Ah, the post-labor day time is upon us, where lose valuable time getting past the ESPN presets that assume we’d rather know what’s going on in football than the last month of this silly baseball game of ours. Wrong! It’s playoff time in H2H formats, and homestretch time for Roto, so either way it’s more nail-biting than ever! Trading season may be over, but if you’re feeling bold, you can still boost your team with some unheralded waiver wire studs, and cutting loose some unworthy over-owned duds . Best of luck!
Matt Olson (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics) – He’s charging through the barricades like a Matt Bullson. Sorry, if you’ve followed Buy & Sell you know, I’ve had a hard time finding him a nickname. He’s a great consolation prize if you missed out on Hoskins, and in some ways is even more exciting. His 13.1% Barrel% is actually just above Hoskins, and his 98.0 mph AVG. FB/LD exit velocity is 9th best in the MLB. And over the past three weeks, he’s hitting an astounding .353 with 7 dingers with 15 RBI, with 5 of those HR and 10 RBI just over the past week. So why, WHY, WHYYYY is he still only 6.0% Owned? Not only should he be owned in all 15-team, he should be added in all 12-team, and dare I be so bold to say he should be owned in 10-team OBP as well, because he has dual position eligibility and has been mashing more than anyone and just launched another …Wait, I’ve got it! Mashley Olson! YES!
Ian Happ (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs) – It’s pretty surprising how unenthusiastic fantasy owners seem to be about a rookie second baseman who’s hit 21 HR in under 300 ABs. While his ownership rose this week, it’s still at just 32.5%, despite outperforming many stalwarts at the keystone. He’s turned it up this past month, hitting .298 with 6 HR and 16 RBI the past 3 weeks and .438 with 2 HR over the past week. The power is legit, as his Barrel% of 14.1% is right in between Justin Smoak and Paul Goldschmidt, and unlike them Happ qualifies as a second baseman where that kind of power is far less commonplace. He should be owned and started in all 12-team formats and makes for a solid 10-team flier if you need some extra pop and versatility..
Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Maybe Domingo ate your baby! After all, he’s been devouring everything in his path, hitting .381 with 3 HR over the past week and 5 HR over the past 21 days. While you may look at his 28% K rate and write off his .358 BABIP as fluky, he actually can maintain this with his rare combo of speed and hard contact. xStats agrees with this with an xTripleSlash of .274/.369/.841 that’s pretty close to his actual line of .277/.371/.860. Of course, that’s not even counting the 12 SB on the year, which certainly adds to his appeal. He should be owned in all 12-team formats, and while he’s a bigger asset in OBP, he can be comfortably owned in both AVG and OBP 10-teamers as well.
Jose Reyes (SS/2B/3B, New York Mets) – Reyes has been going ape on the ball like Dr. Zaius, complete with breakdancing around the bases. Over the past 15 days, he’s hit a shocking .438 with a homer and 4 SB over 32 AB, with a .561 OBP and a .625 SLG%. What I like most of this is that he’s managed a 9/4 BB/K over that span, showing this hot streak is more than just batted ball luck-driven. With his combination of position eligibility and power/speed threat, he’s the safer (though less exciting) alternative to Jonathan Villar, and at just 14.3% owned, currently rocks an ownership rate LESS THAN A QUARTER of Villar’s percentage. He should be owned in 12-teamers, and worth keeping an eye-on in 10-teams since he may be worth a flier depending on your team’s situation.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) – While I know I just wrote him up last week, Ozzfest is just getting started. And while he’s not biting off any bat heads, he’s teeing off with his bat head, hitting .367 over the past two weeks. But the bigger reason I’m writing him up is that he now has no competition at the position with Phillips gone, and Albies has been hitting in the 2-hole which greatly increases his run-scoring potential. Despite the lack of power thus far, I do expect him to hit a few more homers and with good average and OBP with some speed as well. He should be started in 18-team formats and well worth a flier in 15-team as well, if you’re like me and believe he’ll make some September magic a la Albies Dumbledore.
Joe Mauer (1B, Minnesota Twins) – You may have been so turned off by Mauer’s lack of power that you hadn’t noticed what he’s been up to lately. Over the past 2 weeks and 52 AB, he’s hit .423/.455/.615 with 10 R and 5 RBI, with only 4 Ks during that span. With him hitting in the middle of a Twins’ order that has been on fire lately even without Sano, he’s continued to put himself in run-scoring opportunities, and despite the lack of pop, his ability to hit .300 makes up for it in this power environment. He’s not quite shallow league material still, but I’d be happy to have him on my team in 18-team or 15-team formats.
Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners) – Haniger realizes we probably forget his early season heroics, so he’s been nice enough to put on an historical reenactment. This past week he’s been hitting .524 with 2 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI and a stolen base. Compared to some other guys on this list, I consider him more of a hot hand pickup than a breakout, and I don’t regret my early-season write up of him as someone to sell on. But at just 16.7% owned, he’s worth adding in 18-team and 15-team formats in which he’s been forgotten.
John Hicks (C/1B, Detroit Tigers) – Will all John Hicks owners please stand up? Why are all of you sitting? Yes, I’ll admit, I really only noticed him coming off his surprising 2 Homer performance Tuesday night, but a closer look reveals he’s not ENTIRELY a fluke. Granted, his .398 BABIP and 26.6% K% don’t look pretty, but he’s actually made a surprising amount of hard contact, with a 38.9% Hard% and a 10.0% Barrel/BBE (all of these stats won’t account for Tuesday’s game, so that’s even better!) And while his minors profile didn’t signal this breakout, xStats thinks his production has been legit, with an xTripleSlash of .293/.352/.856 that’s darn close to his actual .302/.360/.852. Playing time is the one thing that may hold back his value, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tigers open up more time for him in September. He’s widely available at 1.3% owned in ESPN, but he’s a solid 2nd catcher in mixed 2-catcher leagues, and he’s a worthwhile add in 18-team single catcher, especially if you can set daily lineups. And because I’m crazy, I just added him in my writer’s league 12-team playoffs. …Yep.
Alex Presley (OF, Detroit Tigers) – Welcome back to Detroit deep dives! If you’re in a deep league and find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to stream for average, Presley can be your Elvis. He’s hitting .313 on the year with a homer in 166 AB, and he’s hitting .440 over the past week. He’s had marginal power in the past but it seems he’s trying to become a spray hitter, and with a 31% LD% rate, so far it’s worked, as even his xAVG is a solid .291. Due to the lack of power and only marginal speed, he’s more of an AL-only option, but he may be helpful in 18-team as well since he’s receiving full-time reps and is more widely available than most regulars, at just 0.4% owned.
Yandy Diaz (3B, Cleveland Indians) – While I’m stuck in AL-league heaven (I’ll try to give NL-only the same treatment next week), here’s one of my favorite super deep league pickups. While he hasn’t hit a single homer, he has mashed nonetheless, hitting .371 with 9 R and 7 RBI over 35 AB the past 2 weeks, with an excellent 11/8 BB/K ratio. But what I really love is his elite 97.8 FB/LD eV, which should lead to many more extra-base hits. Granted, his problem has been that he hits everything into the ground, but since his return his FB% has nearly tripled, which should lead to a handful of homers if he can maintain it. He makes for a sweet pickup in AL-only and 18-team formats, and makes for a flier for bold owners in deep 15-team OBP. The Yandyman can.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers) – Granted, the suspension does make this a bit easier. But beyond the name value, which is worth bupkis, there’s just not a lot of hope left here. He will be returning to a decimated lineup which reduces his run-producing potential, and with his lack of durability and the Tigers out of contention, he’ll probably be taking a seat more often that you’d expect. Most teams are probably too chicken to cut him in 12-team, but I know I would. If a breakout were going to happen, it would’ve happened already.
Keon Broxton (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – I never cheer for the failure of another player, but after constantly getting derided for my poo-pooing of Keon Broxton, I can’t say I’m not at least feeling some relief. Yes, as we all expected, he did bring the 20-20 power-speed that fantasy owners love, but with his abysmal plate discipline, his real-life value was nowhere near as high. Now fantasy owners are waking up to that, since he’s been relegated to the bench in favor of the hotter-hitting Villar. He’s still way over-owned and should be cut in 12-team and even 15-team without much hesitation. And if he continues to ride the bench, you can cut him in 18-team too!
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox) – Bogaerts had great success last year, so naturally, he tried something totally different this year to fix that. It took a while for the good luck to wear off, but now the chickens have come to roost and what’s left is a .269/.330/.728 line, with 8 Homers and 13 SB over 480 AB. Actually, xStats thinks he’s still been lucky, with an xTripleSlash of .260/.322/.675 line, with that pitiful slugging backed by a 1.0% Barrel/BBE%, worse than Norichika Aoki, Jose Iglesias, and Jeff Mathis. With Pedroia back, he may be the one losing the most PT to Nunez, at least if the Sox are smart. I would gladly cut him in 10-team and 12-team formats, but ff course, he’s owned in 98.3% of leagues, because apparently most owners like losing. Call me crazy, I’ll be the crazy guy with a trophy.
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