From Aledmys Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker's production at the beginning of the season to three players now who have emerged as more than ownable for fantasy purposes.
Brandon Moss, Jedd Gyorko, and Randal Girchuck are those three.
Moss is the one of the bunch that is likely owned in your league, with 50%+ ownership on both ESPN and Yahoo, but there may be some late adopters who have overlook the 15 game stretch in which Moss has gone yard seven times and posted a .313 average. As I'm sure you've heard from other fantasy outlets, he is starting against left handed pitching and while that may muddy when Matt Adams returns (more mouths to feed), he'll still play almost every day with Matt Holliday sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Gyorko is the puzzle piece replicating his solid 2013 rookie campaign that garnered a lot of hype in San Diego. While I think we've yet to solidify who the real Jedd Gyorko is, his bat right now is too hot to pass up. Six homers in his last 15 and four multi hit games over his last six have set him up for a career high in long balls (23 is his career high, currently has 21). He has done this with some pretty unlucky BABIP numbers and an elite HR/FB%, so his 2017 value is really up in the air for the time being, especially at a deep position. Rest of season, I could see him hitting another 6-8 homers and posting a better average than the .249 he has posted in just over 300 plate appearances. Even with all the middle infield depth, he is still worth owning (38% owned ESPN, 33% owned Yahoo).
Grichuck is the third Cardinal kicking off this column and one that it has taken me the longest to trust. Why? Because we have seen the hot streaks before. Grichuck this season has gone through phases where he strings together three or four home runs over small stretches of games numerous times. Early in the season this got a lot of people excited, but by now we're numb to the flashes of power. The thing is that as he sits in the best stretch of his season, with five home runs and a 1.242 OPS in the month of August, peripherally not much has changed. He is actually striking out at a pace higher than he has all season (15/1 K to BB rate over only 12 August games), but that is being overlooked by the .886 SLG and lasers that have all been continually falling for extra base hits. 13 of his 15 hits this month have been for extra bases and I wouldn't expect that to continue. He seems, more than ever, to be an all or nothing hitter, which doesn't bode well for his transition into an everyday player with plus plus power. Points leagues it will be tough to stomach him, but rotisserie leagues he's definitely worth an add while his luck is at a peak (27% owned ESPN, 32% owned Yahoo).
Young, Confusing Hitters
Keon Broxton - Last week I mentioned that Broxton and Jankowski were more similar hitters than many realize, mainly because they're both only in your lineup solely for steals. After seeing another week of Broxton, I'm even less enthusiastic about his potential rest of season. Broxton seems to be in this weird limbo where he strikes out a ton (35%), yet walks enough to almost negate some of the Ks for points league purposes (15%). The more concerning thing is his average when compared to his average on balls in play. Sitting at .231 on the season with a .364 BABIP, I'd guess that both even out, setting him up to be a .250ish hitter with a reasonable BABIP for his speed. His value is really only in stolen bases rest of season to me, as that homer binge he went through was likely a blip. I'm having a problem finding a spot for him on rosters of mine, mainly because Travis Jankowski is only around 20% owned as well (26% owned ESPN, 28% owned Yahoo).
Jose Peraza - Up for the injured Zack Cozart, Peraza has finally showed some flashes of his potential as an elite speed/contact threat. His minor league stolen base numbers have been insane and with his average for the season at a sustainable .295, all that's needed is a walk rate near the 5-8% range to warrant some increased stolen base opportunities and you'll see him owned in a much higher percentage of leagues. He has very little power, even of the gap variety, but as with Broxton, the reason he may be on your team is for his wheels. He is 11-for-24 since being recalled and has a chance to stick with this level of production. Peraza, Broxton, or Jankowski rest of season? They're all in the same tier, but I'd go Jankowski, Peraza, Broxton in that order. Higher chance that Peraza jumps over Jankowski then Broxton doing so, even with his limited power profile (7% owned ESPN, 18% owned Yahoo).
Josh Bell - Bell is a call up from last weekend that has been pretty overlooked. He is a points league darling, with fantastic discipline for a hitter who maintained between a .425-.500 SLG for most of his minor league career. Right now his walk rate is 26% while his strikeouts sit at a measly 9%. Even though that won't last, it wouldn't be insane to see both numbers just into double digits for the rest of the season and even into next year. There are defensive concerns which could limit playing time, but with a high 300s OBP, Hurdle will likely find a way to get him into the lineup as much as possible in the short term. Love him in points league, a little bit more tentative in roto (10% ESPN, 11% Yahoo).
