My favorite preseason sleeper was a guy by the name of Michael Morse. He exhibited a nice power stroke and a strong average in about a half a season’s worth of at-bats in 2010, and with him locked into a starting job in left field after a strong spring, it looked like Morse could be this season’s breakthrough candidate. Unfortunately, he fell flat in April before losing some playing time in the beginning of May.
It’s been hard to tell how good Morse has been this month as his playing time has been sporadic, but let’s put it like this: on April 30, Morse had a .211 average and just one HR to his credit; now, he’s hitting .282 with four HRs. Bye bye, April swoon. Best of all, Morse is guaranteed playing time with Adam LaRoche on the DL, and he’s settling in at first base, going 3-for-5 last night with a grand slam. Suddenly, Morse has gone from being a disappointment to entrenching himself as Washington’s best hitter. He’s only owned in one out of 20 Yahoo leagues, so the time to buy in 95 percent of fantasy leagues is now.
Also at 1B: Brett Wallace (23%), Mark Trumbo (21%), Juan Rivera (4%), Juan Miranda (1%).
Jonathan Lucroy, MIL (28%). Lucroy was mentioned as an afterthought in last week’s column, but he’s turned up the juices lately, homering in two of his last three games while posting back-to-back 2-for-4 days to raise his average to .333. He’s playing as well as any catcher out there right now and needs to be owned by any team dealing with mediocrity at the catcher position.
Also: J.P. Arencibia (42%), Ramon Hernandez (31%), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6%).
Danny Espinosa, WAS (17%). He’s not going to win you any batting titles, but Espinosa’s power still makes him a valuable commodity at a shallow fantasy position. After struggling through most of May, the Washington second baseman exploded for three hits, five RBIs, three RBIs, a triple and a homer on May 20. He hasn’t done much since, but roto owners should be all over this guy’s 20/15 potential. I will point out that Justin Turner, last week’s suggest add, has risen 21 percent points in ownership ratings since our recommendation, so don’t be scared to take the plunge.
Also: Justin Turner (23%), Mark Ellis (2%).
Casey Blake, LAD (4%). The injured Dodger third baseman may not be able to help you immediately, but he’s currently on rehab assignment, so he’s closer than you may think. He was on fire before hitting the DL, and while it would be foolish to think he could recapture the magic immediately, his track record suggests he’ll at least provide fantasy teams with a power boost.
Also: Chase Headley (16%), Chris Johnson (8%).
Trevor Plouffe, MIN (3%). The Twins rookie got off to a quick start, debuting on May 6 then owning a .289 average and three HRs by May 20. Plouffe then struggled over his next three games, going hitless in 14 at-bats, but that comes with the territory when dealing with rookies. He still has great AL-only value and could even keep his starting job when Tsuyoshi Nishioka returns.
Also: Jamey Carroll (23%), Yuniesky Betancourt (4%).
Raul Ibanez, PHI (31%). Ibanez found himself on the waiver wire in most leagues after hitting .161 with one HR and 26 Ks in April. He now has almost twice as many hits in May as he did last month, and he still has several days left to do more damage. Throw in an improved lineup with Chase Utley’s return, and Ibanez’s fantasy stock is clearly on the rise.
Also: Morse, Seth Smith (26%), Allen Craig (3%), Chris Denorfia (2%).
Erik Bedard, SEA (33%). I know, you see the name Erik Bedard and think, “Wait, haven’t we done this dance before?” But the Seattle hurler finally looks to be back on the path to fantasy stardom. His record sits at just 2-4, but he owns a 3.94 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the season while striking out 41 batters and walking 17 in 45.2 innings. He’s been lights out over the last month, allowing just four runs in four starts to rank alongside Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander over the last 30 days. The injury fairy may eventually come calling again, but enjoy the Bedard Renaissance while it lasts.
Also: Homer Bailey (50%), Bud Norris (48%), Ryan Vogelsong (31%), Phil Humber (19%), james McDonald (7%).
Mark Melancon, HOU (37%). After a rough patch in the middle of May that involved two straight games allowing a run, with one resulting in a blown save, Melancon has settled down over the last week, converting his last two save opportunities. Seeing as how he has a sub-2.00 ERA, I would wager on the Astros sticking with him for as long as he’s producing.
Also: Matt Thornton (34%), Koji Uehara (21%), Matt Guerrier (17%), Jason Isringhausen (6%).
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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