If your league playoffs have not started yet, they will be either this week or next. As I have said before, it’s time to stop looking at the names and looking solely at production, because there is no tomorrow. Every category counts, so don’t look at a player and dismiss them because you don’t see any power – runs and batting average are categories too. Unless you have a brand name star player manning a position you should start looking for alternatives to your current starter if they are not hitting on all cylinders or outright slumping. And if all your starters are hitting you may want to pick up a hot bat or two off waivers anyway – just so your opponent doesn’t use them against you.
Just like last week, and from here on out, we’ll be looking at under-owned players whose recent hot streak deserves some attention – despite their shaky or lack of production to date.
All stats are for the past two weeks (through Saturday) unless stated otherwise.
Ownership levels for hot players are under 50% on Yahoo and ESPN.
The Hot List
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS): Batting .429 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and nine runs scored. Those numbers are spread evenly over the past two weeks and not a result of one good week or series. Those numbers also place Cabrera 4th on the ESPN player rater among all hitters. The Mets play at Cincinnati and Atlanta this week
Adonis Garcia (3B): Batting .328 with four home runs, nine RBIs and 16 runs scored – good for fourth among third baseman on the ESPN player rater. The average really spiked over the past week with five straight multi-hit games. Garcia should continue posting decent counting stats batting second for the resurgent Braves. This is a good play to replace a slumping CI or Util player.
Ender Inciarte (OF): Batting .423 with two home run, six RBIs, 11 runs scored two stolen bases. Inciarte has failed to score a run in just six of his past 17 games, and since August 17 he has 10 multi-hit games. It’s time to compare him to your fourth outfielder if he is still available.
Byron Buxton (OF): Batting .600 (9-16) with three home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored since being recalled. Buxton is a complete wild card. Are those few games enough to gamble and risk your playoff hopes on? It’s worth a shot at this point. He did hit .305 with 11 home runs and seven stolen bases over 190 at bats after his demotion to Triple-A.
Scott Schebler (OF): Batting .400 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored. Schebler raised his average 50 points over the past two weeks. Half of that RBI production came in one game so the counting stats may not be dependable. He’s primarily a home hitter, and the Reds are home against the Mets Monday through Wednesday this week and all of next week against the Brewers and Pirates.
Trevor Plouffe (1-3B): Batting .400 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and eight runs scored. The average dipped this past week (.276), but the counting stats remained strong. As long as the Twins are hitting, Plouffe should get plenty of RBI opportunities hitting fourth or fifth each night. Minnesota has home games this week against the Royals and Indians, and then hit the road for games against the Tigers and Mets.
C.J. Cron (1B): Batting .367 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored. Cron batted .286 in May and over .300 in limited at bats from June through August. Owners forget when looking at his bottom line that he missed six weeks with a fractured hand. The Angels play at the Coliseum Monday through Wednesday, but then have a home stretch against the Mariners, Rangers and Blue Jays.
Jefry Marte (1-3B/OF): Batting .474 with three home runs, eight RBIs and four runs scored over the past seven days. He is seeing increased playing time thanks to .290 batting average in August. Marte doesn’t hit well on the road (.204) so playing him against Oakland this week could cost you, but he has a nice home stand against Texas, Seattle and Toronto after that, and he is hitting .314 at Angels Stadium.
Jose Peraza (2B/SS/OF): Batting .450 with three RBIs, three runs scored and four stolen bases. He has multi-hit games in half his games since being recalled on August 20. The recent hot streak has gotten him some at bats at the top of the order, but until we see that on a regular basis I would not count on him for runs and RBIs. Peraza is a good option for batting average and steals, and his eligibility makes him a nice plug and play option for your bench.
Jedd Gyorko (1-2-3B/SS): Batting .245 with six home runs, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored. He hit just .174 this past week, but three of his four hits cleared the outfield wall. Gyorko is not a batting average option; he’s here primarily for power with 17 home runs in July and August – and his eligibility all over the infield. I do worry that if the average continues to drop that Kolten Wong could swoop in and steal some at bats; that’s something to monitor.
Franklin Gutierrez (OF): Batting .500 (7-14) with one home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored over the past seven days. Gutierrez has a career .290 batting average versus lefties (.287 this year), and he will face Cole Hamels (Mon), Martin Perez (Tues) and Derek Holland (Thurs) during the early series this week. Given he is heating up you may want to take advantage of this (and keep it in mind if you’re a DFS player).
Joe Panik (2B): Batting .324 with three home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored. This is one of those hot players you should not buy in to; most of that production is a result of two 3-4 performances. That being said: his overall production is higher than last year so Panik is not a worthless player, and he could be in for an offensive boost this week with games at Colorado and Arizona.