Leonys Martin - You may have forgotten - I know I did - but Martin was batting .322 with a .922 OPS in May as he became a hot add early in the season before going down with an injury. It has taken a while, but he has creeped back into being pretty productive. .277 average over his last 15 games, with five steals and a homer, I could see this being the start of a nice Martin stretch as the Mariners are committed to playing him everyday and sit in the thick of a competitive wild card race. Fangraph's steamer is only giving him three homers and five more bags for the rest of the season, but I think he can add to his already career high home run total and push 5/7 or 6/7 for the rest of the season with a high .270 average. Give him a look in deep leagues first, but don't be afraid to add him if the production continues (12% owned ESPN, 12% owned Yahoo).
Aaron Judge - I think he is a bit overrated right now. The home runs in back-to-back games to start his career kindled the buzz around his call up, but I don't see much value outside of when he heats up to the level of his minor league stretches. His strikeouts have jump into Joey Gallo territory, and while the mythological power he possesses has been on display in some ABs, he is still a bit raw at the moment. I think it is tough to roster a guy with a .222 average, .300 BABIP, and a 35% strikeout rate that I doubt will change much from those numbers for the rest of the season. He hits the ball hard, but until he cuts the strikeouts, I don't think we'll see the real Judge until late 2017. I'm very interested to see where he will be drafted next year, as his upside is huge. It will take time for him to develop, and unfortunately I don't think I'd roster him outside of dynasty leagues (43% owned ESPN, 40% owned Yahoo).
Phelps is Really Good
David Phelps - He has been really, really good since entering the Marlins rotation, and while my concern for the Marlins was pitching depth, they out of nowhere got Koehler and Phelps to log meaningful innings in late August. That six inning outing in Pittsburgh his last time out was the gem (9Ks, 4 baserunners) and I had been waiting for that out of him. The 28% jump in his ownership percentage on ESPN shows the increasing buzz and what's not to love. I'm confident he may be one of the better late season additions for surging fantasy teams in need of another SP. Great FIP, good control (17/3 K to BB over his last two starts), and an advanced pitch repertoire. There's little downside at the moment and I've already added nearly everywhere (46% owned ESPN, 65% owned Yahoo).
Alex Reyes - Sure it has been out of the bullpen, but Reyes has been exceptionally good. No earned runs allowed, a sub 1.00 WHIP and 13 strikeouts over 9.1 innings with a win and a save. If you're speculating on a lot of the other potential SP call ups, the one with the highest potential for legitimate impact is sitting right in front of you. He's under 20% owned on most of the major sites and will see some clarity in his role if Luke Weaver can't put together a good start today against a weak Oakland ball club. Teams with a solidified playoff slot and a roster spot open would be smart to add right now before everybody else jumps aboard. Watch Weaver and the St. Louis media closely after tonights game (19% owned ESPN, 17% owned Yahoo).
Chad Green - Just as everybody complains about the Yankees depth of pitching, Chad Green walks into the party and silences the crowd. Two great starts back-to-back (17/1 K to BB) sets him up for a big start tomorrow against a strong Baltimore club. Even if he gives up a few runs, I'll be keeping an eye on his swinging miss totals and control, as those are the two things carrying him early in his career. He'll likely get a nice matchup with Tampa Bay next weekend as well, I'd be a buyer if needed (24% owned ESPN, 32% owned Yahoo).
James Paxton - If anybody is scared of him after yesterday's start and dropped because of it, I would put in a claim and see what happens. If you give Paxton a decent first inning in that game, he ends up almost exactly how he faired in his previous five starts - very good. Danny Salazar is going through a similar problem of the 'no rehab start' track and hasn't faired well, but Paxton only needed on inning to get on track. His control was on point from the second to the fifth innings and his strikeouts are still steady. He gets a tough matchup in Texas next Tuesday, but it seems like every inning he pitches, to me, his floor is slowly increases. He's worth an add anywhere an SP is needed, and has the potential for a strong finish to 2016 (29% owned ESPN, 33% owned Yahoo).
As always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow.