If you're struggling at shortstop because of injury, suspension or performance, the team up north (no, not that far north) might have what you're looking for. Over the last 30 days, Brian Dozier -- who plays second base but is also shortstop eligible -- is the No. 5 shortstop in ESPN leagues with a .278 BA and .897 OPS, including four home runs, 14 runs and 14 RBIs. Dozier led off yesterday's 3-0 Twins victory with a home run off Danny Salazar, and he's now gone 11-for-29 over his last six games with three home runs, five runs and eight RBIs from the leadoff spot. While a strong batting average isn't in the cards, Dozier is a smart source of cheap power at a mostly powerless position -- only J.J. Hardy, Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond have hit more homers than Dozier's 12 at short. The Minnesota middle infielder has also been a consistent source of run production, ranking in the top 10 in both runs (51) and RBI (48) -- again, at the shortstop position. In addition to the power, Dozier has added nine steals to up his fantasy value, while being caught six times. Still available in 53% of ESPN leagues and 68% of Yahoo! leagues, Dozier should be added and started at middle infield in the majority of leagues, while he's worth a shot at shortstop for those looking for a quick fix at a depleted position.
The majority dismissed the Royals acquisition of Justin Maxwell at the trade deadline as anything of significance, but all the outfielder has done since coming over to Kansas City is hit. In 10 games with the Royals, Maxwell sports a dominant .417/.481/.875 slash with three home runs, seven runs and seven RBIs in 27 plate appearances. The three home runs in Kansas City are already more than he hit while with Houston (two), and he's done it in 40 fewer games. Just last year, Maxwell blasted 18 home runs in 315 at-bats -- or one home run for every 18 at-bats -- so the possibility for more power going forward is certainly there. While the 29-year old hits for better average against lefties (.288 BA vs. left-handers; .257 BA vs. right-handers), all five of his home runs have come against righties. The Royals have played Maxwell in 10 of 12 games since acquiring him, and they could choose to start him against more right-handers as long as he's producing. Maxwell is worthy of consideration in deep leagues while he's hot, as his value in Kansas City isn't totally dependent on starting every day.
In my opinion, Pablo Sandoval's down year is up there with the disappointments of Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes in 2013. All three were supposed to be reliable middle of the order run producers, but all three have come up short in meeting preseason expectations. With a career .295 BA, the Giants third baseman has been a pretty reliable source of batting average throughout his career -- outside of a .268 BA in 2010 -- but this season he's hitting a career worst .256/.311/.375 with just nine home runs, 36 runs and 52 RBIs in 99 games. No average, almost no power and spotty run production make Sandoval the No. 21 third baseman in ESPN leagues, behind options like Michael Young, Eric Chavez and Todd Frazier. Sandoval's .119 ISO is by far a career low (.140 in 2010), and his 13.9% strikeout rate is, you guessed it, also a career worst. Nothing in the numbers suggests Sandoval will turn this thing around in time for the fantasy playoffs. He's swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone than at any point in his career, and he's walking at a pedestrian 6.9% clip. Sandoval is still owned in 100% of ESPN leagues, but it's very hard to understand given his .311 OBP and .375 SLG at a position sought after for power. It's time to let the big boy walk.
Just like it was for Raul Ibanez, a drop off was inevitable for overachieving Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd. After launching 15 home runs in the first half, Byrd hasn't hit a home run since July 21 -- and he hasn't recorded an RBI in 13 straight games. The veteran is still hitting well on the season (.279/.330/.501), but you can't expect that to continue given his .345 BABIP, 5.9% walk rate and career-worst 26.8% strikeout rate. No longer with David Wright in the lineup, Byrd will shoulder a bigger responsibility as New York's premiere offensive star, and that's one role I'm not so sure he can play. If you didn't buy low on Byrd when the time was right, don't bother scooping him up now. He's the sixth most dropped played in ESPN leagues in the past week, which includes the players recently suspended in the Biogenesis scandal -- Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Bye, bye, Byrdy.
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Alex Kantecki is a fantasy baseball writer for Fake Teams. He also writes the "Closer Chronicle" for Vigilante Baseball every Thursday, ranking and tiering all 30 MLB closers. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @rotodealer.