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The most under-owned player in Fantasy plays for the most overlooked team in baseball.
The 14-7 Astros may have awarded Jake Marisnick the starting center field job this spring because of his defense, but particularly with Jed Lowrie down, he's become their most reliable contributor on offense.
And it's not like it's come of nowhere. He was a top prospect when the Marlins acquired him from the Blue Jays during their mass salary dump following the 2012 season, but he was a prospect they and the baseball world as a whole were quick to give up on. He didn't have the most consistent minor-league track record, but when at his best, he showed the kind of power and speed that would normally make a young player a hot commodity in Rotisserie leagues. He stole 37 bases one year and slugged just shy of .500 a couple years.
What tells me he's on the verge of a breakthrough -- other than his .389 batting average and 1.081 OPS, of course -- is his reduced strikeout rate. It has gone from about one every three at-bats last year to about one every five this year. Compare that to, say, Steven Souza's rate, and you'll wonder why Souza is owned in 25 percent more leagues.
Which is no knock on Souza. He has played more regularly than Marisnick so far and probably has more power potential. But Marisnick is tied for the AL lead (with teammates George Springer and Jose Altuve) in stolen bases with eight on a team that is clearly looking to be aggressive on the base paths. Even if you don't trust Marisnick to deliver on anything else, I'd think he's worth owning in Rotisserie leagues just for that.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Cubs (55 percent owned)
If Marisnick is the most under-owned player in Fantasy, Dexter Fowler might be second. Granted, it may just be a widespread case of Fowler fatigue. We've been talking him up for years now, many times after a hot start like he's having now, so him ranking 22nd among outfielders in Head-to-Head points leagues and 24th in Rotisserie at the one-month mark may not be enough to move the needle.
What's different about this year, though, is how the Cubs have chosen to utilize his speed. He's up to six stolen bases already, putting him on pace to nearly double his career high. He's getting on base with the multitude of young sluggers behind him, and his BABIP is in line with career norms.
Maybe he gets hurt at some point, as always seems to happen, but just as a hot-hand play, he's worth adding by now. We'll see where it goes from there.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Orioles (68 percent owned
Lost in the novelty of the Orioles' closed-door game Wednesday is that Jimenez pitched another gem, allowing three hits over seven innings and striking out six. He one-hit the Blue Jays over seven innings in his season debut and was ejected early in his next start, so of the three starts we can honestly assess, two have been terrific.
Kind of like Fowler, though, Jimenez is a perennial tease. Both his velocity and swinging strike rate -- two obvious measures of dominance -- are down this year. Then again, his looking strike rate is way, way up, which suggests he's doing a better job of getting ahead in the count. Control has always been his issue, so maybe the pros outweigh the cons here. It's clear hitters aren't making good contact off him.
If you don't pick him up, someone else will, and in those situations, I usually go for it because I'm comfortable admitting I have no idea what's going to happen. But he's not a clear enough case for you to stick with him if he gets shelled next time out.
Yasmany Tomas, 3B/OF, Diamondbacks (67 percent owned
Tomas is now eligible at third base in standard CBSSports.com leagues, the inevitable result of him starting four straight games there. But of even greater note is the Diamondbacks' seemingly renewed confidence in him. They talked like he'd play third base only occasionally with Jake Lamb on the DL, but he has apparently changed those plans by delivering at the plate, going 4 for 7 with a double in his last two games. He has struck out only twice in 24 at-bats.
He's nothing in Fantasy without home runs, so we'll need to see some of those sooner than later. No one can say for sure what happens to him after Lamb comes back either. But with leagues that use an extra corner infielder, you can't expect Tomas to last much longer on waivers.