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.
Cleveland outfielder is starting to rock the base paths
Michael Brantley (OF) Cleveland Indians
In his past 17 games, Brantley is a top 30 offensive fantasy commodity, raising his average 40 points in that span. A big-time speed threat during his ascension through the minor leagues, Brantley hasn't previously made much of a stolen base impact in his short MLB tenure. But he's finally flashing some of that base path lightning with the Indians of late, swiping five bags in his past seven games. And while his speed impact comes sans power (0 HR), Brantley has been a solid run producer - one of nine players with at least eight steals and 20-plus RBIs and Runs.
- Y! % 14%
- Y! rank 166
Home is where the heart (fantasy value) is for Rockies outfielder
Dexter Fowler (OF) Colorado Rockies
Yahoo! Scott Pianowski does a good job of stating the case for Fowler in his Tuesday Opening Time. To summarize the Pianowman's words in a nutshell, Fowler is lousy on the road (.571 OPS) and fantastic at home (1.127 OPS), and there's immediate dividends to reap given that Colorado is at Coors Field for 11 of the next 14 games. Fowler, who flashes five-category upside, is an obvious short-term pickup, and he has long-term value for owners that have the bench space to move him out of the active roster for most road games.
- Y! % 43%
- Y! rank 112
Long balls still plentiful for long-in-the-tooth Cub
Alfonso Soriano (OF) Chicago Cubs
Many cringed at the Soriano recommendation in this forum last week. But owners that ignored the name and invested in the power potential enjoyed three more home runs in his past six games. With a .302 batting average, 6 HRs and 7 doubles, Soriano has a .948 OPS in May, top 25 among hitters for the month. Assuming he can stay reasonably healthy the rest of the way, another 20 home runs and 60-70 RBIs is a very realistic conclusion.
- Y! %35%
- Y! rank 256
Backup backstop makes a nice injury replacement in both reality and fantasy
Wilin Rosario (C) Colorado Rockies
There's a lot to like about Rosario at the moment. He's got the kind of pedigree you can get behind - 40 HRs in 675 ABs at the Double-A level (he skipped Triple-A). He plays his home games in the ripest offensive environment in the majors. And with Ramon Hernandez on the disabled list (hand), Rosario has regular at bats coming his way for at least the next couple weeks. Among catchers with 50 ABs in May, Rosario ranks among the top 4 with an OPS of .952 for the month, and only J.P. Arencibia has more than Rosario's six May home runs among backstops. Those owners looking to replace Jonathan Lucroy (out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand) should put Rosario near the top of the list of replacement candidates, somewhere soon after red-hot Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
- Y! % 5%
- Y! rank 447
- AVG .229
New Padre has wasted little time showing off prodigous power
Carlos Quentin (OF) San Diego Padres
Quentin has hit a single, two doubles and a home run in his first eight at bats since coming off the DL on Memorial Day. In addition to injuries, power has always defined Quentin as a player. Since becoming a full-time player after being traded from Arizona to the White Sox in '08, Quentin has averaged more than 36 home runs per 162 games played. You can certainly hate his health history but, if you need a power boost, holding a grudge against Quentin while he's actually active doesn't make much sense.
- Y! %33%
- Y! rank 1017
Kubel's turned his line-drive machine up a notch in the desert
Jason Kubel (OF) Arizona Diamondbacks
As Arizona starts to get healthy again (Chris Young), and slow starters (Paul Goldschmidt) begin to come around, Kubel is not a bad bat to have in your back pocket. He's a player that churns out solid Line Drive percentages, year in and year out, and he currently ranks fourth in '12 with a 30.6 LD rate. Free from the tough hitting environment in Minnesota (ballpark and lineup), Kubel is a 100-RBI candidate in the middle of an above-average Diamondbacks offensive attack. He's picked things up in that department of late, driving in six runs in his past six games. Don't be surprised if, when the dust settles, his season totals compare favorably with his '09 line (.300, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 73 R).
- Y! %43%
- Y! rank 223
Doubront getting by with a little help from his friends
Felix Doubront (SP) Boston Red Sox
Despite being submerged in the AL East, pitching for Boston does have some advantages. Doubront, in particular, has enjoyed the backing of the league's third-best offense - Doubront is second in the league behind teammate Clay Buchholz with an average of 9.64 runs of offensive support. That makes Doubront a decent bet for those in the hunt for Wins, but Doubront has also ratcheted up his swing-and-miss numbers, as his K/9 rate sits at 9.48, seventh-best in MLB among qualified starters. Thanks to a changeup that has returned a top 13 value (for that pitch) among starters, he's struck out at least six batters in seven of 10 starts, and he's allowed two runs or less in his past four outings.
