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.
Change of scenery could be a boon for the "other guy" in the A-Gon deal
James Loney (1B) Boston Red Sox
Boston has endured a lot of problems this season, but scoring is not one of them. The team ranks second behind Texas in runs scored. And Loney, acquired in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to L.A. in a salary dump move, has landed in a pretty sweet spot in that high-octane offense, hitting fifth behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Cody Ross in his first game in Beantown. A career .284 hitter with a .763 OPS mark, Loney was never helped by the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. Fenway Park isn't exactly a launching pad for lefty power hitters (save the pure pull hitters), but the spacious right-field dimensions and crazy angles should be a boon for a line-drive machine like Loney. Take the change-of-scenery gamble here if batting average and run production from the corner spot is of interest to you.
- Y! %6%
- Y! rank 945
With Boston turning an eye towards the future, here's a vote for Pedro
Pedro Ciriaco (2B/3B/SS) Boston Red Sox
The beneficiary of Boston's hot corner meltdown – Kevin Youkilis traded, Will Middlebrooks injured – Ciriaco has seized the opportunity and has yet to look back. He's making three-hit games look routine (at least three hits in eight of 42 games), and he's been blazing a trail on the base paths – seventh-most positively impacting batting average (.360) and 14th in the league in steals (9) since his early July arrival in Boston. He's playing over his head offensively, but the speed is real. And, in what is now a play-for-the-future mentality in Boston, the playing time should remain steady. His three-position flexibility should make it easy for a needy fantasy owner to ride this wave for as long as it lasts.
- Y! %25%
- Y! rank846
- AVG .360
Once again, Philly Mayberry looks like ripe for the picking in late summer
John Mayberry (1B/OF) Philadelphia Phillies
Historically a southpaw specialist for the Phillies, Mayberry is seeing regular playing time since the team dealt outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino before the deadline. And in the past two weeks, he ranks No. 64 in the Yahoo! game thanks to a .326/3/9/7/0 roto line. He owns a career .872 OPS after the All-Star break and hit .299 with 10 home runs in his final 54 games last year, so he's probably worth a roll of the dice if you are looking for some extra pop. And, of course, if you have the roster flexibility to use him only against left-handed pitchers, even better.
- Y! %5%
- Y! rank 777
- AVG .242
Padres' premium power play still getting a cold shoulder from the roto crowd
Carlos Quentin (OF) San Diego Padres
Power is the name of Quentin's game. We're compelled to remind owners of that every so often in this forum because he continues to sit under the 50 percent ownership threshold despite a career 162-game average of 36 home runs. And it's not like he hasn't been doing his thing in San Diego. Since making his late-May debut with the Padres, he ranks 36th in the league with 14 home runs in 70 games. With a respectable .270 batting average and solid run production to go with, Quentin nets out as a top 75 offensive fantasy force in that span. And he's sporting a healthy .927 OPS in August.
- Y! % 36%
- Y! rank 402
- AVG .270
Soto is starting to find his mojo in vaunted Texas offense
Geovany Soto (C) Texas Rangers
It's been a pretty a pretty sketchy season for Soto (last two seasons, if we're being honest). But you have to like his move to Texas and his place as the clear No. 1 backstop in the league's top offense – Mike Napoli (quad) is out until early September and Texas will likely want to limit his catching duties upon his return. And, of late, the Rangers run factory has benefited Soto, who has seven RBIs and six runs in his past seven games, to go with a .346 batting average over that span. With two seasons on record with an OPS of .868-plus, it shouldn't be too difficult for deep leaguers to take a flyer on Soto's hot bat given his current situation.
- Y! % 27%
- Y! rank 961
Seattle starter has been model of consistency the past three months
Hisashi Iwakuma (SP) Seattle Mariners
Over the past month, Iwakuma is a top 30 pitcher in the Yahoo! game. And from June 1 to present, he owns a 3.13 ERA and 56 Ks in 69 innings pitched. He's pitched at least five innings and has allowed three earned runs or less in seven straight starts. His next start comes against a Minnesota squad that he beat on August 17, pitching seven innings while not allowing an earned run. Consider Iwakuma a luxury spot-start, if not a longer term rental.
