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 2012.
Reggie Von Bartles
Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues
Friday April 6th, 2012
With all of the unpredictable injuries and job changes, many fantasy owners are looking to the waiver wire for help in getting their season started off right. Whether you need saves, strikeouts, or even if you're chasing wins, this season's first edition of players has you covered.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Alfredo Aceves - RP/SP, Boston Red Sox (65% owned)
News broke earlier this week that the Red Sox would open the season with Alfredo Aceves as the team's primary closer. With Andrew Bailey out three-to-four months due to a thumb injury, Aceves will likely see plenty of save opportunities. Unless you play in a league where owners don't pay attention or somehow he was missed on the waiver wire, the 29-year-old righthander is the "must add" pickup of the week (but likely gone in your league). Regardless, although he has just four career saves entering the season, Aceves has a career 2.62 ERA 1.01 WHIP, and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Don't worry about his Opening Day blown save, he'll have plenty of opportunities to make-up for that.
Joel Peralta - RP, Tampa Bay Rays (28% owned)
Sticking with the American League East closer theme, the Rays moved Kyle Farnsworth to the 15-day disabled list with elbow soreness to start the season, with Joel Peralta figuring to receive a bulk of save opportunities. However, Rays manager Joe Maddon hasn't officially named a ninth-inning guy, but will have plenty of options between Peralta, Fernando Rodney, J.P. Howell, and possibly Jake McGee. The injury isn't believed to be a long-term one for Farnsworth (he missed about two weeks last season with the same injury) - but if Farnsworth misses an extended period of time, the Rays will be forced to name a closer. Veteran Fernando Rodney has the most experience closing out games, but as fantasy owners know with Joe Maddon, he usually doesn't go "by the book" when it comes to baseball decisions. Fantasy owners can grab Peralta now for cheap saves.
Jonathan Broxton - RP, Kansas City Royals (59% owned)
Are you tired of seeing closers yet? Yeah, me too. After much speculation, the Royals named righty Jonathan Broxton as their primary closer to open the season. With the team's regular closer, Joakim Soria gone for the year due to an injury, manager Ned Yost had a decision to make between Broxton and Greg Holland. It appears that Yost went with the arm that had more experience in closing out games rather than Holland's talent. Broxton, 27, has 84 career saves, but missed most of 2011 with an injury. He's a health risk, but has 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his career along with a career 3.19 ERA. Much like Alfredo Aceves, Broxton isn't the best option for a closer, but he'll have plenty of save opportunities.
Brandon Belt - 1B, San Francisco Giants (51% owned)
After plenty of back-and-forth trips between the Giants and the minor leagues, it appears Brandon Belt will stay with the big-league club for good this time. While it's good news that Belt appears to be staying put, there's still a chance that the Giants could jerk him around with playing time due to the presence of Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill. Belt, 23, hit just .225/.306/.412 in 209 plate appearances last season for the Giants, but has a proven track record of posting big numbers, hitting .343/.457/.596 in 189 career minor league games. The Giants are likely to give Belt a chance to win the first base position, as Aubrey Huff will play left field and Brett Pill will be a bat off the bench to start the year. As a fantasy owner, now's the time to jump on Belt before he's gone for good in your league.
Bryan LaHair - OF/1B, Chicago Cubs (18% owned)
Here at Baseball Press, we've been pretty high on LaHair entering the season (myself included). After the Cubs acquired Anthony Rizzo, there was some concern on playing time for LaHair, but now that Rizzo is at Triple-A, the job at first base is LaHair's to lose. He'll get a chance to play everyday for the Cubs this season while hitting in the No. 4 hole behind phenom Starlin Castro. He's a 29-year-old hitter with little big-league experience, but has mashed 89 home runs in the past three seasons at the Triple-A level. While I fully don't expect LaHair to hit more than 30 home runs this season, the power is real, and 20 home runs isn't out of the question. He's been dealing with some back tightness to start the season, but appears likely to avoid the 15-day disabled list and play sometime this weekend against the Nationals.
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