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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three

Before we get to the final Pick Three of the baseball season, let’s get you linked in.

-- Saturday, I’ll have a column on the most overrated and underrated fantasy football players heading into the second big draft weekend of the year. You can find it in the print editions and on the News-Herald’s main sports site.

-- Also on Saturday, go here for a fantasy football audiocast with Sports Editor Mark Podolski and I in which we discuss potential sleepers and busts for the 2009 season.

On to the Pick Three for Week 23 of the baseball season -- playoff time in most leagues. As always, these players are owned in fewer than half of the leagues on and should be assets in deep, mixed leagues. All stats are through Thursday.

-- Rod Barajas, C, Blue Jays (owned in 9.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): His batting average is terrible (.241), as are his total runs scored (36) and on-base percentage (.272). But any time you’re in a 12- or 14-team category league and you can acquire a catcher who has 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 352 at-bats, he’s worth a look. If you need a power boost, Barajas -- who hit seven home runs in August -- is a good waiver-wire option. In typical Barajas fashion, however, his big power month also included a .225 batting average and .253 OBP.

-- Garrett Jones, OF, Pirates (34.1 percent): His stellar play (.294 average, 18 homers, 34 RBI, 32 runs, nine steals and a .984 OPS in 214 at-bats) is even more improbable than Heidi and Spencer’s continued relevance. Consider that Jones, whose prior major-league experience was a 31-game run with the Twins in 2007, is 28 and an 11-year veteran of the minor leagues. Also consider that in those 3,817 minor-league at-bats, he totaled only 54 steals and batted .258. (He did have quality power numbers, with 158 homers and 629 RBI.) Still, when someone is playing this well, with such an intriguing combination of power and steals, he should be in your lineup.

-- Franklin Morales, RP, Rockies (0.6 percent): This goes only for deep leagues in which you’re forced to start multiple relief pitchers. If you belong to one of those goofy setups, Morales, a temporary fill-in for Huston Street, is worth starting if Street remains shut down by a biceps injury. Morales recorded his first save Wednesday, and the 23-year-old has a 2.93 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings this season. He was a starter in his first two big-league seasons, but should be an adequate closer until Street comes back, especially if you’re a Street owner. And really, who wouldn’t like to own a Street? (Thanks. I try to be here twice a week.)

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