At this point all of the season’s best surprises have been discovered and breakouts or busts have been firmly labeled. However, there are still some players left with something to prove. If you need a boost in home runs, you should have a look at these three players that are under 30 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.
Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, NYM
If nothing else, the dude looks like a Duda. Aptly named and with an everyday gig with the Mets, Duda is looking to make a name for himself for the rest of the 2011 season. Last night he cracked his fifth home run of the season, his fourth since becoming an everyday player on July 27th. The key to his success going forward may indeed be the fact that he is being given regular at-bats.
Over 455 plate appearances at triple-A between last season and this season, Duda had hit .310/.398/.606 with 27 home runs (14.6 AB/HR rate). He knows what he’s doing when he steps into the batter’s box, as is evident by the fact that he doesn’t strikeout out very often for being a power hitter. He knows how to draw a walk, doesn’t swing and miss much, has shown an ability to hit line drives at a decent rate and has handled lefties well this season. Really, there’s not much to dislike other than his lack of big-league experience.
Duda is exactly the type of late bloomer — he’s only 25, but was never a highly rated prospect — that has to go out and prove themselves when the opportunity arises. The opportunity has arose and he looks primed to take full advantage.
Josh Willingham, OF, OAK
Willingham is a fairly well known commodity, having been a regular since 2006, but his 2011 season didn’t start off so hot. He managed to heat up in July, hitting .324/.429/.618 with five home runs and, though his AVG has slipped again in August, he still has four homers already to go along with a very strong .288 ISO.
When healthy, Willingham has been a reliable 20-plus home run source. This season, he has hit at least four home runs in each month except for June, in which he missed time due to injury. If you can live with the low AVG he’ll likely provide going forward, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add him to your roster for somewhere around six or seven more homers the rest of the way.
Ryan Raburn, 2B/OF, DET
Rayburn was a mega-sleeper this preseason. Well, I guess there is really no such thing as a “sleeper” anymore, but based on his strong second half power numbers last season, many thought Raburn was ready to be a fantasy stud in 2011. While I liked his power potential, I wasn’t sold that he would hit for AVG. Obviously, he’s been mush worse than anyone expected, but if history tells up anything, it’s that Raburn might be able to turn on his power switch over the season’s last leg.
Raburn is a career .293 hitter post-all-star break and last season he hit 13 of his 15 home runs in August and September. So far this month, Raburn is hitting .316 with only two home runs, but he has put up a .237 ISO in the process, perhaps indicating that the long-balls are on their way. Given his knack for putting up his best numbers in August and September, he’s certainly worth a look.