It’s already about a third of the way through April 2012 and this fantasy baseball season is turning out to have quite a few game changing players on the DL. These player are expected back this season and if you are either unlucky or smart, you might be one of the teams waiting for more than one of them to get back. Including the players that started the season on the DL Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Chase Utley, Michael Morse, Ryan Howard, Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Drew Storen, Kyle Farnsworth, Andrew Bailey, Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Brian Roberts, Salvador Perez, Zach Britton, Brett Anderson, and Dallas Braden are all worth noting because if they become available they are must stash players. Each and every one of these guys can contribute in a deep league. You must not drop any of these players unless you have another player to add that will stay on your team and be relevant for you all season long. In our weekly waiver wire wiz column I will explore and share the ownership percentages in order to find the most under-owned players in your league. Let’s take a look at what week 4 of your season has to offer you.
Alejandro De Aza OF White Sox: I cannot get enough of De Aza. He is the highest ranked under the radar player on my preseason rankings list. I have gone out on a limb and projected him as the #11 overall outfielder before the season started. I drafted him in every league. Look for your league champion to have some players off of our sleeper lists, De Aza is also our sleeper of the year here at expertfantasyrankings.com. He is hitting leadoff and playing everyday in Chicago. They have plenty of good sticks behind him and he should be a lock for around 100 runs scored, he can hit .295, he can steal 35+ bags, he can hit 15+ hr for you, and still possibly drive in 75 runs at the leadoff spot.. What else could you possibly want out of a guy that you could have drafted in the last rd of your draft? If you don’t make space for him, prepare to lose to the team that does. De Aza is heating up at the plate, get him in your lineup today! He just looks great when you watch him.
Nolan Riemold OF Orioles: My 27th ranked overall OF in our season rankings this year, Riemold is not letting me down. Another player I drafted in almost every league, he is on fire right now. Rightfully so, Riemold is one of the most added players this week. Get him now because we have been saying all along that it was going to last this season. Nolan is a great breakout candidate and Showalter seems to really know what to do with him. He looks good at the leadoff spot and will look even better in the 3 hole should he continue his hitting and Roberts comes back. Nolan has 20-20 potential and actually seems to have the power for 30 hr if he gets 600 total plate appearances. Don’t let him be available in your league for another second, take a break and go get him.
Angel Pagan OF Giants: Pagan is our 19th overall OF in our rankings for 2012. He is batting leadoff and has the potential for a .280 line with 40+ SB, and 85 runs scored this season. The gaps at San Francisco line up well with his swing and he is due for a nice amount of triples this season. Look for a nice increase extra base hits with a season of full time ab ahead of him. Pagan should be owned and started in 100% of the leagues. So check extra carefully for him or maybe even go get him in a trade based on my recommendation.
Alex Pressley OF Pirates: Alex is the leadoff hitter in Pittsburgh. In 2010 something clicked for Pressley and now he is a pleasant surprise. He has a great approach at the plate and is able to get his barrel on just about anything close. In just over half a season worth of ab, he hit .333 with 8 hr and 22 sb in AAA. In a mid-season call up to the Pirates, he played great until an injury ruined his progress. He will hit close to .300 this year, score close to 100 runs, steal more than 30 bases, and he should be starting for you right now. He is available in 69% of fantasy baseball leagues today and I start him with confidence. A real Roto league gem.
Bryan LaHair 1B Cubs: When Anthony Rizzo was traded to Chicago this offseason, everyone totally forgot about LaHair’s AAA MVP season. What a beautiful smokescreen for fantasy baseball. Last season LaHair had just over 500 ab for Iowa. In those 500 ab he had eye popping numbers. He hit .330, had 38 hr, scored 91 runs, drove in 109 rbi, and had a .665 slugging percentage! This performance was enough to replace gold glove 1B Carlos Pena. Your guess is as good as mine as to how well this young man will do this season, but I am buying now. He has had some tightness in his back that has helped keep him available this long in your league. He could put up monster numbers if it translates…LaHair is off to a great start hitting 2 doubles in his first game back and a home run the next day. He is also batting in the middle of the lineup.
Chris Ianetta C Angels: Ianetta is our 12th ranked catcher this season and that makes him a must start in a twelve team league. I am not sure why he is so under-owned. In a league where on base percentage is a category, you get to add extra value to him. He has a really patient approach at the plate which leads to a high walk rate. He looks locked in at the plate this season and if he hits over .250 expect him to also hit over 20 HR. That is nice production from a catcher. Especially when he has an on base percentage usually over 100 points higher than his batting average.