- Y! %21%
- Y! rank 185
Ranger Roy should find back(up) support to his liking in Texas
Roy Oswalt (SP) Texas Rangers
While not an immediate must-grab, Oswalt's recent signing with the Rangers lands him back on the fantasy radar. Texas hopes to have him stretched out and ready for big league deployment by some time in late June. He's battled back issues in recent years, but if he comes back for the second half of '12 refreshed and back-pain free, he could force fantasy owners to take notice. After all, it was just two years ago that he won 13 games, struck out 193 batters and produced a 2.76 ERA split between Houston and Philly ('10). The Texas heat should certainly help keep him loose, and he'll get the benefit of MLB's top offense and bullpen backing him up - four Rangers starters currently rank among the top 25 in run support. Then there's the competition, where two of the three teams he'll face in the AL West (Seattle and Oakland) rank as the the worst two teams in the AL in OPS versus right-handed pitchers.
- Y! %15%
- Y! rank 566
The Jays' mighty Casey has thrived in the closer role
Casey Janssen (RP) Toronto Blue Jays
Janssen has yet to allow a run as the closer for the Blue Jays, saving all four save opportunities in May to go with 9.1 scoreless innings this month. Jays incumbent closer Sergio Santos (shoulder) still hasn't been able to throw off a mound and isn't likely to return until after the All-Star break. And if Janssen continues to be succesful closing out games in the interim, Santos' return could be a moot point in terms of his impact on the end-game role in Toronto. Janssen's membership in Yahoo! leagues should be at least double what it currently sits at (38%).
- Y! %38%
- Y! rank 183
More sub-50 percent owned save targets: Addison Reed, ChW; Dale Thayer, SD; Brian Fuentes, Oak; James Russell, ChC; Ernesto Frieri, LAA; Tom Wilhelmsen, Sea
Other Week 9 Pickups: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Bos, C; A.J. Ellis, LAD, C; Will Middlebrooks, Bos, 3B; Mitch Moreland, Tex, 1B/OF; Yonder Alonso, SD, 1B; Anthony Rizzo, ChC, 1B; Matt Adams, Stl, 1B; Todd Frazier, Cin, 3B; Sean Rodriguez, TB, 2B/3B/SS; Ty Wigginton, Phi, 1/3/O; Aaron Hill, Ari, 2B; Yunel Escobar, Tor, SS; Raul Ibanez, NYY, OF; Andy Dirks, Det, OF; Colby Rasmus, Tor, OF; Brennan Boesch, Det, OF; Denard Span, Min, OF; Ryan Doumit, Min, C/OF; Andy Pettitte, NYY, SP; Ivan Nova, NYY, SP; Erik Bedard, Pit, SP; Jason Vargas, Sea, SP; Jonathon Niese, NYM, SP; Ryan Vogelsong, SF, SP; A.J. Burnett, Pit, SP; Aaron Harang, LAD, SP; Jonny Venters, Atl, RP; Pedro Strop, Bal, RP
Jonathan Singleton, 1B (Hou) – Astros top prospect has hit .410 with 4 HRs in his past 10 games for Double-A Corpus Christi
Corey Brown, OF (Was) – 26-year-old prospect getting back in the picture in a big way with Nats - 8 HRs in past 13 games at Triple-A
Roger Kieschnick, OF (SF) – Giants' '08 3rd-rounder ranks 3rd in PCL with 1.022 OPS after 5 HRs in past 10 games for Fresno
Brett Wallace, 1B (Hou) – Astros post-hyper has a 1.139 OPS, 3 HRs in past 10 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City
Nick Franklin, SS (Sea) – M's top hitting prospect has a 1.230 OPS, 4 triples and six steals in his past 10 games for Double-A Jackson
Trevor Bauer, SP (Ari) – In his first three Triple-A starts, Bauer is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 24 Ks in 19 IP
Chris Heston, SP (SF) – Giants Double-A arm leads Eastern League with a 0.70 ERA, allowing 1 ER or less in eight straight starts.