Fantasy Articles

In the bottom fishing column I'll be looking for players with upside who can usually be found either for nothing amidst the free agent pool, or who might acquired cheaply via trade.  Players selected will either have above average upside, or have value that has been overlooked by many players.  I'll throw in some stinkers too, not to mention a few players worth being aware of at the time.

Looking Up

Hisanori Takahashi has started his Mets career on a high note.
Don't look now, but the Mets have a high flying Japanese import who definitely is worth grabbing especially in deeper leagues.  The 9% owned Hisanori Takahashi was up until a week ago a middle reliever with little value, but now thanks to injury Takahashi, who was a top starter in Japan, has been starting again.  Over his first two starts his line is very pretty 12 IP, 0.00 ERA, 11 Ks, one walk and a 0.92 WHIP.  While the odds are he won't maintain this level of dominance, he's stymied two great offenses (the Yankees and Phillies) and has yet to throw against the weak sisters of the NL.  That could lead to some very good numbers down the road.

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (36% owned) is one of the hottest pitchers in the game right now.  He's won his last four starts and in those 30 1/3 innings he's yielded just seven earned runs and dropped his ERA by almost two runs.  Four of his next five matchups look to be favorable ones against weak offenses, after a game with St. Louis he should then see San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland.  That makes him a good addition at least until the final week of June.

Go west and find yourself the 35% owned Ian Kennedy toiling in obscurity in Arizona.  Even with one disastrous start (six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings) early in the season his line reads quite impressively: 63 1/3 innings, 3.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 51 Ks to go along with three wins.  If you discount that one bad start he's got an ERA right around 2.50.

In the junior circuit take a look at the 24% owned Jason Vargas (Seattle) who in eight starts this season has only once yielded more than three runs.  He's got a season ERA of 3.12 and a WHIP of 1.06 to go with three wins and 38 Ks in 58 innings of work.  The only team to hit him hard has been the Rangers so you might want to skip him on those starts.

I hate recommending a pitcher in the AL East, especially when he plays on a stinker of a team, but Kevin Millwood has been outstanding (68 IP, 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 56 Ks, which puts him on a pace for a career high in strikeouts) considering the division he pitches in.  He's just 21% owned and a prime candidate to be traded before the July 31st trading deadline.

On the offensive front there is still a lot of talent available owned in less than 50% of Y! leagues. Heading that list right now is the red hot Dodger Casey Blake (47%) owned who in the last eight games has raised his average 40 points while hitting .385 with three home runs in that span.  He hit .280 with 18 home runs and 79 RBIs last year in just 485 ABs and is on a pace to surpass those numbers across the board.

If you need some runs the 44% owned David Freese (St. Louis) is on a pace to score more than a 100 while hitting for solid average.  He shouldn't be a hard sell so I'll leave it at that.

In the outfield Washington's Josh Willingham (48% owned) is looking like a poor man's Adam Dunn, albeit with a slightly better average.  In the last week he's hit .300 with two home runs and five RBIs and seems to be a lock to park 25-30 in the seats while driving in close to 100.  As a bonus, he seems to be running more in Washington than he has in a long time.  He's already got four stolen bases and could push at least into the low double digits.

Another player coming alive in the past week has been Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (17% owned) who had a so-so week with a line of .353/5/9 in a seven-game span.  The power is real, as is the talent; Encarnacion hit 26 round trippers in 2008 but never seemed to be able to take his game to the next level.  He's in his magical Age 27 year, so taking a big step forward is possible as are 30 plus home runs.  Still he's a .260 career hitter and hasn't hit that well in the last two seasons.

The versatile Braves corner infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske has been a great play over the last few weeks.  He's hitting .361-4-20 in just 36 games this season and has been seeing some regular playing time since Matt Diaz was injured.  He's good for at least another 3-4 weeks and could be a meaningful fantasy contributor.

Down in the bargain basement section the Lastings Milledge (4% owned) watch is still ongoing.  In the last week he's hit .412, and he's raised his average 47 points in the last month.  It could be that he's finally figured something out but this is Milledge, so the buyer better beware, and probably watch another week or two before making a move that likely will earn you the derision of your league maes.

Milton Bradley (4% owned) may not have all the same tools that Milledge does at this point, but looks to be a much smarter play for the moment.  He's taken over the cleanup spot in Seattle and over the past seven days has hit three home runs and driven in 15.  If (and that's a big IF) he's gotten over some of his mental issues he could be one of the best free agents left on the board at this time.