10 under-owned hitters with keeper potential

For those teams that have begun building for 2013, now is the time to scour your league for potential upgrades to your keeper list. Given that the competing teams in your league may not be willing to trade more than minor leaguers at this point since they want to build on their core group, not take it apart, here is a list of players owned in small percentages of Yahoo leagues (as of Thursday, May 31) who could be keepers by year’s end.

And if these guys are already owned in your league, they may be ones you can actually get in a trade. Below is a list of 10 hitters to target for your rebuilding project, along with age and the percent of Yahoo! leagues they are owned in.

Player Pos. Team Age % Owned Comment
Craig Gentry OF Texas 28 1% Gentry doesn’t have a path to full time playing time, yet, but when you are behind Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz on the depth chart, that could change rather quickly. The thing that makes Gentry attractive is he has 7 SB and a .353 OBP in only 78 AB this year and 18 SB in 133 AB last year. With full time PT, Gentry could be a top SB source in the AL and could almost win you the SB category by himself.
Ben Revere OF Minnesota 24 3% Younger and possessing the PT Gentry doesn’t, Revere has shown his SB potential already in the majors. He’s stolen only 4 bases in 63 AB this year but part of his problem (and widespread availability) was he was sent to the minors early on when he struggled out of the gate. Now that he’s back, the BA is over .300 and his 4 steals have come since his return. It’s time to pick Revere up before other owners realize he’s returned and running.
Devin Mesoraco C Cincinnati 23 4% Many of the players on this list were young players carrying a lot of hype in the preseason and they have now been dropped because they were slow to start. This classic keeper league mistake is perfect for rebuilders as it allows you to nab top talents for almost nothing. Now, it’s possible Mesoraco is sitting on reserve rosters in many leagues but his poor start does present a buying opportunity. Ignore for a minute the .209 BA and only 67 AB Mesoraco has amassed and look instead at the 3 HR, 13% BB% and 19% K% – all great numbers for a rookie to build on. The main sources of Mesoraco’s struggles are a BABIP in the .220 range and a poor May. Mesoraco has always been a player that needs time to adjust and once he does, he will be one of those backstops you won’t mind using a keeper spot on.
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B Cleveland 23 4% An early season injury in the minors is the biggest reason Chisenhall is owned in so few leagues but given all of the injuries at 3B and the lack of suitable replacement options, Chisenhall’s numbers will skyrocket once he gets going. He still has some work to do before he can secure a full time spot in the majors but if he does it will sitting on your bench, you’ll have a great option at the hot corner for next year.
Victor Martinez C/DH Detroit 33 6% Normally a 33-year-old part time C that is likely to miss the entire season isn’t that attractive of a target but if you’re rebuilding and want a player you can flip for something that fits your team better, no one will get you a better return than VMart. Who knows if he’ll come back this year (it doesn’t really matter), but next year could be huge if he, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder get off to a hot start, which should allow you to gain a significant return on your investment. He may have to clog a DL slot all year but does it really hurt you that much?
Wilin Rosario C Colorado 23 7% Like Gentry, Rosario’s contribution to your team is clear given that he has 7 HR in his first 92 AB. The BA and OBP are horrible but as he adjusts to the majors he should hopefully get to a point where he’s not dragging your numbers (counting and average) down. It’s hard to find C’s that have useful skills but Rosario will be that type, and that makes him worth holding on to if you have a deep keeper roster.
Justin Smoak 1B Seattle 25 14% He still hasn’t quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was drafted but these last couple of weeks have renewed the hope of his owners. The best news is that despite his tear he is still owned in only 14% of leagues, meaning you could possibly pick up your 1B of the future for a waiver claim/free agent pickup/small FAAB bid. And if Smoak is owned in your league, now may be the time to get his owner to sell as he’s probably waiting for another drop in production. Buy high here because Smoak is just as likely to improve as he is to fall back again.
Brandon Belt 1B San Francisco 24 17% If Belt needs someone to commiserate with, he should go talk to Xavier Nady about Bruce Bochy’s track record with rookies. Belt’s skills are all over the board once again this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of that had to do with going in and out of the starting lineup so much. Current Pros: .53 OBP, 16% BB% and 2 SB. Current Cons: .230 BA, 0 HR, 32% K% and a BABIP around .340. Hopefully Belt will be able to earn the time he needs to adjust because the plate discipline is there, he just needs to see opposing pitchers enough that he can catch up to them.
Denard Span OF Minnesota 28 21% Entering his prime statistical years, Span is one of those under-the-radar types that is consistently undervalued in fantasy leagues.  Injuries have hampered him quite a bit the last couple of seasons but now that he’s been on the field this year, he’s been good (.302/.365/.402 with 23 R, 12 RBI and 6 SB). Span is not a guy to anchor your OF with but with great speed and BA he is a player that allows you to take on a low BA sluggers and absorb the blow. As long as he stays on the field the production will be there and like VMart, he could net valuable resources in a trade to a contender in a couple of months.
Dexter Fowler OF Colorado 26 53% Fowler is owned in more than half of Yahoo! leagues, but that still leaves him available in far too many. After years of showcasing his speed and defense, Fowler is starting to add power to his game, especially when he plays at his Coors Field. Fowler has always done a great job of talking a walk and if his BA stays in the .280 range, he could get on base enough to make 50+ SB a reality. Now, it’s likely that Fowler is owned in your league and if that’s the case, go get him. His slow start likely makes him available for a little while longer and if he really is ready to take the next step, he could end up being the best player on this entire list.

I hope this list helps rebuilders identify some hitters that can improve your keeper list for 2013. We’ll do this exercise early next week with pitchers.

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About Jim Higgins

Jim grew up in San Diego the son of a Washington, D.C. native so naturally he roots for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Padres. After seeing his favorite teams win a couple of titles early in his life, he has spent the last 20 years wondering if his teams will ever amount to anything again. At least he has multiple fantasy baseball and football titles to soften the blow.

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