The Astros popped five home runs against the White Sox on Monday night, and outfielder Matt Dominguez was part of the fun with his 19th long ball of the season. The 24-year old is now batting .236/.274/.410 with 19 home runs, 51 runs and 65 RBIs in his first full season, including a .288 BA and .988 OPS with five home runs, 13 runs and eight RBIs over the last 15 days. Acquiring Dominguez -- who is available in 75 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues -- will mean taking a hit in the BA and OBP categories, but the power is certainly real. Dominguez has now hit 24 home runs in 155 games dating back to last season, so a 25-home run pace to finish the season is not out of the question. After line drive rates of 17.1 percent in May and 12.3 percent in June, Dominguez's line drive rate has returned to much more normal levels of 21.8 percent in July and 19.2 percent in August. It's also worth noting that Dominguez has been one of the most unlucky batters with a .241 BABIP, which is the fifth lowest mark in baseball. If he could boost his BA to the .250 range in the final month in addition to hitting 25 home runs, Dominguez's final line for a fourth or fifth outfielder is going to look mighty fine.
Finally past a pair of hamstring injuries that cost him most of the 2013 season, Wilson Ramos -- who is still available in 75 percent of ESPN leagues and 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues -- is set to take over the everyday catching duties for the Nationals, who traded away veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki to the Athletics over the weekend. The talented 26-year old is batting .283/.312/.467 with eight home runs, 19 runs and 32 RBIs in 49 games, including three home runs over the last month. Two years ago (in his rookie season), Ramos looked like one of the most promising young players in the game, hitting .267/.334/.445 with 15 home runs, 48 runs and 52 RBIs in 113 games. A torn ACL knocked him out for the majority of 2012, but when he's been healthy, there's no denying that Ramos has been productive at the plate with 27 home runs, 83 runs and 99 RBIs in just over 200 games. He's capable of putting up a better-than-league average BA to go along with solid counting stats at an always fickle catcher position. Ramos needs to be owned in all two-catcher leagues.
Adding a rookie and relying on a hot start to sustain is an obvious no-no, and the Astros 22-year old shortstop is no exception. After lighting up box scores with 11 steals in his first 17 games, Villar hasn't stolen a base in his last 10, going 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts. Villar is now batting .264/.343/.352 with no home runs, 13 runs and three RBIs in 108 plate appearances on the season, and he's been on the bench in three out of Houston's last seven games. Making matters worse is the fact Villar is hitting in the ninth spot, limiting his runs and RBI opportunities in a top heavy lineup. His ownership rates have dropped to 10.9 percent in ESPN leagues and seven percent in Yahoo! leagues, as other shortstops have emerged as viable middle infield options down the stretch. If you're a Villar owner, I'd dump him immediately and add Zack Cozart, who is still available in 72 percent of ESPN leagues and 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The Reds 28-year old isn't a source of steals, but he ranks inside the top five in runs and top 10 in RBI at the shortstop position. He's also batting well over .350 in the past week. This time of year, you need to go with the hot hand.
I jumped on the Justin Smoak bandwagon at the peak of his hot streak and, of course, he's done nothing since I added him. In the midst of a 1-for-20 slump over the last seven days, I've since dropped Smoak, who is once again available in nearly 80 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. On the season, the Mariners first baseman is hitting .257/.352/.421 with 14 home runs, 44 runs and 34 RBIs in 406 plate appearances, or one home run for every 29 plate appearances. After walking considerably more in the first half, Smoak's walk rate has returned to the 11 percent range in the second half and his strikeout rate has risen to above 27 percent -- which is five points worse than his career average. We're already starting to see Smoak's BA fall considerably as his .316 BABIP returns to normal levels. There's simply not enough power here -- he has a .164 ISO -- to justify rostering Smoak for the time being. What we saw from late July to the middle of August was likely a mirage.
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