Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where Can I Find: Home Runs

If you're in a standard 5x5 Rotisserie league, you need to do all you can to not fall too far behind in any one category. A common belief is that you should shoot for no worse than fourth place in any category to keep yourself in the running to win your league.

With that in mind, here are some players that are available in a large percentage of ESPN and/or Yahoo! leagues who could help you make up some ground in the Home Runs category. Be very aware, though, of the reasons why these players are sitting out there on waivers.
  • OF Matt Joyce, TB has three home runs and is slugging .739 in May and now leads the AL in batting with a .356 average. ESPN owners are catching on as he's now owned in 72.1% of leagues but how is he still just 30% owned on Yahoo!? Make no assumptions. Check your waivers now to see if he's somehow available.
  • C Jorge Posada, NYY is tied for the major league-lead in home runs (6) for catcher-eligible players. His .147 batting average (15/102) has everything to do with the fact that he's only owned in 42.5% of ESPN leagues and 63% of Yahoo! leagues (and dropping). At this point, he should only be owned in two-catcher leagues with 12 or more teams, as he's currently the 25th-ranked catcher on ESPN's Player Rater. But if you are desperate for home runs, he may be worth rostering and only playing on days when he has a history of success against opposing pitchers until he heats up. That's assuming he ever does.
  • C Rod Barajas, LAD is also tied for the major league-lead in home runs (6) for catchers and gets the majority of starts for the Dodgers. His .236 batting average is going to do more damage than good to a competitive team, but he deserves to be owned in more than 1.9% of ESPN leagues and 9% of Yahoo! leagues. He's averaged 20 HR/162 games over his career. Spot starting verses a left-handed starter would be ideal. He's hitting .357 vs LHP compared to .192 vs RHP this season.
  • OF Jonny Gomes, CIN has six home runs, 17 RBI, 18 runs scored and five stolen bases. Surely those numbers deserve to be owned in more than 31.9% of ESPN leagues and 34% of Yahoo! leagues, right? Wrong. His .192 batting average, 32.7 K% and a loss of playing time are why he's being dropped in huge chunks of leagues right now. He hit five of his six homers during a seven game span, so he may be worth picking up the next time he hits a home run and home he goes on a binge.
  • OF Josh Willingham, OAK leads the A's in home runs (6) and RBI (22) but also in strikeouts (37). His .229 batting average is nothing to write home about, either. As long as the entire Oakland offense continues to struggle, his ownership numbers will remain low (10.5% ESPN; 16% Y!). On a positive note, he's still projecting to hit 20+ HR with 90+ RBI.
  • 1B/OF Luke Scott, BAL is known to be a streaky home run hitter, so the time to grab him is when he's going through a dry spell. All six of his home runs this season came within a 16-game period (14 games played). His .263 average won't kill your team and he should be benched against LHP (2/23; .087 BA). Owned in 51.9% of ESPN leagues and just 39% of Yahoo! leagues, Scott could be the most widely available 30-HR potential player out there.
  • 1B Mark Trumbo, LAA has a nice .270/14/6/17/2 line but was losing playing time to an overly crowded Angels' infield. Vernon Wells' injury has opened up some more opportunities to get Trumbo's bat into the lineup and he should continue to produce. At his current pace, he's projected to hit 26 HR for the season. His 16.5% ESPN and 16% Yahoo! ownership rates make him a widely available target, especially in leagues using a CI, IF or multiple DH/UTL roster positions.
  • SS Alex Gonzalez, ATL is the 14th-ranked shortstop on ESPN's Player Rater, so I'm thinking his ownership numbers should be a bit higher than 41.8% on ESPN and 37% on Yahoo!, especially with a decent .252/20/5/16/0 from a thin shortstop position that's on pace to produce 22 HR, 70 RBI and 88 Runs.
Six weeks into the season may be time to start evaluating when to give up on some players. Swallow leaguers probably have the most flexibility to cut an under-performing player because they have the deepest waivers. Deep mixed or AL/NL Only leaguers have to be looking for incremental changes on a weekly basis to make up points. There's no time to sit back and continue to wait if you've fallen to the middle or the back of the pack. 

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