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Setting the Trends: Trolling for diamonds in the rough

Senior Fantasy Writer
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One of the most underrated sections of the CBSSports.com website is the massive "Most Owned" list in the Roster Trends area. The top part is pretty boring -- an assortment of All-Stars and untouchables. But as you go deeper, it gets much more interesting. There are sleepers, closers-in-waiting, and an assortment of players who could see 40 percent boosts in ownership in a week if things break the right way.

But the best part of Most Owned is the section of players owned in 1 percent of all leagues. They're awesome. Do they belong on teams in mixed leagues? Probably not. They may not, in fact, belong on single-league teams. But there's treasure in those one-percenters. Will you feel like the Junk Lady from Labyrinth for sorting through them to look for value? A little bit. But who cares? Dynasty league owners already know about the one percenters, but as owners in deep leagues search for depth, there are a few players in that section who could be worth an add...or at least an add to the Scout Team:

Javier Lopez , RP, SF: can sneak in a few saves before the season is through.
Greg Dobbs , 3B, MIA: has shown some power; will definitely get some at-bats as a pinch hitter. He could also play his way into some third base or outfield starts over the last month and a half.
Steve Pearce , 1B, HOU: has hit .276 since joining Houston. Started four of last seven games for the Astros. His minor league stats suggest he can hit for power if given regular at-bats.
Paul Janish , SS, ATL: playing every day as the starting shortstop for the Braves.

On to the rest of Roster Trends!

Most Added Players (as of 8/23)
Player % increase
1. Brett Anderson, SP, OAK 31
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN 27
3. Hisashi Iwakuma, RP, SEA 21
4. Kris Medlen, RP, ATL 21
5. Garrett Jones, OF, PIT 16
6. Grant Balfour, RP, OAK 15
7. Freddy Garcia, SP, NYY 13
8. Jaime Garcia, SP, STL 13
9. Miguel Gonzalez, RP, BAL 12
10. Ryan Ludwick, OF, CIN 12

Most Added Highlights

Brett Anderson , SP, OAK
Jump in Ownership: 31 percent (from 25 percent to 56)
Reason for the jump: Anderson returned from missing 13 months after Tommy John surgery with a brilliant start against the Twins, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out six.
Why you should join the crowd: Before his injury, Anderson was well on his way to becoming a star in the Oakland rotation, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his first 371 major league innings. But those numbers are a little skewed, considering that, in his final two starts in 2011, before opting for surgery, Anderson gave up 14 runs on 20 hits, while walking five, in 10 1/3 innings. Prior to the two blow-ups last season, he had a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
Devil's Advocate: Beware of the Rust Factor. Before his start on Tuesday, Anderson hadn't pitched in the majors since last June. And while he showed enough promise to make him an add in most leagues, there's always a chance that he has a hiccup before he's fully back to the pitcher he was before. Additionally, Anderson isn't known for striking a lot of batters out, with a career K/9 of 7.0. So if your team is in need of strikeouts, Anderson may not be your best option.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL 49
2. David Murphy, OF, TEX 46
3. Rajai Davis, OF, TOR 40
4. Hisashi Iwakuma, RP, SEA 39
5. Justin Ruggiano, OF, MIA 27

Rajai Davis , OF, TOR
Jump in Ownership: Six percent (from 35 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Davis has been running wild on the base paths. He is now tied with Mike Trout for the MLB lead in steals, with 39.
Why you should join the crowd: Davis' steals are not a fluke. In the last four seasons -- including this one -- he has averaged 41 steals per season. He has also hit for a decent average (.273) in that timeframe, and has a career-high six home runs so far this year.
Devil's Advocate: The Blue Jays -- even after the deadline trade of Travis Snider to the Pirates and Eric Thames to the Mariners -- still have plenty of outfield options. What's scary about this -- at least as far as Davis is concerned -- is that it might be easy for the Blue Jays to spend September giving its younger players (Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose) some time in the outfield, which could have a negative impact on Davis' at-bats.

