Here are three players with low ownership rates who could pay immediate dividends in fantasy leagues:
Burke Badenhop, Florida Marlins (owned in 4% of Yahoo! leagues)
Part of the haul received from the Tigers in the Miguel Cabrera trade, Badenhop had a surprisingly effective rookie season in 2009, with both his FIP and xFIP below his 3.75 ERA. Additionally, Badenhop posted a 7.13 K/9 along with a 2.09 GB/FB ratio in 72 IP for the Marlins. In five games so far this year for Florida, Badenhop is bettering all of those marks. He has allowed just 1 ER in 9.2 IP, has 8 SO and a 2.17 GB/FB ratio. He is a late-inning reliever for the Marlins and has already picked up a save this season. Bladenhop should be next in line for Saves should anything happen with Leo Nunez and has the makings of a valuable setup man for owners who like to stock up on non-closers.
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (owned in 8% of Yahoo! leagues)
The eighth player selected in the 2009 Draft, Leake advanced to the majors without pitching a single game in the minors. He did pitch in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.37 ERA with 15 Ks, 3 BB and 20 hits allowed in 20 IP. So far in the majors, Leake has pitched Quality Starts in both of his outings and has an impressive 2.63 ERA. Walks have been a problem (12 in 13.2 IP), but that is not his M.O. In his junior year at Arizona State, Leake issued just 24 BB in 142 IP. Both his FIP and xFIP are significantly higher than his ERA, as Leake has a low BABIP (.265), a high strand rate (82.6%) and has yet to allow a HR. But he has a spot in the rotation and has room to improve with his walk rate. Leake is not overpowering, so do not expect much help in Ks. But he should be able to take the ball every five days and give his team a chance to win. Leake is a mid-rotation (#3/4) starter available on the waiver wire and should be added in most leagues.
Jim Thome, Minnesota Twins (owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues)
The past two years Thome has been a low AVG slugger and things are shaping up the same way in 2010. He sports a .318 ISO, which speaks as much about his SLG (.545) as it does his AVG (.227). Currently, Thome is in a platoon situation, having just 2 PA versus LHP. That is a situation likely to continue the rest of the season, but one not necessarily much of a handicap for a player who will turn 40 later this year. RoS ZiPS projects him to hit 18 more HR this season, a total not many people on the waiver wire can match.
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