It isn’t really fair what Cleveland utilityman Jose Ramirez is doing to opposing pitching during the team’s current 11-game winning streak. Terrorizing the Tigers at Comerica Park during the weekend series to the tune of 8-14, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, J-Ram’s contributions were felt even more palpably in points formats since he doubled three times during Sunday’s game on top going yard twice. In having hit 19-43 during the Tribe’s streak, Ramirez has boosted his average to .310 and is an obvious play every possible chance you can use him. I’d commented Thursday about his relatively meager average since the break—since expectations for such a talent hitter are sky-high—and that the lack of power production for most of August was a little concerning too. But, just like clockwork, the .267 BABIP in the second half I mentioned finally caught up to Ramirez for him to go off over the weekend. That’s 22 homers, 89 runs, and 66 RBI for the year now. He’ll push for 20 steals too, sitting at 15 currently. Start the Indians’ 3-spot batting wizard unconditionally, for the love of all that is holy.
Now let’s evaluate how some other hitters throughout the league did this past weekend:
Brandon Crawford (SS, SFG) – 4-11, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K. Crawford is honestly just a backup SS, but he is cruising through late summer and absolutely has value. He hit his 13th homer of the year Friday, which is a total that fails to truly impress in an historic year for home runs but power is also not an abject liability if you own him. The best thing Crawford does for your competitiveness in roto is the RBI he provides from either cleanup of the 5-spot, as he’s plated 67 overall and 11 over the last 30 days. In that same span, he’s averaged .319 so it warrants you focusing on his most recent work rather than being entirely deterred by his .247 average. If your league has a 2B/SS middle infielder spot, Crawford might just be a clever late-season plugin there.
Melky Cabrera (OF, KCR) – 6-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K. It’s really quite remarkable how well Cabrera has played against divisional competition all year long, whether in a White Sox or Royals uniform. In 53 games played against divisional rivals, Melkman has gone an extremely stout .306 with 25 runs, seven homers and 27 RBI. The runs/RBI in those games are slightly below where they should be proportionally (i.e. 38% of his runs and 36% of his RBI have come in 41% of his games), but outpacing his season BA of .298 means he’s a no-brainer to use when the Royals take on AL Central teams, which happens 20 more times this month. He’s been a great average booster on one of my teams when I deploy him lately, so I am speaking from personal experience in recommending him.
Delino Deshields (OF, TEX) – 5-9, 6 R, HR, RBI, 5 BB, K, 3 SB. Just a matter of days after dropping Deshields out of the Hitter List of the top 150 bats in the league, he has soared back to fantasy relevance by answering the call to start for Texas consistently at LF with the injury to Adrian Beltre. I had previously been worried that the return of Carlos Gomez would sideline Deshields as far as playing time goes, but with Joey Gallo shifting to man the hot corner in Beltre’s absence those concerns are rendered practically null and void. Deshields had a great series against the Angels this weekend, and stealing a trio of bags has brought his season total to an excellent 28. The power rarely shows up, as he’s only homered four times in 283 at-bats, but the speed on top of his having scored 71 runs makes him absolutely worth your while to add and use. He owns a .286 average for your trouble as well.
Carlos Gomez (OF, TEX) – 3-10, 4 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, 4 K, SB. Speaking of Gomez, he had an excellent series versus the boys of Anaheim right there alongside Deshields. While he’s gone just 6-30 since being reactivated August 26, he’s made the hits he has gotten very productive ones. What he may cost you in average on the very short-term scale (i.e. the current week’s matchup H2H) he has shown he can make up for in an uptick of run/RBI creation. He’s not a recommended set-and-forget kind of guy, because he is a horrendous .187 away from Globe Life Park. Stream him for home games only, and then enjoy the combination of what 39.5% hard contact in the second half and a .291 BABIP since the All-Star break can yield.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI) – 3-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K. Hoskins missed Sunday’s series finale at Marlins Park as a precaution and opportunity for rest after being HBP Saturday, as the X-rays came back negative and he will be fine to use in lineups for the coming week. It’s been a fruitful first 85 AB for Hoskins, as he has hit .318 with 12 bombs and 27 RBI to begin his MLB career. Despite the small sample size of big-league work, Hoskins’ OPS of 1.196 is an irresponsible thing for fantasy owners to ignore as the season winds down. I highly recommend being among those who contribute to his ownership going up in ESPN and Yahoo leagues from the 82% it currently sits at. His bat is hot enough that, even with rosters expanding to allow for the return of Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera, Hoskins is not in danger of losing playing time.
Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) – 5-7, 4 R, 4 RBI, BB. Though Buxton missed Friday’s contest against the Royals, he was able to triple in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s action. While his September slugging percentage of 1.286 is comically huge because the month just began, he legitimately must be owned in all leagues to conclude the year based on his sterling .351 average since the break and 10th-best wOBA of the second half.
Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CHW) – 5-11, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 SB, 3 K. This is just the second year, along with 2015, in which Sanchez has seen playing time in 100+ MLB games, but he is the current starting 3B for the White Sox and had a decent series against Tampa Bay over the holiday weekend. The Venezuelan infielder is averaging .266 with nine homers, 46 RBI and seven thefts. He is a switch hitter and bats a little bit better as a LHB versus righties: he’s batted .274 in that situation, as contrasted with .243 from the other side of the plate against southpaws. He’s not a bad bet if you’re really strapped for some RBI as the fantasy regular season wraps up, and it’s worth mentioning five of his bombs have arrived during the second half so the power could make a cameo to help you out as well.
Norichika Aoki (OF, NYM) – 4-9, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Aoki was cut by Toronto last week after only having been with the team since August 4 but was subsequently picked up by the injury-decimated Mets on Saturday. He had a decent showing against the Astros in a return to the city he started the year playing in—for those of you playing along at home, he’s with his third team of the season, which gets all sorts of red flags flying in my mind. The New York franchise is in emergency mode based on Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto being on the disabled list and Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson having recently moved on to other opportunities, so Aoki should see ample playing time in RF to close out the year. He’s averaging .280 on the season and has 34 runs, five homers, and 29 RBI to his credit. While neither those counting stats nor his anemic 20.5% in hard contact aren’t impressive at all, his zone contact of 93.2% and whiff rate of just 6.3% are excellent. Getting a steal almost immediately for his new team is a nice bonus for fantasy viability, and his positioning early in the Mets order means he could score some runs this month. The power and RBI aren’t going to be there, though, so buyer beware.