Fantasy Baseball

Plouffe's hot bat is worthy of add

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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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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.

Catcher

Standard Leagues: This one isn’t rocket science. Ryan Doumit (13.4 percent owned) is a catcher with 15-homer power, and his .271 career batting average is MUCH higher than most other fantasy free-agent backstops. Simple, right?

Deep Leagues: Miguel Olivo (1.8 percent owned), for instance, has a .241 career batting average, and is at .212 so far this season. However, he does have good power, steals bases sometimes, and plays a lot. In deeper formats, you can pick him up and not feel shame.

First Base

Standard Leagues: Is Ike Davis (33 percent owned) finally figuring things out? Everyone’s favorite spring training breakout candidate has spent most of the season batting below .200, but he’s been on a bit of a streak lately, going 11-for-29 with a homer, seven RBI and five runs in his last eight games. Davis has shown glimpses of big-time power, so he’s a high-upside play as a free-agent pickup.

Deep Leagues: Garrett Jones (2.6 percent owned) has been getting regular playing time lately for the Pirates, and has solid power, with 67 homers in about 1,500 big-league at bats. Jones qualifies at first base and outfield, and can be a nice addition in deep mixed leagues.

Second Base

Standard Leagues: You think of Jerry Hairston Jr. (8.6 percent owned) as a utilityman, right? He is in fantasy terms, qualifying at 2B/3B/OF, but he’s playing just about every day at second base for the Dodgers right now. Hairston won’t continue to hit .314, but until Mark Ellis returns, he should be solid in BA and runs while popping a few homers along the way.

Deep Leagues: Have I mentioned how much I hate the second-base pool this season? Every week? Oh. Daniel Descalso (0.4 percent owned) is now playing most days for the Cardinals, and has popped three homers in 137 at bats. If you’re desperate for the runs that come with an everyday role in a deep mixed league, you can consider Descalso. He qualifies at third base as well, so that’s nice. Zzz …

Third Base

Standard Leagues: Ty Wigginton (13 percent owned) qualifies at 1B/3B/OF, and has seven homers with 27 RBI and 29 runs in place of the injured Ryan Howard. Wiggy is a nice, versatile source of decent roto power, and has been for seven or eight years. Sure, you wish he was eligible at second base like he has been in the past, but he’s fine as is.

Deep Leagues: Jack Hannahan (1.8 percent owned) just came off the DL for the Indians. Expect him to be at least the busy end of a platoon with Jose Lopez, if not the Tribe’s everyday third baseman, moving forward. Hannahan is better with his glove than his bat, but he has three homers in 112 at bats this season after going deep eight times in 320 at bats in 2011. That doesn’t make Hannahan the second coming of Graig Nettles, but it does make him OK in AL-only formats, and some very deep mixed leagues.

Shortstop

Standard Leagues: I wrote about Trevor Plouffe (39.3 percent owned) in my blog post on Friday morning. I liked Plouffe entering the season based on his minor-league history, but he’s been a monster lately, with 13 home runs in his last 23 games, and also qualifies at 2B and OF. Since Plouffe was tabbed for this space in the middle of last week, his ownership level has doubled, so grab him quickly if you still can.

I feel like Plouffe should be the subject of a summer superhero movie, in which a mild-mannered Minnesota infielder swims in a lake, gets bitten by a radioactive walleye and becomes a bonafide big-league slugger. I haven’t gotten past <i>The Twin Man</i> as a title, but I’m working on it.

Deep Leagues: Ryan Theriot (4.1 percent owned) has no power, but he’s batting .263 as the Giants’ everyday second baseman, and owns a .281 career BA. He’s stolen 20 bases in the past, and while he doesn’t look like he’ll steal more than a dozen this season, that’s OK. Like the aforementioned Descalso, Theriot falls into the “he’s not great, but he plays” category.

Outfield

Standard Leagues: Looking for an underrated outfielder? Meet Seattle’s Michael Saunders (7 percent owned), who has seven home runs, 22 runs, 31 RBI and 10 stolen bases. I have no idea why he’s owned in so few leagues, because those numbers are really good. Pick up Saunders in any format.

Deep Leagues: Tyler Colvin (2 percent owned) has been on fire lately for the Rockies, and while I’ve never been a fan of his putrid on-base percentage (career OBP: .282), there’s been some talk about shifting Michael Cuddyer to second base to get Colvin in the lineup more often. Ride this out while it lasts, as it could be awhile – he did hit 20 homers as a Cub in 2010. Colvin’s home park is his best fantasy asset.

Starting Pitcher

Standard Leagues: Has Francisco Liriano (21 percent owned) sucked me in again? Not quite, but I am willing to give him the “last man in, first man out” spot on a mixed-league staff. Liriano has a 3.04 ERA with 29 strikeouts against 10 walks in 23 2/3 innings over his last four starts, and has been throwing more strikes than usual. You can’t trust him yet, but we can say that about lots of guys with half his talent.

Deep Leagues: Michael Fiers (0.4 percent owned) and hus funky delivery have been modestly effective over four starts with the Brewers, with a 3.60 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 22 strikeouts against four walks in 25 innings. Fiers doesn’t throw hard, but his minor-league track record is filled with high strikeout rates and good control. Give him a try if you need a starter.

Relief Pitcher

Standard Leagues: With Drew Storen due back after the All-Star break, Tyler Clippard (30 percent owned) is the man in Washington for the next few weeks. Clippard has been one of baseball’s best relievers over the past few years, with a 2.43 ERA since the beginning of 2012, and 251 strikeouts over 208 2/3 innings over that span. Seems like a no-brainer of a closer until mid-July, right?

Deep Leagues: Antonio Bastardo (1.7 percent owned) won’t get more than the occasional save in Philly unless Jonathan Papelbon gets hit by a bus. Still, his ERA over the last two seasons is 2.61, and he gets boatloads of strikeouts (101 in 79 1/3 innings over that span). If you want ERA, WHIP and K help from a reliever, Bastardo is a nice add.

See you here next week!
 

Tagged: Indians, Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Giants, Rockies, Jerry Hairston Jr., Ty Wigginton, Michael Cuddyer, Ryan Howard, Ryan Doumit, Ryan Theriot, Jack Hannahan, Tyler Clippard, Michael Saunders, Ike Davis, Tyler Colvin, Trevor Plouffe, Daniel Descalso

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