Assessing value of unselected players
Last week, we discussed players presently in the minor leagues who might aid fantasy owners later this season. Today, we will consider those who are in the majors right now and slipped through draft day unselected in many fantasy leagues.
Some are consistent performers who were undrafted, and others have a shorter tenure in the majors.
Juan Pierre, OF, Marlins. Pierre swiped 37 bags and hit for a .307 average in limited action in 2012. Over the last three years, he has maintained a .284 clip and averaged 44 steals per season. He is on a roster in less than half of all leagues, and he has earned a starting outfield job with the rebuilding Marlins.
Pierre will not hit more than a couple home runs, but he will be a good source of steals, average and even runs scored with steady playing time.
Chris Heisey, OF, Reds. In these geographical parts, it takes little to persuade a fantasy owner to acquire Heisey, a Donegal graduate and Messiah product. Originally slated to be Cincinnati's fourth outfielder, Heisey finds himself in a position to start regularly, after Ryan Ludwick's separated shoulder will shelve him for three months.
While Ludwick recovers, Heisey will see his greatest opportunity for playing time in his four-year major league career. In slightly more than 900 lifetime plate appearances, he has 33 home runs, 102 RBIs and 13 steals. Sustaining that level output for an entire single season yields between 20 and 25 long balls and about 75 runs batted in. A career .259 hitter, Heisey is unlikely to become a must-start fantasy outfielder, yet for leagues that play up to five outfielders, Heisey is on the periphery of reliability.
Jason Vargas, SP, Angels. Vargas impressively and quietly won 14 games for a weak Seattle team in 2012. His ERA is mediocre, though he issues few walks, so his WHIP is generally a benefit to fantasy owners. His initial start with the Angels in 2013 went well, with Vargas surrendering one run in 5.2 innings. On a team as potent as the Angels, Vargas may win 16 to 18 games even if his ERA stays in the neighborhood of 4.00.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros. Anyone who knew that Maxwell led the Astros in home runs in 2012 is (a) a fan of the team, (b) a very close observer of all things baseball or (c) a fantasy owner who had Maxwell on his or her roster and enjoyed his six September home runs down the stretch.
After bouncing around the Washington organization, Maxwell finally saw at-bats every day with Houston at the end of 2012 and hit 18 home runs and stole nine bases. He is a free agent in 75 percent of leagues and, despite a career .219 average, can provide power for a team that needs it.
Craig Gentry, OF, Rangers. Never a full-time player, Gentry has a chance to land the centerfield gig in Texas that was left open with Josh Hamilton's departure to the Angels. Gentry and Leonys Martin are vying for the job, and Gentry is the more adept base stealer of the two. In only 427 at-bats entering 2013, he had 32 steals and a career .281 average. Texas will always be a hitter-friendly stadium, and if Gentry earns the everyday job in center, he could score up to 80 runs to go along with 40 stolen bases. A free agent in nearly every league, Gentry is better for owners to watch and evaluate than to add immediately.
Trevor Rosenthal, RP, Cardinals. Rosenthal caught the attention of fans by striking out 15 of the 30 batters he faced in seven appearances across two rounds of the 2012 National League playoffs. The hard-throwing 22-year-old is currently stuck as a middle reliever; however, closer Jason Motte has an elbow injury that has put him on the disabled list.
The Cardinal bullpen is full of former and potential closers, but Rosenthal's strikeout ability makes him an attractive option for a change in roles at some point this season. St. Louis also has given thought to making Rosenthal a starter. Either a move to the backend of the bullpen or into the rotation would make him a must-have pitcher. He is available in three-fourths of all leagues and is worth monitoring.
Dan Massey's Fantasy Sports appears each Sunday. Email him at email@example.com.