At long last, we’ve reached the halfway point of the Fantasy baseball season. By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what your teams needs are, and what sort of improvements you will need to ensure a playoff spot. The All-Star break gives us both a much needed break and a moment to pause and look at our teams and evaluate what we need.
Most managers will have the chance to target a particular category that they may need an upgrade in and work towards a trade that will help them out. Others (the lucky ones) are already atop the leaderboards, so not much change is warranted. Then you have the unfortunate folks who are in the middle of the standings and possess a team full of inconsistent and maddening players who could surge and help them out, or lay a complete dud for the rest of the year.
Players who are incredibly streaky are much more of a detriment in head-to-head leagues than rotisserie, since putting up consistent numbers across the board each week in a head-to-head league is absolutely critical. It is fantastic when your team hits 20 home runs in a week, but when you hit three the next, how does that benefit you? Quite simply, it doesn’t.
As an example, I made it a point to acquire Justin Upton in quite a few of my leagues this year. I figured that leaving a volatile situation in Arizona, coupled with the fact that he could play with his older brother B.J. would lead to a career year for him. In the first few weeks of the season I looked like a genius, as he hit .298 with 12 home runs during the month of April. Since then he’s absolutely disappeared, batting .211 in May and .226 in June while hitting a total of three home runs. As much as he carried me during the first few weeks of the season, he’s been a huge detriment to my team since. What will his numbers look like after the All-Star break? That is the million dollar question.
Buying low on players who have experienced a tough first half and will turn things around could make or break your team. For players who I think you should buy low or sell high on, check out my “Market Watch” column which comes out every other Wednesday. That being said, kick up your feet and relax since the break is here! Let’s dive right into some guys to target off of the waiver wire, some of which are prime candidates that may be traded around the deadline at the end of the month.
Waiver wire pickups–
(Indicates percentage owned in ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo! Leagues)
Alfonso Soriano – (100%, 79%, 69%) Remember how I was telling you to avoid streaky players in head to head leagues? This is actually one of those players. In roto leagues, Soriano makes for an intriguing pickup, as he’s in the midst of a ridiculous hot streak at the plate. In his past 15 games he is hitting .350 with nine home runs and 19 RBI. Soriano has been the target of many trade rumors, since the Chicago Cubs are near the bottom of the National League Central. If he’s somehow still out there on your waiver wire, ride out his hot streak and hope that he is traded to a contender.
Marlon Byrd – (47.8%, 32%, 19%) Speaking of players who are prime trade candidates, Marlon Byrd has been fantastic so far this season for the New York Mets, hitting .267 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI heading into this weekend. Especially in a pitcher friendly park like Citi Field, no one could have imagined that Byrd would flourish this much. He’s an older player with 12 seasons under his belt and admitted that his resurgence is in large part to just relaxing and having fun. For an immediate infusion of power, look no further.
Michael Brantley – (84.9%, 72%, 39%) Brantley is one of those unique players who offers a moderate amount of power and speed and always seem to fly under the radar. He’s been very consistent so far this season with only a week or two that he didn’t produce. Since the beginning of July he’s batting over .350 and is on pace to hit 15 home runs and knock in close to 90 RBI. The Cleveland Indians lineup is better than most people give them credit for, so the window to acquire his services on the cheap may not be open much longer.
Adam Eaton – (13.7%, 57%, 32%) Everyone’s favorite breakout candidate going into the year, Eaton was finally activated from the DL on 7/9 and has been in the lineup ever since. In Spring Training I compared him to a younger version of Shane Victorino. He’s a player who will provide a decent amount of steals with a few home runs scattered in while having a high on-base percentage and average. Given the park that he plays in combined with his potential upside, I would strongly recommend immediately going out and grabbing Eaton.
Josh Phegley – (1.5%, 15%, 4%) If you were looking for an impact batter who isn’t widely owned, look no further. With Tyler Flowers struggling at the plate and the Chicago White Sox in need of an infusion of offense, Phegley was recalled from Triple-A earlier this month and has provided a much needed boost. I’d currently view him as more viable in two catcher or deep AL-only leagues, especially for those managers who are looking to add some power. He’s already hit three home runs and knocked in eight RBI.
Pitchers to stream in Week 8
Due to the All-Star break occurring from 7/15-7/18, games will not resume until 7/19, which means that there are no two-start pitchers. Most teams are still in the process of establishing their post-break rotation, so the probable pitcher data isn’t available yet. My “Crystal Ball” column will write about pitchers to stream again beginning the following week.
If you are really interested in keeping an eye on up and coming prospects, make sure to check out today’s Futures Game, which will highlight some key talent coming up soon. The biggest three prospects which I’m looking forward to seeing are Byron Buxton (OF- Minnesota Twins), Miguel Sano (3B- Minnesota Twins) and Christian Yelich (OF – Miami Marlins). Buxton has been compared frequently to Mike Trout due to being a five category player. If you can believe it, most scouts actually think that Buxton is ahead of where Trout was at this stage of development. Sano is one of baseball’s premier power hitters in the minor leagues, and the ball absolutely explodes off of his bat. Yelich has a clearer path to the major leagues and will possibly be recalled later on this season, since Miami doesn’t have much else to play for. He’ll join Derek Dietrich, Adieny Hecavarria and Marcell Ozuna for years to come.
Daily Moves “Tip of the Week”
Like many of my fellow RotoExperts writers, I will usually prefer adding a proven veteran over a prospective rookie, despite the appeal that they offer. Other managers in my “friends and family” league laughed when I added the services of Raul Ibanez earlier this season. Isn’t he too old? How much does he honestly have left in the tank? Well, I’m the one with a smile on my face now, to the tune of a .267 average with 24 home runs and 55 RBI at the break. Unless you are a part of a keeper or dynasty league, odds are that the veteran will outperform a rookie, unless they are the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Some experts like to provide outlandish comparisons of rookies to current big-league talent so that they can say they “called” the player performing well. Honestly, despite the production that some players have in the minor leagues, it is impossible to predict what sort of success they will experience once recalled. I typically view pitching prospects as spot starters, until they can prove that they can hold their own.
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