Tuesday, August 30, 2011

20 under 20%

There's about a month left to this year's regular season, meaning it's crunch time for competitive owners of fantasy teams. The last time we dusted off the 20 under 20% gimmick was during the first week of the season. We were lucky enough to earmark a few undervalued players, included a pretty solid pitching rotation of Bud Norris, Ivan Nova, Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Aaron Harang.

As we'll see in a few minutes, there are some intriguing long-shots out there on most waiver wires. Let's get right to it.

Brandon McCarthy, SP, A's (20%)
McCarthy struck out a
Career High 10 tonight.
We've mentioned Mr. McCarthy here before, mostly because of his strike out potential, above average control, and improved health. He has only accumulated 7 roto-important Wins this season, but his peripherals have been good all summer. He pitched against the Indians this evening, and typically lost his seventh game of the season while throwing a Complete Game, striking out 10, and walking one 1 Indian. Hitch your wagon to the Brandon McCarthy Experience, and good times are likely headed your way.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox (19%)
Another semi-regular in this space, Salty has been a streaky player in 2011. The good news is that he is surrounded by a wonderful lineup and gets opportunities, sharing time with Jason Varitek, A constant these in this essay is that a month is a short time, and any of these guys could wind up being a top performer at their position.

Sean Marshall, RP, Cubs (18%)
In a few seasons, he may be a casualty of his overuse, but for now Sean Marshall is in his prime. His WHIP was 1.11 last season, and it is 1.10 this season.

Brett Cecil, SP, Blue Jays (17%)
Here's an underachiever who could get hot and win a few games in September. I guess. Not a lot to choose from at 17% apparently.

Nyjer Morgan, CF, Brewers (16%)
Personality aside, Najer Morgan is a good bet for stolen bases and runs. The Brewers are firing on all cylinders. The leadoff hitter to a team with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder batting 3/4 should score about a run a game.

Wade Davis, SP, Rays (15%)
Davis could strikeout more guys.
Flying under the radar for a couple of years, after debuting to big time hype, Wade Davis has been doing a good job of getting Major League hitters out.

He's struggled maintaining good strikeout rates*, which is probably why he's only owned in 85% of Yahoo leagues.

*Wade Davis Strikeout Rate
2009: 8.92 K/9
2010: 6.05 K/9
2011: 4.84 K/9

Trends resembling those numbers usually do not lead to great success in the future, but at this stage in the season Davis could be worth a flyer to pitch for owners who need the arms.

Lucas Duda, 1b/OF, Mets (14%)
We mentioned last week in a tweet, that Lucas Duda leads all NL rookies in WPA. Most of it is probably from some big Game Winning RBI he had a week or two ago, but still. Leading the league in something is something. The rebuilding Mets are giving Duda the opportunity we wanted him to get last season. Sign me up fora chance to get a guy with regular at bats, power, and position eligibility.

Sean Rodriguez, 2b/3b/SS/OF, Rays (13%)
Speaking of position eligibility and power, Sean Rodriguez has both. He's owned in only 13% of Yahoo leagues because he does not play every day. Position scarcity is also key with Rodriguez, since he can man 2b, 3b, and SS. A hot streak out of him could mean something like 5 home runs in a week, or 10 HR's in September.

Scott Downs, RP, Angels (12%)
On this day, there were no other good players with 12% ownership. We were looking at the likes of Jeremy Guthrie or an injured Chris Narverson. While Downs is nowhere near getting Saves, he gets people out with a 5.7 K/9 and 66.4% ground ball rate.

Chris Capuano, SP, Mets (11%)
Capuano is at worst a good LOOGY
Here's a player who could be owned in more fantasy leagues, but really needs to be on a contending team in real life. The fact that Capuano, who's not really making a lot of money, passed through waivers without being claimed is surprising. That a contending team hasn't been able to trade something to Sandy Alderson and the Mets for his services just boggles my mind.

Kyle Blanks, OF/1b, Padres (10%)
Kyle Blanks is showing the ability to reach base and bounce back from a bad streak. He's also big and powerful enough to hit home runs in Petco Park. If you need power, go for it. The big guy is at least fun to root for.

