Fantasy Baseball

Halpin' Hand: The Lower Half

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

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Thanks to fantasy football columns, a business trip and a nasty stomach virus, it's been four weeks since this column appeared. Back then, Cliff Lee was still an Indian, Jarrod Washburn was still a Mariner and Gary Sheffield was still unhappy about something. As always, The Lower Half reviews nine players owned in less than half of FOXSports.com leagues, but haven't been included in this space for the past month. Pickups are advised if you've got the room on your roster.

Hideki Matsui, OF, Yankees (48.1 percent owned)

The "King of the Monsters" has eight homers and 21 RBI this month, and he gets to play 21 of his final 34 games in the homer haven known as the new Yankee Stadium. Matsui won't stay as scorching-hot as he is now, but he should keep hitting enough homers and knocking in enough runs to be a solid mixed league outfielder. I made my first trip to the Stadium a couple of weeks ago and was disappointed. Great game experience and much more comfortable seats than in the old place, but longer-than-expected lines for food and exits and some drab concourses (I only saw one private club, and it wasn't one of the high-end ones). Coors Field is still my favorite.

Fausto Carmona, SP, Indians (39.4 percent owned)

Oh, Fausto, why do you torture me so? I was down on Carmona in February, but started coming around on him in March. Then he got beat like a piñata for two months, posting an ERA just short of infinity before getting sent to the minors in early June. I was convinced that 2007 was a fluke and I was an idiot for getting sucked in. However, in five starts since returning from Triple-A, the 25-year-old Carmona has posted a 2.79 ERA and continues to induce a ridiculously high percentage of ground balls. I'm pretty sure that Carmona has damaged my psyche enough that I'll never draft him again. But for six weeks of pitching in a no-pressure situation? Sure, why not.

John Smoltz, SP, Cardinals (38.2 percent owned)

Speaking of getting beaten like a piñata, the Red Sox waived Smoltz with an eight-plus ERA and only a no-name Japanese guy and Brad Penny to back him up. The reclamation-happy Cardinals picked up Smoltz, reportedly figured out that he was tipping his pitches and — eureka! — he threw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts against the Padres on Sunday. With 42 whiffs and nine walks in 45 innings this season, and with miracle worker Dave Duncan now on his side, I'd definitely grab Smoltz in an NL-only league. By the way, I wonder what Terry Francona thinks when he reads quotes like, "It's pretty clear he was tipping his pitches," from Tony La Russa. Maybe it's something like, "Oh, so the bleeping genius thinks Smoltz was tipping his pitches? If he's so bleeping smart, then how come I've managed as many bleeping World Series winners in the last five years as he has in the last 25? Bleep him!"

Scott Feldman, SP, Rangers (35.3 percent owned)

Despite sounding like he could be your accountant, Feldman has been a very productive fantasy starter this season with a 13-4 record, a 3.87 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Feldman's .272 BABIP indicates some luck, but not a ton of it. He doesn't strike out a lot of people, but if you're looking for a decent, unspectacular fifth starter down the stretch, Feldman could fit the bill.

Chris Davis, 1B/3B, Rangers (14.2 percent owned)

I am such a sucker for this guy. Now that he's back from the minors, where he didn't strike out every other time he got up (only every fourth time or so), Davis will start at first base for the contending Rangers down the stretch. Over the next six weeks, I'm calling nine homers for Davis. Who's with me?

Rajai Davis, OF, A's (7.3 percent owned)

Anyone up for a one-trick pony? This Davis is playing every day now for the A's, and he's really, really fast. In 200 games over the last two seasons, he has 56 stolen bases — including an MLB-leading 14 over the last month. If you need steals to win your fantasy title, you should pick up Davis immediately.

Derek Holland, SP, Rangers (6.5 percent owned)

Man, is this guy going to be good. The flamethrowing, 22-year-old southpaw struggled when put in the Rangers' rotation in May, but he's gone 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP over 34 innings in his last five starts. He's also whiffed 28 batters and walked just eight over that span, getting his early-season control troubles in order. Holland has been a key part of the Rangers' staying power this season, and in keeper leagues, he's a stud. I've written this before, but during a short-lived attempt to contend in my longtime AL keeper league earlier this season, I traded a $5 Holland for Joel Zumaya. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go hit myself in the head with a hammer.

Mike MacDougal, RP, Nationals (5.7 percent owned)

If it's a closer, it's worth picking up, especially if it has six saves this month, like MacDougal does. It's even worth picking up if it has an unacceptably atrocious ratio of 26 walks to 21 strikeouts in 39 innings, like MacDougal. I don't care if he has a 3.23 ERA (which is probably a misprint). How many minor-league pitchers do you think the Nats could have gotten to pitch as well as this guy? A hundred? A thousand?

Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays (2.2 percent owned)

Snider's back from the minors and is batting .300 with a pair of homers in seven games since his recall. At Triple-A Las Vegas, Snider batted .337 with 14 homers and a Pujols-like 1.094 OPS in 48 games. Yeah, it was in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League, but that's some real hitting from a 21-year-old. Snider will play just about every day down the stretch and can be a solid fantasy power source.

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