Here are three players with low ownership rates who could pay immediate dividends in fantasy leagues:
Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants (owned in 9% of Yahoo! leagues)
Last year Bumgarner had velocity issues, with reports of his fastball topping out in the mid-80s. In his two starts in the majors this year, he has averaged 90.3, which is still not the mid-90s he was alleged to have thrown 2-3 years ago, but still a step in the right direction. Bumgarner was 7-1 at Triple-A Fresno, boosted in large part by allowing just 5 HR in 82.2 IP. He has not been so lucky with the gopher ball in the majors, as he has a 16.7 HR/FB ratio in his two starts with the Giants. But Bumgarner survived a rough debut, having to face the Red Sox and a road start in Colorado. He gave the club innings and fantasy owners a nice WHIP (1.14) and a decent K/9 of 6.43. Bumgarner’s xFIP is 3.89 and if he can give fantasy players that ERA the rest of the way, he will be a nice pickup.
Melky Cabrera – Atlanta Braves (owned in 4% of Yahoo! leagues)
The overall numbers are nothing to get excited about but Cabrera has done quite well since Nate McLouth went on the disabled list. Since June 10th, a stretch of 22 games, Cabrera is batting .284 with 7 R and 9 RBIs. While those are still not eye-popping numbers, they represent a huge improvement over what McLouth gave Atlanta, perhaps an indication Cabrera will keep playing even after McLouth gets activated. Also, for a guy available in most leagues, those are numbers that could help, especially in NL-only formats.
Vicente Padilla – Los Angeles Dodgers (owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues)
Since coming off the DL, Padilla has made three starts and the last two have been very good. After giving up 4 ER in 5.1 IP against the Red Sox in his first action in nearly two months, Padilla has tossed 7 IP in back-to-back outings. In those 14 IP, he has allowed 3 ER and has 12 Ks and 2 BB in starts against the Yankees and Giants. Padilla hit 95.5 with his fastball in his last outing and he has a full repertoire of pitches to use against batters, including a sinker, slider and curve.