2011 Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players Worth Picking Up After Week One
The first (extended) week of the baseball season has come and gone and it brought with it several surprising performances: From breakout rookie performances to former top talents finally looking like they are putting it together to veterans finding that spark once more.
Here are 10 players worth adding if you are looking to fill a hole.
Note: The number in the parentheses is the percent owned in all ESPN Fantasy Leagues.
Alex Gordon (56.4)
A former can’t-miss prospect, Gordon saw his value diminish year after year as he has yet to produce. However, this year he burst out of the gate with a .357 average and .400 OBP, as well as six extra-base hits and nine runs on the young season.
Gordon certainly has the talent, and this might be the year he finally puts it all together.
Russell Martin (60.4)
Catcher is a thin position, so getting any form of production from this slot is a treat. If you are still looking for somebody with life in his bat, you might want to consider Martin. The newest addition to the Yankees lineup, he has responded with a .300 average, three homers and six RBI to kick off the season.
Playing in Yankee Stadium and in that lineup might give Martin the chance to put up numbers similar to his early Dodgers days (though the speed may never return).
Ben Francisco (59.2)
It has only been two seasons since Francisco put up 15 homers and 14 stolen bases in only 405 at-bats. While he fell off the fantasy map last year, Francisco can still hit, as demonstrated with his .303 average, .903 OPS, two homers and seven RBI start to the year. He should benefit from calling Citizen Bank Park his home, and the five-slot should allow him to see plenty of RBI opportunities.
If you are looking for an outfielder to fill out your team, Francisco should continue to provide solid production.
Logan Morrison (43.2)
Morrison has been killing the ball to start the season with rates of .333/.476/.606. A second-year player, Morrison has shown that the skills seen during a short 244 at-bat stint last season are for real. After sporting a .390 OBP last year, he has eight walks compared to six strikeouts this year. He also was an excellent source of runs last season and should continue to be this year.
This year, Morrison has flashed some power with five of his first 11 hits going for extra bases. While he is not a major home-run threat, if he can continue to hit doubles at a high rate, he should be owned in every league.
Josh Willingham (11.9)
If you need cheap power, Willingham is as sure a bet as there is to provide at least high-teen home run totals. He is certainly capable of more, and depending on his health, he could hit around 25 home runs with around 70 RBI. While Willingham is not a great source of average, he is not a drain on it like other power hitters and he provides a solid OBP.
With three home runs already, Willingham is well on his way to another nice power season.
Zach Britton (35.6)
Britton has started his rookie campaign with a bang, sporting a 0.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over his first two starts. After a solid performance against the anemic Tampa Bay offense, he opened eyes by shutting out the potent Ranger offense over 7.2 innings. The key to Britton’s success is his ability to get ground balls, which should not be a problem with his heavy sinker.
As long as Britton can keep his walks down, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pull off a run much like Trevor Cahill did last year. Britton will face Cleveland in his next start, so he should continue his excellent start.
Aaron Harang (10.3)
Harang should sue Dusty Baker for abuse since he has never been the same since Baker brought him in to a meaningless May extra-inning game and made him throw four innings. Before that appearance, Harang was one of the top starters in the league.
Since then, well, he has been awful.
But Harang has found a new home with the Padres and through his first two starts he has paid dividends, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Harang should continue to benefit from the extremely pitcher-friendly PETCO Park and is definitely worth a flier, even if the Padres might not provide him with many wins.
Edwin Jackson (81.8)
Jackson is by far the most owned player on this list, but he makes it because apparently there are still leagues in which he is not owned, which is shocking. He has been downright filthy over his first two starts posting a 2-0 record with a 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 20 Ks in only 14 innings. Jackson showed what he is capable of with a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout performance against the Rays. If he can keep his walks down, he should continue to dazzle.
While he has yet to face a top offense, the AL Central is not a power-packed division so he should continue to find success, even if he has the occasional poor game. If Jackson is still available in your league, grab him.
Jordan Walden (67.2)
While Walden’s percent owned has jumped up by 64.1 percent since the start of the season, he is still not owned in every league and should be. Walden has been dominant since the beginning of the season with a 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He grabbed the closing spot after Fernando Rodney imploded to start the year and nailed down his first save opportunity with a perfect inning.
While Rodney did receive the last save opportunity, chalk it up to Walden having thrown 25 pitches the night before. He should continue to get the nod in the ninth. While he is unlikely to match Neftali Feliz’s success from last year in terms of number of saves, Walden should put up around 30 saves with excellent ratios.
If you can still grab him, consider him a steal.
Jose Contreras (38.6)
If you are looking for cheap saves, Contreras is your man. Manager Charlie Manuel gave him the vote of confidence over Ryan Madson, so he will close until Brad Lidge returns. While it might not always be pretty, Contreras usually gets the job done and he is two for two so far in save opportunities on the young season.
He has not allowed a run yet and has a 1.00 WHIP.