MLB free agent frenzy likes LoMo

BY John Halpin • August 30, 2011

You’ve got less than five weeks left to win your league. Instead of moaning and wailing while curled up in the fetal position cursing Max Scherzer’s existence like I did on Monday night, you should keep your cool and fine-tune your well-oiled fantasy machine. And now, without further ado, below are 10 free agents owned in less than 75 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, starting with the third player below the threshold.

Please note that no players will be repeated within any four-week period.

Matt Garza, SP, Cubs (74.3 percent owned) Garza has probably been better than his 3.68 ERA, posting career best rates in strikeouts and ground balls. There’s no reason why he can’t be one of baseball’s top 20 starters over the remainder of the season.

Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins (50.7 percent owned) Vazquez’s 4.63 ERA looks hideous, but he’s been better lately, with a 3.09 ERA and 61 strikeouts against 13 walks in July and August. I don’t know what was wrong with Vazquez in April and May, but he has clearly straightened himself out. Look for a solid September.

A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox (49.3 percent owned) Assuming that his minor-league rehab assignment goes well, Pierzynski will come off the DL on Friday. Other catchers may have more power than he does, but fantasy backstops with .296 batting averages (.285 career) are pretty hard to come by. As long as the White Sox stay in the playoff hunt, he’ll play every day, too.

Logan Morrison, OF, Marlins (24.1 percent owned) LoMo is back in South Florida after his brief, Twitter-induced banishment to Triple A. His .245 batting average is likely to improve, and 18 homers in 100 games ain’t too shabby. If you’re looking for an outfield bat – say, if you own the injured Nelson Cruz or Shin-Soo Choo – Morrison is one of the better ones available.

Brent Lillibridge, 1B/2B/OF, White Sox (3.1 percent owned) Really? A utility guy? Yeah, for now. Carlos Quentin is on the DL, Paul Konerko has been hurting, and Ozzie Guillen must beat his head against the wall every time he looks at Adam Dunn and Alex Rios with bats in their hands. Until Quentin returns, Lillibridge could keep getting four or five starts per week, and help you with power and speed in deep mixed or AL-only leagues. His versatility is a nice bonus in leagues with daily transactions.

Brandon Allen, 1B/OF, A’s (2 percent owned) Allen isn’t just here because he hit a ball 900 feet in Yankee Stadium last week. After being buried in the Diamondbacks’ organization, the power prospect has gotten a great opportunity in Oakland, and he’s hit three homers with a .954 OPS since his promotion a couple of weeks ago. Allen strikes out a lot, and he isn’t going to be a star. But he might hit five homers in September while qualifying at two positions for fantasy owners. If that sounds like something you need, take a shot at him.

Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals (1.2 percent owned) The hard-throwing Motte got his first save of the season on Sunday. When asked about Motte’s appearance, Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa said, “You give guys what they earn, and they make the decisions for you.” With a 1.70 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and nearly a whiff per inning, Motte seems to have earned quite a bit this season. The Cardinals are out of the NL Central race, and there’s no harm in giving Motte a chance to handle ninth-inning duties over the season’s final month. This recommendation doesn’t come with a guarantee of saves, but if you’re looking to speculate, Motte has upside.

Dayan Viciedo, 3B, White Sox (1.1 percent owned) Viciedo is the Chisox’ best power prospect, and he was promoted over the weekend in the wake of Carlos Quentin’s trip to the disabled list. Viciedo is in Chicago to play every day, and he showed his skills immediately with a home run on Sunday. The slugger qualifies at third base after playing some games there in 2010, and he’s far more valuable for fantasy owners at that position than he is in his current outfield role. Grab Viciedo if you need some pop.

Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers (0.4 percent owned) Gordon is due back from the DL later this week, and while he hasn’t yet demonstrated an ability to hit big-league pitching very well, his speed is off the charts. Gordon had three stolen bases in the eight games prior to his injury, and has 42 in 100 games between the minors and majors this season. Sometimes, one-category guys are very helpful, especially when you’ve identified a category in which you can pick up valuable points over the season’s final month. Gordon is a difference maker when it comes to stolen bases.

Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros (0.3 percent owned) Speaking of speed demons, Schafer got traded to the Astros in the Michael Bourn deal on July 31, but didn’t come off the disabled list until last week. Since then, he’s swiped three bases in eight games, and he has 18 thefts in 60 games this season. Which speed-starved fantasy owners are going all in on the Gordon-Schafer daily double?


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