I am a fantasy baseball nerd. I have a work league and two intricately geeky dynasty leagues that would make some of the biggest fantasy dweebs in the world judge me for not having a life. Like most obsessive fantasy players, I am always on the hunt for the next stud before everyone else. Some I swing and miss on (thanks, Trevor Bauer) while others I brag to the high heavens about how much of a guru I am (thanks, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper). This year is no different, here are some guys I think could be a big help to any struggling team looking to come back or established teams looking to continue dominance.
*Note - All percentage owned numbers are based off Yahoo!
Starting Pitcher - Kevin Slowey (Miami Marlins) 22% owned
Okay, calm down. I know many of you saw "Miami Marlins" next to this guy's name and immediately scoffed at the ridiculous idiocy of this article. Well, stop that. Take a look at Slowey's numbers. In seven starts this season, Slowey has 44.2 innings pitched while only yielding three home-runs. His 1.81 ERA is impeccable while his minisule 0.94 WHIP is at a level usually reserved for elite closers. He has 36 strikeouts as compared to only eight walks. Opponents are only batting .213 against him. If you are in a league that values quality starts, of which he has five so far this year over wins (only one because of the ineptitude of the Marlins) then Slowey is someone you should scoop up.
Honorable Mentions - Patrick Corbin (Arizona Diamondbacks) 64% owned, Shelby Miller (St. Louis Cardinals) 83% owned and Jeremy Guthrie (Kansas City Royals) 39% owned.
Closer - Jim Henderson (Milwaukee Brewers) 76% owned.
John Axford was supposed to be the closer in Milwaukee, but the Brewers decided that blowing leads was not a quality becoming of a good closer, so in steps Jim Henderson. The former set-up man has flourished in the role thus far as he has notched six saves in 14 of Milwaukee's wins in 2013. His 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP are fantastic and he has not yet given up a long-ball. Henderson is perfect in save situations so far and with absolutely no competition in the bullpen, he is likely to continue closing games all summer long.
Honorable Mentions - Edward Mujica (St. Louis Cardinals) 73% owned, Casey Janssen (Toronto Blue Jays) 80% owned and Kevin Gregg (Chicago Cubs) 44% owned.
Catcher - Jordan Pacheco (Colorado Rockies) 13% owned.
Pacheco could be a fantasy diamond over the next several months. He has catcher eligibility as well as first base and third. He may frustrate you with sporadic playing time as he has no day-to-day set starting position for the Rockies, but his bat will more than make up for it. Colorado has played 31 games in 2013 and Pacheco has been in 20 of them. He has started five of Colorado's last nine games and will likely see a start every time the Rockies face a left-handed starter. He won't do much in terms of slugging, but his .356 OBP is hard to ignore and .309 average shows that when he does get a chance to play, the guy will hit. Continued production like this will make it impossible for Colorado to let him miss playing any games this summer.
Honorable Mentions - J.P. Arencibia (Toronto Blue Jays) 70% owned, John Buck (New York Mets) 81% owned and Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals) 71% owned.
First Base - Chris Johnson (Atlanta Braves) 46% owned.
I have held off on Johnson for as long as I can this year. The dude can hit. He filled in for an injured Freddie Freeman last month at 1B and with that, the regular 3B now has eligibility there. With Freeman back, Johnson will go back to the hot-corner so he has two positions and I know how much that makes fantasy owners drool. Go snag this guy and enjoy his .337 average and .365 OBP. The pop is lacking with just two home-runs, and be forewarned, Atlanta seems to be toying with the idea of platooning him with Juan Francisco (who is having a more than respectable year in his own right).
Honorable Mentions - James Loney (Tampa Bay Rays) 7% owned, Michael Young (Philadelphia Phillies) 78% owned and Brandon Moss (Oakland Athletics) 58% owned.
Second Base - Howie Kendrick (Los Angeles Angels) 73% owned.
Howie Kendrick is not sexy, but unless you have someone like Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia, there is a decent chance he is putting up better numbers than the guy you have playing for you now. His four dingers this year are more than respectable for a 2B and will likely remain consistent hovering around the .290-.300 range all summer. He may even snag a stolen base here and there as well. If you are sick of someone like Dan Uggla or Rickie Weeks, check to see if Kendrick is available.
Honorable Mentions - Ryan Raburn (Cleveland Indians) 28% owned, Omar Infante (Detroit Tigers) 32% owned and Yuniesky Betancourt (Milwaukee Brewers) 63% owned.
Third Base - Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies) 50% owned.
Take a look at that percentage owned just above. Appreciate it now, because it is going to sky-rocket this month. One of Colorado's top hitting prospects hit the majors less than two weeks ago and has mashed the ball. In just seven games, the 22-year old already has three home-runs and a .323 average to go with a .364 OBP. His mighty 1.041 OPS is a sign of things to come and there is no chance the Rockies, who surprisingly find themselves in the Division race early in the season, send him back down to the minors. Pick up this potential Rookie of the Year now before it is too late.
Honorable Mentions - Josh Donaldson (Oakland Athletics) 55% owned, Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles) 82% owned and Kyle Seager (Seattle Mariners) 82% owned.
Shortstop - Jean Segura (Milwaukee Brewers) 83% owned.
Had I done this article two weeks ago, Segura would have been the poster-boy for it. As it stands, he has continued to put up impressive numbers and his "under the radar" tag is a bit diminished. Regardless, he is still far from a house-hold name and not yet owned in 100% of leagues like most guys who put up the numbers he does. He is tied for the league-lead in stolen bases for SS with eight and hitting a very impressive .333 at the plate with an OBP close to .400. Four home-runs show he has the pop to put up gaudy lines on any given day. Consider this your last chance to pick up this potential All-Star.
Honorable Mentions - Jhonny Peralta (Detroit Tigers) 40% owned, Jed Lowrie (Oakland Athletics) 87% owned and Alcides Escobar (Kansas City Royals) 83% owned.
Outfield - Lorenzo Cain (Kansas City Royals) 55% owned.
Lorenzo Cain had been touted as a potential fantasy stud for years, but he always seemed to come up short. Now the 27-year old outfielder seems like he has finally taken that big step forward into fantasy discussion. His .337 batting average is among the best for all outfielders in baseball and is another guy inching closer to that .400 mark for on-base. He only has four stolen bases compared to being caught stealing three times, but I expect that differential to greatly improve as the season wears on. He has the speed to turn singles into doubles (six of them so far) and doubles into triples (two so far).
Honorable Mention - Marcell Ozuna (Miami Marlins) 15% owned, Torii Hunter (Detroit Tigers) 83% owned and Nate Schierholtz (Chicago Cubs) 14% owned.
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