TOYOTA TUNDRA – PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston looks at nine intriguing fantasy baseball players still available on the waiver wire in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Last call for the trump Card of the waiver wire
Allen Craig (2B/OF) St. Louis Cardinals
Craig has been featured here each and every week, yet still he remains on waivers in nearly two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues. Since last his virtues were espoused in this forum, he concluded rehab from his knee surgery, rejoined the Cardinals and had six hits in his first 16 at bats of the season, including a home run and double on Sunday. Whether you want to look at his minor league or major league track record, it shows in no uncertain terms that Craig can hit for power and average. And he's eligible at a position (2B) that currently has just 12 players ranked inside the top 240 of the Yahoo! game. Craig's current availability can't be justified.
- Y! % 37%
- Y! rank 746
Seager has been able to "Turn the Page" in the power department
Kyle Seager (3B/SS) Seattle Mariners
Seager was a hitting machine during his short stint in the minors, batting .329 in 1,087 at bats spanning three levels. But there wasn't much pop to go with the lofty batting average. Driving the ball with power was something Seager set about to improve this offseason, and the early results are very encouraging. He's hit three home runs in his past five games and has more total bases than all but six SS-eligible players in the Yahoo! game. Seager's efforts have landed him in the No. 5 spot in the M's order, where he sports a .944 OPS and 14 RBIs in 15 games. The ability to roster him at SS in Yahoo! leagues makes his case for fantasy employment a no-brainer.
- Y! % 27%
- Y! rank 95
Johnny on the leadoff spot for Indians
Johnny Damon (OF) Cleveland Indians
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more attractive option available in more Yahoo! leagues than Damon. Last season, Damon finished among the top 75 hitters in the Yahoo! game, pushing 20/20 club membership (19/16) while eclipsing 70 RBIs and Runs. The Indians have installed him as their leadoff hitter this past week, and he's 4-for-14 with a double, triple and two runs scored in his past four games. The Indians plan to play Damon regularly, at least until Grady Sizemore returns from lower back surgery in about a month. Until then, consider Damon a serviceable across-the-board pick-me-up for fantasy purposes.
- Y! %5%
- Y! rank 949
Speedy Pirate no longer in danger of walking the plank
Jose Tabata (OF) Pittsburgh Pirates
Tabata's '12 campaign got off to an inauspicious start, as he hit just .140 and failed to drive in a run or score a run in his first 12 games. The next dozen contests, however, have been a completely different story - .327, 5 RBIs, 9 Runs. Tabata has career 162-game averages of 29 steals and 92 Runs, so he's more than serviceable as a three-category speed asset as long as he's hitting for a respectable average, something he's been able to do at every step of his professional career. And, at just 23 years of age, the best is, most likely, yet to come for the Bucs' right fielder.
- Y! % 27%
- Y! rank 651
- AVG .239
Fantasy owners ignoring this plentiful Pagan offering
Angel Pagan (OF) San Francisco Giants
A 20-game hitting streak has done little for Pagan's fantasy street cred, as he's still available in more than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The Giants leadoff hitter, who has back-to-back seasons of 30-plus steals, is the No. 55 player in the Yahoo! game for the past two weeks, hitting .304 with three home runs and three steals. Staying healthy has been the rub with Pagan in his career but, like Tabata, his a three-category contributor when he's on the field.
- Y! %36%
- Y! rank 140
Scott is a Ray of hope for those seeking power
Luke Scott (1B/OF) Tampa Bay Rays
Scott is the premier power play among those players owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues. He leads that group with six home runs and 21 RBIs (12th-best in MLB). And among those with at least 50 plate appearances, his OPS of 1.068 against right-handed pitching ranks among the league's top 10. If he stays healthy, Scott can hit 25-plus home runs in the middle of the Rays lineup - he averaged 25 HRs for the Orioles from '08-'10. And, unlike so many of the oft available power sources, Scott is not a Mendoza Line threat - .263 career batting average. Micromanagers can maximize Scott's fantasy impact by sitting him against most lefty starters.
