Did you know that the baseball season is just over 10 percent complete? Great timing for an article covering players who are under 10 percent owned in fantasy leagues. Time flies, and so do the free agents on your waiver wire. In this week’s edition of “Deep Impact”, I’ll be discussing some first basemen that can help you in the near future. As per usual, ownership percentages are taken from ESPN.com, but since every league has different settings, I can’t guarantee every player I suggest will be available in each of your individual leagues. Heeeeere we go!
James Loney, 1B, Rays (1.3% owned): The 10-year veteran has been sidelined for all but one game this season while rehabbing an oblique injury, but is set to return this weekend when Tampa Bay hosts the Blue Jays. It will probably take him a few games to adjust at the plate, but the Rays will immediately plug the lefty back in at first base. Guys like Allan Dykstra (no relation to the car wash proprietor), utility man Logan Forsythe and catcher Rene Rivera (.135, 0 HR, 3 RBI) have held down the fort in Loney’s stead, but as you can see by their stats, the Rays will be excited to have their regular guy back in the fold. Loney isn’t an exciting fantasy player by any means, but he brings consistency to the position, and that’s a great asset in deeper leagues. He lacks home run power, but he’s hit .286 and averaged 80 RBI in the six seasons where he’s managed at least 550 plate appearances. That number should be reachable in 2015.
Scott Van Slyke, 1B/OF, Dodgers (0.4% owned): If you like platooning players, Scott Van Slyke is a great deep-league guy to own, especially in roto formats with limits on games played. Scott is of course the son of former three-time All-Star Andy Van Slyke, and he’s been doing the family proud. Playing primarily vs. LHP, Van Slyke is used in a strict platoon by manager Don Mattingly, and there’s no reason you can’t be doing the same thing too. Most players with so few at bats (17) are tough to own, but when they do the damage he has (1 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 1.289 OPS), being able to throw him in your lineup when there’s a southpaw on the hill could give your fantasy team a secret weapon. This year, Van Slyke has actually hit righties well, with his lone homer and all his RBIs coming against them, but those opportunities will dry up now that Carl Crawford is back in the lineup. His value is derived from his career .888 OPS vs. left-handers, not his recent streak against righties, and that’s something you can take advantage of.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays (0.1% owned): Year after year, Justin Smoak has failed to live up to his post-post-post-post hype status, but just like on the TV show LOST, the “Smoak Monster” keeps reappearing out of nowhere when you least expect it. He has only appeared at 1B so far, but an injury to Dioner Navarro, which manager John Gibbons described as “a nice little tear”, will allow Smoak to pick up more at bats at DH as well. Smoak won’t give you anything in the average or on-base departments, but he hit 54 HR with the Mariners from 2011-2013. No man is an island, it’s a team effort, and if your squad need some power in a pinch, Smoak may be your guy.
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