Fantasy Baseball: No Love for These 10 Hitters Could Be Your (Minor) Loss
Every fantasy league has them: that jewel buried in the muck of mediocrity just waiting to be pounced on and used to the detriment of whoever you happen to be playing, be it friend or enemy.
Some players, of course, shoot out of nowhere; they become owned throughout the fantasy world, but eventually dropped as they go back to their old ways.
But there are some out there who remain consistent (if not dominant) in a lot of categories that, for whatever reason, are ignored because they don't have a big name, a good team or any word of mouth.
Here are 10 wonders of the fantasy world who remain absent from 90 percent (or more) of fantasy rosters* but can help your squad in one or more areas.
Now before anyone gets all crazy, I'm not saying these guys will SAVE your season or something. But if you're lacking a few categories, this might be some nice, cheap and ignored finds.
*Note: I am basing the ownership numbers in this article on ESPN's fantasy league numbers. One, it's the only active league I'm in right now so the numbers are easily accessible and two, the people playing ESPN rank close to the six digit area so I figured it was a good example of trends with lots of fantasy players and owners.
Adam Kennedy, Mariners
ESPN Ownership: 10.1% (only 10.1% of all ESPN fantasy teams draft or pick up this player)
The Good: Only 17 Ks in 130 AB; .285 batting average; 5 stolen bases on 5 attempts (100%)
The Bad: Of his 37 hits, 25 have been singles. He has a solid eight doubles (within top 75 in the AL) but isn't a consistent producer of XBHs.
The Ugly: Has only drawn seven walks in 130 ABs
Analysis: The former ALCS MVP for the Angels in 2002 doesn't wow you with statistics at first glance. In his career, his best attribute has been steals, in which he has been a top 15 or 20 producer for years.
His batting average is a solid .275 for his career and he would be a great pickup, besides the stolen bases, for singles. He's hit close to 1,400 total hits in his 13-year career, with 1,012 for singles.
Kennedy is obviously a bench guy and not a superstar, but one who brings far more positives then the 10.1 percent ownership implies.
John Buck, Marlins
ESPN Ownership: 9.5%
The Good: Hitting a mixture of XBHs with seven doubles, one triple and six home runs for a .658 slugging percentage; has driven in 20 runs already in 48 games, which is one pace for 60-plus come season's end.
The Bad: His strikeout rate isn't terrible but edging close to one a game. Not a lot of walks either.
The Ugly: Hitting 70 points below last year's batting average of .281.
Analysis: I picked up John Buck last year when, for some reason (likely because I'm dumber then a bag of hammers) I forgot to draft a catcher and had to draft one with my very last pick.
He didn't disappoint as he became an All-Star catcher and hit .281 with 115 hits, 20 homers and 66 RBI.
Buck's batting average is a bit down, but he is still on pace to hit close to 20 homers and 60 or more RBI. He won't play all the time, as catchers tend to do, but passing up on some consistent numbers from this clearly overlooked catcher might be an opportunity missed.
Carlos Gomez, Brewers
ESPN Ownership: 8.8%
The Good: A solid base stealer who is inching toward the top five in the NL; Baseball Prospectus thinks he'll steal close to 22 bases this year at a 75 percent success rate, while ESPN thinks even better of his base-swiping skills, predicting 31 with nine failed attempts.
The Bad: Constant rumors of losing his spot to Nyjer Morgan, amongst others, doesn't help the morale (or the fantasy owner's management).
The Ugly: Gomez has struck out 48 times with only 13 walks to show for it. Plus, he is a career .244 hitter and his current .224 might be the best we'll see this year.
Analysis: I can really only recommend this guy for his stolen bases. But it is a valuable commodity if you can risk lots of Ks and a low BA.
Matt LaPorta, Indians
ESPN Ownership: 7.6%
The Good: In the top 20 in slugging with 10 doubles, a triple and eight home runs; hitting an average if not stellar .255; has a solid 16 walks.
The Bad: Nothing extraneous; he doesn't steal bases.
The Ugly: Can't find anything too ugly about him.
Analysis: He's on a great team and is ahead of his previous career paces in XHBs at such a young point in the season.
