Most fantasy owners don’t trust rookies and other smaller names to be consistent. They are reluctant to use players who have not established themselves as household names, which can be a big mistake.
Here are five players who are still available in ESPN leagues because of their anonymity, but may not be for long:
[media-credit id=20135 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Nick Hundley C, San Diego Padres: .339 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI (Availability: 51.8 percent of leagues)
Although this will be Hundley’s third major league season, he has never played more than 85 games in a season before. He’ll get a chance this year. Thus far, he has seen the majority of the starts for San Diego and appears to have locked up the starting job. He isn’t likely to hit .340 for the rest of the season, but his average is not as inflated as it might appear. He is also currently sporting a .397 OBP and a .571 slugging percentage, meaning that he is not simply getting lucky hits. He is making solid contact and is getting on base. Once his numbers come back down to earth, he will continue to be a strong play at catcher.
David Freese 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: .333 AVG, 2 HR, 9 RBI (Availability: 30.3 percent)
Freese’s rookie season was cut short due to injury, causing his owners grief because of his productivity. Before he went down, he was sporting a .296 average with 36 RBI through 70 games. This season, he has immediately proven that last season was not a fluke. His average and his .481 slugging percentage are slightly inflated, but his OBP is right where it was last year. Even when his other stats come down, he should still maintain an average around .300 and slug about .400, which any fantasy owner would be delighted with — especially for a player they got off the waiver wire. He does tend to strike out more often than he walks, but you can start him with confidence as long as he continues to get on base.
Kyle McClellan RP, St. Louis Cardinals: 2-0, 1.89 ERA, 1.26 WHIP (Availability: 79.9 percent)
In three starts, he has racked up 13 strikeouts to just six walks and didn’t walk a single batter in his last start. He has also gone at least six innings in all three starts, which means that he is doing a good job of keeping his pitch count relatively low. In his last start, he threw 94 pitches over seven innings to beat the much more well-known Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He has not faced a particularly tough lineup thus far, but his stats — particularly his WHIP — are in line with what they were when he was a reliever. That means that he most likely won’t start giving up a lot of walks and hits each game and will continue to have success as a starter.
Jordan Walden RP, Los Angeles Angels: 0.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 3 SV (Availability: 16.6 percent)
Walden won’t be available for long, but get him if you can. In only his second professional season, he has 10 strikeouts on just four walks and throws in the high 90s. That kind of power and control is a recipe for success in the major leagues, especially for pitchers in the closer role. He has not locked up the job just yet, but it’s his to lose. His only competition is Fernando Rodney, whose control is spotty at best.
Mitch Moreland 1B, Texas Rangers: .313 AVG, .389 OBP, .563 SLG (Availability: 32.4 percent)
Last season, his first in the majors, Moreland showed his power potential after belting nine homers and slugging .469 through 47 games. His slugging percentage has increased this season, suggesting that his power has not left him even though he’s only hit one home run so far. His average has increased significantly from last season, when he hit .255. I’m not saying his average will remain as high as it is, but if he can keep it above .280 he will be one of the top fantasy first basemen. Especially once he starts hitting the ball out of the park more.
Daily Nexus MLB columnist Joshua Greenberg wouldn’t be available in a single fantasy staff writer league, guaranteed.