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.
Article continues below ...
Standard Leagues: Wilin Rosario (19.6 percent owned) has been mentioned here before, and we don’t know why he and his 24 home runs are so widely available. He’ll be a top-10 fantasy catcher in 2013.
Deep Leagues: We all knew that Kurt Suzuki (6.7 percent owned) wasn’t as bad as he’d been hitting in Oakland for the first few months of the season, right? Suzuki is batting .265 with four homers since arriving in NatsTown in early August, and considering his regular playing time, he’s a solid addition in deeper leagues.
Standard Leagues: Cubs’ cornerstone Anthony Rizzo (23.1 percent owned) has slowed down after his scalding-hot start, but 14 homers with an .843 OPS is nothing to sneeze at for a 23-year-old. Some older players on non-contending teams are likely to fall by the wayside over the season’s final two weeks, and Rizzo can help you pick up some of their slack. You know he hit two homers on Sunday, right?
Deep Leagues: And to think that a couple of months ago, the feeling here was that Brandon Moss’ (2.5 percent owned) power was all driven by the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Moss has 18 homers in 209 at bats with the A’s, and is batting a respectable .258. Sure, he strikes out waaaaaaaaaaaay too much, and he sits against lefties, but if you need a couple of homers right away, he’s a good deep-league option.
Standard Leagues: Mets 2B Daniel Murphy (56.1 percent owned) isn’t ever going to be a really good player, but with a .291 career batting average in almost 1,700 plate appearances, he’s plenty useful as a fantasy free agent pickup. Murphy scores and knocks in respectable numbers of runs because he plays regularly, and qualifies at 1B/2B/3B.
Deep Leagues: Cliff Pennington (2.3 percent owned) moved from shortstop to second base for the A’s after the team acquired SS Stephen Drew in a trade. Pennington’s batting average (currently .213) has taken an unusually bad turn this season, but his decent speed (15 stolen bases) makes him helpful for AL-only leagues, and even some pretty deep mixed ones. Pennington sits against lefties, against whom he has a .394 OPS this season. I bet you think that’s a typo.
Standard Leagues: Matt Dominguez (0.5 percent owned) is the Astros’ third baseman of the future. He’s regarded as a good gloveman, but there are questions about his power. So, what should we make of the .302 batting average and four home runs Dominguez has hit since being called up from the minors on August 30? Probably not too much, but with an everyday role over the season’s final two weeks, I’d take a chance on him if I needed hot corner help.
Deep Leagues: Thanks to our policy of not suggesting a player more than once in a four-week span, we’ve reached the “He has a regular job and his batting average won’t kill you” portion of the program. Greg Dobbs (0.7 percent owned), you’re up! Seriously, Dobbs would probably hit .270 with 10 homers over a full season. That’s not bad for a deep mixed-league pickup.
Standard Leagues: O’s rookie Manny Machado (12.1 percent owned) is playing mostly third base, but his value lies in his eligibility at shortstop. Machado is hacking at everything, with just three walks in 136 plate appearances. He can’t get away with that if he wants to fulfill his promise as a big-time prospect, but he can still be somewhat fantasy-friendly for a little while. Machado is batting .267 with decent power since being called up in early August, and is hitting .295 with nine runs in 15 games this month. If you’ve got a shortstop with a lingering injury, such as Zack Cozart or maybe Rafael Furcal (if you didn’t get someone good to replace him), Machado can be an adequate solution.
Deep Leagues: Tyler Greene (0.8 percent owned) has been in this space before, and even though he’s batting a miserable .225, any middle infielder with 10 homers and 10 stolen bases in a half-season’s worth of at bats is worth a look. Potential owners do need to worry some about Jed Lowrie’s impact on Greene’s playing time, but Greene’s versatility (he also qualifies at 2B) should keep him in the lineup enough to be helpful.
Standard Leagues: From 2007-2009, Nate McLouth (0.9 percent owned) averaged 20 homers and 21 steals. After that, his production inexplicably fell off a cliff, relegating him to a lot of time as a reserve and a minor leaguer. McLouth’s mild renaissance in Baltimore isn’t much to speak of in a real baseball sense – the guy has a .643 OPS, for crying out loud – but he’ll steal some bases and hit the occasional home run while playing every day.
Deep Leagues: Thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s season-ending hamstring injury, the Royals plan to platoon David Lough (0.1 percent owned) and Jason Bourgeois (0.1 percent owned) in center field for the final two weeks of the season. Lough had 10 homers and 26 stolen bases at Triple A this seasson, while Bourgeois had five straight 30-steal seasons (combining minors and majors) before slowing down a bit this year. As the lefthanded hitter, Lough figures to get more playing time, but both can add to your stolen-base total in AL-only leagues.
Standard Leagues: Milwaukee’s Marco Estrada (8.1 percent owned) has graduated from streaming starter to rosterability thanks to an excellent five-to-one K/BB ratio and far more good starts than bad ones. Estrada figures to make three more starts: At Pittsburgh, at Washington and at home versus the Astros. That’s not an especially tough trio.
Deep Leagues: Travis Wood’s (5.5 percent owned) 4.23 ERA isn’t exactly sexy, but his 43 strikeouts against 13 walks with a 3.19 ERA since the beginning of August makes him worth a look. Wood’s remaining starts project to be at home against the Pirates and Cardinals, and on the road versus the Diamondbacks (he might get a fourth at home against the Astros). He’s a modest bright spot in the Cubs’ dark season.
Standard Leagues: Huston Street’s calf injury might keep him out for the rest of the season, and Luke Gregerson (3.7 percent owned) has eight saves for the Padres since August 26. Easy one, right?
Deep Leagues: In 2010, Toronto’s Steve Delabar (0.2 percent owned) was working as a substitute teacher in Kentucky and playing slo-pitch softball. After rocketing through the Seattle system last season, Delabar has whiffed 85 batters in 60 1/3 innings this year for the Mariners and Jays, with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. If you’re in an ERA or WHIP battle right now, Delabar is the kind of under-the-radar guy that can help you more than a low-end starter.