Wednesday, April 6, 2011

20 under 20%

Last season, our highly esteemed 20 under 20% post unearthed such luminaries as Gio Gonzalez, Colby Lewis, and the incomparable Jose Bautista.

Together, we set sail, in search of rare finds that may help any fantasy baseball squad.

The number in parenthesis shows the average ownership % between ESPN and Yahoo leagues. In every case, the percentage was under 20% on both sites.

Kila Ka'aihue, 1b, Royals (15%)
Kila's only batting .176, but with five walks in five games, he's showing patience and awareness in the box that usually lead to better results. I bet you didn't know that he was 13th in the American League in Secondary Average.

Brennan Boesch, OF, Tigers (15%)
Personally, I have yet to be intrigued enough by Brennan Boesch to make him a member of my roto squad, but perhaps I should open my mind to the concept. He's 6 for 12 in this young season, with a home run, which is nice. It's unnerving that he has yet to take a walk, but if we see his patience increase he may be worth a free agent flyer.

Zach Britton, SP, Orioles (14%)
Flavor of the Month: Britton
Much like the division rival Blue Jays, the Orioles keep rolling out more and more young, impressive starting pitching. Scouts and talent evaluators on Twitter were exceedingly complementary during his start a few days ago.

Ivan Nova, SP, Yankees (12%)
Here is a play for Wins and not much else. Nova has a chance to throw six or seven shutout innings any time out, but it's more likely that he'll struggle to get a quality start, not strike out very many opponents, and hopefully get out with a Win. The Yankee offense should support him with at least four runs every time out, so fantasy players could do worse if looking for a fifth or sixth starting pitcher.

Josh Willingham, OF, Athletics (10%)
On one hand, Willingham is faced with the struggle of adapting to a new league and moving into a pitcher's park. Optimistically speaking, he has been a consistent hitter the past five years: .367 OBP, 102 HR's, and a 121 OPS+. He already has two long balls this season, and at age 32 is still getting it done.

Derek Holland, SP, Rangers (10%)
How patient do we have to be?
Maybe if I paid less attention to young prospects, my roto teams would have more successful young pitchers. I usually go for a player about two or three seasons too soon, then sour on him and let someone else in my league reap the returns when the player becomes good. My feeling is that Derek Holland is going to be one of those guys. He burned me pretty good, when I used him as an SP/RP two years ago, and I haven't really thought much about picking him up this year until now.

Will Venable, OF, Padres (7%)
One of the more surprising names on this list is Will Venable at 7%. No doubt that people probably just don't want any Padres, when they're looking for homerun power. If you're in a league that discounts homeruns by counting slugging, total bases, or something, then Venable is certainly worth a look. If your league is specific in the Outfield, with LF, CF, and RF slots, Venable could be increasingly appealing because in some leagues he queslifies at all three positions.

Alexi Ogando, SP, Rangers (6%)
A few hours ago, Buster Olney tweeted something very interesting: "Alexi Ogando was impressive -- and it should be known they got him in Rule 5 draft as OFer for $12 K, based on rec. of scout A.J. Preller." That's a lot in under 141 characters! Sincerely, this Ogando guy looks legit. He was virtually lights out in the bullpen last year, and considering the success they had converting C.J. Wilson from bullpen to starter, I'd give Nolan Ryan, Mike Maddux, and the gang the benefit of the doubt.

Bud Norris, SP, Astros (6%)
Much like Derek Holland, here is a guy I foolishly drafted two years ago only to see his heavy fastball get knocked all over National League ballparks. Is he ready to make the progression to very good major leaguer? Some scouts say 'yes'. Dirty Harry wasn't played by Chuck Norris, but that would have made the line "Are you feeling lucky, punk?" even more apropos.

Aaron Harang, SP, Padres (4%)
The Harangutan likes
being back home in S.D.
We profiled Aaron Harang on December 4th, as soon as his hometown Padres signed him to a one-year deal. In that post, we said he could wind up being the best value signing of the offseason. If he succeeds, he could also be the best pickup your team makes this month.

