John Halpin rattles off his top fantasy baseball free agents for owners to consider picking up.
By John HalpinFoxSports
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. Stats are as of 7/21/2012.
Standard Leagues: With a .284 batting average, Ryan Doumit (18.7 percent owned) hits better than most catchers, and he’s close to qualifying as an outfielder in most leagues (he’s played eight games there so far). If you want a solid alternative to the .220 types on the free-agent wire, Doumit fits the bill.
Deep Leagues: John Jaso (0.8 percent owned) has become a more-often-than-not part of the Mariners’ lineup, and he’s been solid with a .287 batting average and four home runs. When digging this deep, you’re either looking for empty power or non-harmful playing time, and Jaso provides the latter.
Standard Leagues: After a horrendous start to the season, Ike Davis (35 percent owned) is batting .250 with nine homers since the beginning of June. That’s not great, but it’s pretty good power for a free agent who should be able to continue the same level of production over the rest of the season.
Deep Leagues: There’s no denying that James Loney (5.3 percent owned) has been a big disappointment. However, he’s got a .284 career batting average, is batting .310 so far in July, and plays most of the time. In a deep mixed league, he’s an adequate fill-in with a little bit of upside.
Standard Leagues: A hot July has raised Danny Espinosa’s (48.7 percent owned) batting average close to .250, and even though he’ll never be a BA asset, his eight homers and 14 steals so far demonstrate a power-speed skillset that can be very helpful for a fantasy middle infielder. Espinosa should be owned in all formats, and might qualify at shortstop soon (see below).
Deep Leagues: Steve Lombardozzi (1.8 percent owned) qualifies at second base, third base and outfield, and could be in line for more playing time after Nationals SS Ian Desmond had a recurrence of his oblique injury over the weekend. If Desmond needs another DL stint, Lombardozzi would get plenty of starts at second base, with Espinosa moving over to shortstop.
Standard Leagues: Kyle Seager (29.9 percent owned) has slowed down in June and July after his surprising start, but he still has 11 homers, eight stolen bases and a respectable 58 RBI. Seager’s .271 BABIP suggests a bit of bad luck, so look for his .243 batting average to rise. As free agents at the hot corner go, you could do worse.
Deep Leagues: All or nothing time! Brandon Inge (1.2 percent owned) is a .233 career hitter with a .200 batting average this season, so if you’re worried about that category, move on. If you just need power, Inge’s solid homer rate (nine homers in 225 at bats) can help your deep mixed-league squad.
Standard Leagues: With Angels SS Erick Aybar in danger of a DL stint due to a bruised toe suffered over the weekend, Maicer Izturis (1.9 percent owned) could be in line for some short-term playing time. Izturis’ chief assets are his speed (11 steals) and versatility (he qualifies at 2B/3B/SS). Izturis would be a speculative grab in a standard mixed league, but you should know Aybar’s status very soon. Take a chance if you need to fill a hole.
Deep Leagues: Mets’ rookie Jordany Valdespin (0.4 percent owned) qualifies at both second base and shortstop, and while his playing time has been sporadic, six homers and four steals in just 86 plate appearances are nothing to sneeze at. Valdespin’s best chance for deep mixed-league value is for the Mets to continue their recent fade – if their chance to contend in 2012 disappear, they’ll have more reason to let Valdespin play. This guy might swing at everything between Queens and Pennsylvania, but he can hit.
Standard Leagues: Cody Ross (26.8 percent owned) and Fenway Park are a match made in heaven, as 11 of Ross’ 16 homers this season have been hit in Boston. If he hadn’t spent a month on the DL in May and June, his home-run total would probably be among the top 20 in the majors. There’s no reason for Ross to be a free agent in any league.
Deep Leagues: Travis Snider (0.2 percent owned) is back in Toronto, and slated to get plenty of playing time in left field for the foreseeable future. Snider was tearing it up at Triple A, with a .335 batting average, 13 home runs and a 1.021 slugging percentage in 56 games this season. While those stats can be partly attributed to the hitter’s haven of Las Vegas, Snider is still just 24 and has always been regarded as a talented power hitter. Give him one more chance, will ya?
Standard Leagues: I’m generally not a big fan of soft tossers for fantasy leagues, but Oakland rookie Tommy Milone (33.1 percent owned) owns a 3.36 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP for the season, and has 34 strikeouts against two walks in 32 innings over his last five starts. Milone’s excellent control is his calling card, and while his recent run of success is unlikely to continue, there’s no reason why he can’t be a solid mixed-league starter for the next two months.
Deep Leagues: Is Luke Hochevar (2.9 percent owned) teasing us again? Maybe, as he has a 2.50 ERA over his last six starts. Hochevar had a strong late-season surge last year, and while he’ll never reach the heights expected of him as a former top overall draft pick, his K/BB ratio and ground-ball rate suggest a steady if unspectacular starter. Don’t be fooled by Hochevar’s 4.91 ERA – his peripheral stats say that he’s close to a run better than that.
Standard Leagues: Francisco Cordero (7.6 percent owned) was traded to the Astros on Friday, and named as the team’s closer on Saturday after Brett Myers was shipped to the White Sox. I like to say that possession is nine-tenths of the law when it comes to closer roles, so Cordero is clearly worth a pickup right now (I grabbed him in a league on Sunday morning) even if he’s a shaky proposition. However, if you’re a grab-and-stash type, Wilton Lopez should be on your radar as well.
Deep Leagues: With Matt Capps likely out until at least September due to more shoulder issues, Glen Perkins (1.4 percent owned) is slated to share the Twins’ closing duties with Jared Burton (0.6 percent owned). You can pick up either pitcher and I won’t argue with you, but Perkins (2.81 ERA, 48 K in 41 2/3 IP) is the preferred option here.