Here are three players with low ownership rates who could pay immediate dividends in fantasy leagues:
Russell Branyan – Seattle Mariners (owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues)
Branyan returns to the place where he enjoyed the most success in his MLB career, having hit 31 HR for the Mariners last year. Seattle was receiving such poor production from its first basemen that they had played Josh Wilson, a shortstop, there for a few games before re-acquiring Branyan. His HR/FB rate is down from a year ago, but still a solid 17.5 percent. Any club looking for power should look in Branyan’s direction.
Seth Smith – Colorado Rockies (owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues)
He may only be a platoon player, but Smith crushes RHP. He has a .289/.353/.572 line against righties in 170 PA. Smith has 10 HR in 181 ABs. His 13.9 HR/FB rate is right in line with what he’s done the past two seasons but he is hitting more fly balls. Smith’s FB% is at 45.9%, up from 41.6 a year ago and 34.1 percent in his rookie season. It is amazing he is available in most leagues. Do not be scared by his platoon-status. Even if you play in a league with weekly transactions, he should be a valuable player even if he only plays 4-5 times a week.
Jose Tabata – Pittsburgh Pirates (owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues)
We have heard about the former Yankees prospect for a long time, but he is still just 21-years old. Tabata has been installed as the Pirates’ leadoff hitter and he should have an opportunity to pick up a bunch of SB. He has been successful on all four of his steal attempts in his first 16 games. While owners should believe in his speed, do not expect much power from Tabata this season. So, the make or break for him in 2010 will be his AVG. So far, he has a .258 AVG on a .291 BABIP. While it would be nice to see more production in the AVG category, he has an acceptable walk rate (8.3%) so he is still setting himself up for steal chances. There is no (R) ZiPS to compare but if Tabata can stay healthy he has a good shot to clear 20 SB the rest of the way.