(Still) Got Melky?
Useful players owned in fewer leagues than Melky Cabrera (59%)
Player % owned
1. Brett Anderson, SP, OAK 57
2. Ross Detwiler, SP, WAS 55
3. Greg Holland, RP, KC 55
4. Russell Martin, C, NYY 53
5. Carlos Marmol, RP, CHC 51

Grant Balfour , RP, OAK
Jump in Ownership: 15 percent (from 32 percent to 47)
Reason for the jump: Balfour has pretty much pushed Ryan Cook out of the way and regained his closer role.
Why you should join the crowd: Look, any closer is a good thing to have this late in the season, especially in Roto leagues, where every save counts. But Balfour has been amazingly effective lately -- since July 1, he has a 0.48 ERA, with 19 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. His last five appearances have all resulted in saves, and he hasn't given up a hit or walked a batter since being handed back the closer's role. Over the last 14 days, Balfour is seventh in points leagues among closers.
Devil's Advocate: Balfour had us convinced earlier this year that he could pitch at this level; from March 28 to April 28, he had a 1.38 ERA and six saves. Also complicating things? The presence of Ryan Cook. For as well as Balfour has been pitching lately, there's still a chance --albeit, a slim one -- that the A's mix in Cook, who has a 2.58 ERA, for a save here or there.

Backstop help
The most-added catchers
Player Percentage increase
1. Wilin Rosario, COL 7
2. John Jaso, SEA 7
3. Ryan Doumit, MIN 4
4. Josh Donaldson, OAK 2
5. Eric Kratz, PHI 1

Billy Hamilton , SS, CIN
Jump in Ownership: Four percent (from 21 percent to 25)
Reason for the jump: Hamilton, currently playing in Double-A, has set the record for most steals in one season, with 148.
Why you should join the crowd: There's no guarantee this will happen, but there is a theory that my colleague, Al Melchior, has presented a few times, where Hamilton could get a September call-up to Cincinnati and serve as mainly a pinch runner (like the Mariners did with a young Chone Figgins). Hamilton could cause a lot of havoc in this role: if he pinch runs 15 times, he could steal 12-15 bases. at the very least, he's a great keeper candidate for dynasty leaguers looking ahead to the future.
Devil's Advocate: There's always a chance that Hamilton could not get called up.

Erik Kratz , C, PHI
Jump in Ownership: One percent (from 5 percent to 6)
Reason for the jump: Kratz is starting for the Phillies in place of the injured Carlos Ruiz.
Why you should join the crowd: Kratz is quietly putting up a really impressive season. Of catchers with 50 or more at-bats, Kratz has the highest OPS (1.091). In his 65 at-bats, he has seven doubles, seven home runs, and a .292 average. He's also scored 10 runs and driven in 16. In 11 minor league seasons, Kratz has five seasons of double-digit home runs (but he did this having reached 400 at-bats just once). And Ruiz, according to the original timetable for his plantar fasciitis, should be sidelined for at least another three weeks.
Devil's Advocate: Kratz has never had a season with an OPS higher than .892. While he has shown flashes of power, his career minor league average is just .258. However, his average has risen in the past four seasons. All of this, however, may be moot once Ruiz comes back-- the catcher took batting practice this week and said he was close to being ready to return.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: David Aardsma to throw bullpen next week for teams
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) Free-agent pitcher David Aardsma will throw a bullpen session for interested teams next week, according to his agent, Jamie Murphy.

"(Aardsma) is looking to showcase added velocity after a change in mechanics and an extremely intense offseason workout regimen," Murphy told FoxSports.com senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal.

Aardsma missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn adductor muscle. He was last with the Mets in 2013 when he posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts.


Orioles' Jonathan Schoop trying to cut weight for upcoming season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop wants to raise the level of his game for the 2015 season. The 22-year-old is hoping to be more mentally and physically prepared for the grind of the 162-game season.

"My weight is lower than last year. I want to have more range and be faster. Trying to steal some more bases and be faster for the team on the bases to help put more pressure on the defense." Schoop said. "I learned a lot from my teammates. They helped me a lot. One year of experience. I'm better than last year. Mentally and physically, everything. My ups and downs helped me a lot to know myself better too."

Schoop, who hit .209 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 2014, is also taking more advice from his teammates about his approach at the plate.

"Be patient. Don't chase too many pitches. Let them throw strikes and swing at strikes. Just have to work on getting better pitches to hit. See how they pitch you. If I can do that, I'll be better," he said. "I worked on everything (this winter). I want to get faster. You have to work on all of it, speed, defense. I want to be a better player than last year."


Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


 
 
 
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