This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston looks at eight intriguing fantasy baseball players still available on the waiver wire in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Jones not going gently into that good night
Chipper Jones (3B) Atlanta Braves
Draft day is the proper time to hate on old veterans with a well-established injury history like Jones. But, in-season, when that player is healthy and enjoying a "glory days" type hot streak, it's time to throw preseason bias out the window. In what is his swan song season, Jones is going out in style, hitting .412 over his past 20 games to raise his season OPS to .900. As it stands, Jones is seeing regular at bats in the cleanup spot for the NL's No. 3 offense. With just over two months left in his career, expect Jones to empty the tank from a physical standpoint. Add him now and enjoy some vintage Jones production for as long as he can hold up.
- Y! % 36%
- Y! rank 231
Cast a net for this emerging Nat, if you still can
Danny Espinosa (2/S) Washington Nationals
Even if he hadn't been hitting the cover off the ball in July, Espinosa would have garnered fantasy attention for gaining SS-eligibility in the fallout from Ian Desmond's oblique injury. But, by catching fire over his past eight games (14-for-31), Espinosa has currently become the most popular add in the Yahoo! game, and by a wide margin. That said, he's still there for the taking in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. As we know, Espinosa is an elite strikeout artist, but his power/speed combination (21/17 as a rookie in '11) is in rare air for the middle infield crowd. And at 25 years of age, it's easy to buy into these signs of improvement.
- Y! % 39%
- Y! rank 167
- AVG .250
Frazier's flexibility a boon for the Reds, and fantasy owners
Todd Frazier (1/3/O) Cincinnati Reds
Frazier's versatility has been invaluable to the Reds this season. After filling in capably at third base while Scott Rolen was out for a little over a month earlier this season, Frazier is now stepping in at first base for injured Canadian Club Joey Votto. Among the 3B-eligible crowd, Frazier's .882 OPS ranks seventh, and since May 16, he's ranked among the top 100 hitters in fantasy with a .281/9/28/23/1 line in 171 at bats. With Votto out until mid- to late August, Frazier, who has more than held his own against RHP this season (.879 OPS), has steady playing time ahead of him. He's a nice hole-filler to have on your fantasy bench.
- Y! %8%
- Y! rank 416
- AVG .282
Toronto hoping fifth time is the charm for interminable prospect
Travis Snider (OF) Toronto Blue Jays
With Ben Francisco off to Houston and Jose Bautista possibly out until early August with a sore wrist, the recently promoted Snider is going to get another chance to play regularly for Toronto. Before his north-of-the-border return, Snider owned a 1.021 OPS mark in 56 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, which is undeniably a ripe environment for a hitter. Even so, you have to be impressed with his minor league work and the K:BB rate (42:34). It's easy to forget that this former No. 14 overall pick in '06 is only 24 years old, as he's already played in parts of five different seasons for the Blue Jays. There's still plenty of room for growth, and we may have already seen a little bit of that on Sunday when he took Boston's Jon Lester deep – that was just the fourth home run off of a lefty in his 160 career at-bats against southpaws. Snider has high upside power potential, can run a little bit and gets to work within one of the best offenses in MLB. That's worth a roll of the dice in far more leagues than he's currently owned.
- Y! %3%
- Y! rank 1136
Perhaps it's time to start printing "Roster Ross" t-shirts
Cody Ross (OF) Boston Red Sox
I've espoused the virtues of Ross' roto game a couple times previously in this forum but, with an ownership rate still below the 50 percent threshold, I'm obligated to make yet another pitch. Simply put, that Ross can be had in more than half of Yahoo! leagues is a travesty. His per game fantasy value ranks No. 19 among offensive regulars – he sits with Allen Craig, Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp and Carlos Gonzalez as the only players with an average of at least 0.8 RBIs and 0.7 Runs per game. When it comes to power and run production, you aren't going to find a better option as widely available as Ross. Get on the stick, folks
- Y! % 48%
- Y! rank 124
- AVG .269
Rookie Rutledge still on a role for the Rockies
Josh Rutledge (SS) Colorado Rockies
Rutledge was featured in last week's POW hitter update. Since then he's gone 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, a triple and another steal (he has 3 SBs in nine games). To reiterate Rutledge's strengths, his power/speed potential is above average for a middle infielder, he's got a clue at the plate and he's been a quick study at the professional level, skipping the Low-A and Triple-A levels en route to the majors. And he's got a sizeable opportunity with the Rockies as Troy Tulowitzki is out until mid-August, at least, with a groin injury. If you are looking for shortstop help, now is a good time to add Rutledge as his next 12 games will be in excellent hitting environments (three at Arizona followed by a nine-game homestand at Coors Field).