- Y! %44%
- Y! rank 129
Minor difficulties of late, but major upside for future returns
Mike Minor (SP) Atlanta Braves
Through six starts, Minor is allowing nearly six runs per nine innings (5.97 ERA). That's an undeniably ugly number. But six starts is minor in the grand scheme of things. And a stumble in treacherous Coors Field in his last outing (5 IP, 8 ER) can be blamed for much of his tainted tally. In the big picture, you should be more focused on his 3.63 xFIP and 8.12 K/9 rates. Minor is currently on the wrong side of the fence when looking at the assorted measurements of luck (LOB%, HR/FB, BABIP, etc.). But you'd be hard-pressed to find a starter owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues with a higher ceiling for fantasy success.
- Y! %44%
- Y! rank 834
This flame-throwing Cub is showing signs of growing up
Jeff Samardzija (P) Chicago Cubs
Samardzija throws a fastball that ranks behind only Stephen Strasburg in terms of average velocity among those with at least 30 IP. But it's his success with the rest of his arsenal that has propelled him to 14th among starters in K/9. According to Fangraphs.com, Samardzija ranks among the top five among starters in split-finger pitch value, top six with his cutter and top 20 with his slider. That he's mixing his secondary pitches in so well while maintaining his best BB/9 rate (2.84) of his career (by far) shows that he might be finally turning the corner from being simply a thrower. When it comes to upside potential, Samardzija might be the one pitcher that can overmatch Atlanta's Minor among the sub-50 percent crowd.
- Y! %35%
- Y! rank 172
Exit Sandman, enter Soriano?
Rafael Soriano (RP) New York Yankees
David Robertson was the center of the fire drill in the aftermath of Mariano Rivera's ACL injury. He's expected to get most of the save opportunities in The Sandman's absence, and rightfully so - Robertson has been just plain filthy (15.75 K/9). But manager Joe Girardi has said that Soriano will also be in the saves equation, and that should get fantasy owners' attention. After all, Soriano has experience on his side, having saved 72 games of 79 games in '09-'10. Robertson has no closer background. You never know how he'll respond in the ninth-inning pressure cooker - there's a long list of dominant set-up men that couldn't hack it in the closer role. But even if Robertson thrives, if we take Girardi at his word that Soriano will get opportunities on occasion, then he at least merits consideration in deeper leagues, where a handful of saves can make a big difference in the final standings. Make sure to also check on the availability of these new potential saves sources: Andrew Cashner, Rafael Dolis, Steve Cishek, Edward Mujica, Scott Downs
- Y! %37%
- Y! rank 319
Other Week 6 Pickups: Jed Lowrie, Hou, 3B/SS; Chris Johnson, Hou, 3B; Mitch Moreland, Tex, 1B/OF; Ty Wigginton, Phi, 1B/3B/OF; Wil Middlebrooks, Bos, 3B; Todd Helton, Col, 1B; Aaron Hill, Ari, 2B; Alcides Escobar, KC, SS; Alex Rios, CWS, OF; Brennan Boesch, Det, OF; Jason Kubel, Ari, OF; Gerardo Parra, Ari, OF; Carlos Quentin, SD, OF; Josh Reddick, Oak, OF; Erik Bedard, Pit, SP; James McDonald, Pit, SP; Ricky Nolasco, Mia, SP; Scott Downs, LAA, RP; Gavin Floyd, CWS, SP; Jonathon Niese, NYM, SP; Rafael Dolis, CHC, RP; Drew Smyly, Det, SP; Andrew Cashner, SD, RP; Steve Cishek, Mia, RP; Jarrod Parker, Oak, SP
Will Myers, OF – KC prospect is hitting .368 with 4 HRs in his past 10 games for Erie, pushing him into the OPS lead in the Double-A Texas League with a 1.081 mark.
Scott Van Slyke, 3B – Andy's son has 4 HRs and 9 RBIs in his past 5 games for Triple-A Albuquerque. He now ranks 2nd in the PCL in Total Bases.
Dan Johnson, 1B – Quad-A journeyman has exploded in the past nine games for Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .345 with 5 HRs and 14 RBIs
Evan Gattis, C – 25-year-old Braves prospect has 12 home runs and a 1.252 OPS in 27 games combined between Single- and Double-A. He now has 34 HRs in his past 441 minor league ABs.
Shelby Miller, SP – Cards top prospect has 37 Ks in just 28.1 IP for Triple-A Memphis.
Trevor Bauer, SP – Arizona top prospect, who leads Double-A Southern League in Ks, pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball in his last outing.
James Paxton, SP – One of the M's vaunted trio of Double-A Jackson pitching prospects has allowed just 2 runs and has fanned 14 in his past two outings (11.1 IP)