Consider this second half a new dawn; don’t forget your first half, but build off it and grow out of it. Play aggressively, take risks, and stay as many steps ahead as you can. I’m going to attempt to sift through speculation, rumor, and unstable depth charts to give you a handful of options to help you make the most of the last several months. A hundred words or less for the next handful of names, some new, some old, but all uniquely useful, I think. You ready?
Josh Rutledge | Rockies | SS | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .300 / .348 / .500
Oliver ROS: .282 / .316 / .422 (2012 forecast)
Troy Tulowitzki is injured, Marco Scutaro is on his way out of town, and a Double-A player was summoned to lighten the load. So why am I recommending him? He hit .348 in High-A ball (albeit as a 22-year old) last season, and held his own this year in Double-A with a .303 batting average, all while flashing plus speed and pop. Oliver projects double digits in the steal and home run departments with an above-.280 batting average to boot. It’s too early to call him a rich man’s Scutaro, but he could well be in his rookie season.
Will Venable | Padres | OF | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .245 / .319 / .406
Oliver ROS: .245 / .319 / .406
Venable isn’t even an everyday starter, but has remained fantasy relevant (to an extent) for years because of his plus-plus speed and here-and-there displays of power. Surprisingly, here and there hasn’t just been away from PETCO Park, as he’s hit an equal 17 homers in both PETCO and away parks over the last three years (a total of about 1,000 at-bats). He’s stolen 61 bases at a prime rate, and though he can’t hit lefties, he certainly could end up in a hitter’s park at the deadline. Should he, he might find himself a candidate for a 10/10 second half.
Ramon Hernandez | Rockies | C | 4 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .196 / .237 / .355
Oliver ROS: .281 / .339 / .430
So it didn’t go exactly how I wrote it up. “Hernandez may be the best dollar catcher you can find (we’ll call the 26th round equivalent to the dollar-player point in auctions), providing home run value without low batting average. “ Funny how it works—nice offensive catcher struggles mightily in the hitter’s park of all hitter’s parks—but we can blame the ugly .592 OPS on a whole lot of bad luck and injuries, mostly. He’s not an every-day guy anymore, but he can still hit .280 with power in the waning months.
Adam Eaton | Diamondbacks | OF | N/A in Yahoo leagues| 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .300 / .348 / .500
Oliver ROS: .282 / .316 / .422 (2012 forecast)
Farm-system standout Adam Eaton started getting major press with the Justin Upton sweepstakes, as there was some speculation that the Diamondbacks would call him up and give him some burn as their season slips away. And why not? Oliver pins him as a ~4.0 win player for the next six years, with an above-average bat and glove. Most impressive are his speed totals—he’s an efficient base stealer, having swiped 28 of 34 in Triple-A Reno, and has posted a .319/.391/.435 Major League Equivalent in the hitter’s league of the minors. He’s knock knock knockin’ on Arizona’s door.
Domonic Brown | Phillies | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .281 / .328 / .427 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: .267 / .334 / .436
It’s easy to label Brown a flameout or flop after a rough double-dip at the major league level. His early defensive returns were atrocious—he lost nearly 11 runs in 91 games per UZR—and he put together a sub-.700 OPS without the power and speed so raved about in the scouting reports. And Triple-A hasn’t welcomed him back this year, as he’s put up a below-average offensive performance in his third go-round at Lehigh Valley. So to everyone, it seems as plain as the sky above; Brown needs a change of scenery. If so, he’s a go.
Jedd Gyorko | Padres | 2B or 3B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .346 / .391 / .615 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: Not applicable.
Gyorko (n.) 1. A shorty, stocky, slow righty who excels at generating power and taking a walk. 2. A top prospect in the Padres system who struggled with generic stats (.262 batting average, six homers) in the Double-A Southern League (a pitcher’s league) and killed it, thus far (1.000+ OPS), in his Triple-A run in the Pacific Coast League (a hitter’s league). 3. A converted third baseman who may be summoned to replace current Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who perhaps will be traded at the July 31 deadline.
Wilton Lopez | Astros | RP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 2.30 ERA / 0.96 WHIP / 7.1 K/9
Oliver ROS: 3.46 ERA / 1.16 WHIP / 6.5 K/9
Lopez regularly posts ridiculous groundball rates and couples it with sparkling 7.00 strikeout to walk ratio this season (three better than his career mark). So, in other words, he possesses the goods to close. Guys like him need to be owned for their prime ratio stats and be held, in tough times, for their save potential—Brett Myers will be shipped out of Houston if it’s the last thing he ever does, and Brandon Lyon, however good he’s been this year, isn’t half the pitcher Wilton Lopez is. He’ll get the opportunity if you’re patient, I speculate.
Christian Friedrich | Rockies | SP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 5.70 ERA / 1.54 WHIP / 8.6 K/9
Oliver ROS: 5.81 ERA / 1.60 WHIP / 6.9 K/9
If Friedrich belonged to another organization—say, the Padres—he’d be a gem. Alas, he does not, and alas, he is not—at least not to fantasy owners. But away from Coors Field, he is employable, as he’s the owner of a 3.79 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, a robust 8.93 strikeouts per nine innings and a 3.56 FIP. In other words, he’s nearly mixed league worthy and a bit unlucky with balls in play. I’ve been pushing him as a platoon-play for weeks now, and the time is as prime as it’ll ever be to pick him up.
Luke Gregerson | Padres | RP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 3.32 ERA / 1.15 WHIP / 10.0 K/9
Oliver ROS: 3.25 / 1.14 WHIP / 8.6 K/9
Recent rumor out of San Diego is that Huston Street may be tendered a multi-year contract to close for the Friars. It is now, if it was ever not, commonplace wisdom that it’s usually unwise to offer up multi-year deals to relievers, especially those of the brittle variety like Street. But a 1.33 FIP can be tempting, and Street is a good match for a huge park. So the Gregerson recommendation that once seemed natural and somewhat imminent should be taken with a grain of salt. But should the Padres balk from a Street extension, Gregerson, not Dale Thayer, is the man to own.
Todd Frazier | Reds | 3B | 7 percent Yahoo ownership | 4.6 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .277 / .343 / .554
Oliver ROS: .249 / .312 / .460
Please, oh please, pick up Todd Frazier on my third or fourth recommendation (if you haven’t already). He’s going to get a hefty dose of playing time between Joey Votto’s freak injury and Scott Rolen’s various non-freak injuries, and he has very legitimate power in a very legitimately power-friendly home park. He’s a true asset who isn’t being utilized in nearly as many leagues as he should, and could be the second-half Waiver Wire MVP.