Thrift Shopping: 9 Underrated Pickups

“Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

Recent injuries and the pending Biogenesis suspensions will make this a busy weekend on the waiver wires. Using ESPN ownership numbers, I will take a look at 9 players who are below 29% owned. Included are replacement possibilities for Yadier Molina while he is on the DL and a couple of AL arms that can fill in for Moore, just without the strikeout potential.

1.     Russell Martin – C – Pirates (17.2% Owned)

To temporarily replace Molina, you may not have to look outside of his division.

To temporarily replace Molina, you may not have to look outside of his division.

2013 Stats – 85 G, 40 R, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 9 SB, 251/356/400

Last 28 Days – 18 G, 10 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB, 250/339/416

  • Over the last 28 days Martin has tied Molina in runs, 1 less home run but makes up for that with 4 stolen bases. Also, in that same time frame Molina only hit 220 while nursing his sore knee. The MRI was clean for Molina, but the Cardinals will be careful with him. If your team could use a boost in steals, a rare commodity at catcher, than Martin is a great find if he is on your wire to fill in for Yadier.

2.     Jason Castro – C – Astros (22.4% Owned)

2013 Stats – 92 G, 44 R, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, 265/329/465

Last 28 Days – 18 G, 10 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, 275/342/464

  • As dire as it seems for Molina owners, here is another example of a very capable replacement for the next two weeks. Like Molina he plays nearly every day and is hitting third for the Astros who are playing with a purpose. Castro’s production is in line with Molina’s for the last 28 days with one difference, he has for a higher average (275 vs 220).

3.     Devin Mesoraco – C – Reds (6% Owned)

2013 Stats – 67 G, 20 R, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 251/313/386

Last 28 Days – 19 G, 5 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 266/294/422

  • An injury to Ryan Hanigan finally got Mesoraco into the lineup on a consistent basis. The patience is still a work in progress but the power can be for real. In a one catcher only league, Mesoraco is still below starter status. But as a second catcher for power in the second half, his stock is one I would invest in.

4.     Alex Avila – C – Tigers (2.3% Owned)

2013 Stats – 67 G, 26 R, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 200/295/339

Last 28 Days – 16 G, 8 R, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 273/375/436

  • Since returning from his injury, Avila has been very productive. Playing in the high octane offense in Detroit does not help. Most encouraging sign was his opposite field home run off of fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. Like Mesoraco above, a good speculative add if he is available in 2 catcher leagues.

5.     Mike Moustakas – 3B – Royals (23.5% Owned)

2013 Stats – 91 G, 29 R, 9 HR, 24 RBI, 1 SB, 228/287/365

Last 28 Days – 20 G, 8 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 275/333/522

  • Something seems to have clicked with Moustakas in the last month. His average and power numbers have been in line with what people expected him to produce but his learning curve has taken longer than projected. But if the gains are real and he can keep the momentum through August, a post-hype sleeper for next year may be happening in the second half. If you need power at the corner spot, why not give him an opportunity.

6.     Yunel Escobar – SS – Rays (7.3% Owned)

2013 Stats – 100 G, 42 R, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 3 SB, 253/321/374

Last 28 Days – 19 G, 9 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 267/347/417

  • Whatever it is that the Rays give players on what seems to be their last chance, it works. Escobar known for being mercurial and never too motivated has turned it around in Tampa Bay. The batting order in Tampa is always in flux so he hits in numerous parts of the lineup but it has been working for him. With Peralta almost assured of being suspended, Escobar may be a good choice to replace him going forward.

7.     Denard Span – OF – Nationals (13.9% Owned)

2013 Stats – 101 G, 46 R, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 10 SB, 269/323/371

Last 28 Days – 21 G, 10 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB, 313/368/438

  • Things haven’t exactly worked out in Washington as planned this season but Span has shown what he can do the last 28 days. I like the fact that he wants to be the leadoff hitter and told the press that exact thing. Owners looking for runs, some steals without a hit to batting average should look no further than Span.

8.     Wei-Yin Chen – SP – Orioles

2013 Stats – 6 W, 75.1 IP, 46 K’s, 2.87 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Last 28 Days – 4 G, 3 W, 28 IP, 19 K’s, 2.57 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

  • Like Molina above, owners who lost Matt Moore for the next 15 days may look within his division to Chen for spot starts until his return. He will not rack up the strikeouts like Moore can but at low risk to your WHIP and pitching for Baltimore, he should receive run support. His next two starts are home against Seattle and at San Francisco.

9.     Samuel Deduno – SP – Twins

2013 Stats – 7 W, 76.1 IP, 42 K’s, 3.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

Last 28 Days – 4 G, 3 W, 27 IP, 17 K’s, 2.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

  • Deduno garnered attention during the WBC and after an early season injury is back on the radar. His last outing was a gem in Seattle with 7 IP and 6 K’s. He has good movement on his pitches and is hard for hitters to square up. As a bridge for two or more starts Deduno may be a good choice as he hosts the Astros in Minnesota tomorrow and pitches against the White Sox next week.

The players above are readily available in leagues and are worth a look. It will be interesting to see what holes in lineups need to be filled and what hidden treasures can be picked up to fill them.

Greg Jewett is a staff writer for RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @GJewett9 and look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com!

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