It’s really time to start looking deeper into your free agent pool these days. Of course, it looks better when a player is owned in 40% of ESPN leagues, but does that really mean he’s outperforming a guy that may only be owned in 15%? Not always the case. It may just mean that fewer people are paying attention and don’t know as much about him to realize that he is the superior fantasy option at this point in time. Here’s a pair of guys that just might fit that description.
Wilson Ramos |C| Ownership: ESPN – 12.4% Yahoo – 14.0%
While a guy like Yadier Molina is owned in more than 50% of leagues in both ESPN and Yahoo, Ramos and his superior stats languish on the waiver wire, touched only by a select few that see his value. He was fairly popular early on in the season when word came down that he was supplanting Ivan Rodriguez in Washington and he was hitting over .350, but most abandoned ship in May when his inflated BABIP came back down to Earth and his numbers began to drop. However, after some minor improvements in June, Ramos seems to be back on top here in July as evidenced by his .324 average with 3 HR and 11 RBI in just 11 games. The best part is that he’s doing it now with an increased walk rate, a reduced K%, and his .333 BABIP isn’t so gaudy that you would automatically dismiss his upswing in production. His current .183 ISO is a little high, given his minor league totals from which we have to work, so cracking the 20 HR barrier would be a tough feat. But even if he comes close to duplicating his first half totals with an improvement in BA and OBP, then he’s easily going to be a backstop worth using the rest of the way.
Alex Presley |OF| Ownership: ESPN – 20.3% Yahoo – 11.0%
Yes, yes…small sample size warning here. But if you can scoop up Presley now and use him while he’s hot and while the Pirates are streaking (so funny to type those words, but let it be known that at the time of writing, the Buccos are in 1st place, a half game in front of both St. Louis and Milwaukee), then you are likely to get a nice boost in both runs scored and stolen bases. It’s hard to say how long this will last, but with Jose Tabata still out and apparently having another setback in his rehab, Presley should stay in the lineup regularly and continue to bat in the leadoff spot. Presley’s BB% and K% are both sound and right in line with his minor league totals, so there shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff moving forward. Couple that with his stolen base potential and you’ve got a solid guy to help create runs and help your fantasy totals. It’s true that the Pirates are kicking the tires on Hunter Pence right now, so that may complicate things a little if they do acquire the Astros right fielder. But we’re just looking at Presley as a short term stop gap, so we can worry about that when the time comes.