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.
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 in the early stages of the fantasy campaign:
* Owned percentages via Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
Prior to the start of the season, there were many questions regarding the Texas lineup and where players would play. Fast forward to the Josh Hamilton injury
, and outfielder David Murphy becomes a solid regular who is expected to be in the lineup every day. However, owners in daily leagues should be aware of Murphy's mediocre career numbers against lefties (.266/.307/385). Regardless, with Murphy roaming the outfield for Texas over the next two months, he'll have every opportunity to put up some steals and a few homers for your team while providing a reliable batting average. In addition, the Rangers have Mitch Moreland, also a lefthanded hitter, and he could see some time in the outfield too. Nevertheless, Murphy is a must-grab for owners.
Zach Britton was a highly-regarded prospect prior to the start of the season, but after the Brian Matusz
injury the Orioles wasted no time in calling Britton up to the big leagues. Over his first two starts, Britton has made a name for himself by allowing just one earned run over 13 2/3 innings. He won't post big strikeout numbers, but his nasty sinker makes him an effective extreme ground ball pitcher. Britton's next scheduled start is against the Cleveland Indians, and though the matchup on paper appears to be in his favor, the Indians are playing good baseball lately. Even with as a rookie pitcher in the American League East, Britton is the game's top lefthanded pitching prospect for a reason and owners shouldn't be afraid to take a chance on the southpaw.
Hitting leadoff for a really good lineup has its benefits; just ask Dexter Fowler of the Colorado Rockies. Over 11 games this season, Fowler has posted an on-base percentage (OBP) of .346 and ten runs scored. Despite just two steals early on, Fowler has the upside to steal between 20 and 30 bags in 2011. He has a good eye at the plate too, allowing him to reach base and score runs. If your roster is lacking speed and runs, Fowler is a great addition.
Derek Holland has started the season red hot, but he'll face a tough test this weekend in a road game against the New York Yankees. Over a pair of starts, he's collected two wins and 11 strikeouts while walking just three hitters. A major reason for his success thus far is his ability to spot his pitches on the outer half of the plate, as noted by David Pinto of Baseball Musings
. His ability to limit home runs and walks going forward is likely sustainable based on previous history, making him a serviceable arm at the back end of your fantasy pitching rotation.
After a slow start to the season with just 2 hits in 20 at-bats, Danny Valencia is still an interesting option to watch, particularly given the current state of the Minnesota Twins and all of the injured third basemen in baseball. While it appeared that Valencia's early struggles could land him a seat on the bench, the injury to Minnesota second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka
will allow Valencia to remain in the lineup. Michael Cuddyer
will likely see the bulk of the starts at second base moving forward, so he won't take playing time away from Valencia at third, for now. Valencia isn't currently setting the fantasy baseball world on fire, but he does have a triple slash line of .278/.350/.278 over his last five games. If you're a fantasy owner who is hurting from injuries at third base and you can have some patience, Valencia makes for a nice play.
Though fantasy owners often ignore platoon players, Colorado outfielder Seth Smith deserves plenty of attention. While Smith will likely take a seat when facing lefthanded pitching, he's still making plenty of noise against righthanders this year. Even with a career slash line of .197/.275/.346 against lefties, Rockies manager Jim Tracy is still sometimes starting Smith against southpaws. Ryan Spilborghs
will most likely receive the majority of the starts against lefties, but owners shouldn't discount Smith's production, even as a platoon player. Over the past two seasons, Smith has averaged 392 plate appearances, 16 home runs and 54 RBI per year. With the Rockies scoring a ton of runs and the high likelihood of facing a righthanded starter, Smith is a nice option in deep leagues.
Worth a Look
Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens is a sneaky pick for owners this weekend, as he expected to be activated from the disabled list and face the New York Mets. Jurrjens will be making his first major league start of the season after being sidelined with a right oblique injury. In his final rehab start, Jair threw 81 pitches over six pain-free innings. In ten career starts against the Mets he has a 7-2 record with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Furthermore, in four career home starts against the Mets, he's 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA. If you're searching for a solid stream pitcher this weekend, Jurrjens is worth a look.