It isn’t often that Dice-K Matsuzaka inspires a fantasy baseball epiphany, but thsi is one such case. On Wednesday, while checking my squad in a 12-team standard roto expert league, I was surprised to see that the Boston starter was sent to the DL. This opened a a roster spot on my team, so I decided to do a little fishing.
Going to the waiver wire, I started noticing name after name that was both intriguing and marked with potential, especially with a long season still ahead of us. I figured that if the following players are still available in a 12-team expert league, there’s a good chance they’re still available in your league, too.
I’m not suggesting you go out and add all these guys to your roster immediately, but as there is an opening or two, and you’re looking for some players with upside, you may want to consider some of these options. If nothing else, every fantasy owner should have these players on their radar …
Elijah Dukes. The Washingon outfielder has been previewed here at chinstrap ninjas before. He has a ton of talent and possibly would have been considered an elite outfielder by now if it wasn’t for a slew of off-field issues. For now, it seems that Dukes is beyond those issues, and is hitting .381 in 21 at-bats, with a home run, five RBI and three runs scored. While there are many players with more home runs and more RBI than Dukes at the moment, he now has an opportunity to take things to the next level. Teammate Lastings Milledge was demoted to the minors, so Dukes will now have a full-time gig. I don’t expect him to look back.
Orlando Hudson. The Dodger second baseman was big news the other night after hitting for the cycle. In fantasy circles, he’s been just as valuable. He currently ranks 14th on the season among all offensive players in fantasy stats. He’s batting .368 with two homers, five RBI, eight runs scored and three stolen bases. Hudson won’t keep up this torrid pace all season — but he is a player who’s hot at the moment, and you could do worse than to ride him while he’s hot — especially at a shallower position like second base.
Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs outfielder first played in the major leagues last year as an import from Japan. He blossomed quickly in the league, only to peter out after the All-Star break. Fukudome brings with him quite a statistical resume from nine seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, along with a high level of performance in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. All that being said, there was no real reason for his statistical decline in the second half of last season. Based on talent alone, Fukudome should be on everyone’s radar, especially looking at his stat line so far this season(another homer and three RBI in today’s game): three home runs, eight RBI, six runs scored and a .375 average through nine games (including today’s loss to the Cardinals). If you do pick up Fukudome, it may be wise to watch for any stat decline as the season wears on.
Elvis Andrus. The rookie Rangers shortstop received much hype this spring, especially when Texas asked gold glove shortstop Michael Young to move to third base to make room for Andrus. The rookie has jumped out of the gates quickly this season — with 10 runs scored in 24 at-bats. He also has a home run and a stolen base to his name — expect the steals to increase as Andrus continues to get his feet wet. Being a rookie, there is a good chance that Andrus will experience at least a few slumps throughout the course of the year, and he could wear down later in the season, but if your team is struggling at shortstop, and needs a boost in runs or steals, Andrus may be a guy you want to target.
Jordan Schafer. Speaking of rookies with upside, Schafer is considered by many to be the real deal, and a darkhorse candidate for NL rookie of the year. The outfielder, coming off a solid spring, jumped into the Atlanta limelight with a .696 slugging percentage, .348 batting average and a pair of home runs in the first week. He has struggled in the most recent series against the Marlins, and we all could see a roller coaster of stats throughout the first half of the season. However, as a player with upside to watch, Jordan Schafer could be a solid pickup in your respective fantasy league sometime this season.
Ken Griffey Jr. Everyone knows the story on Griffey — incredible talent, incredibly bad luck. Griffey’s career has been riddled with injuries and disappointment. However, I personally think he’s in a position where he could sneak up on people. He no longer has the onus of trying to be the best player in baseball. He’s back this year in a place that not only feels really comfortable for him — but a place where the fans adore him. He’s healthy and happy, and over the course of the season, I really think — through more of a gut feeling than anything else — that Griffey could produce some fantasy-worthy statistics. He has two home runs in the first week-plus of action (altohugh both are solo shots). His batting average is below average (.227), but that should improve. I’m not saying he should be picked up right away — but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t owned in 75-percent of leagues (or more) at some point this season (he’s currently owned in just 18 percent of Yahoo leagues).
By the way — I wound up going with Dukes.
Who are you watching on the waiver wires? Think Griffey has anything in the tank? We’d love to hear what you have to say! Respond by clicking the “comments” option below or check out our message board thread on this topic here.