This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston looks at seven intriguing fantasy baseball players still available on the waiver wire in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Cubs clubber packing a powerful punch in September
Anthony Rizzo (1B) Chicago Cubs
Still available in half of Yahoo! leagues, the 23-year-old Rizzo is swinging one of the hottest bats of September, sporting a top 10 OPS mark (1.056) in 14 games this month. Since his callup in late June, Rizzo has been one of the top 13 most valuable 1B-eligible players in fantasy. And Rizzo's schedule sets up nicely the rest of the way, as all of his remaining games are at extremely friendly hitting environments (Wrigley Field, Coors Field and Chase Field).
- Y! %49%
- Y! rank391
- AVG .300
Outside the fantasy radar, Aoki producing consistently strong roto results
Norichika Aoki (OF) Milwaukee Brewers
Sort the Yahoo! fantasy baseball player pool by season-total outfield rankings and Aoki is the first player you'll come across that is available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues (and he can be had in two out of every three leagues). Aoki has played to the level of the top 40 outfielders this season, and he's found his way to this POW space on a few occasions for that reason. He's been consistent on the three-category speed front, delivering solid monthly batting average, runs and stolen base tallies from May to present. And his eight home runs and 42 RBIs is a solid "power" contribution from a "speed" guy.
- Y! %32%
- Y! rank 132
With regular playing time, Mayberry showing strong closing skills once again
John Mayberry (1B/OF) Philadelphia Phillies
Mayberry has more than held his own since he started seeing regular playing time following the deadline deals that sent Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence packing. Since August 1, Mayberry is hitting .303 with six home runs, 21 RBIs and 21 runs in 42 games. Ironically, that's better fantasy value than what Pence and Victorino have delivered since they were dealt. Mayberry has yet to meet a month of September that he hasn't enjoyed in his time in the majors (.320 career batting average), and he's firing on all cylinders down the stretch yet again.
- Y! % 18%
- Y! rank 447
- AVG .260
Rockies hot corner representing that there's some pop to his roto game
Chris Nelson (2B/3B) Colorado Rockies
Nelson hasn't been featured in this space this season because he doesn't bring much power or speed to the table. But, his .348 batting average and No. 43 ranking in Yahoo! fantasy over the past month has finally forced a POW nomination. And, during that span, Nelson has tried to dispel the notion that his power is a non-factor – four home runs in past 21 games. Of course, you can't count on the power supply to continue, but Nelson's .927 OPS in the second half should pique the interest of any deeper league owner in need of a middle infield boost down the stretch.
- Y! % 19%
- Y! rank 471
Strikeout specialist has been Milwaukee's best over past month
Marco Estrada (SP) Milwaukee Brewers
Over the past month, Estrada ranks as the eighth-best starter in the Y! game, with only five other pitchers recording more strikeouts in that span – his 9.43 K/9 rate ranks sixth in MLB among those with at least 100 IP. With upcoming expected starts against two of the NL's worst offenses (Pittsburgh, Houston), Estrada is more than just a streaming consideration over the final weeks of the season.
- Y! %24%
- Y! rank 237
Quality has been Job 1 for rookie control specialist
A.J. Griffin (SP) Oakland A's
The next poor outing for Griffin will be his first as a major leaguer. Of his 11 starts, nine have been Quality Starts. As for his other starts, he left one of those outings after 1.2 scoreless innings because of shoulder tightness and he allowed just one run over 5.1 IP in the other. Griffin has flashed pinpoint control of his fastball, curve and changeup, and all have been highly successful offerings for the A's rookie. If you can still land him in one of the 54 percent of leagues that still don't employ his services, jump at the chance.
- Y! %46%
- Y! rank 129
Twins southpaw has taken the closer role and run with it
Glen Perkins (RP) Minnesota Twins
Perkins returns to the POW list for a second consecutive week as he remains a widely-available closer producing numbers of late that are too good to ignore. Earlier this month, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire named Perkins the team's primary closer, and Perkins has looked the part with zero earned runs allowed, three saves and a win in seven September innings covering six outings. The opposition is hitting just .143 against Perkins since the All-Star break, and he owns a 23:3 K-to-BB ratio in 25.2 IP over that span. Certainly a few saves to go with another 7-10 innings of ridiculously low ratios is something that appeals to many fantasy owners fighting for a title these final weeks of '12.
- Y! %32%
- Y! rank 157