FA Frenzy: September 20

BY John Halpin • September 20, 2013

Ten days left in the regular season, folks. Feeling any pressure, fantasy title contenders?

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: Wilson Ramos, Nationals (owned in 36.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

Fifteen home runs and 55 RBI in 71 games for a catcher are pretty darned impressive, even if the power seems a bit luck-aided due to a sky-high homer-to-fly ball rate (27.3 percent). Ramos should be owned in a LOT more leagues.

Digging deeper: Wellington Castillo (3.5 percent owned) has eight homers along with a respectable .741 OPS this season, and four of those homers have come in the last 10 days. Castillo plays most days, and should be available in many deep mixed leagues.

First base: Lucas Duda, Mets (owned in 1.7 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

Duda took over at first base for the Mets after Ike Davis suffered a season-ending oblique injury, and has been his usual self – good power, bad BA, lots of strikeouts. Duda has 14 home runs in 293 at bats, and that’s pretty good for a guy you can probably get for free. He’s more valuable in OBP leagues (.351 OPS) due to his excellent walk rate.

Digging deeper: With Yonder Alonso (hand) looking more unlikely every day to return in 2013, Tommy Medica (0 percent owned) has gotten plenty of playing time lately for the Padres. Medica hit 18 home runs with a .954 OPS in 76 Double-A games this season, and has gone deep a couple of times in nine starts with the Pads.

Second base: Emilio Bonifacio, Royals (owned in 13.9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

Really? It’s been four weeks, so I can promote Bonifacio again? Awesome! One of my favorite one-trick speed ponies has 15 stolen bases in 34 games as a Royal, and is rosterable in any format.

Digging deeper: Miami’s Donovan Solano (0.8 percent owned) doesn’t bring much to the table offensively, but he plays every day, and thus could score/drive in a handful of runs before the season ends. If someone on your team gets shut down, Solano won’t be a playing-time mystery as a fill-in.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (owned in 14.9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

What do you guys have against A-Rod? I mean, other than the phoniness and the Biogenesis stuff and all that? In 39 games, the guy is batting ,261 with six homers, four stolen bases and 19 runs scored. There probably aren’t 15 better fantasy third basemen right now.

Digging deeper: Andrew Romine (0.2 percent owned) is getting plenty of playing time at the hot corner for the Angels, but has shortstop eligibility as well. In between big-league stints this season, Romine stole 15 bases in 89 games at Triple A. He can’t hit, but if you need an extra steal or two in your AL-only league …

Shortstop: Zack Cozart, Reds (owned in 15.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

Can someone tell me the fantasy difference between Cozart and the much more popular Andrelton Simmons? Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Digging deeper: Eduardo Nunez is SUCH a bad defensive player that the Yankees went out and got Brendan Ryan (0.4 percent owned) to play shortstop in a wildcard race. Ryan can’t hit, which helps him fit in with most of his teammates. However, if your AL-only team had Nunez or Derek Jeter or maybe the injured Brad Miller, Ryan will play every day for you, and maybe score a few runs or steal a base. You can probably live with a bad BA guy for 10 days.

Outfield: Kole Calhoun, Angels (owned in 14.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

Calhoun has hit himself into regular duty in Anaheim, batting ,289 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 48 games. When teams play out the string, auditions for the following season often take precedence over anything else. Calhoun is killing his audition.

Digging deeper: Since just about every Rockie is injured to some extent, Charlie Blackmon (0.4 percent owned) has gotten some playing time lately. Modest power, decent speed and a few more games in Coors Field (the Rox’ final series is at LA) should be enough for an NL-only pickup.

Starting pitcher: Sonny Gray, A’s (owned in 27.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

The surprising A’s rookie figures to get two more starts – Sunday versus the Twins, and next Friday at Seattle. Not a bad couple of matchups, right? Gray has been terrific since his callup, posting a 2.50 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 54 innings. Grab him and start him in the final week if you can.

Digging deeper: San Diego’s Burch Smith (0.7 percent owned) gets a home start on Saturday against the Dodgers, who clinched the NL West on Thursday and have every incentive to rest their players. Smith’s 6.57 ERA looks terrible, but his 32 whiffs in 24 2/3 innings are very impressive, and you should check his minor-league stats when you get a chance.

Relief pitcher: Kevin Gregg, Cubs (owned in 35.5 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)

We all laughed when the Cubs signed Gregg early in the season. Then we all thought he was a lock to get traded before the end of July. Now, he’s got 32 saves and a 2.90 ERA, and I don’t care if his control is horrible or that many metrics suggest he’s been extremely lucky. All you really care about are saves, right?

Digging deeper: Josh Fields (0.6 percent owned) is still very widely available – probably in your deep mixed league – and has saved three games over the last two weeks. However, he did walk three batters in Wednesday’s outing. Even the Astros win sometimes, you know.

See you back here next week for the season’s final edition of Free Agent Frenzy!

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