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Home Run Help

Juan Rivera had 25 HR last season, yet he was hardly talked about this spring.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's still early in the marathon fantasy baseball season, but if you think the home run category might be slipping away from you because either you didn't draft enough power hitters or they aren't performing up to expectations, I have 10 names which might be able to help.

All 10 guys are owned in less than 60% of all leagues and have shown some early-season power.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, New York Mets, 59% owned - I wrote about Francoeur last week in a piece about improving your OPS totals. His ownership was under 50% just seven days ago, so if you want him, you will have to move fast. He's hit as many as 29 HR in a season and so far this year has drastically cut down on his strikeout total (just four in 45 at-bats). Since arriving in New York, he's hit .317 with 13 HR in 87 games. He'd be my No.1 waiver pick if I was looking for power.

Juan Rivera, OF, Anaheim, 58% owned - Rivera had 25 HR and 88 RBI last season, yet his name was hardly talked about during spring training. On Draft Day he wasn't selected until late if at all, around the 15th round (ADP 180), but he'll be a solid producer in the Angels lineup hitting behind Kendry Morales and the patient Hideki Matsui. He should easily repeat last year's totals, if not improve on them.

Jose Guillen, OF, Kansas City, 55% owned - Guillen has always had 20+ HR power, his problem is staying on the field. Injuries have drastically shortened two of the last four seasons but since 2003, if he's played at least 135 games in a season he's hit at least 20 homers. He claims to be healthy and has five homers in 49 at-bats.

Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis, 52% owned - Even though he hasn't batted in the coveted No.2 hole in front of Albert Pujols as I had though in spring training, he's getting most of his opportunities batting No.5 behind Matt Holliday. That's going to be a nice RBI slot and if he can continue to hit the long ball could be a solid fantasy bargain this season.

Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox, 52% owned - Writing Konerko's name into your lineup isn't exciting, but he's hit 30-or-more homers in four of the last six seasons. He hit 28 HR last year and has four already this season in just 42 at-bats. One problem with Konerko is that he's likely to sit at least one game each week, so you will have to do your homework.

Josh Willingham, OF, Washington, 49% owned - Willingham has hit 21-or-more homers in three of the past four years and every year that he has gotten at least 400 at-bats in a season. He's playing every day, so barring injury, will obviously get enough plate appearances.

Kelly Johnson, 2B, Arizona, 45% owned - Johnson hasn't been known as a power hitter (career high of 16 HR in 2007), but he's already smacked three in his first 35 at-bats. He's been struggling with a back ailment, but could be a source of homers from a traditionally non-power position.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Chicago Cubs, 20% owned - Despite hitting 20 HR and knocking in 89 runs last season, people aren't giving Byrd much of an opportunity to repeat the performance based on his low ownership. As long as he keeps hitting for power, he'll be in the Cubs starting lineup, but beware if he slumps. Chicago does have three other viable outfielders (Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Xavier Nady) and he could find himself as a "fourth wheel."

Will Venable, OF, San Diego, 9% owned - Venable had 12 HR in just 293 at-bats (one every 24.4 at-bats) last season and was even better on the road, hitting seven in 144 at-bats. he's the every day starter and could be useful as a spot fantasy starter away from Petco Park.

Ty Wigginton, 1B, 2B, 3B, Baltimore, 9% owned - Wigginton had an off-season in 2009, hitting just 11 homers in 410 at-bats. However, in the previous three years, he hit at least 22 HR and has been the Orioles best hitter this season. Additionally, he's eligible to play three positions making him even more valuable.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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