With the 2012 baseball season a little more than a third of the way through, the fantasy baseball action is in full swing. With several key players under-performing or going down with injuries, the chance is there for some unknowns to step up and make an impact.
In case you've missed out on the sensational rookie performances of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper or surprise Cy Young candidates R.A. Dickey and James McDonald, there are still some players out there on the waiver wire who could really help your fantasy team.
Here is a look at five players, including a potential rookie star, who you need to pick up before they are gone.
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox
Owned in only 53.6 percent of ESPN leagues, Saltalamacchia has provided some solid pop in the middle of the Red Sox's lineup.
He is rated as the eighth-best fantasy catcher in 2012 and his 11 home runs are tied with Mike Napoli for most by any catcher.
Over the past 30 games, he has been the best catcher in fantasy baseball, and he should continue to see consistent playing time as long as the Red Sox continue to struggle. Especially with injuries to guys like Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila, you should look to pick up Saltalamacchia if your catchers are under-performing.
RHP A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates
The 35-year-old Burnett is enjoying a career-rejuvenating year, leading a surprising Pittsburgh rotation to the third-best ERA in the majors.
Over the past 30 games, Burnett has the eighth-best player rating among pitchers, and there is no reason to believe he won't continue to dominate the weaker National League.
He is only owned in 53.5 percent of ESPN leagues and as the Pirates continue to win games and gain attention, Burnett will surely get picked up more frequently.
A.J. Burnett has thrived for the small-market Pirates now that he is outside of the spotlight of the Big Apple, and it is time you start benefiting from his resurgence.
OF Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers
Aoki has been a hard player to get a read on, as nobody really knew what kind of player he would be coming over from Japan. With the rash of injuries that have affected the Brewers, Aoki is getting consistent playing time, and he is turning into a pleasant surprise for the underachieving Brew Crew.
The 30-year-old's player rating over the past 30 games is ranked 28th among outfielders in baseball, ahead of players like Curtis Granderson, Shane Victorino and Carlos Beltran.
Aoki should continue to get consistent playing time with Corey Hart's move to first base and if you are looking for some outfield depth, the Japanese outfielder might be your best option.
LHP Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers
Harrison played a big role in the Rangers' World Series run last year, and he has continued his success into 2012.
Owned in just 57.4 percent of ESPN Leagues, you know Harrison is going to get run support from the Rangers. On top of that, Harrison has been the 14th-best fantasy starting pitcher over the past 30 games, right behind 2011 American League MVP Justin Verlander.
With Derek Holland on the DL and Roy Oswalt still preparing to enter the rotation, the Rangers are counting on Matt Harrison to make some big starts, and so far in 2012, he has done just that.
2B Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
Second base is probably the weakest position in the Padres' lineup, and it is only a matter of time before Jedd Gyorko gets the call up to the majors.
In 234 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, Gyorko has posted a slash line of .303/.376/.526 along with 13 home runs.
In 2011, Gyorko hit 25 home runs and stole 12 bases in the Padres' minor league system, so he has big fantasy value for a second baseman.
Jedd Gyorko will get the call to San Diego soon, and if your second-baggers are struggling, you might want to pick him up to spark your lineup.
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