Here’s a look at some of the top pickups, available in 50% or more of all Yahoo leagues. If you have questions or comments, please hit me up on Twitter – @MikeBaumSays.
Wilin Rosario – I’ll just continue to tout Rosario since he is still just 19% owned despite being the best catcher in fantasy over the last 14 days. I realize there are a lot of good catchers this year, but there has to be someone in more than 19% of leagues who could use this type of production over their current backstop. Rosario has 18 Runs, 9 HRs, 25 RBI, and has even chipped in 3 SB in just 124 ABs. Ramon Hernandez has yet to resume baseball activities and has no clear timetable for a return, so Rosario remains in line for everyday duty for the foreseeable future.
Ike Davis (NYM) had a miserable start to the season, but he’s showing signs of turning it around. He’s 6 for his last 10, with 2 doubles and a homer. Perhaps more importantly he has taken 4 walks and only struck out once in that span. When a guy with as much talent as Davis has starts to show something, don’t hesitate – pick him up. You’ll be happy you got on board at the beginning of his stat resurgence.
Mark Reynolds (BAL) is never going to win a batting title, and if your league counts Ks you can probably stop reading right here, but since coming off the DL on May 28th he has been very good. He’s hitting .288 in those 14 games, with a couple homers and 7 RBI. This is a player who has averaged 35 homers a year for the last four seasons. If he was discarded in your league, he’s worth picking up, even if he’s just depth/trade bait.
Brandon Moss (OAK) is a former top prospect from the Red Sox system that has resurfaced in Oakland at the age of 28. Since his callup on June 6th he’s gone 5 for 21, but four of those five hits have been homers, including three in the last two nights at Coors Field. He has legit power, is 1B/OF eligible, and he’s hot right now so he’s worth a look if you need power.
Elian Herrera (LAD) is not your typical corner infielder in that he has almost no power and most of his fantasy value will come from his ability to get on base, steal bases, and score runs. So far this season (28 games) he’s sporting a .394 OBP, buoyed by a 14.5% BB rate. He only has 3 SB so far with the Dodgers, but he’s swiped 30+ bases each of the last three seasons in the minors, so if he continues to get on base like he has been there will surely be more steals going forward. He’s locked into the 2 spot for the Dodgers, and he’s also 2B eligible, and is one more start in the OF away from gaining eligibility there as well (in Yahoo).
Previously recommended and still widely available: Justin Smoak, Todd Frazier
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) has a ridiculous 6 HR and 13 RBI already in the month of June. There may be no hotter hitter in the game, so if he’s somehow still available in your league run, don’t walk, to pick him up. There’s really nothing in Plouffe’s track record to explain this power outburst, but veteran fantasy players know it’s usually better to make the add and ask questions later. He’s eligible at 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in Yahoo leagues, which lets owners plug him in for basically anyone else on the roster who is slumping.
Neil Walker (PIT) was pretty lousy in April and May, totaling just 13 runs, 2 HR, 17 RBI, and 2 SB, with a .254 average. He was dropped in a lot of leagues as a result. But in June Walker has found his stroke, hitting .333 with 7 runs, 2 HR, 11 RBI, and 3 SB. Walker is a steady producer who should give you solid but unspectacular production across the board (think double digit HR/SB and 70+ Runs and RBI).
Jhonny Peralta (DET) had a similarly poor start to the season, but his bat has come alive in June. He’s hitting .429 in 28 ABs this month, and has 3 doubles and 2 triples as well. He offers rare power/RBI from the SS position, and should be owned in most leagues.
Marco Scutaro (COL) has been swinging a hot bat, hitting .378 in the month of June. He’s settled in as the 2 hitter for the Rockies, and should be in position to score plenty of runs the rest of the way. He’ll contribute the occasional HR and SB, but his real value is in his quiet consistency.
Previously recommended and still widely available: Gordon Beckham, Danny Espinosa, Jemile Weeks, Everth Cabrera
Ben Revere (MIN) is the 55th best player in fantasy baseball in the past 30 days according to Yahoo, and should be owned in all leagues. In the past two seasons for Minnesota he has a .281 average, 75 runs scored, and 43 SB in 145 games played (561 ABs). That’s basically a middle-class version of Michael Bourn. At just 24 years old, we could be looking at a true breakout season here.
Michael Saunders (SEA) is the 45thbest player in fantasy baseball in the past 30 days, and should also be owned in most leagues. Saunders has the ability to contribute in all 5 categories, having already posted 30 runs, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 10 SB, and a .282 average on the season. He’s been particularly good on the road, which is typical for Seattle hitters, but he has 6 hits including two doubles and a HR on the Mariners current homestand (5 games) so he shouldn’t be completely ignored at home.
Brandon Belt is starting to warm up and is a decent fantasy waiver add this week.
