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 who might help you boost your fantasy team in 2012.
Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues
Friday August 24th, 2012
With all of the unpredictable injuries, job changes, and trades of the baseball season, many fantasy owners are looking to the waiver wire for help. Regardless of where help is needed, this edition of UTR can provide you with some players who are still available in most mixed leagues.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Erick Aybar - SS, Los Angeles Angels (46% owned)
After setting career highs in home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, and RBI last season. Erick Aybar regressed to mediocrity this season, then went on the disabled list with a fractured toe on July 21st. Upon his return on August 6th, Aybar has performed even better than he did last year and propelled his way back to fantasy relevancy. The Dominican native has hit safely in 14 of 16 games this month, and he has logged multiple hits in 10 of those contests. He has raised his season average over twenty points in that span and enters play on Friday with a .281 mark. Aybar has never been a particularly electrifying fantasy player, and even in top form he won't pile up numbers in any one fantasy category, but the 28 year-old veteran could finish up very strong this year and can help fantasy owners in need of runs, steals, and batting average, while chipping in the occasional homer and RBI from a middle infield spot.
Matt Harvey - SP, New York Mets (36% owned)
Mets pitching prospect Matt Harvey landed a spot in our Under the Radar - AL/NL Only piece at the time of his major league call-up back on July 26th, and in six starts he has definitely earned his way to this article. In his latest start (6 innings, 1 earned run, 9 strikeouts), Harvey took a no decision but lowered his big league ERA to 2.75. The 23 year-old righthander also brought his 2012 strikeout total to 43 which, in 36 innings, gives him an average of 10.75 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). His tendency to walk too many hitters and a 3.68 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Buffalo this season gave many mixed league fantasy owners some hesitancy in trusting the young hurler, but his string of big league success and upcoming Mets series against the Astros, Phillies, and Marlins make him well worth a roster spot right now.
Tyler Colvin - 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies (23% owned)
At this time of year, many players become useful fantasy baseball options while filling in for injured teammates, and Rockies first baseman and outfielder Tyler Colvin fits that description quite well. Colvin has put up excellent numbers lately in place of injured veteran Rockies first baseman Todd Helton and, much like the hitting binge he had in early July, it's earning him a lot of notice in fantasy leagues. The Georgia native had a 20 home run season for the Cubs in 2010 but has often struggled to keep his batting average at a passable level. Batting average hasn't been much of an issue for Colvin in 2012, though he did drop that mark to .273 on July 31st. In 20 games this month, Colvin has hit .362 (25 for 69) with 6 doubles, 3 triples, 11 RBI, and 12 runs scored, though he's homered just once. He proved earlier this year that his home runs can come in bunches, so fantasy owners looking to add a hot hitter would be wise to move on Colvin right now.
Jeremy Guthrie - SP, Kansas City Royals (12% owned)
In what, at the time, appeared to be a meaningless swap of struggling starting pitchers for the Rockies and Royals, righthander Jeremy Guthrie was swapped straight-up for lefty Jonathan Sanchez back on July 20th. While Sanchez has struggled all season, Guthrie has performed very well with his new squad and in six starts with Kansas City he has posted a 3.23 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP with 31 strikeouts in 39 innings. In his last three starts, the 33 year-old hasn't allowed an earned run and has given up just 11 hits and 3 walks in those 22 2/3 innings. He'll face the Red Sox on Saturday, August 25th and his success may be short-lived, but his recent string of excellence can't be overlooked. Mixed league owners should proceed cautiously, but should definitely have him on their fantasy radars.
Hisashi Iwakuma - SP/RP, Seattle Mariners (17% owned)
After his fifth MLB start, 31 year-old Tokyo native Hisashi Iwakuma was mentioned in our AL/NL Under the Radar article back on August 2nd, and in four starts since then the Mariners righthander has continued to impress. Though his overall season ERA currently sits at 3.64, Iwakuma has a 3.02 mark in 9 games as a starter. He's also struck out 46 hitters in 53 2/3 non-relief innings, good for a 7.7 strikeout-per-nine-innings (K/9) rate. His next start will come against the lowly Minnesota Twins, which makes him a smart pickup in any format right now. He won't pile up huge numbers, but Iwakuma has been consistently above-average in the Seattle rotation and has plenty of fantasy value, particularly for teams looking to fill up quality innings down the stretch.
Andy Dirks - OF, Detroit Tigers (8% owned)
Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks made the Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues list back in May before being placed on the disabled list due to tendinitis in his Achilles, and since his return on August 3rd he has reclaimed his place as a relevant fantasy player. Dirks doesn't supply the ideal power numbers that most corner outfielders do, but he has been able to hit for a solid batting average throughout his professional career and enters play on Friday with a .330 average, 5 home runs, 23 RBI, and 35 runs scored in 55 games this season. Detroit has a lot of capable outfielders, but Dirks' hot hitting should continue to earn him consistent playing time against righthanded pitching. The 26 year-old still sits on the fantasy fringe, depending on the depth of one's league, but on the right squad he could be a good option for help in batting average and possibly other roto categories.
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