Here are three players with low ownership rates who could pay immediate dividends in fantasy leagues:
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays (owned in 17% of Yahoo! leagues)
Before the start of the season, Fans projected Davis to notch 11 Wins, a 3.93 ERA and 149 Ks. Last year John Lackey had 11 Wins, a 3.83 ERA and 139 Ks, and that was good enough to earn him a 5-year, $82.5 million contract and a 93% roster rate in Yahoo!
Davis got off to a rough start, as he allowed 7 H and 4 ER in 6 IP against the Yankees in his 2010 season debut. But his velocity was good, his mix of pitches was very similar to last season and his batted ball profile was right in line with his 2009 results, too. The one thing that stands out was that Davis had 4 BB and 3 Ks. Last year he had a 2.77 K/BB ratio. But it was the Yankees he was facing, a team known for its plate discipline.
The three previous years, Davis has earned a mid-season promotion each year. In 2007, he split time between Hi-A and Double-A. In 2008 it was Double-A and Triple-A while last year it was Triple-A and the majors. Davis was 16-9 with a 3.55 ERA in Double-A and 14-10 with a 3.23 ERA in Triple-A.
This is one of the top young pitchers in the game. Do not let one disappointing start against the Yankees cloud what he has done the past two years and what everyone projected him to do coming into the season. Davis remains a pitcher who should give a league average ERA with the chance to hit double-digit Wins and a K/9 rate around 7.
Jason Hammel, Colorado Rockies (owned in 4% of Yahoo! leagues)
Crowded out in Tampa Bay, Hammel was picked up by the Rockies last year in exchange for Aneury Rodriguez and turned in a 10-win season. The key for Hammel last year was that he had a sparkling 3.17 K/BB ratio, which tied with Johan Santana for the 23rd-best mark in baseball. This led to a FIP (3.71) and an xFIP (3.81) lower than his ERA (4.33), even with a below-average HR/FB rate.
Can Hammel keep his BB/9 rate near last year’s 2.14 mark? Probably not, but Hammel showed good control in the minors, with a lifetime 2.8 BB/9 in six seasons, so his command should still be an asset. Along with his command, Hammel gets a decent number of ground balls and has a 6.38 K/9 lifetime in the majors.
At the very least, Hammel is a guy to target for his road starts. Last year he had a 5.73 ERA in Coors and a 3.13 ERA on the road. He allowed 12 HR at home and only 5 on the road. His first start in 2010 came at home, where he allowed 4 ER in 7 IP for a 5.14 ERA.
Chris Snyder, Arizona Diamondbacks (owned in 3 % of Yahoo! leagues)
The mad dash should be on to acquire Snyder, who takes over for the injured Miguel Montero as the starting catcher. Snyder has some injury problems of his own, after undergoing back surgery last year. But when healthy, Snyder offers the promise of good power from the catching position. He hit 13 HR in 326 ABs in 2007 and 16 HR in 334 ABs in 2008.
Unfortunately, along with that power comes some low AVG. He has a lifetime .234 mark in the majors. And as you might imagine, Snyder offers nothing in terms of SB, as he has yet to record his first steal. But with the starting job his for at least the next month, Snyder immediately becomes an attractive option. Montero has a torn meniscus, which has a recovery time of at least four weeks. And if they find ligament damage when he undergoes surgery, he could miss the remainder of the season.