The Top 5 Under 5 in ESPN Baseball Challenge – Week 11

We are less than a month away from the 2012 MLB All-Star game in Kansas City and that means there are only 3 scoring periods left in the first half of ESPN Baseball Challenge.  Now is the time for fantasy owners playing ESPN.com’s version of salary cap baseball to take advantage of re-surging veterans and rookie call-ups.  It’s time to be aggressive, free up some cap space, and climb up the leaderboard with these 5 Under 5.

The criteria that I am using for the 5 Under 5 is simple:

  1. The player’s current market value must be less than $5.0
  2. The player must be starting on less than 5.0% of entries

The intent is to rule out the obvious.  Players like Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie have already caught our eye.  I want to help you find the next hidden gem in ESPN Baseball Challenge.

Gone from last week’s list are Bryce Harper and Kyle Seager.

These are the Top 5 players under $5.0 to grab for Week 11, and they are missing from far too many ESPN Baseball Challenge rosters.

The Top 5 Under 5 for Week 11:

1. Allen Craig DH – STL ($4.9 / 3.4%): Last week I recommend that Luke Scott (TB) owners make the switch to Allen Craig.  The move actually created cap space for ESPN Baseball Challenge owners (Scott $4.8 / Craig $4.6).  Getting Craig on your team won’t be so easy this week.  He jumped up to $4.9 and, if he continues to produce 4.8 points per game, this will be the last week Craig is eligible for the 5 Under 5.

Craig is hitting .352 with 14 Runs, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 9 BB, and 60 total bases.

I don’t expect to see Allen Craig on the 5 Under 5 again anytime soon.  (Photo by Chris Lee / clee@post-dispatch.com)

2. Willin Rosario C – COL ($4.3 / 2.9%): Since taking over for the injured Ramon Hernandez, Rosario has hit .233 with 9 HR’s and 25 RBI’s.  He ranks 17th in total points amongst catchers with 113. Russell Martin is the only catcher under $5.0 that is ranked ahead of Rosario.  Martin is 0-for-6 so far in Week 10.  Other than second base, the catcher’s spot is the hardest place to find value below $5.

3. Torii Hunter RF – LAA ($4.6 / 2.8%): Hunter is tied with Jose Bautista for the most points (42) over the last 7 days.  He has hit safely in 12 of his last 24 AB’s with 8 Runs, 3 HR’s, 9 RBI, and 1 SB. Hunter has clearly benefited from moving up to the 2nd spot in the Angles lineup.  My only concern is that in the 12 at bats Hunter did not reach base safely, he struck out 7 times.  I guess you have to take the bad with the good as a fantasy owner.

4. Ryan Ludwick LF – CIN ($4.1 / 0.6%):  I had to think hard about this one because there are a couple of LF’s worthy being on the 5 Under 5.  J.D. Martinez (HOU) meets the criteria ($4.9 / 1.7%), but he only has 149 total points.  That’s only 2 more than Yankees outfielder Raul Ibanez.  Ibanez has gone on a recent tear (he’s 5 for his last 15 with an HR), but he really only plays part time.  Andruw Jones is getting the AB’s against LHP’s.

There is also plenty of depth at LF.  Seth Smith (OAK) and Norichika Aoki (MIL) are making names for themselves.  Tony Gwynn Jr. (LAD) is filling in nicely for the Dodgers while Matt Kemp is out.  However, Ryan Ludwick gets my vote.

Out of all the names I’ve mentioned, Ludwick is the least expensive to own at only $4.1.  He is averaging 2.6 points per game.  That’s better than Smith (2.5), Aoki (2.2), and Gwynn (2.0).  J.D. Martinez averages 2.8 points per game and Ibanez is the best in the bunch at 2.9, but if you combine the duo’s total points over the last 7 days they don’t add up to Ludwick’s 24.

Ryan Ludwick is making the most of Drew Stubbs’s absence from the Reds lineup and so should you.  Take advantage of Ludwick while he’s playing like the guy that once hit 37 HR’s and drove in 113 runs in a single season.

5. Brian Roberts 2B – BAL ($4.1 / 0.1%): Roberts was activated from the 60 day DL on Tuesday and jumped right into action against the Pirates.  He batted lead off and went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly RBI.  Roberts makes the list more as a FYI.

If you’re giving up on Ben Zobrist (TB) there aren’t many low-budget options available at 2B other than Roberts.  You’re going to have to spent at least $5.1 if you want consistent production.  If Roberts continues to get hits from lead off spot, he will have no problem scoring big for ESPN Baseball Challenge owners.

Honorable Mention: Trevor Plouffe RF – MIN ($4.0 / 0.5%)

Over to You…

What do you think? Is there anyone missing from the list?  Anyone that doesn’t deserve to be included?  Please feel free to comment on this week’s 5 Under 5.

You can email me at goprofantasysports@gmail.com or find me Google+ and Twitter @GoProFS24.  You also check out my ESPN Baseball Challenge entry and user profile.

Thanks for reading & best of luck in Week 11!

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com and cbssports.com

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