Welcome to the latest edition of “Free Agent Frenzy,” which will try to steer you in the right direction when trying to fill roster spots.
Note: Ownership percentages below are from FOXSports.com leagues. We’ll try to stick to the general rule that no player will appear twice in Free Agent Frenzy during a four-week period.
Standard Leagues: Russell Martin (23.7 percent owned) hasn’t been a very good hitter since coming to the Yankees, but maybe our fantasy expectations have been warped by his ranking as the top overall catcher a few years back. Are we asking for too much from Martin, who’s on pace for another 15-plus homer season, and will steal close to 10 bases if history tells us anything? In any two-catcher league, he should be owned. No, he’s not here just because he hit two home runs against the Mets on Sunday.
Deep Leagues: Can Chris Iannetta be called a deep-league target? Maybe, since he’s owned in just 3.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. Iannetta is on a rehab assignment, and should be back in the Angels’ lineup within a week or two.
Standard Leagues: I was recently skeptical about Allen Craig’s (50 percent owned) chances for full-time duty, since the Cardinals are crowded at first base and the outfield corners. But you know what? Bats like this don’t sit for long. Craig, who qualifies at first base and outfield, is batting .345 with seven homers and 26 RBI in 22 games. He has a 1.059 slugging percentage, which is a big step up from last year’s relatively tame .917. Craig will certainly cool off, but he’s a legitimately good hitter, and certainly one you should pick up if you can get him for free.
Deep Leagues: Brandon Moss (0.1 percent owned) was called up from Triple A last week to be the latest contestant in the A’s pitiful first-base derby. The 28-year-old Moss has spent the last couple of years hitting 20-plus homers at Triple A after being traded from the Red Sox system. Moss isn’t much of a hitter (.665 career OPS in more than 750 MLB at bats), but if he’s going to play every day for awhile, he’s worth a look. Note: Through Sunday, Moss had played five games at first base. He already qualifies at that position in some leagues, but in others he might be OF-only until the weekend.
Standard Leagues: Sean Rodriguez (9.6 percent owned) is pretty much this column’s mascot, since he appears here so often. He qualifies at three positions (2B, 3B, SS), and is on pace for close to 15 homers and 15 steals. Sure, his batting average is at its normal, putrid level, but Rodriguez is still a helpful fantasy free agent, especially in daily leagues.
Deep Leagues: Jamey Carroll (2.5 percent owned) is back to playing just about every day for the Twins, and like Rodriguez, he has 2B/3B/SS eligibility. If Carroll keeps playing, you can expect 12-15 stolen bases, a decent number of runs scored, and a BA close to his career mark of .275. There aren’t any Ian Kinslers when you dig this deep, so appreciate guys for what they are instead of hating them for what they’re not.
Standard Leagues: Chipper Jones (24.6 percent owned) returned to the Braves’ lineup on Sunday after a brief DL stint. Grab Chipper until his next absence, because he’ll get you a homer a week with a solid batting average. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy his retirement tour more than your fellow owners.
Deep Leagues: Jordan Pacheco (2 percent owned) has his flaws. He rarely walks. He probably won’t hit for power, even in Colorado. However, he’s playing third base every day for the Rox, and just keeps banging out hits (.289 BA), like he’s always done in the minor leagues. If Pacheco keeps playing, he’ll score and knock in enough runs to make himself useful, while helping your team BA.
Standard Leagues: Stephen Drew (39.7 percent owned) may have gotten trashed for being a disloyal slacker by Diamondbacks’ owner Ken Kendrick last week, but he’s on a rehab assignment after tearing up his ankle last July. Drew is probably 2-3 weeks away from his return to the D-backs’ lineup, and he’s been a top-10 fantasy shortstop in the past. If you have free bench or DL space, it’s time to stash Drew.
Deep Leagues: Until Drew returns, Willie Bloomquist’s (3.5 percent owned) speed, playing time and general scrappiness makes him worth owning in deep mixed and NL-only formats. I’d never recommend him in a standard mixed league, unless it awarded points for dirty uniforms. Did ypu know that Bloomquist has five stolen bases while being caught seven times? That’s awful, but since most leagues don’t use net steals, who cares?
Standard Leagues: Lucas Duda (23 percent owned) should be more widely owned. He qualifies at first base and outfield, is on pace for a 30-100 season, and owns an .799 OPS after posting an .852 mark last year. The list of first baseman with higher FOXSports.com ownership percentages is littered with players who aren’t as good as Duda. Carlos Pena, Logan Morrison … I could go on and on.
Deep Leagues: Jason Bay (2.4 percent owned) is once again active for the Mets. This might not excite you as much as it would have in, say, 2009, but Bay did have 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 444 at bats last season. He’s not a fantasy stud any more, but in a deep league, you could do worse.
Standard Leagues: Forget Bud Norris’ (25.8 percent owned) 4.65 ERA. Some bad BABIP luck (.332) is hurting him, his control and ground-ball rate have improved a bit this season, and do you know how many starters have a higher strikeout rate? Four: Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Zack Greinke. Norris is going to turn things around, and if you can grab him for free, do it right now.
Deep Leagues: Diamondbacks’ prospect Trevor Bauer (2.7 percent owned) has been pitching very well at Triple A so far, with a 1.97 ERA and 42 whiffs against 14 walks in 32 innings. Bauer is a blue-chip prospect, and though there will likely be bumps in the road after his eventual promotion, it’s time to stash him, because his time is coming soon. I hope this helps to answer some of the 3,267 questions I get about Bauer each week from impatient fantasy players.
Standard Leagues: Matt Capps (35.6 percent owned) isn’t flashy, and his strikeout rate (14 Ks in 23 1/3 innings) isn’t impressive at all. However, he has a job, and that job has produced 14 saves so far this season. This isn’t rocket science – why don’t more of you want Capps? He might lose his job at some point, but that goes for just about every closer.
Deep Leagues: A’s manager Bob Melvin announced over the weekend that he’ll go with a closer-by-committee approach for now. The money here is on rookie Ryan Cook (1.8 percent owned) over Grant Balfour (28.4 percent owned) and Brian Fuentes (4.3 percent owned).