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.
With all of the
unpredictable injuries and job changes 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!Jarrod Saltalamacchia
- C, Boston Red Sox (28% owned)
In recent years, catcher has been a difficult position to get good fantasy baseball production from, but in 2012 there have been several surprisingly sluggers behind the plate and one of them is Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia has been somewhat of a disappointment since his days as a top catching and hitting prospect with the Atlanta Braves, but after posting a career-high 16 home runs for the Red Sox last season the 27 year-old is now on his way to his best big league campaign. Salty enters play on Friday with a .273 average, 7 homers, 10 doubles, 19 RBI, and an .856 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) mark, all of which would put him on pace for career bests. The Florida native managed just a .244 career average in 353 big league games before this season so his batting line will probably never be stellar, but fantasy owners seeking a power bat behind the plate should add him, particularly since he hits for a Boston lineup that (when healthy) can pile up lots of runs.Mitch Moreland
- 1B/OF, Texas Rangers (36% owned)
Despite some position versatility and solid power numbers, Rangers first baseman and outfielder Mitch Moreland has failed to really cement himself as a big part of the Texas lineup. This, of course, has limited his fantasy value, but his hot hitting this month has earned him more attention with the Rangers and some more recognition from the fantasy community. In 49 at-bats this month, Moreland is hitting .327 with 4 home runs, 10 RBI, and 12 runs scored, and for the season he is hitting .277 with 7 homers, 16 RBI, and 19 runs. The 26 year-old typically hits at the bottom of the Rangers lineup, but in a batting order with so many strong spots he can still find chances to drive in runs and help out fantasy owners.Matt Adams
- 1B, St. Louis Cardinals (17% owned)
In major league baseball, team necessity often leads to player opportunity, and that is exactly what led to the Cardinals' call-up of 23 year-old hitting prospect Matt Adams this week. Adams was recalled to replace starting first baseman Lance Berkman
who, along with injured teammates outfielder Jon Jay
and infielder Allen Craig
, created a desperate need for the Cards to add a hitter. Baseball America
ranked Adams as the team's ninth-best prospect prior to the start of this season after he cracked 32 home runs and hit .300 for Double-A Springfield last year, and he was off to an excellent start with 9 long balls and a .340 average in his first test at Triple-A in 2012. Adams is a career .318 hitter in the minor leagues and, while he doesn't strike out a lot for a power hitter, he doesn't draw a lot of walks either and has a career on-base percentage (OBP) of just .366. Even if he doesn't hit for a .300 average in any significant amount of big league plate time this year, Adams has excellent strength and should be able to put the bat on the ball enough to crack some home runs and doubles right away. Fantasy teams in need of a power bat with great upside should definitely enlist Adams and he could, like many Cardinals call-ups in the past, surpass expectations.Dayan Viciedo
- OF, Chicago White Sox (24% owned)
While he's failed to make his mark as a big leaguer so far, White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo looks every bit like a big league power hitter and has recently posted some numbers to back it up. Known as "The Tank" for his burly 5'11" build, Viciedo had 20 home runs in each of his past two seasons for Triple-A Charlotte and, with 5 home runs and 11 RBI over a 14 for 38 (.368) stretch for Chicago since May 14th, the 23 year-old Cuban native may finally be proving his worth as an everyday fantasy commodity. If he can continue his hot hitting and live up to his huge potential, Viciedo could be a power-hitting hero for some fantasy owners, but even in the short term it makes sense to plug him in and see what he can do for those home run stats.Felix Doubront
- SP/RP, Boston Red Sox (14% owned)
He's not a household name, but Red Sox pitcher Felix Doubront is certainly becoming a lot more well-known in the baseball world after a recent string of solid starts. Over his last four outings, Doubront has posted 3 wins, 23 strikeouts, and a 2.63 ERA, and with 53 punchouts in 50 innings this season he is getting plenty of recognition from the fantasy baseball community. Nothing about Felix suggests he'll be particularly dominant moving forward, but a spot in Boston's rotation and better than a strikeout per inning should assure roto managers some help in a couple of categories. His upcoming start against the Tigers is definitely not an ideal one to pick him up for, but owners in need of strikeouts should at least have him on their watch lists.Felipe Paulino
- SP/RP, Kansas City Royals (14% owned)
After being traded from the Rockies to the Royals for infielder Clint Barmes
last season, righthander Felipe Paulino pitched well, and he has continued that trend into the current MLB campaign. Paulino missed the first month of the 2012 regular season due to a strained forearm, but in four starts since his return on May 5th he is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Three of his four starts have been scoreless outings this year, including his last two, making him one of the hotter starting pitchers in baseball lately. He won't continue to dominate at this level, but fantasy owners should take advantage while they can, particularly since he is putting up very useful strikeout numbers.Closer News:
- RP, Washington Nationals (35% owned)Sean Burnett
- RP, Washington Nationals (12% owned)Craig Stammen
- RP, Washington Nationals (9% owned)
Baseball's never-ending closer carousel moved to Washington this past week, as righthanded reliever Henry Rodriguez
, who was filling in for injured closer Drew Storen
, was removed from his closer role due to a recent string of bad outings. Rodriguez has one of baseball's best arms and can top 100 miles per hour with his fastball, but he has struggled badly with control and walks throughout his career and his most recent problems prompted Nationals manager Davey Johnson
to make a change. While Washington setup man Tyler Clippard seemed like an obvious choice as the new closer, it appears that the team will utilize a committee of Clippard, lefty Sean Burnett, and righthander Craig Stammen, at least for now. Over the last four seasons Clippard has been among baseball's best setup men, so it's likely that he'll get the bulk of the save chances (as he did on May 22nd), but all three pitchers have some fantasy value. Burnett has already gotten a save too (on May 21st) and could be the go-to guy for lefthanded hitters in the ninth inning, while Stammen has been excellent this season and could snag a save chance whenever his teammates' workload necessitates it. Even if they are splitting save opportunities, all three hurlers have fantasy value due to their other roto numbers, so depending on need and league depth, fantasy owners should act appropriately.