Brandon Belt (SF) has homered in back to back games, both off of lefties, making the case that he no longer needs to be platooned. It’s up to manager Bruce Bochy to do the right thing here and let Belt play every day. With very few viable alternatives, Belt’s recent success may have finally secured himself consistent playing time. He’s worth a speculative add in deep formats.
Norichika Aoki (MIL) has outplayed Nyjer Morgan and appears to be the Brewers leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching. He won’t hit many homers, but Aoki does have 9 doubles and 3 triples on the season in limited playing time. He’s getting on base at a .362 clip, which should ensure he scores plenty of runs. He’s also got decent speed, with 5 SB and only 1 CS on the season so far. Aoki is a nice add for those looking for help in Runs, SB, and batting average.
Previously recommended and still widely available: Colby Rasmus, J.D. Martinez, Michael Brantley, Rajai Davis, Brennan Boesch
Phil Hughes (NYY) has been pitching progressively better since a terrible April. He’s been getting deeper into games, limiting his walks, and putting his team in position to win games. He also strikes out nearly a batter per inning, so look past his 4.76 ERA and 1.34 WHIP (which are still inflated from his 7.88 ERA, 1.88 WHIP in 4 April starts) and give Hughes a shot. Projected next three starts: @WAS on June 15th, vs, ATL on June 20th, vs. CLE on June 26th.
Scott Diamond (MIN) is a soft tossing lefty who doesn’t strike many batters out. So why would you want him? Well, Diamond also doesn’t walk anybody (0.81 BB/9), and he induces 61.1% ground balls. Those numbers will help limit any damage that his unimpressive “stuff” gets him into. His 1.61 ERA is sure to rise, but there’s reason to believe he could keep is somewhere in the 3s. A former Braves farmhand, his minor league numbers are consistently solid, so his success so far this year should not come as a complete shock. Projected next three starts: vs. MIL on June 15th, @PIT on June 21st, vs. CWS on June 26th.
Nathan Eovaldi (LAD) is just 22 years old, but he’s more than held his own when called upon by the Dodgers. Since getting the call to fill in for the injured Ted Lilly, Eovaldi has allowed just 5 ER in 4 starts (24.2 IP) while striking out 18. He’s got a great fastball that he throws consistently in the 94-97 range, and he mixes in a solid 2-seamer and an above average curveball. He’s shown good poise on the mound when he gets into jams, something that is rare of pitchers his age. It’s possible that the Dodgers will make room for Eovaldi in the rotation even when Ted Lilly returns if he keeps pitching like this. Projected next three starts: @OAK on June 20th, @SF on June 25th, vs. NYM on June 30th.
Previously recommended and still widely available: Jonathan Niese, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Burnett, Brian Matusz
Tom Wilhelmson (SEA) is closing games for a major league team. That should be enough to move his ownership well past the 31% he currently has, but for whatever reason, fantasy owners are often hesitant to add pitchers who may not have the role to themselves for the rest of the year. My advice is to add the current closer, and worry about his competition later. Could the Mariners reinstall Brandon League as their closer in an effort to boost his trade value? Sure, but it’s not a given, and in the meantime you could miss out on 5-10 saves.
Ryan Cook (OAK) is in the same boat as Tom Wilhelmsen in that he is currently closing games for his team. But the A’s bullpen presents a bit less competition than the Mariner’s bullpen, and Cook should have every opportunity to run away with the closer’s role. Don’t wait around on this one.
Sean Marshall (CIN) has righted the ship after having some struggles in mid-May and ultimately being demoted from the closer role. The truth is Marshall was never really THAT bad. He had terrible luck with balls in play (I remember his BABIP allowed sitting around .500 in mid-May), and the underlying numbers show that he was still getting Ks and limiting walks at an elite level. Aroldis Chapman is the closer in Cincy now, but he won’t be used three days in a row, and it’s possible he won’t even be used in back to back days if he throws too many pitches. Marshall will still get rogue saves, and he’ll provide elite ratios and Ks along the way. There’s also the outside chance that Chapman is converted to a starter in the second half, pushing Marshall back into the full-time closer role.
Greg Holland (KC) has been lights out since returning from the DL on May 12th. Since that time he has pitched 15.2 innings, racking up 20 strikeouts and allowing just 7 hits and 1 ER. Jonathan Broxton is on a one-year deal, and is likely to be traded to a contender sometime before the trading deadline. Holland figures to be first in line for saves should Broxton be moved, so my advice is to add him now and beat the rush. You’ll enjoy great ratios and Ks in the meantime.
Glen Perkins (MIN) is another closer-in-waiting. Matt Capps is a strong candidate to be traded, which would open the door for Perkins to get saves for the Twins. Perkins has 35 Ks in just 26.2 IP this season, so he’s another middle reliever who will help you now, and could pay huge dividends later.
Previously recommended and still widely available: Casey Janssen