Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for AL-only leagues, NL-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.
This week's crop of AL and NL only players includes a few youngsters, a few players returning from injury, and a look at a Seattle Mariners outfielder who may be able to help out your fantasy team.
* Owned percentages via Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
- SS, Baltimore Orioles (10% owned)
Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy wasted no time producing upon returning from the disabled list, as he strung together four hits in his first game back earlier this week. Hardy had played in six games prior to the oblique injury and produced just three hits over 15 at-bats. He returns as the everyday shortstop for the O's and will bat ninth. Hardy won't hit for a high average but should hit between 10 and 15 home runs this season. There won't likely be a huge rush to pick Hardy up from waivers, so owners can wait until he starts producing at the plate before adding him.
After a disastrous month of April, Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard is starting to find his groove. In his last start, Bedard struck out a season-high nine batters while allowing one earned run over five innings. On the season, he has posted a 32-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven starts. In addition to limiting free passes to hitters this year, he's also struck out 19.2% of all hitters he's faced. Bedard is serviceable to AL owners, with deeper mixed league owners using him in spot-start situations.
Unless you play in the "Awesome Names" fantasy baseball league, reliever Al Alburquerque of the Tigers is not a household name. This righthander owns a devastating slider along with a mid-90s fastball, which has helped him strike out 23 hitters in just 13 innings this season. He likely won't help your team in the saves department, but he could collect a few holds (if your league counts them) and his strikeouts simply can't be ignored. In addition to the flashy strikeout totals, he's allowed just two hits in his last six appearances.
- OF, Seattle Mariners (1% owned)
The biggest winner of the Seattle Mariners designating Milton Bradley
for assignment this week was rookie Carlos Peguero. The 24-year-old outfielder hit 23 home runs at Double-A West Tennessee in 2010, but he also struck out in 32% of all his plate appearances. With consistent playing time, fantasy owners can look to Peguero for a few home runs, but his strikeouts are concerning.
- OF, Washington Nationals (1% owned)
Recently recalled Roger Bernadina will see plenty of time in the outfield for the Nationals in addition to hitting leadoff for the team moving forward. Rick Ankiel
hit the disabled list over the weekend and, according to manager Jim Riggleman, Bernadina will be the team's primary centerfielder and could even remain in the starting lineup when Ankiel returns. Roger has bounced between the Nationals and Triple-A Syracuse throughout his career but appears likely to stay in Washington, given the team's current offensive woes. Owners should look to add him in hopes that his stolen bases and runs scored can contribute to their current roster.
- OF, San Francisco Giants (28% owned)
Recently off the disabled list, outfielder Andres Torres will return to his normal leadoff spot for the San Francisco Giants. The career journeyman was hitting .268/.375/.393 with one steal in eight games this season prior to the injury. He won't provide home run power like he did in 2010, but hopefully Torres can spark a shaky Giants lineup. Ideally his walks will outweigh his strikeouts and he can earn some stolen bases for owners, and his services definitely make him worth adding in most leagues.
Owners searching for power should look no further than Garrett Jones of the Pirates but should beware, as playing time is a concern for the slugging lefty. Against righthanders this season, Jones is hitting .299/.419/.571 with six home runs. Yet in 11 at-bats against lefthanders this year, he has just one hit. More times than not, owners can expect that Jones will be sitting with a lefty on the hill, with righthanded hitter Matt Diaz
starting in right field.
In his last two outings, Tom Gorzelanny has allowed only two earned runs and walked just four batters over 15 innings. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs since his first start of the season on April 9th and is currently sitting at a 2.93 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Though wins may be hard to come by for the lefty due to the Nationals lineup, owners can use him to help in their WHIP and ERA categories while also chipping in with a handful of strikeouts.