This is the weekly Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld Baseball in on a quick staff discussion. It’s water cooler talk … that we’ve decided to publish. Look for it every Tuesday.
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Dave Shovein: Now 12 weeks into the season, fantasy owners in roto leagues have a much clearer picture of their categorical strengths and deficiencies. Let’s take a look at some under-owned players available on many waiver wires who have some warts but may offer the huge boost needed in particular categories.
Ryan Boyer: How about Justin Bour as an underrated, under-owned source of power? The 28-year-old is currently owned in just 34 percent of Yahoo leagues even though he’s been a top-15 fantasy first baseman, out-producing household names like Jose Abreu and Adrian Gonzalez. Bour is ideally a guy to have in a daily transaction league where you can swap him out when the Marlins are facing a lefty, as he’s been helpless against them in his career with a .564 OPS and zero homers. However, even in a weekly league he’s going to give you nice totals in the end. Bour has slugged 37 dingers over 672 plate appearances since the beginning of last season. Not bad for a guy the Marlins scooped up in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft a couple years ago.
D.J. Short: How is Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis still available in over 60 percent of Yahoo leagues? Sure, he got off to a slow start after making his return from shoulder surgery last month, but he’s hitting .435 (20-for-46) with four homers and five doubles over his last 12 games. He has batted either first or second in five out of the last six games, which is a good place to be in this lineup and home stadium. Travis batted .304 with eight homers and an .859 OPS in 62 games as a rookie last season before a nagging shoulder injury got in the way, so there’s plenty of reason to get back on board in mixed leagues.
Dave Shovein: I’m somewhat baffled to see that Marcus Semien is only 40% owned in Yahoo leagues at this point. He provides a ton of thump (15 homers) from a shortstop or middle infield position that is usually devoid of power. And it isn’t just empty power with Semien. Sure, the batting average won’t be quite where you want it to be (.248 currently), but it isn’t a total drain either, and he’s providing relatively solid counting stats (33 runs and 39 RBI) while chipping in a fair amount of speed as well with five swipes on the season. If fantasy owners are looking to gain ground in home runs, he seems like an excellent addition.
Leonys Martin is another guy who should be utilized at a much higher rate but is still available in over 70% of all Yahoo leagues. He has already surpassed his career best with 11 long balls in only 205 at-bats and has ascended to the top of the Mariners lineup when facing right-handed pitching. Where Martin really provides a boost though is with his legs. The 28-year-old has already amassed nine stolen bases on the season, and with a pair of 30-steal seasons already under his belt he has shown the upside that we’re looking for.
Matthew Pouliot: Pedro Alvarez is hitting .315 with six homers this month, he’s regained eligibility at third base and he’s owned in just eight percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment. His overall value is limited by his platoon role, but while that costs him the occasional homer, it also means that he’s less damaging to a fantasy team’s batting average. Now that he’s gotten accustomed to the American League and Camden Yards, he could be good for 15-18 homers during the final three months.
Nathan Grimm: Touting Ben Revere as an under-owned source of steals sounds asinine, but the guy is currently owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues. I know he got off to a slow start — he’s still only hitting .220 with a .549 OPS — but he has eight steals in his last 10 games while hitting a respectable .267 in that span. Part of that low batting average is a .237 BABIP that can’t possibly stick; he has a .319 BABIP for his career, and players who rely on speed often have higher BABIPs than their counterparts as a general rule. Couple that with the fact that Revere is basically on par with his career walk and strikeout rates, and it’s clear that he was a victim of some bad luck in the early going. He’s annually one of the best sources of steals, an increasingly difficult category to come by, and he’s still hitting atop one of the best lineups in the National League. The hate has officially gone too far.