John Mayberry, Jr., OF, Phillies (9%)
At first glance, Mayberry is a fourth outfielder behind Victorino, Pence, and Ibañez. His opportunity over the final month of the season may be more like that of a starter. He has also been a hot performer of late. Over the past 14 days, John Mayberry has a .492 wOBA and .367/.441/.767 triple-slash line. Here's another snapshot, over the past 30 days...

John Mayberry, 51 plate appearances, 6 HR, .319/.373/.766
Raul Ibañez, 72 pa, 2 HR, .197/.250/.364

Look at the difference in OPS alone. Over the past 30 days, Mayberry's slugging percentage is higher than Raul's OPS.

Mike Moustakas, 3b, Royals (8%)
This kid is still about a year, or two, or three, from really putting it all together and being an outright force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, his raw talent could lead to a hot month of September winning fantasy baseball glory for thousands of basement dwelling fans.

Dayan Viciedo, 3b, White Sox (7%)
This kid is on out team. We picked him up before his first game of the season, and he delighted us with a home run and a stolen base in his 2nd game. Phil Rogers, of the Chicago Tribune, included a little on Viciedo in his column this morning:
"Did the White Sox wait too long to play the Dayan Viciedo card? Probably, but Viciedo may have benefitted from their reluctance to throw him into the fire in June or July.

His 2011 debut was impressive for more than just the single and long home run he hit in his first two at-bats. He walked in his third plate appearance -- matching the total of walks he had in his first 97 plate appearances last season. Viciedo has historically been one of those hitters scouts say will “swing at the rosin bag,’’ but appears to have greatly improved his patience at the plate after working with a combination of Greg Walker, Chris Chambliss, Jeff Manto and Tim Laker the last four years. He had only 13 walks to go with 103 strikeouts between Triple-A Charlotte and Chicago last season but in his second season at Charlotte offset 83 strikeouts with 45 walks, helping him improve his on-base percentage from .321 to .364."
I feel that anyone looking for hitting should take a flyer on Viciedo.

Will Venable, OF, Padres (6%)
Venable has struggled with injuries this year, seemingly sapping him of his power. Perhaps, it was more a function of opportunity, comfort at the plate, or something else that hasn't clicked yet and a power surge could be forthcoming. Even if it's not, Venable has still bees stealing bases effectively. He has 24 steals in just 101 games, so we could see him get at least a handful more next month.

Brandon Allen, 1b/OF, A's (5%)
Allen is making friends in Oakland.
For months, maybe years, we've wanted to see Brandon Allen get a bigger opportunity. Finally, after being traded to Oakland or Brad Ziegler, he's producing at the Major League level. Since the trade 15 games ago, All has posted a 1.022 OPS.

Brett Wallace, 1b, Astros (4%)
We're only a couple of days away from September call ups, and with that we will likely get Brett Wallace starting versus right-handed pitchers. As we've seen time and time again, hitters with good awareness, eyes, and plate discipline flourish when rebounding after another go-around, honing their craft, on the farm.

Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers (3%)
Another player expected back with the big club after September 1st is Dee Gordon. Unlike Wallace, though, Gordon will be coming back from spending time on the Disabled List for a bruised shoulder. The reason to add Gordon isn't for any power or extreme hitting ability. Rather, we would take Gordon with thee hopes that he could score a handful of runs and steal two or three bases each week.

Jordan Shafer, OF, Astros (2%)
Two percent ownership for a leadoff hitter on any Major League Baseball time is an egregious oversight. Even being on the worst team in baseball, the every day leadoff hitter should be owned in most leagues. He won't hit for much power, but some SB's and R's from Shafer could help your squad more than the weakest player who's currently on your bench.

Trayvon Robinson, OF, Mariners (1%)
Trayvon's an exciting young player.
The Mariners do not have much offense to speak of, and Trayvon is really learning on the job. If you're in a very deep league, or a keeper/dynasty league, Trayvon could be an asset right now. He's been a good prospect, and Dodger faithful are still disappointed that the Mariners were able to pry him away from the Los Angeles system this July.

Note: ownership percentages based on Yahoo leagues, August 29.

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