It’s almost July 1, and Carlos Gomez is clearly the Brewers’ best fantasy player. Just like we drew it up in March, right?
Here’s our latest edition of Free Agent Frenzy. Please note that, as in past seasons, no player will be mentioned in this space more than once in a four-week span, because we don’t want to beat you over the head all year long about the same players.
Let’s get going!
Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers (owned in 5.7 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Avila is on a rehab assignment and should be back in Detroit soon. He’s not great, but he’s got a chance to bat .250 with 8-10 home runs over the remainder of the season. How was that for a hard sell?
Digging deeper: Jose Molina (0.5 percent owned) isn’t much of a hitter, but he did slug eight homers in 251 at bats last season for the Blue Jays, and he’s been getting most of the playing time lately for the Rays.
First base: Chris Carter, Astros (owned in 9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
It sometimes seems like Carter strikes out more often than Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds combined, but who cares? He’s on pace for a 30-homer, 80-RBI season. You’re not going to find Joey Votto in your free-agent pool, you know.
Digging deeper: Tyler Colvin (0.9 percent owned) plays some of the time for the Rockies, and could play a lot more of the time if Dexter Fowler (hand) ends up on the DL. Colvin hit 18 homers for the Rox last season.
Second base: D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies (owned in 1.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Speaking of Rockies on the wire, let’s count the reasons why we should grab LeMahieu if he’s available:
1. He has 17 stolen bases in 70 games between the minors and majors this season.
2. See Reason No. 1.
Digging deeper: Did you know that Brian Roberts is owned in 1.8 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and might be activated tonight for the Orioles? Roberts hasn’t produced much since 2010, but the O’s are going to give him a chance, and deep mixed leaguers should, too. Yes, I know we could flip-flop LeMahieu and Roberts here, but Roberts’ injury probably has him further below the fantasy radar.
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (owned in 10 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Arenado has batted around .260 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in a third of a season since being called up from the minors. If you’re still without Brett Lawrie, or can’t take any more of guys like Michael Young, Mark Reynolds or Mike Moustakas, Arenado isn’t a bad alternative.
Digging deeper: David Adams (0.2 percent owned) figures to get most of the playing time at third base for the Yankees until Alex Rodriguez returns from his tweeting/hip injury sometime in July. Adams has struggled so far in the Bronx, but check his minor-league track record. He can hit a little.
Shortstop: Erick Aybar, Angels (owned in 42.9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
After a slow start, Aybar is batting close to .300 with a couple of home runs and three stolen bases in June. Remember the top-15 shortstop with the .280 career BA that you drafted a few months ago? He’s back, and he’s available in a bunch of leagues.
Digging deeper: Brad Miller (0.0 percent owned) has been called up to be the Mariners’ new everyday shortstop. The 23-year-old Miller is one of Seattle’s top prospects, and batted .319 between Double A and Triple A this season, with 12 homers, 53 RBI, 53 runs, six steals, a .920 OPS and a good walk rate. You’ll be the envy of your fellow AL-only owners if you grab Miller now, and I can see picking him up in most formats.
Outfield: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (owned in 19.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Soriano is certainly on the downside at age 37, but he hit 32 home runs last season, and he has seven now, with a lower strikeout rate and a slightly lower fly-ball rate. There’s gotta be more power coming, right?
Digging deeper: Jarrod Dyson (0.4 percent owned) is back from the DL. His primary roles are A) basestealer, and B) Ned Yost’s pet. Yost LOVES Dyson, and basically made him the leadoff hitter before a mid-May ankle sprain. Dyson stole 30 bases last season as a part-timer, and swiped one in each of his first three games after coming off the DL this week. If Yost keeps Dyson in the lineup, there’s big speed upside here.
Starting pitcher: Wade Davis, Royals (owned in 8.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Davis has never proven to be more than a milquetoast fantasy starter, as he posted ERAs of 4.07 and 4.45 during two full seasons in the Rays’ rotation. However, he’s posted four strong starts in a row, and his strikeout rate (71 K in 81 2/3 IP) is much better than it was in 2010 and 2011. Davis might – just might – be turning the corner toward fantasy usefulness.
Digging deeper: Michael Pineda (6 percent owned) has had three impressive rehab starts, and could be ready for activation after one more. There’s not a natural fit for him in the Yankee rotation at the moment, but talent like his can find a way. Pineda comes with too many questions for 12-team mixed-league rosterability right now, but AL-only owners and some deeper mixed folks should snatch him up.
Also, Twins’ prospect Kyle Gibson (0.7 percent owned) has been called up to start Saturday. Gibson missed much of 2011 and most of 2012 due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but he’s fine now, and posted a 3.11 ERA in 15 Triple-A starts. Gibson will probably be shut down after about 50 more innings, but for the short term he’s an interesting AL-only option.
Relief pitcher: Kevin Gregg, Cubs (owned in 33.9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Gregg figures to be traded before the July 31 deadline. Until then, enjoy his ownership of one of baseball’s 30 coveted closer jobs. He has about as much chance of maintaining a 1.42 ERA as I do of taking Curt Menefee’s role as the host of FOX NFL Sunday, but he’ll keep saving games for a little while longer.
Digging deeper: Drew Smyly, ace reliever! Smyly (7.2 percent owned) probably won’t get the Tigers’ closer gig this season, but he’s handling a heavy workload (47 2/3 innings) with a stellar 2.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a strikeout per inning. Those of you in deeper mixed leagues would be better off activating Smyly than, say, baseball’s 80th best starter – which happens to be Minnesota’s Kevin Correia, based on Wins Above Replacement.