This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston looks at nine intriguing fantasy baseball players still available on the waiver wire in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Power brewing behind the dish in Milwaukee
Jonathan Lucroy (C) Milwaukee Brewers
It's a buyer's market for fantasy backstops right now, with several highly productive catchers readily available on the waiver wire. At the top of that list is Lucroy, who is generating major buzz right now with a 2 HR, 7 RBI performance on Sunday. While he's always been no worse than serviceable in terms of batting average, Lucroy hasn't flashed much in terms of power since the low levels of the minors. But, in his age 25 campaign, the Brewers plateminder is finally showing some muscle, sporting a .550 slugging percentage that ranks third among the C-eligible crowd. Don't make the mistake of writing Lucroy off as a one-game wonder, he's been raking all season. And now the Brewers are letting him do it from the heart of the order more often than not.
- Y! % 44%
- Y! rank 96
Boston's Salty dawg has enjoyed smooth sailing for past month
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C) Boston Red Sox
Salty makes a pretty nice consolation prize for those catcher-needy owners who woke up on Monday morning and were too late to jump on Lucroy. In fact, the Boston backstop has been a better fantasy commodity to own than Lucroy over the past month, hitting .351 with six home runs in that span. In his past 81 games for the Red Sox, Salty has tallied a healthy 18 home runs and 52 RBIs. Admittedly, the K/BB rate is scary here, and there's a history of deep valleys to go with the peaks, so don't be afraid to abandon ship if he hits a dry spell that gets uncomfortably long down the road. In the mean time, enjoy a nice power boost at a cheap price.
- Y! % 24%
- Y! rank 185
Seismic activity from young ChiSox slugger worth monitoring
Dayan Viciedo (OF) Chicago White Sox
Like Mount St. Helens in early 1980, Viciedo is a young (age 23) volcano showing signs of eruption. In the past week, he is the No. 2 outfielder in the Yahoo! fantasy game, hitting .444 with four home runs and 10 runs batted in. Power is the name of Viciedo's game, as he has recorded 40 home runs in 795 at bats at the Triple-A level and a respectable 13 roundtrippers in his brief 335-AB major league career. He's channeled Pete Incaviglia a bit as a Two True Outcomes player this season, but if you are in desperate need of home runs, Viciedo possesses the kind of explosive upside worth rolling the dice on.
- Y! %18%
- Y! rank 332
This is a story about a man named Jed, Texas tea of the waiver wire
Jed Lowrie (3B/SS) Houston Astros
Yunel Escobar ... Jhonny Peralta ... Alexei Ramirez ... these are players owned in more Yahoo! leagues than Lowrie that shouldn't be. Why wait on those guys, and their modest upside, when Lowrie is getting the job done right now - ranked No. 91 in the Yahoo! game for the past month. In his past 584 major league at bats, Lowrie owns a .267 batting average mark to go with 21 home runs, 74 RBIs and 84 Runs. And you have to like the plate peripherals he's producing this season, as his O-Swing% (15.6) is the lowest in the league among those with at least 140 plate appearances and his BB% (11.1) is the best rate of his career. In other words, he's seeing the ball really well.
- Y! % 46%
- Y! rank 136
- AVG .288
Another Berkman DL stint opens the door for Cards' top power prospect
Matt Adams (1B) St. Louis Cardinals
With a combined 41 home runs and a batting average north of .300 in his past 152 games at the Cardinals' Double- and Triple-A levels, it's fair to say that Adams was due for a call-up. That finally happened over the weekend as the Cardinals have both Allen Craig and Lance Berkman (potential season-ending knee injury) on the DL. Batting in the No. 7 hole on Sunday against the Dodgers, Adams went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his MLB debut. He's a major power prospect that has shown good command of the strike zone at the minor league levels and is looking at steady playing time until at least when Craig returns in early June. It's worth nabbing Adams now and seeing how things play out over the next couple weeks because if he hits consistently out of the gates, the Cardinals will figure out how to give him regular playing time - usually a conveniently timed injury takes care of that concern.
- Y! %11%
- Y! rank 1017
Bull Dozier has the kind of tenacious game that is easy to root for
Brian Dozier (SS) Minnesota Twins
The Twins' 2011 minor league player of the year has definite deep league appeal. His hard-nosed, high-effort, jack-of-all-trades approach has already endeared itself to Twins Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky, who summed up Dozier well in this recent quote: "I love the kid; he's one of those kids you just pull for all the time. He does the right things, he works hard, he says the right things, he's a good leader. He's one of those kids you want in the big leagues because he's going to make your team better." Because he's got good contact skills, a solid eye and a serviceable combination of pop and speed (more speed than power), Dozier fits well in the No. 2 spot in the order where he's resided since the Twins called him up earlier this month. It wouldn't be at all surprising if Dozier settles in there and doesn't look back for a mighty long time.