Jose Altuve 2B Astros: Mighty Mouse sure is mighty. Last season in the minors Altuve proved to have a great understanding of his tiny strike zone. The 5’5? 2B can certainly hold his own in the majors. Altuve was a bit overlooked by yours truly this season, and that being said I am not sure I trust him to continue his great production. Altuve had an OPS over 1.000 last year in the minors. He won’t have that kind of success this season but a good enough player to at least play when he is hot and keep as a backup when he is not.
Mike Aviles SS Red Sox: Aviles is now the leadoff batter in Boston. They like him in Boston, something that couldn’t really be said about Kansas City. He is playing with a ton of energy and it seems like as long as they are good with his glove at SS he could be a nice replacement for Scutaro. Mike has a really nice bat and could easily hit .300 any season. He could even surprise and hit more than his fair share of HR this season. The green monster does some nice things to guys that have high fly ball warning track power. He and Cody Ross both fit that category well. Go ahead and grab either player and hope that what I’m suggesting is true.
Brian Roberts 2B Orioles: As recently as preseason 2010, Brian Roberts was once a lock as a top 4 2B. He still could provide fantastic production if he ever gets over this concussion problem. They are easing him back into the swing of things and he is feeling more normal every week. As of now he is taking batting practice with the team, doing fielding drills, running the bases, and mentoring the team on the art of stealing bases. He is targeting a late May return and if that happens you better make sure you stash him. He bats leadoff and he is very fast. He is a very good base stealer. If he makes it back, you should play him. If you can, stash him.
A.J. Pierzynski C White Sox: A.J. has gone streaking. Man he is on fire right now. He is our 20th ranked catcher this season but if he can even hit 12 more HR this season he will easily climb into the top 14 C. A.J. is a must start in all formats right now. His ceiling is probably about 18 HR and that is not too shabby. What has gotten into him? Perhaps its Ventura’s presence in the clubhouse. He is swinging like Barry Bonds right now..
Lorenzo Cain CF Royals: Cain is a rising star in Kansas City and is very much a 5 tool player as a rookie. He is a rock solid fielder with excellent range in CF. He is in no danger of losing playing time anytime soon. If you don’t know what to expect from the guy, I expect him to hit around .290, score 80 runs, drive in 70 rbi, steal around 20 bases, and hit around 20 home runs.. I know it is a slim chance that he is available, but if he is still out there grab him up and start him day 1. Cain is off to a slow start, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing him. He actually lost 9% ownership since last week due to a very mild groin strain. He is on the 15 day DL but they are hoping he doesn’t miss any more time.
Yonder Alonso 1B Padres: Alonso could be the long term replacement to Gonzo. The organization is so high on him that they traded super prospect Anthony Rizzo in order to clear the path for Yonder. Although San Diego is a huge pitchers park, Like Gonzo, Alonso has amazing gap power and can hit for a very high average in a park like that. Look for Alonso to solidify himself as a must start fantasy player very soon. It is a shame that he is still available in 39% of leagues. I project him out to hit 285, have 20-25 hr, drive in 90 runs, score 80 runs, and be a mainstay at 1b and hit cleanup for the Padres by the end of the year. Don’t be afraid to start him in your OF for now. Alonso is not going to provide you with huge power numbers but he should be a lock for a high batting average. Off to a slow start, grab him while you can.
Marco Scutaro SS Rockies: Scutaro is way too solid to be unowned in any league. He is the leadoff hitter in Colorado people. In his last four years he has hit between .275 and .299. Marco is realistically a 10/10 guy that will have a OBP of .340 or more this year. He will get back to his days of scoring 90+ runs this season and should be starting at MI for you, or your top backup 2B/SS. Feel free to plug him in at U if you are having injury problems, he won’t hurt you in any category. His ownership will raise and hopefully it is because you read this.
Dayan Viciedo OF White Sox: Last year at this time Viciedo was on everyone’s preseason radar. He played very well in a late 2010 call up and most everyone felt that he deserved a shot in Chicago’s lineup. Dunn, Rios, and Pierre struggled so badly that the manager was constantly deflecting questions surrounding the arrival of Viciedo. His time did come and he pretty much disappointed. He hit .255 with a .314 slugging percentage. That was enough for him to go largely undrafted in 2012 despite an everyday role in the OF. I’m not sure if we can expect his 2010 stats (.308 BA, .519 SLG) to translate into a full season of ab, but it may be safe to hedge a bet that he will hit over .285, hit over 20 hr, drive in more than 80 rbi, and slug much better than .314. I suggest grabbing him and starting him with confidence. Viciedo is off to a good start and will be the regular LF in Chicago this season.
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