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.
Power Plouffe still plugged in
Trevor Plouffe (2B/3B/SS/OF) Minnesota Twins
Since noting his power surge in last week's POW: Hitters Update, Plouffe went 6-for-11 with another two home runs over the weekend. As I mentioned last week, there's a legit power pedigree here - 30 home runs in his past 594 at bats with Triple-A Rochester, if not an inspiring ability to hit for average. For those with a power need, his four-position eligibility is very accommodating.
Y! % 14%
Y! rank 675
Stalled prospect gaining some career traction in Houston
Justin Maxwell (OF) Houston Astros
Although he's doing all he can to get noticed in fantasy circles, the Maxwell movement just hasn't taken hold yet. A former fourth-round pick of the Nats, Maxwell is enjoying the most success of his limited MLB career in his first year in Houston -- .333 with 4 HRs, 10 RBIs and 10 Runs in his past 12 games. Maxwell has only one steal on the year, but speed is even more a part of his game than the pop he's had on display for the Astros. Given his offensive production of late and his ability to play all three outfield positions, the Astros won't have a problem finding a way to get him in the lineup, even when Carlos lee returns from the DL next week. In deep leagues, why not roll the dice on a 28-year-old with a 162-game Triple-A average of 25 home runs and 44 steals?
Y! rank 470
Boston about to get a much-needed bopper back
Cody Ross (OF) Boston Red Sox
It's time to put Ross back on the radar as he's set to embark on a Triple-A rehab assignment at the end of this week. Before fracturing his left foot in mid-May, Ross was steadily climbing the Yahoo! percentage ownership chart thanks to a .962 OPS in 16 May games. At the time of his injury, he was producing as a top 40 hitter in fantasy. Ross has proven mid-20s home run power and with a career .262 batting average, he hits enough to be a strong run producer near the middle of the league's No. 3 offense. If you have an open DL slot, it's worth adding him now. And in deeper competitive leagues, adding him straight to your bench has to be a consideration.
Y! % 22%
Y! rank 214
Twins speedster blowing up the base paths
Ben Revere (OF) Minnesota Twins
Revere is this week's speed-only representative. In his 579 at bats in his MLB career, Revere has tallied 43 steals, including five in his past seven games. Revere also is a good contact hitter, and he's hit above .300 at every step of his minor league progression. Since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on May 17, only Mike Trout (10) has more steals than Revere (9). And in that span, Revere has also placed among the top 40 in runs scored and top 20 in batting average impact. Of course, there's no power here. But in terms of widely available three-category speed options, you'd be hard pressed to do better than Revere.
Y! % 8%
Y! rank 438
Slow-starting Pirate has been a fantasy boon in June
Neil Walker (2B) Pittsburgh Pirates
Walker had our respect in the spring as he was considered a top 15 fantasy 2B commodity and was drafted in most all leagues. But a .648 OPS through the first two months of the season pushed this Pirate to the plank in many leagues. Now Walker's got his groove back, hitting .368 in June with a .900 OPS. Walker doesn't have one standout tool, but he's a proven .275 hitter with 15/15 upside and a knack for producing with runners on base - .320 for his career with runners on compared to .248 with the bases empty. And with the worst of '12 likely behind him, it's time to welcome him back into the fold.
Y! % 47%
Y! rank 319
Russell flashing some muscle again for the Yankees
Russell Martin (C) New York Yankees
Martin is the target for those playing the catcher shuffle, jumping from one hot waiver wire backstop to the next. After hitting two home runs on sunday, Martin said, "I'm starting to feel dangerous at the plate." In eight June games, Martin has been highly flammable, sporting a 1.349 OPS to go with four home runs and eight runs driven in. streakiness has defined Martin's year-plus with the Yankees. So fantasy owners shouldn't try to milk this pickup when things start to dry up. Get while the getting is good, then get out.
Y! % 33%
Y! rank 686
Twins Diamond continues to shine on
Scott Diamond (SP) Minnesota Twins
Diamond has produced a quality start in six of his seven turns of '12, with his only non-QS narrowing missing the 6-plus IP, 3 ER or less requirement. The lefty soft tosser doesn't generate the K numbers you like to see for innings-capped Yahoo! default leagues, but his pinpoint control and ground-ball heavy approach - - his BB/9 rate of 0.81 leads all pitchers with at least 40 IP, and his GB rate of 61.7 ranks behind only Derek lowe and Trevor Cahill -- makes for a nice combination with the quality defense he has behind him. That's especially true when pitching at home in the offense-supressing environment of Target Field, where Diamond owns a 1.03 ERA in four starts this season. since landing in the Twins rotation a little over a month ago, Diamond has been the No. 11 starter in fantasy. And the schedule sets up for continued success as the Twins play 13 of their next 19 games at home, and one of the away series is against the Pirates, the lowest scoring team in the league.