He's clearly hitting for power and shows some patience. He's a young kid only in his third MLB year so signs point to him getting better.
He might be a sleeper worth picking up. . .I own him.
Nyjer Morgan, Brewers
ESPN Ownership: 5.2%
The Good: Coming in to pitch-hit or act as a late-game sub, Morgan has only had 47 ABs so far this year. But he's batting .383 with an OBP of .431. He's got four doubles and three triples as part of that 18-for-47 performance.
The Bad: Has not stolen a lot of bases...yet. That may change if he becomes a full-blown starter. Many projected he'd eclipse 40 stolen bags this season. He's got two in three attempts thus far.
The Ugly: He's flippin' crazy! Plus he WILL NOT hit for consistent power, especially home runs with only four in five years. His speed, however, does allow for the occasional double or triple. He does not drive in many runs.
Analysis: I picked him up, initially, with one of my last picks as a stolen base guy but his batting and power has been off the chain in this short season.
I understand the limited role he's playing with the Brewers so far but what better way to pick him up!? In limited time he is making the most of it. Take advantage of him while you still can.
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
ESPN Ownership: 3.8%
The Good: Batting .272, plays almost every game as an old catcher, hits a tremendous amount of singles (40 of his 49 hits this year are singles) and hardly ever strikes out (10 Ks in 180 ABs in 2011).
The Bad: He's getting older.
The Ugly: He hardly hits for power (7 doubles, 2 homers this year) and despite the impressive lack of Ks, he also doesn't walk (nine walks in 180 ABs). His OBP is .309.
Analysis: This is the guy you get for singles, a decent average, and is reliable in being someone who won't strike out all the time. His lack of power may disturb you but AJ should be a backup or backup to a backup catcher on fantasy rosters anyways.
But what a hell of a backup backup, eh? He hits well and is relatively consistently.
David DeJesus, Athletics
ESPN Ownership: 2.1%
The Good: Has three triples, which is a good sign considering he has been in the top seven in the AL for years. He's hitting a decent amount of homers early (5) and walks almost as much as he strikes out (18 BB to 25 Ks)
The Bad: He's hitting .255 which, for him, a lifetime .288 hitter, is a bad thing.
The Ugly: Has hit into a fair amount of double plays this year.
Analysis: Once again, he's not a prime draft pick but a consistent power guy (especially in a tough category like triples) who has got to be a sweet pickup either in a draft or on the free agent market.
DeJesus has been consistent with average and some power stats; nothing that exactly sticks out but something you can't pass if it's free.
Lyle Overbay, Pirates
ESPN Ownership: 0.8%
The Good: Hitting with decent power (10 doubles, 5 homers) and walks at a fair clip (18 BB).
The Bad: Sagging .238 batting average. His career average is .272
The Ugly: .304 OBP
Analysis: It's always easy to overlook a Pirate and the ones you do pick up suck (*cough Alvarez cough*). But Overbay is a solid pick and one I'm surprised only 0.8% of ESPN leagues have picked up.
Then again, I don't have him (*wah wah waaaaaaah*)
Aaron Rowand, Giants
ESPN Ownership: 0.3%
The Good: Scoring a decent amount of runs while hitting 13 doubles and a triple this season.
The Bad: .247 current BA compared to a career .275
The Ugly: Wretched .296 OBP and only 10 RBI in 150 ABs.
Analysis: It just seems like a guy hitting for decent XBH (not great) and has had a solid career BA (not great) we be owned by a bit more people.
The former Gold Glove and all-star averages close to 20 homers a year and 60-plus RBI. I'd imagine his current slump (1 HR, 10 RBI) will subside as the season continues.
Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
ESPN Ownership: 0.1%
The Good: The third-year player has hit 33 singles (out of 41 total hits) but mixes it up by walking a lot (19 BB) and striking out very little (30 Ks so far). He's also hitting .266, which isn't bad, and actually improved from the previous year. He's got 15 RBI in 49 games this year. He had 30 in 133 last year.
The Bad: Low slugging percentage (.377)
The Ugly: Nothing stands out...yet...
Analysis: Everyone overlooked the Diamondbacks this year...though who can blame them. Parra is becoming a clutch performer for them as the D'backs find themselves above .500 for the first time in a looong time.