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Four OPS "stars" available for pickup

Jeff Francoeur is batting .476 and slammed two homers in the first six games.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - OPS is a sabermetric baseball statistic which calculates a player's ability to get on base and hit for power. The number is determined by adding on-base percentage and slugging percentage and is being used more and more over batting average in fantasy leagues.

Over a season, a .900 OPS places a ballplayer in the upper echelon of hitters.

Today's article will show you four players with a current OPS over 1.200, who more importantly are likely available in your league for the low, low "price" of a waiver pickup. All four players are owned in less than 50% of all leagues.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, NYM - In 2006 and 2007, Francoeur was a rising star in the Atlanta Braves organization. In his 2006 season, his full year in the major leagues, he posted 29 HR and 103 RBI. The following year he hit 19 HR, still knocked in over 100 runs and raised his batting average to a respectable .293 from .260 the previous season. Unfortunately, he fell off the fantasy landscape in 2008 and by 2009 was traded to the Mets. He had a pretty good second half of the year in New York, hitting .311 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. He's continued that hot hitting right into the new season, batting 10-for-26 (.476) and slamming two homers in the first six games. He's owned in 49% of all leagues and is definitely worth a waiver selection.

Kelly Johnson, 2B, AZ - Another former Atlanta Braves player is off to a hot start with a different club. Johnson struggled last season in Atlanta and signed in the off-season with the Diamondbacks. After getting more than 600 at-bats in 2007 and 2008 with the Braves, he was relegated to spot duty in 2009 and his numbers suffered ( batting .224, 8 HR, 29 RBI, .692 OPS in 346 plate appearances). As an everyday player for Arizona, he's off to a hot start with seven hits in 19 at-bats including three homers and an OPS of 1.426. If he's back to his earlier Braves form, he should be good for 15-20 HR and around 70 RBI. Johnson is owned in less than 37% of all leagues.

Alex Gonzalez, SS, TOR - Gonzalez has already slugged four homers after hitting only eight all last season between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. His career high in home runs is 23 (2004 with Florida) and four times over his 12- year career he has hit at least 14 HR in a season. He could be worth a pickup while he is still hot, but long-term Gonzalez likely isn't your answer at shortstop. He's owned in 23% of all leagues.

Josh Willingham, OF, WAS - Willingham as produced solid OPS numbers throughout his career. His OPS has hovered between .827 and .863 for the past four years and he's averaged 27.5 HR per season during that time. In Washington, Willingham should play everyday and with the team's improved top of the lineup should knock in more than the 61 runs he did in 2009 while batting fifth behind Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. He's worth a flyer and is owned in just 30% of all leagues.

2010 Selected Player Statistics

PlayerTeamABRHHRRBIAVGSLGOPS
Jeff FrancoeurNYM21410260.4761.0001.538
Kelly JohnsonARI1967340.3680.9471.425
Alex GonzalezTOR30610440.3330.8671.242
Josh WillinghamWAS2339280.3910.7391.222


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