- Y! %23%
- Y! rank 340
Call on the power of the mullet for your strikeout needs
Jeff Samardzija (SP) Chicago Cubs
Samardzija should be one of the top targets for those in need of some strikeout help down the stretch. His 68 Ks since the beginning of July ranks eighth in MLB, and a 2.80 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in that span clocks him in as a top 20 pitcher over that period, as well. In fact, scratch that. Whether you need strikeouts or not, Samardzija should have your attention.
- Y! %49%
- Y! rank 232
Early platoon leader emerging in Giants' closer role
Javier Lopez (RP) San Francisco Giants
While the Giants plan to go with a committee of Lopez, Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt the rest of the way, Lopez has positioned himself as the leader of that pack this past week, closing out three games (tied for the most in MLB for the past seven days). Lopez hasn't allowed an earned in 19 appearances since the All-Star break, fanning 12 in 11 IP. Lopez does have issues with right-handed hitters, who have hit .425 against him. But just three (all doubles) of the 17 hits against him by RHH have gone for extra bases. San Francisco ranks fourth this season in save opportunities (53), so even in a platoon closer role, Lopez has the potential to help out the save scavengers out there.
- Y! %12%
- Y! rank 347
Other Week 22 Pickups: Michael Saunders, Sea, OF; Cody Ross, Bos, OF; Dustin Ackley, Sea, 1/2; Josh Rutledge, Col, SS; Erick Aybar, LAA, SS: CoCo Crisp, Oak, OF; Rajai Davis, Tor, OF; Brandon Belt, SF, 1/O; Ben Revere, Min, OF; Chipper Jones, Atl, 3B;David Murphy, Tex, OF; Will Venable, SD, OF; David DeJesus, ChC, OF; Chris Johnson, Ari, 3B; Matt Joyce, TB, OF; Eric Chavez, NYY, 3B; Mark Reynolds, Bal, 1/3; Yonder Alonso, SD, 1/O; Anthony Rizzo, ChC, 1B; Mitch Moreland, Tex, 1/O; Eric Chavez, NYY, 3B; Michael Brantley, Cle, OF; Carlos Gomez, Mil, OF; Carlos Lee, Mia, 1/O; Justin Ruggiano, Mia, OF; Andy Dirks, Det, OF; Zack Cozart, Cin, SS; Luis Cruz, LAD, 3/S; Jhonny Peralta, Det, SS; Tyler Skaggs, Ari, SP; Mike Minor, Atl, SP; Jarrod Parker, Oak, SP; Scott Diamond, Min, SP; Zach McAllister, Cle, SP; Alex Cobb, TB, SP; Jeremy Guthrie, KC, SP; Carlos Villanueva, Tor, P; Clayton Richard, SD, SP; Alexi Ogando, Tex, P; Sergio Romo, SF, RP; David Hernandez, Ari, RP; Sean Marshall, Cin, RP; Jason Grilli, Pit, RP; Vinnie Pestano, Cle, RP; Jared Burton, Min, RP; Glen Perkins, Min, RP; Jonny Venters, Atl, RP; Steve Cishek, Mia, RP; Jeremy Affeldt, SF, RP; Wilton Lopez, Hou, RP
Kyle Jensen, OF (Mia) – Last season's Florida State League MVP has turned things on in a major way for Double-A Jacksonville of late, launching nine home runs in his past 15 Southern League games.
Bryce Brentz, OF (Bos) – Boston's top outfield prospect has punished Double-A Eastern League pitching, hitting .429 with 2 HRs, 11 RBIs and 6 Runs in his past 10 games for Portland.
Jedd Gyorko, 3B (SD) – San Diego's top corner prospect is hitting .400 with 6 HRs in his past 12 games for Triple-A Tucson.
Mike Zunino, C (Sea) – The M's top pick in the '12 MLB Draft has hit from the day he arrived and is now at .406 with 3 HRs and a 1.285 OPS in his first nine games since being promoted to Double-A Jackson.
Shelby Miller, SP (StL) – The Cardinals top pitching prospect is 5-1 in his past six starts for Triple-A Memphis, sporting a 3.05 ERA and an amazing 52:4 K-to-BB ratio.
Daniel Corcino, SP (Cin) – The Reds top pitching prospect has a 1.12 ERA and 14 Ks in his past three starts (16 IP) for Double-A Pensacola.