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: I’m not sure why more people haven’t picked up Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (27.3 percent owned), but they should. In 47 games since coming off the DL, Perez has batted .295 with eight home runs and an .813 OPS. If he isn’t one of fantasy’s 12 best catchers, then I’m a Red Sox fan.
Deep Leagues: Speaking of the Sox, Ryan Lavarnway (0.3 percent owned) has started to get a majority of the starts behind the plate. Lavarnway batted .295 with eight home runs in 83 games at Triple A this season, and has a history of high batting averages with decent power in the minors. Lavarnway appears to be the catcher of the future in Boston, and since they’re pretty much out of playoff contention, they’ll want to see what he’s got to offer.
Standard Leagues: Remember when Ike Davis (36.1 percent owned) was struggling? His batting average still isn’t very good, but before the season, Davis’ supporters thought he’d hit 30 homers with maybe a .260 BA. Since June 1, he’s at .257 with 19 home runs – basically, the guy you thought he was. If you need power, try to grab him.
Deep Leagues: John Mayberry (3 percent owned) has played just about every day in center field since the Phillies traded all their outfielders (well, almost all of them) at the end of July. Mayberry is nothing special, but he has 1B/OF eligibility, and should hit four or five homers before the season ends. In deep leagues, he’s not bad.
Standard Leagues: Yes, Gordon Beckham (8 percent owned) has been a disappointment. Yes, I’m as tired as you are of his consecutive .230 seasons. But he’s a middle infielder with a dozen homers, and that might help you. Yes, I hate the choices at this fantasy position in 2012, too.
Deep Leagues: With Chris Getz done for the season and Yuniesky Betancourt banished, Johnny Giavotella (1.4 percent owned) will man second base for the Royals over the next five weeks. He batted .323 with 10 homers and seven steals at Triple A this season, and that’s an accurate representation of what he offers – decent power, decent speed and a good batting average. If your fellow AL-only owners have been slow on the draw, grab Johnny G ASAP. The same goes for you, deep mixed leaguers. He’s not hitting much yet, but he will.
Standard Leagues: Powerful Chris Davis (34.3 percent owned) keeps chugging along, with 23 home runs and 64 RBI – including three homers on Friday – and 1B/3B/OF eligibility. He won’t help you in the BA department, but neither will most of the free agents at this position …
Deep Leagues: … except for maybe Jordan Pacheco (1.7 percent owned), who’s batting .306 for the Rockies, and has posted .300-plus batting averages at most of his minor-league stops. Pacheco doesn’t hit for much power, but he should be able to help deep mixed leaguers in runs and RBI.
Standard Leagues: Luis Cruz (9.9 percent owned) has been playing third base for the Dodgers, but his shortstop eligibility makes him much more valuable. Cruz offers a solid BA with decent power. You could do worse if looking for a free-agent SS, and it appears that Cruz will keep playing even though the Dodgers acquired Nick Punto in last week’s giant salary acquisition … er, trade … with the Red Sox.
Deep Leagues: I’ve been holding off on including Boston’s Pedro Ciriaco (9.8 percent owned) here, because I’ve been pretty sure he’s going to cool off. This has been a bad strategy for deep leaguers, and I’m going to stop arguing with a guy who’s batting .360 with nine steals in 42 games. Sorry he wasn’t included here before today. If you lose your league because you didn’t pick up Ciriaco up earlier, blame me.
Standard Leagues: Justin Ruggiano, Fantasy Superstar? OK, maybe not, but he’s owned in just 6.3 percent of leagues around here, and is batting .314 with 12 homers and 11 steals. I’d say he’s been a lifesaver for the Marlins if the Marlins hadn’t already sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
Deep Leagues: Eric Thames (1.5 percent owned) has gotten a new lease on baseball life in Seattle, playing almost every day since his arrival at the end of July. Thames is batting .271 with three homers in 22 games as a Mariner, and his modest power can help deep league owners.
Standard Leagues: Command is usually the last thing to return after Tommy John surgery, so Brett Anderson’s (10.9 percent owned) comeback might see some bumps in the road. Still, after his seven-inning, one-run season debut last Tuesday, we’ve gotta give him a chance, right?
Deep Leagues: Toronto’s J.A. Happ (3.6 percent owned) may be still sneaking under the radar in your AL-only league, and he’s worth a look after giving up two earned runs over his last two starts. Happ has 129 strikeouts in 134 2/3 innings this season, with solid control and a slightly above average ground-ball rate. Skills like that are worth a minor investment.
Standard Leagues: A couple of weeks ago, Ozzie Guillen said he was thinking about giving Heath Bell his job back. That hasn’t happened, and Steve Cishek (11.2 percent owned) has four saves in the last 10 days. To channel my inner Yogi Berra, Cishek has the job until he doesn’t.
Deep Leagues: Jeremy Affeldt (0.6 percent owned) has had some control issues recently, but still owns part of the Giants’ closer job with Sergio Romo (4.2 percent owned) and Javier Lopez (0.9 percent owned). If I have to pick one, I’ll bet on Affeldt assuming that he starts throwing strikes again soon. However, if you grab Romo, I won’t argue with you.