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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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Week 1 waiver-wire picks (hitters)

Your drafts are over.

Hopefully you didn't attend one in person (yes, there are still some leagues that insist on drafting without a chat room) and witness That Guy Who Can't Seem To Keep Track of Who's Been Selected And Calls At Least Three Names Before He Gets To Someone Who's Available.

If you did, I felt your pain.

Anyway, let's get to our first waiver-wire picks of the season. As we did in football, players are selected who are owned in fewer than half of the leagues on, and we usually go much lower than 50 percent.

We'll start with the hitters and come back with the pitchers later in the week.

-- Russell Martin, C, Yankees (owned in 29.6 percent of the ESPN leagues): I realize he is a starting catcher in many leagues, which makes his low ownership percentage baffling. Regardless, Martin should be a considered a low-level regular in a 12-team mixed league after a 2011 in which he batted .237 with 18 homers, 65 RBI and eight steals. If Martin is available in your league, don't get too excited. He had only two quality months last season -- April (.292 with six homers and 19 RBI) and August (.286 with seven homers and 19 RBI). But the position he plays makes us devalue our definition of a fantasy regular.

-- Raul Ibanez, DH, Yankees (11.7 percent): Yes, he batted .245 in 2011, his lowest average since he hit .154 in 26 at-bats with the Mariners in 1997. But Ibanez did produce 20 homers and 84 RBI, and he's a dead-pull left-handed hitter playing in Yankee Stadium. That should help him get back some of the power he has lost the last two seasons (averages of 18 homers and 84 RBI, compared to norms of 28 and 108, respectively, from 2006 to '09). I wouldn't expect him to hit for a high average at age 39, but if you need power, Ibanez should be among the best of the available bats.

-- Ryan Doumit, C, Twins (3.1 percent): Chris Parmelee could be the Twins' regular first baseman, which would result in Justin Morneau switching to DH and could cut down on Doumit's playing time. I wouldn't worry too much, though, because Doumit can catch, play right field and fill in at DH, which should be enough for four starts or more per week. The reason he makes the cut here is you can play him at catcher, where his power (eight homers in 218 at-bats last season) is greater than his much more celebrated teammate (Joe Mauer). Doumit is a career .271 hitter who has norms of 20 homers and 81 RBI per 600 at-bats in the majors. In 2008, he looked like a future star (.318, 15 homers, 69 RBI, 71 runs and an .858 OPS in 431 at-bats). Now, he's a decent starting catcher in deep formats, and a must-start in AL-only leagues.

-- Zack Cozart, SS, Reds (7.6 percent): He batted .324 with two homers in 37 at-bats as a rookie, but what's much more impressive are Cozart's 2011 numbers in Triple-A -- a .310 average with seven homers, 32 RBI, nine steals and an .825 OPS in 323 at-bats. He was a second-round pick in 2012 and was ranked as baseball's No. 75 prospect by Baseball America entering the season. I wouldn't consider Cozart a starting shortstop in a 12-team mixed league, but he's a quality backup who could be a regular later in the season, and he should be a starter in NL-only formats.

-- Cody Ross, OF, Red Sox (11.2 percent): He will be the Red Sox's left fielder with Carl Crawford injured, and he should get plenty of at-bats in his first season in Boston. Ross batted .240 with decent power numbers with the Marlins in 2011 (14 homers and 52 RBI in 405 at-bats). In 2008 and '09, he averaged 23 homers and 82 RBI, and his 600 at-bat norms for his career are 25 homers and 91 RBI. He likely won't help you in batting average (.261 career), but Ross is a candidate to produce 20 homers and drive in at least 80 runs.

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