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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
Rangers' Alexander Claudio hoping to earn a role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Rangers pitcher Alexander Claudio is hoping to be the team's lefty in the bullpen, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Claudio is one of three lefties in camp competing for the job. He performed well in his first taste of spring training, retiring two lefties during his inning of work. He allowed one hit, and struck out two batters. While Claudio's fastball barely registers on the radar gun, manager Jeff Banister still came away impressed.

"I like the secondary stuff," Banister said. "He's accepted the type of pitcher he is and is willing to be that guy. He’s really intriguing with the kind of deception he brings."

Claudio posted a 2.92 ERA over 12 1/3 innings last season.


Dodgers' Erik Bedard willing to go to Triple-A
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Erik Bedard is willing to go to Triple-A if he doesn't break camp with the major-league club, according to MLB.com.

Bedard allowed one run over two innings in his first taste of spring action on Wednesday. The veteran said he knows that if the Dodgers five starters are healthy, he'll be sent to the minors. "I know where I stand," Bedard said. "The game is still fun. I like to play baseball."

Bedard posted a 4.76 ERA over 75 2/3 innings last season. 


Dodgers' Alex Guerrero willing to play third base
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero has been willing to learn third this spring, according to MLB.com.

Guerrero is in a bit of a unique position. With Howie Kendrick entrenched at second, Guerrero doesn't really have a spot in the team's infield. Due to his contract, however, the team can't just send him to the minors. Guerrero can block the move, and has already said he plans to do so if the team tries to send him down. If he can play third well, that may not be a problem.

For what it's worth, manager Don Mattingly believes Guerrero has looked better this spring. "I really do think the second year [in camp] he looks a lot different as far as being relaxed," Mattingly said. "He's swinging the bat well and he keeps improving."

The 28-year-old hit .333/.371/.621 over three minor-league levels last season. 


Twins' Byron Buxton doubles twice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton doubled twice on Wednesday against the University of Minnesota.

Buxton came into last season ranked as one of the best prospects in the minors. He had injury issues, which ended his season early. While Buxton is still considered the Twins top prospect, he was passed by other players in the overall prospect rankings due to the injuries. 

Buxton seemed to be 100 percent on Wednesday, doubling twice during the contest. He scored one run and drove in one RBI. The 21-year-old should open the season in the minors, but could debut as early as this season depending on his performance. 


Twins' Jose Berrios strikes out four on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins starter Jose Berrios struck out four during his first spring appearance on Wednesday.

Berrios took on the University of Minnesota, and turned in a good showing. While Berrios is a minor-leaguer, he's only 20, and was taking on players his age. Berrios allowed one hit and one unearned run over two innings of work. He struck out four batters.

Berrios is the team's third-best prospect according to Baseball America. He's expected to begin the year in the minors, but could move quickly based on how well he performs. 


Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley makes debut Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley pitched two innings in his spring training debut Wednesday, allowing just one baserunner and recording one strikeout. Shipley admitted he was a bit worried in his first appearance, reports AZCentral.com.

"I was a little nervous going in, but that was expected," Shipley said. "I think it was more excitement for me. That was really fun."

Manager Chip Hale said he expects Shipley to make starts in his next few appearances this spring.


Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson faces batters for first time this spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson was able to face live batters for the first time this spring since recovering from back surgery, the 27-year-old tweeted Wednesday.

Anderson was only able to pitch 43 1/3 innings in 2014 with a 1-3 record and 2.91 ERA after suffering the back injury that cut his season short. 


White Sox SS Tim Anderson looking to become long-term solution
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) White Sox prospect Tim Anderson is on a mission in spring training this year. He wants to prove that he belongs in the majors with the big boys.

"Just show them I can stay at short and my defense has come a long way and it's going to get better," Anderson said. "I want to be a shortstop for a long time. I'm going to be a shortstop. I'm going to work hard to stay there."

Anderson is currently considered Chicago's No. 2 prospect and could be just the prospect the White Sox are looking for. In his 2015 debut, Anderson smacked a two-run single.

"I'm just staying calm and trying not to do too much and just doing what I've been doing to be here," Anderson said. "It has been exciting to get in here and work with all the big leaguers and get my reps in and see how they go in the daily routine."


Reds' Kevin Gregg hoping to win a spot in the bullpen
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Reds pitcher Kevin Gregg is hoping to win a spot in the team's bullpen, according to MLB.com.

Gregg may be 36-years-old, but understands he still needs to prove himself.  "I don't mind coming in and earning a spot," he said. "I'm coming off elbow surgery. At this point in my career, it's something I need to do."

Gregg had bone chips removed from his elbow in August, but was able to hit 92 mph in a showcase in February. He believes his velocity has improved since then.

Manager Bryan Price had good things to say about Gregg thus far. "He looks great. He looks durable," Price said. "He's got hand speed. He's crisp with his location. I've been extremely impressed with Kevin to this point."

The 36-year-old tossed just nine innings in the majors last year.


Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds sidelined with oblique injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday, but was unable to do so while dealing with a sore right oblique, reports MLB.com.

"I'm like, 'I'm in here again, I can't get out of this darn room,'" Reynolds said.

Reynolds missed all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he isn't having any issues with the elbow.

"My elbow feels real good," he said. "It feels strong."


 
 
 
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