You’ve done well up to this point, but you need a little bump: am I right? It seems that the majority of Fantasy Baseball owners are “one player away” from finishing in the money, so why not touch on four players that are available in the majority of leagues that can put you over the edge? These four players aren’t going to carry your team, but they are strong value plays that could give you justttttt enough production over the final four weeks to boost your Roto standing or qualify you for postseason play in a Head-to-Head league.
Oswaldo Arcia (MIN, OF): Power is not easy to find this late in the season, so the fact that the player with the third most homers in August remains un-owned in nearly 80 percent of leagues is a bit perplexing. No, he’s not the third best power hitter in all of baseball, but a career ISO of .195 would point to considerable HR upside. In fact, he’s been at his best when playing at home this season (SLG spikes by 144 points) and the Twins play just three games from Friday through September 24th that aren’t either at home or at a hitter-friendly park. With a plethora of home games on the schedule, Arcia’s season long trend of racking against RHP in Minnesota is a trend worth buying into. His slugging percentage also jumps when runners are in scoring position, giving him the upside of some very big RBI games. The Twins offense is rolling right now and you have nothing to lose by giving their powerful outfielder a run, especially when you consider his rising FB/LD rates and declining GB rate. He’s not a perfect hitter, but he has proven capable of hitting the two most popular pitches in baseball (fastball and slider) and that should give him an even better chance at extending his hot streak through September.
Dustin Ackley (SEA, OF): Go ahead and name all the players who had four homers and five steals through the first 25 days of August for their Fantasy Baseball owners. The list includes Ackley, Ian Desmond, and Carlos Gomez. That’s it. Not bad company for a player that is owned in about half of leagues, a number that needs to be increasing as we enter the final month of the season. The Mariners are very quietly becoming a respectable offense, thanks in no small part to their scrappy left fielder who is hitting .310 since the beginning of July and is producing one run every 1.24 times he reaches base. His contact numbers are great, but that’s nothing new, thus making the consistent run production sustainable. At this point in the season, you’re not only looking for hot batters, but also players who project for a high number of at-bats. Few players are in a better position to do just that than Ackley, as he has been elevated to the two-hole for a Seattle team that has just one day off in September.
Jeremy Hellickson (TB, SP): Look at Hellickson’s career track record and it is more impressive than you might assume from a Fantasy Baseball standpoint. Sure, his 5.17 ERA last season is an eye sore, but subtract that from his 102 start career and you’re looking at a righty with a 3.02 career ERA that is pitching better than he has at any other point in his career: yet he’s owned in roughly 20 percent of leagues. Yes please. He has struck out more than a batter per inning over his last three starts, continuing a trend in the right direction that we saw at the tail end of last season. The strikeout rate is going to be better than most left in your free agent pool, but the knock on Hellickson is the fly ball rate. It’s too high to sustain great success, but at this point, you’re worried about the next month, and with 16 of Tampa’s next 22 games at home, the elevated fly ball rate shouldn’t kill his ratios in September. The Rays promising righty has also shown the ability over his career to limit the number of dangerous fly balls allowed with runners in scoring position, a positive trend when it comes to chasing ratios.
Vidal Nuno (AZ, SP): A 4.66 ERA isn’t going to catch your eye, not in a positive way at least, but hear me out. He has given up just 23 hits in 30 August innings and has allowed fewer than four hits in three of his nine outings since joining the Diamondbacks. His strikeout rate has quietly risen in the summer months and while he is not going to move you up the strikeout list, he hasn’t been hurting you either. The schedule lines up nicely moving forward, as all but one of their remaining series’ come against teams that rank below the league standard in batting average against LHP. The lone exception being the injury plagued Colorado Rockies that are no longer sending Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez out there, thus making this a far less intimidating matchup for opposing pitchers. Nuno’s recent string of strong pitching has not come out of thin air, as his advanced metrics (FIP, xFIP, and LOB%) all back better numbers than his season totals, a trend that is worth taking a flier on as you try to make up ground down the stretch.
If you’ve learned nothing from reading my material this season, it is important to remember … numbers already accumulated mean nothing! Yes, they can forecast future performance, but Nuno’s struggles this season aren’t going to directly hurt you in September.
If you’ve got specific questions regarding these players or any other free agent moves that will put you in the best possible position, ask our staff of experts who answer questions around the clock. Eliminated from baseball contention? Don’t be afraid to send football questions, as we have an extensive group of analysts that are here to make you a champion.