Jason Hammel could be a surprise hero of the fantasy playoffs
It's time for you lucky few to battle for the coveted fantasy baseball championship and a year of bragging rights. A nice "buy low" waiver option might be just what's needed to put your team into the winner's circle.
You did a great job making the playoffs, but you should not assume your team is the best it can be. There is always a guy, maybe two, who is playing amazing baseball now but hadn't been before.
The MVP of the fantasy playoffs could be waiting to be signed, and not even half the owners know he is there.
Here is a list of five guys that are owned in less than 50 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues. Each one of these players could mean the difference between a championship or a depressing early exit after six months of hard work.
It is mind-boggling that Bronson Arroyo is only owned in 45 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Arroyo may be the hottest pitcher in baseball right now. The Cincinnati Reds veteran is 8-1 in his last 10 starts. In his no-decision, he allowed one run over six innings of work. Arroyo has not allowed more than three runs in his last six starts.
The hot start is no surprise to Arroyo, though..
According to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), Arroyo knows that "August and September have always been pretty good for him."
This is exactly what I would want to hear if I am a fantasy owner.
So how is this guy not owned in every league?
The only explanation is that he does not get strikeouts. The Reds pitcher has only recorded more than five strikeouts on four occasions all season. Strikeouts aside, this guy gets wins and will do it with a low ERA and WHIP. So, if strikeouts are more important than winning three other categories, then don't add him.
If you want to win your fantasy baseball league, make this guy part of your rotation.
Rajai Davis may be the most unappreciated fantasy star in all of baseball.
Davis is second in all of baseball with 41 stolen bases. He only trails Angels OF Mike Trout (he has 44). Somehow, Davis is only owned in 42.3 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Even with the loss of Jose Bautista, the Toronto Blue Jays still have a potent offense. So why is a guy who can easily get into scoring position shunned by fantasy owners?
The reason is the guy does not score runs. Most speed guys are not powerful and do not hit a lot of home runs. This is understandable, but what is not understandable is how a guy with so much speed has only crossed the plate 57 times.
But, despite his other numbers, the Jays speedster should be highly valued due to his dominance in a specialized field. That means if you add him, you can probably guarantee one category for the entire playoffs.
The riskiest guy on this list is Orioles ace Jason Hammel.
Hammel is owned in just 32.2 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues, and for good reason.
Hammel missed over a month due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Before the surgery, the Baltimore ace was a mess. He had lost his four starts before the surgery.
There is reason to like Hammel. He has a 3.46 ERA and he defeated the New York Yankees in his first start back from the injury.
The 30-year-old pitcher has also shown he rises to his competition. Back in June, he defeated the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta, and went nine innings allowing one hit. After his shutout, Hammel had a similar performance against the Washington Nationals. He pitched eight scoreless innings and recorded 10 strikeouts.
With the Orioles in the playoff hunt, Hammel is the right guy for both his team and yours.
The youngster of the list is OF Adam Eaton.
Eaton has not been in the league two weeks and he has already had an impact on the Arizona offense.
Not surprisingly, Eaton is owned in less than one percent of all ESPN leagues. He is a rookie not named Mike Trout and does not have a lot of power. What Eaton brings is potential. It is true he is more suited for keeper leagues, but he can benefit in a regular league as well.
Eaton has multiple hits in four of his first five games, and he has scored in every game. The young outfielder also brings speed. While at Triple-A Reno, Eaton stole 38 bases.
There may only be a few weeks left, but he will make an impact worthy of being on your fantasy team.
Holland may be the best fantasy pitcher available.
The Rangers pitcher is owned in just 48 percent of all ESPN leagues. Holland can do it all, though, and he plays for Texas.
Even without an amazing offense, Holland would be a must-have fantasy pitcher. He has won his last three decisions, and he just recently dominated Tampa Bay. Holland went eight innings and allowed just one run while recording 11 strikeouts. The Texas pitcher had a similar outing in his last start against Detroit. He went almost eight innings, allowing one run and he had nine strikeouts.
What might worry fantasy owners is the bad stretch he had in late July. From July 20 to August 5, Holland had three starts where he allowed six runs.
But, with the way Holland has been pitching and the fact Cleveland is next on the schedule, fantasy owners should be racing to add him. This could be the surprise pitcher that pitches like Justin Verlander just long enough to allow you to claim victory.