Kaleb Cowart & Daniel Hudson: Deep League Wire

With only about a month left in the season, it’s probably much easier to make up ground in the counting stats than in the ratios. So let’s see what hidden gems get unearthed today.

Kaleb Cowart | 3B LAA | CBS 2% Owned

Let’s be honest here, folks — the best part of rostering Cowart is for his name value. And seriously, do the Angels know how to assemble an elitely named squad or what? Kole Calhoun and Kaleb Cowart in the same lineup?! Wowzers! So I didn’t get the memo, and you probably didn’t either, but apparently Cowart is now the team’s starting second baseman. For the most part, at least. He didn’t start last night’s game, but had started at the position the previous three games, with the two prior to that at third base. So it seems like for now, he’s going to start most nights.

Cowart debuted last year and made Dan Farnsworth’s top Angels prospect list, ranking 13th overall. He concluded his blurb with the following:

The strikeouts and lack of power prevent him from sticking in a lineup for any long stretch of time, but he has a big league future in some capacity.

Cowart once again displayed limited home run power at Triple-A this year, but he hit a ton of doubles, which still resulted in an acceptable ISO. He also improved his strikeout rate, though it’s not so impressive for someone with mediocre power and on his second tour of duty at the level. While he probably won’t contribute much in the home run category, he did steal 18 bases this year, which was a bit of a surprise after he took a break from swiping bags last season (finishing with just 13). I call it a break because in 2014, he stole 29 bases, so one would have assumed his willingness to steal had dissipated, or his speed had diminished.

He has come to the plate just 89 times during his short Major League career, so there’s little we could conclude with such a small sample size of stats to work with. As usual, the advice here is to go with the guy who is playing and has the ability to contribute in an above average capacity in at least power or speed. Perhaps he’ll steal five bases in September, hit a homer or two, and win you a yoo-hoo shower.

Daniel Hudson | RP ARI | 6% Owned

Boy is that Diamondbacks bullpen a mess. Ever since Brad Ziegler was sent packing, the team has scrambled to find a suitable replacement. Initially, it was Tyler Clippard, but he failed to record a save and then was sent packing himself. Then the team turned to Jake Barrett, and while he recorded three saves after Ziegler’s departure, he imploded in August, allowed 11 earned runs in just 10 innings and forcing the Diamondbacks to find yet another ninth inning man. That next guy was named Enrique Burgos, but sadly, he ended up earning just one save, followed by three straight outings in which he allowed a total of six runs in just two innings of work. That, combined with his two run, one inning outing before recording that save, presumably got him ousted from the closer role.

Phew. Who’s the last man standing? Well Daniel Hudson, of course, he of the sparkling 6.04 ERA! You know your bullpen has problems when you’re turning to a guy with an ERA over 6.00 to close out games for you. But hey, since the cherry-picked August 5th, he’s posted a tidy 1.00 ERA over a whopping 9.0 innings, so that appears to be enough to be given the next save opportunity.

Hudson was actually a pretty interesting sleeper heading into the season. After returning from a second Tommy John surgery, Hudson became a full-time reliever last year and was quite good, showing excellent velocity and a strong changeup/slider combination. His strikeout rate has fallen this year, though his velocity remains good and he’s still generating swings and misses. His ERA is actually inflated by a ridiculously low LOB% and no Major League pitcher is bad enough to maintain a sub-60% LOB%.

While his current peripherals (and obviously his ERA) suggests he’s not going to last more than a week as the closer, I think he’s capable of better. Since he’s free in the vast majority of leagues and the Diamondbacks have exhausted nearly every other closing option, he’s more than worthy of a pickup if you’re in need of saves.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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