Our first fantasy sports insider article from Conner Patch. Baseball season is in full swing and so is he, trying to help you win your league.
If you want to win your fantasy baseball league you always have to stay active on the waiver wire. Every year there is always a handful of guys that wind up in the top 25 in points that go undrafted. Take Curtis Granderson for example, in some formats Granderson found himself in the top 5 at the end of the season for hitters. Other players such as Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Ben Zobrist, Lance Berkman, Ian Kennedy and Craig Kimbrel are other guys that had outstanding 2011 campaigns that didn’t start the season off with a fantasy owner. Most of these guys pop up early in the season however; there are still multiple guys that become huge impacts due to injuries. The key is to stay ACTIVE! Here are my top free agent players at each position, some of these guys could help you out short term and others I like for the remainder of the season.
C: A.J. Pierzynski, I never really liked the guy in fact I crossed him off my draft board because of his old age (35). You can’t deny Pierzynski’s statistics to begin the 2012 season, he ranks 4th among catchers, and has gotten on base in every game this season but one. A.J. is a great short time solution, ride him while he is hot!
1B: Edwin Encarnacion, formerly known as E5 for his poor play at third base, has tossed away the leather and has become the Toronto Blue Jay DH and cleanup hitter. Although Encarnacion is Toronto’s DH this season he still has 1B/3B eligibility in most leagues making him that much more valuable. I loved E5 coming into the season and thought this was the year he was going to break out for a 25+ HR season, well, he has come out of the gates strong. Edwin is batting .283 and has 4 jacks on the young season. I know we are only three weeks into the season but the Blue Jay DH is ranked 3rd among 1B, 5th among 3B, and is currently out playing the likes of Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.
2B: Jose Altuve, Altuve is a guy that I just added on my fantasy club because I’m not getting much production at the second base position. Altuve is in his first full MLB season with the Houston Astros and has a ton of upside at such a young age (21). Altuve is compared to Dustin Pedroia not just because of his 5’5” frame but also the way he plays the game. The youngster hits for average, steals bases and will knock out a few homers for you. Altuve has a lot of hype entering the season and he has more than just held his own, he is batting .376 with an impressive .428 OBP. Don’t expect Altuve to be batting this high all season and I’m sure you will get some lumps and growing pains but why not give him a chance he has a ton of upside. I took a look at Altuve’s Minor League stats prior to adding him to my club and although these stats don’t always translate to the big leagues what jumped out most to me was Altuve’s OBP. His OBP was always about 60-80 points higher than his average this means he is walking a lot. He also likes to steal bases in 2010 he had 40+, this year he is 4-4. I love the upside I’m getting with this guy.
3B: Mike Aviles, the Boston Red Sox only have so many bright spots in the young season and Aviles is one of them. Aviles is batting .320 and has 4 jacks if you are lacking at the 3B position or own a player like Ryan Zimmerman and need someone to carry you through an injury Aviles could be your man. Aviles is the definition of a short term option. He is riding a 6 game hitting streak right now but he has never shown that he can carry the load for a fantasy club in his three year career. If you’re hurting at third base add Aviles but I wouldn’t expect him to stay this hot all season. Also, remember Encarnacion has 3B eligibility; I like E5 more than Aviles.
SS: Dee Gordon, I have been all over this guy prior to the draft and I’m going to stick with him although his average is low. In Spring Training Don Mattingly said “Gordon will steal 60+ bases this year”. That’s a ton, and is HUGE if you are in a category league, not too many individual players will be able to keep up with that outside of Michael Bourn. Gordon currently has 10 stolen bases and if he stays healthy he is on pace for 85 on the year. Gordon is young and is going into his first season in the big leagues but he is the Dodgers lead off hitter and will get a ton of at bats, he should up his .236 average, meaning he will be on base more and more and will likely steal more bases. I planned on waiting until the last round to draft Gordon until Reyes fell into my lap in the 5th round however. With Reyes struggling, I have played with the idea of adding the rookie shortstop.
OF: Yoenis Cespedes, if this guy isn’t picked up yet in your league I advise you to pull up another tab and add him immediately. Cespedes came to Oakland from Cuba and is hitting really well in the States. Cespedes has 5 homeruns and 22 RBI but what I like a lot out of the kid is his ability to get on base. His average is low right now and he is striking out at a high rate however. His OBP is .100 higher than his average. Once Cespedes gets on base he isn’t afraid to swipe a bag either, he has 4 stolen bases on the young season. From monitoring Cespedes’ production I have realized he goes through hot and cold streaks, he started the season off with 3 homers in 3 games.
SP: Jonathan Niese, there were a handful of guys I could’ve put here in this spot because I’m not sure what starting pitchers are out there in your league therefore I looked at free agents in my own league. Niese has started off the season 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in four starts. The New York Met also has a quality start in each of his appearances and has 5+ K’s in every outing. Niese is a young lefty and is on his way to a great season add this guy in your league.
RP: Henry Rodriguez, Henry who? Henry Rodriguez is the Washington Nationals closer. Rodriguez is now filling in for the injured Drew Storen. Rodriguez has had a lot of success in his fill in role with the Nats. Rodriguez has five saves and has yet to allow a run in 8.1 innings this season. The Nationals are a great team this year as well so expect him to get a lot of save opportunities.
-Conner Patch, Fantasy Sports Insider