to 20 home runs over a full season of big league play. Fantasy owners in need of above-average offensive numbers and help at first base and/or an outfield spot should certainly find a roster spot for Duda.
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