Setting the Trends: Trolling for diamonds in the rough

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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One of the most underrated sections of the CBSSports.com website is the massive "Most Owned" list in the Roster Trends area. The top part is pretty boring -- an assortment of All-Stars and untouchables. But as you go deeper, it gets much more interesting. There are sleepers, closers-in-waiting, and an assortment of players who could see 40 percent boosts in ownership in a week if things break the right way.

But the best part of Most Owned is the section of players owned in 1 percent of all leagues. They're awesome. Do they belong on teams in mixed leagues? Probably not. They may not, in fact, belong on single-league teams. But there's treasure in those one-percenters. Will you feel like the Junk Lady from Labyrinth for sorting through them to look for value? A little bit. But who cares? Dynasty league owners already know about the one percenters, but as owners in deep leagues search for depth, there are a few players in that section who could be worth an add...or at least an add to the Scout Team:

Javier Lopez , RP, SF: can sneak in a few saves before the season is through.
Greg Dobbs , 3B, MIA: has shown some power; will definitely get some at-bats as a pinch hitter. He could also play his way into some third base or outfield starts over the last month and a half.
Steve Pearce , 1B, HOU: has hit .276 since joining Houston. Started four of last seven games for the Astros. His minor league stats suggest he can hit for power if given regular at-bats.
Paul Janish , SS, ATL: playing every day as the starting shortstop for the Braves.

On to the rest of Roster Trends!

Most Added Players (as of 8/23)
Player % increase
1. Brett Anderson, SP, OAK 31
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN 27
3. Hisashi Iwakuma, RP, SEA 21
4. Kris Medlen, RP, ATL 21
5. Garrett Jones, OF, PIT 16
6. Grant Balfour, RP, OAK 15
7. Freddy Garcia, SP, NYY 13
8. Jaime Garcia, SP, STL 13
9. Miguel Gonzalez, RP, BAL 12
10. Ryan Ludwick, OF, CIN 12

Most Added Highlights

Brett Anderson , SP, OAK
Jump in Ownership: 31 percent (from 25 percent to 56)
Reason for the jump: Anderson returned from missing 13 months after Tommy John surgery with a brilliant start against the Twins, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out six.
Why you should join the crowd: Before his injury, Anderson was well on his way to becoming a star in the Oakland rotation, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his first 371 major league innings. But those numbers are a little skewed, considering that, in his final two starts in 2011, before opting for surgery, Anderson gave up 14 runs on 20 hits, while walking five, in 10 1/3 innings. Prior to the two blow-ups last season, he had a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
Devil's Advocate: Beware of the Rust Factor. Before his start on Tuesday, Anderson hadn't pitched in the majors since last June. And while he showed enough promise to make him an add in most leagues, there's always a chance that he has a hiccup before he's fully back to the pitcher he was before. Additionally, Anderson isn't known for striking a lot of batters out, with a career K/9 of 7.0. So if your team is in need of strikeouts, Anderson may not be your best option.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL 49
2. David Murphy, OF, TEX 46
3. Rajai Davis, OF, TOR 40
4. Hisashi Iwakuma, RP, SEA 39
5. Justin Ruggiano, OF, MIA 27

Rajai Davis , OF, TOR
Jump in Ownership: Six percent (from 35 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Davis has been running wild on the base paths. He is now tied with Mike Trout for the MLB lead in steals, with 39.
Why you should join the crowd: Davis' steals are not a fluke. In the last four seasons -- including this one -- he has averaged 41 steals per season. He has also hit for a decent average (.273) in that timeframe, and has a career-high six home runs so far this year.
Devil's Advocate: The Blue Jays -- even after the deadline trade of Travis Snider to the Pirates and Eric Thames to the Mariners -- still have plenty of outfield options. What's scary about this -- at least as far as Davis is concerned -- is that it might be easy for the Blue Jays to spend September giving its younger players (Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose) some time in the outfield, which could have a negative impact on Davis' at-bats.

(Still) Got Melky?
Useful players owned in fewer leagues than Melky Cabrera (59%)
Player % owned
1. Brett Anderson, SP, OAK 57
2. Ross Detwiler, SP, WAS 55
3. Greg Holland, RP, KC 55
4. Russell Martin, C, NYY 53
5. Carlos Marmol, RP, CHC 51

Grant Balfour , RP, OAK
Jump in Ownership: 15 percent (from 32 percent to 47)
Reason for the jump: Balfour has pretty much pushed Ryan Cook out of the way and regained his closer role.
Why you should join the crowd: Look, any closer is a good thing to have this late in the season, especially in Roto leagues, where every save counts. But Balfour has been amazingly effective lately -- since July 1, he has a 0.48 ERA, with 19 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. His last five appearances have all resulted in saves, and he hasn't given up a hit or walked a batter since being handed back the closer's role. Over the last 14 days, Balfour is seventh in points leagues among closers.
Devil's Advocate: Balfour had us convinced earlier this year that he could pitch at this level; from March 28 to April 28, he had a 1.38 ERA and six saves. Also complicating things? The presence of Ryan Cook. For as well as Balfour has been pitching lately, there's still a chance --albeit, a slim one -- that the A's mix in Cook, who has a 2.58 ERA, for a save here or there.

Backstop help
The most-added catchers
Player Percentage increase
1. Wilin Rosario, COL 7
2. John Jaso, SEA 7
3. Ryan Doumit, MIN 4
4. Josh Donaldson, OAK 2
5. Eric Kratz, PHI 1

Billy Hamilton , SS, CIN
Jump in Ownership: Four percent (from 21 percent to 25)
Reason for the jump: Hamilton, currently playing in Double-A, has set the record for most steals in one season, with 148.
Why you should join the crowd: There's no guarantee this will happen, but there is a theory that my colleague, Al Melchior, has presented a few times, where Hamilton could get a September call-up to Cincinnati and serve as mainly a pinch runner (like the Mariners did with a young Chone Figgins). Hamilton could cause a lot of havoc in this role: if he pinch runs 15 times, he could steal 12-15 bases. at the very least, he's a great keeper candidate for dynasty leaguers looking ahead to the future.
Devil's Advocate: There's always a chance that Hamilton could not get called up.

Erik Kratz , C, PHI
Jump in Ownership: One percent (from 5 percent to 6)
Reason for the jump: Kratz is starting for the Phillies in place of the injured Carlos Ruiz.
Why you should join the crowd: Kratz is quietly putting up a really impressive season. Of catchers with 50 or more at-bats, Kratz has the highest OPS (1.091). In his 65 at-bats, he has seven doubles, seven home runs, and a .292 average. He's also scored 10 runs and driven in 16. In 11 minor league seasons, Kratz has five seasons of double-digit home runs (but he did this having reached 400 at-bats just once). And Ruiz, according to the original timetable for his plantar fasciitis, should be sidelined for at least another three weeks.
Devil's Advocate: Kratz has never had a season with an OPS higher than .892. While he has shown flashes of power, his career minor league average is just .258. However, his average has risen in the past four seasons. All of this, however, may be moot once Ruiz comes back-- the catcher took batting practice this week and said he was close to being ready to return.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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