With about a month left of fantasy baseball, managers in your league are scouring the wire for any player who can give them the edge over you and the rest of your owners.
The secret to being successful in September is to avoid feeding into the prejudice you may have about some players. It doesn’t matter how boring a guy may be as a whole, how bad he did in April or May or how he spurned you two years ago in the playoffs. If they’re performing well, they should be on your team.
Here are five batters who should be fairly available in your leagues who have been hot at the plate since the All-Star break with little to no fanfare.
Chase Headley, 1B/3B (NYY) - Yahoo 12%, ESPN 10%, CBS 18%
So what if he burned you in 2013 after his 31-homer 2012 campaign? Forgive and forget! Since the All-Star break, Headley has been quietly productive, slashing .310/.386/.493 with 5 HR to go along with 24 runs and 16 RBI. He’s a great plug in at the CI position if you’re hurting there and I would prefer him to someone like Ryon Healy or Logan Forsythe. He’s a better play in OBP leagues, but given his park and lineup, I’d gamble on him even outside of that format.
Corey Spangenberg, 2B/3B/OF - Yahoo 25%, ESPN 28%, CBS 30%
Looking for someone similar to Headley but can fill multiple holes in your lineup better? Since the ASB, Corey’s been even better than Headley, slashing .297/.366/.523 with 8 HR, 30 runs and 25 RBI. He’s even chipped in three steals. The most interesting development here has been his power. Owner of a career .143 ISO, Spangenberg is up to .225 in the second half.
Unsurprisingly, he’s changed his batted ball profile, pulling balls at a 47% rate in the second half as opposed to 37% in the first half. Hitters, of course, exhibit more power to their pull side. His HR/FB rate is up to an unsustainable 27%, but remember, we don’t care about whether it’s real or not. We just care he keeps doing it for four more weeks.
Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS - Yahoo 10%, ESPN 9%, CBS 17%
Since the last week of July, which is around the time Difo began playing regularly, he’s been very solid, slashing .326/.353/.481 with 20 runs, 3 HR and 5 SB. The concern surrounding Difo has been playing time, but it looks like until further notice, he’s in the lineup. Stephen Drew was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug.29, which knocks him out through September. With Jayson Werth and Trea Turner back in the lineup, it certainly becomes a bit more touch and go, but thus far, manager Dusty Baker is intent on playing the 25 year old.
On Wednesday, he played 2B while Daniel Murphy rested. On Tuesday, he played RF and Werth got the night off. Before that, he was getting all his starts at SS. With Turner back, we simply need more time to see if Difo will remain the utility guy, getting 5-6 starts a week, but early signs point to yes. As a MI who will soon earn OF eligibility, he’s someone who won’t hurt your team -- so long as he continues hitting. In the last week he’s continued to earn the approval of Baker, scoring 9 runs with a HR, 2 SB and a .394 OBP.
Eddie Rosario, OF - Yahoo 49%, ESPN 61%, CBS 68%
Rosario’s ownership numbers far eclipse those above him, but I still think he needs to approach something akin to 75%. Since the ASB, he’s hit 10 HR and knocked in 32 RBI, both top 30 in all of baseball to go along with a .299/.341/.580 slash line. And unlike others on this list, he’s not riding an unsustainable BABIP. He’s at a steady .308 mark.
He’s been hitting the 2/4/6 spot in a Twins lineup that’s scored the third-most amount of runs since the break. Over the last couple of weeks, he’s slowed down a bit (.300 OBP since Aug.15), but he’s still hit 4 HR with 11 runs and 12 RBI. If an owner dropped him, he’s definitely worth an add.
Cesar Hernandez, 2B - Yahoo 28%, ESPN 32%, CBS 51%
If you recall, Hernandez had his moment in the sun earlier this year in April, and it looks like he wants to close the season like he started it. Since returning from an injury on July 17, Hernandez has been great, hitting .296/.391/.462 with 8 steals (13th most since the break) 25 runs and 3 HR.
Hitting leadoff in front of Rhys Hoskins should continue to provide plenty of run opportunities so long as he gets on base.
None of these batters are meant to be the driving force behind a championship or a late playoff run. Think of them more as the connective tissue that supports your superstar bats. They’re not going to hurt you, but they’ll certainly help.
Which of these players are you most likely to pick up?
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