Y! rank 110
since mid-May, Gee has been king of the hill for the Queens crew
Dillon Gee (SP) New York Mets
Gee is riding a string of five straight Quality Starts. He's also generating some exciting peripherals in the process, as both his K/9 rate and K/BB rate rank among the top 50 starters. Gee is another ground-ball heavy hurler, ranking among the top 12 in GB rate (54.5). But despite his worm-burning tendencies, Gee has been unlucky on the fly balls that have been hit against him, as his 15.3 HR/FB rate ranks among the 20 highest marks for a starter in '12. Throw in some tough luck in terms of Strand rate and BABIP and Gee's FIP suggests his ERA should be about a run lower than where it currently stands.
Y! rank 332
Former bartender should be ringing the closing time bell often down the stretch
Tom Wilhelmsen (RP) Seattle Mariners
It's certainly possible that the Mariners will try to get Brandon League back in the closer role soon despite Wilhelmsen's recent success - three-for-three with zero earned runs in three chances in June. But the Mariners' motivation for moving League back into a closer role is to try to salvage his trade value leading up to the trade deadline. Wilhelmsen has been the rumored heir apparent to League's ninth inning duties since he turned things on in the second half of last season (23 IP, 22 K, 4 BB, 2.35 ERA). So, while Seattle may let League have his job back soon, it won't likely be for long. And the way Wilhelmsen has been throwing of late - 19:1 K-to-BB ratio since May 12 - he should be able to provide some fantasy value in the near term even if he's back in a setup role.
Y! rank 197
Other Week 11 Pickups: Michael Saunders, Sea, OF; Todd Frazier, Cin, 3B; Gordon Beckham, ChW, 2B; Wilin Rosario, Col, C; Ty Wigginton, Phi, 1/3/O; Will Middlebrooks, Bos, 3B; Mitch Moreland, Tex, 1B/OF; David Cooper, Tor, 1B; Brett Wallace, Hou, 1B; Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Col; Danny Espinosa, Was, 2B; Zack Cozart, Cin, SS; Everth Cabrera, SD, 2B/SS; Ryan Theriot, SF, 2B/SS; Justin Smoak, Sea, 1B; ; Torii Hunter, LAA, OF; Raul Ibanez, NYY, OF; Colby Rasmus, Tor, OF; Scott Hairston, NYM, OF; Michael Brantley, Cle, OF; J.D. Martinez, Hou, OF; Denard Span, Min, OF; A.J. Burnett, Pit, SP; Jonathon Niese, NYM, SP; Drew Hutchison, Tor, SP; Felix Doubront, Bos, SP; Aaron Harang, LAD, SP; Sergio Romo, SF, RP; Brad Lincoln, Pit, RP; Greg Holland, KC, RP; Tim Collins, KC, RP
Ryan Kalish, OF (Bos) – Toolsy Red Sox prospect has 3 HR, .500 BA in first five games with Triple-A Pawtucket since returning from a labrum injury suffered last April.
Mike Olt, 3B (Tex) – Rangers top power prospect continues his torrid ways for Double-A Frisco, smacking 8 HRs with 16 RBIs in his past nine games.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B (SD) – In his first 24 games in Triple A, the Padres prospect owns a 1.030 OPS thanks to 7 HRs and 9 2Bs.
Ryan Lavarnway, C (Bos) – Boston's Triple-A backstop owns a .359 BA and 3 HRs in his past 10 games for Pawtucket.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B (ChC) – While waiting for his ticket to Chicago, the Cubs' Triple-A slugger hit .412 with 3 HRs in the past 10 games.
Dan Straily, SP (Oak) – Texas league strikeout leader has allowed 1 ER and has fanned 20 (only 1 BB) in his past 13 IP.
Jake Odorizzi, SP (KC) – The young Royal has handled Triple A hitters in his first five outings with Omaha, posting 2.22 ERa and whiffing 27 batters in 28.1 IP.