Michael Brantley, OF, Indians (4%)
This option is only for deeper leagues or someone who's really desperate for speed. Brantley could be looking at steady playing time and has an, at times, captivating skill set. The depth of your league's free agent pool should determine if Brantley is someone you should consider, i.e. only if guys like Fowler, Gordon, and Venable are gone.

Mike Leake, SP, Reds (4%)
Leake contributed nicely to rotisserie teams at the beginning of last year before the Reds had to call it a year to save their rookie pitcher from Dusty the Ripper. If you're looking for Wins, Leake could really help out these next couple of months. The Reds are a legitimate contender, and they have looked great so far in this young season.

Chris Tillman, SP, Orioles (4%)
The hype machine propelled Britton ahead of Tillman in the ownership ranks, but this tall and talented right-hander has more experience, may have more job security, and may be more ready for prime time than Britton. Really, if you're looking for Starting Pitching help, see which Orioles pitchers are available and see if one of them is right for your team: Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Britton, or Guthrie.

Aaron Crow, SP/RP, Royals (2%)
Aaron Crow is maturing in the Show
The legend of Aaron Crow never really materialized the way some people thought it would a few years back. Most of you know the story, but he was drafted with the #9 overall pick by the Nationals in 2008. The two sides never agreed on a contract, so Crow entered the draft again the following year after pitching rather well for the Independent League Fort Worth Cats. The Royals then drafted Crow with the #12 overall pick of the 2009 draft. He was building up to be a starter, but he broke camp this spring with the Major League squad as a relief pitcher. During the infant stages of this season, he has been throwing hard and getting people out. He hasn't walked anyone and already vultured a Win. If SP/RP eligible relievers are as important to you as they are to me, Crow is someone to consider.

Joel Peralta, RP, Rays (2%)
All Spring, I thought that Jake McGee would end up being the closer in Tampa Bay, nut lately my intuition has been telling me that it'll be Peralta. On average, it appears that at least 98% of fantasy players have not come to the same conclusion. If you have the roster space, reward yourself for reading this far into our column, and go get Joel Peralta.

Milton Bradley, OF, Mariners (2%)
Yeah, Milton, you're 'misunderstood'
We know this guy is dead to many fantasy players, and for good reason. Bradley has been a perennial non-content throughout his career, and at times has even been a full-blown quitter. IF, and I stress if, you're in a league that counts OBP, SLG, or OPS, then Milton Bradley could still be a valuable asset. He's hitting in the top half of Seattle's order and will be looking for a solid season, since he'll be needing a new contract next Spring. In his last contract year, three years ago, Bradley lead the American League in OPS.

Casey Blake, 3b, Dodgers (2%)
Shortstop and Third Base may be the most shallow positions of all this season. If you're third baseman is injured or stinking it up, and you don't see anyone of promise in your free agent pool, this usually steady veteran may be reliable enough to maintain his career ratios while hitting something like 19 HR's with 70 or 80 runs and ribbies. Casey Blake is not going to win you your league, but he may ensure that you finish in the money.

Brett Wallace, 1b, Astros (2%)
I don't think we're the only people still holding out hope that Brett Wallace will be a good hitter in this league. We just may be the only people outside of Houston, or even outside of his friends and family, who still have faith. We beat this drum in the preseason, but Wallace has good on-base skills and some raw power that has kept many people wanting more.

Just keep the ball low, Chris.
Chris Volstad, SP, Marlins (1%)
It's surprising that more fantasy players aren't taking their chances with a 6'9" experienced pitcher, on a decent team, that plays its home games in a football stadium. I drafted Volstad for my roster and am very much looking forward to his performance versus Washington this evening.

Jeremy Jeffress, RP, Royals (0%)
Okay, we are way early to the party here, but everyone make a note to keep tabs on this kid. Jeremy Jeffress came to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal this winter. He's already in the Major League bullpen, and he came in the other night throwing in the upper 90's. He is potentially rosterable in deep leagues right now, but more importantly is a player to pounce on if the Royals decide to trade Joakim Soria after their inevitable mid-summer fall from the top of the standings.

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