- Y! %3%
- Y! rank 789
Fantasy sex appeal is long gone, but Soriano still making pop music with his bat
Alfonso Soriano (OF) Chicago Cubs
Following in Raul Ibanez's footsteps, Soriano is this week's old timer contribution to the POW list. After going homerless in the first 30 games of the season, Soriano has three bombs in his past six games. He's also drawn five walks and smacked six doubles in May, contributing to a lofty .931 OPS this month. Soriano says he's finally feeling comfortable playing through his chronic knee pain. For that reason, his speed left the building a long time ago. But this is a player that has 10 straight 20-HR campaigns under his belt, and he finished with 26 home runs and 88 RBIs only a season ago. With an entrenched spot in the middle of the Cubs order, and those warm, windy Wrigley summer days on the horizon, Soriano should be at least serviceable in the roto power categories.
- Y! %32%
- Y! rank 351
Knuckleballer surprising candidate for Mr. Consistency title
R.A. Dickey (SP) New York Mets
If you are avoiding Dickey because of the volatility fear that comes with a knuckleballer, well ... don't. Dickey is on a remarkable run of consistency, as he's produced a Quality Start (at least 6 IP and no more than 3 ER) in 19 of his past 20 starts dating back to last season. And this season, he's cranked up the swing-and-miss meter as his Swinging Strike% is a career-high 9.6% and his K/9 is also higher than ever (7.15). The ERA has been rock solid in his two-plus years with the Mets. And the only thing keeping him from regular employment in standard mixers was his less-than-ideal strikeout numbers. But that hasn't been an issue this season, so there's really no reason to shun Dickey any longer.
- Y! %40%
- Y! rank 157
Thayer has been an underappreciated ninth-inning slayer for Pads
Dale Thayer (RP) San Diego Padres
It defies logic that Thayer is still available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. After all, he's been a top 5 roto closer in the past two weeks, picking up five saves without allowing a run - he has yet to allow a run or walk in 10 IP this season. In fact, Thayer has issued just one walk, compared to 25 strikeouts, in his 36-inning major league career. Pinpoint control and Petco Park are a couple of pretty feathers in Thayer's cap, not to mention that Huston Street is likely still a few weeks away from a return. It's time to wake up and smell the saves, folks.
- Y! %44%
- Y! rank 165
More sub-50 percent owned save targets: Addison Reed, ChW; Scott Downs, LAA; Casey Janssen, Tor; Brian Fuentes, Oak; Rafael Dolis, ChC; Joaquin Benoit, Det
Other Week 8 Pickups: Justin Morneau, Min, 1B; Mitch Moreland, Tex, 1B/OF; Chris Davis, Bal, 1B/3B; Yonder Alonso, SD, 1B; Anthony Rizzo, ChC, 1B; Justin Smoak, Sea, 1B; Sean Rodriguez, TB, 2B/3B/SS; Robert Andino, Bal, 2/3/SS; Andy Dirks, Det, OF; Tony Campana, ChC, OF; Jason Kubel, Ari, OF; Brennan Boesch, Det, OF; Dexter Fowler, Col, OF; David Murphy, Tex, OF; Carlos Quentin, SD, OF; Ryan Doumit, Min, C/OF; Erik Bedard, Pit, SP; Jason Vargas, Sea, SP; Ryan Vogelsong, SF, SP; A.J. Burnett, Pit, SP; Aaron Harang, LAD, SP; Jonny Venters, Atl, RP; Earnesto Frieri, LAA, RP; Pedro Strop, Bal, RP
Anthony Rizzo, 1B (ChC) – Rizzo's reign of PCL terror (league-high 1.106 OPS) is likely to end soon with a promotion to Chicago
Matt Den Dekker, OF (NYM) – Eastern League leader in Total Bases has hit .386 with 2 HR and 5 2B in his past 10 games
Travis d'Arnaud, C (Tor) – Blue Jays top prospect has .379 BA, 5 HRs in past seven games for Triple-A Las Vegas
Kolten Wong, 2B (StL) – 2011 1st-round pick has hit .452 BA with 2 HRs in past seven games for Double-A Springfield
Trevor Bauer, SP (Ari) – Sterling Triple-A debut for Snakes' top pitching prospect - 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
Zack Wheeler, SP (NYM) – Mets top prospect has a 1.82 ERA and 41 Ks in past six outings (34.2 IP)
Danny Hultzen; Taijuan Walker; James Paxton, SP (Sea) – Top three M's prospects have a combined 2.40 ERA, 136 K in 127.2 IP for Double-A Jackson