- Y! %3%
- Y! rank1074
- AVG .353
Vargas, baby, Vargas!
Jason Vargas (SP) Seattle Mariners
Vargas' K rate is sub-standard for innings-capped leagues, but it has jumped up in the past month to an acceptable level (6.8). In that span, Vargas is 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in five starts, with all three victories coming on the road. If you exclude interleague play, Vargas owns a 9-4 record and a 3.04 ERA, with 12 of his 17 outings against the AL resulting in Quality Starts. Vargas gets a home game (where he owns a 2.84 ERA this season) against the Royals in his next outing, so he's at least an enticing stream option this week if you don't feel like making a more long-term commitment.
- Y! %42%
- Y! rank 148
Veteran closer back in his old stomping grounds
Francisco Cordero (RP) Houston Astros
Cordero's relief numbers with the Blue Jays are tough to stomach, but the nice thing is that you don't have to absorb them if you snatch Cordero up off the waiver wire now that he's the new ninth inning stopper for Houston. Let's not forget that Cordero closed out 34-plus games for five straight season's prior to '12. And all of those campaigns came while he was a member of an NL Central club, so he should feel right at place with the Astros. It certainly may not work out but, if you are starving for saves, you can't really afford to let things play out from the outside looking in.
- Y! %31%
- Y! rank 862
Other Week 17 Pickups: Jayson Werth, Was, OF; Ryan Doumit, Min, C/O; Pedro Alvarez, Pit, 3B; Adam Lind, Tor, 1B; Jhonny Peralta, Det, SS; Brennan Boesch, Det, OF; Cameron Maybin, SD, OF; Carlos Quentin, SDG, OF; Stephen Drew, Ari, SS; Ben Revere, Min, OF; Michael Saunders, Sea, OF; Casper Wells, Sea, OF; CoCo Crisp, Oak, OF; Ike Davis, NYM, 1B; Dayan Viciedo, ChW, OF; Rajai Davis, Tor, OF; Alexi Amarista, SD, 2/S/O; Jordany Valdespin, NYM, 2/S/O; Jean Segura, LAA, SS; Marco Estrada, Mil, SP; Zach McAllister, Cle, SP; Ben Sheets, Atl, SP; Felix Doubront, Bos, SP; Carlos Villanueva, Tor, P; Sergio Romo, SF, RP; David Hernandez, Ari, RP; Vinnie Pestano, Cle, RP; Jared Burton, Min, RP; Bobby Parnell, NYM, RP
Dallas McPherson, 3B (ChW) – The Quad-A post-hyper has a .412 BA, 5 HRs and 12 RBIs in his past eight games for Triple-A Charlotte.
Mike Zunino, C (Sea) – The No. 3 pick in '12 draft, and college baseball's player of the year, has a .394 BA, 3 2Bs and 3 HRs in his first nine games for Class-A Everett.
Michael Choice, OF (Oak) – The A's top hitting prospect has a .486 BA, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs and 10 Runs in his past 10 games for Double-A Midland.
Charlie Blackmon, OF (Col) – The Rockies prospect is hitting a scorching .491 with 2 HRS and 17 Runs in his past 13 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Daniel Straily, SP (Oak) – The A's prospect chart climber had another stellar week for Triple-A Sacramento (10 IP, 1 ER). He's bucking for a promotion with a 1.10 ERA and 54 Ks in 41 IP in the hitting-friendly PCL.
Danny Hultzen, SP (Sea) – After a rough start in Triple-A, Hultzen has righted the ship with a 1.71 ERA and 28 Ks in his past 21 IP for Tacoma.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chipper Jones
- Todd Frazier
- Danny Espinosa