Yoan Moncada (2B): Given he was just called up we can’t exactly call Moncada hot, but he is a hot pickup right now. There is definitely power and speed potential here, but few things to keep in mind. He hit .245 in August. The strikeout rate jumped up to 30.9 percent in Double-A. The stolen base total and success rate in Double-A is far below what he produced in High-A. I love the future potential here, and you may catch lightning in a bottle, but I would probably let someone else gamble on him this year.
Bobby Wilson and Luke Maile (C): Over the past 7 days Wilson is batting .375 (9-24) with one home runs, four RBIs and seven runs scored, and Maile is batting .389 (7-18) with two home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored. Neither catcher has done much this year, and Wilson hasn’t done much for his entire career, but that doesn’t matter now. If you’ve been playing the catcher carousel all season maybe pick up the tandem and play whichever is starting. The Rays have a home series against Baltimore this week followed by road games against the Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles.
Stephen Cardullo (1B): Batting .556 (5-9) with two home runs, five RBIs and four runs scored over the past seven days. While Mark Reynolds has returned from the DL, the Rockies could give him some additional days rest. Cardullo batted .308 with 26 doubles and 17 home runs over 406 at bats in Triple-A. Prior to that he played independent ball for five years so pitchers don’t have much scouting to go on giving him the element of surprise. Playing time is an issue, but if you’re a Mark Reynolds owners you may want to invest in a handcuff.
A quick look at who fell off from last week’s “Hot” list
and what they have done over the past seven days
- Sandy Leon: .421 with three runs and three RBIs.
- Jose Peraza: .500 with two steals, but just 14 at bats.
- Chris Owings: .526 with four runs, two RBIs and a stolen base.
- Keon Broxton: .333, but received just 12 at bats.
- Chris Carter: .250 with one home run and three RBIs.
- Randal Grichuk: .160 with two home runs and four RBIs.
- Tim Anderson: .250 with just one stolen base.
- Jose Reyes: .241 with four runs scored
- Ryon Healy: .286 with one run.
- Angel Pagan: .192 with two runs and two RBIs.
- Danny Valencia: .200 with one RBI and three runs scored.
- Denard Span: .158 with a home runs and four runs scored.
- Cesar Hernandez: .100 with a home runs and two runs scored
- Chase Utley: .214 with a home run.
- Melvin Upton : Just 1-18 with two RBIs and a stolen base.
- Brandon Moss: Just 1-17.
Alex Bregman remains hot, but an increased ownership level knocks him off the list.
The Not-Hot List
Marcell Ozuna: He batted .162 with three home runs, nine RBIs and four runs scored in August, and he has a .194 average with just five home runs since the all-star break. He is now battling a wrist injury that has forced him to miss the past four games and he is questionable to return by Friday at the earliest. The slump and power outage is bad enough; throw in a wonky wrist and this is a player you want no part of.
Jason Heyward: A .257 batting average with three home runs in June was the highlight of his season. He has three home runs over the other four months, just one stolen base in the past three months, only one month with double-digit RBIs (April), and just 13 total runs scored over the past two months. There comes a point in every fantasy season where you just need to throw in the towel on a player. The fact that he is still owned in over 50% of leagues shows how strong a hold the name of a player has over a fantasy owner.
Brian McCann: Unless you play in a two-catcher or AL only league there is no reason to own McCann right now. He hit .238 with only one home run in August and has a .211 average with two home runs since the all-star break. With Gary Sanchez entrenched behind the plate McCann now must settle for the occasional spot start behind the plate and at DH. A catcher in the DH role would normally be a good thing, but not in this case.
Matt Carpenter: Let me start by saying I do not recommend dropping Carpenter, but he should not be in your starting lineup right now. He hit .233 with three home runs and five RBIs in August – .208 with two home runs over the past two weeks. He is struggling despite being one month removed from an oblique strain. Plus the walks have been almost cut in half reducing his potential run production. You can ride him into the sunset, or you can grab a hot third base bat off waivers and maybe advance to the next playoff round – your choice.
Javier Baez: He set the fantasy world on fire batting .292 in June and .325 in July. In August, however, Baez hit .220 with two home runs, two stolen bases and eight RBIs, and tack on a 2.3% walk rate, 27.6% strikeout rate, and a hard hit rate that plummeted down to 20.3%. He has started two of four games in September so playing time will again be a factor like it was in April and May. I love the future potential and his position eligibility, but for the rest of 2016 I don’t see a reason to have him on your team.
Dexter Fowler: He has a .276 average with 10 home runs, nine stolen bases and 70 runs scored. While those are very serviceable numbers, Fowler did hit .207 in June and July, and he is batting .220 over the past few weeks. The runs were still there thanks to a high walk rate, but he offered little else during those slumps. He’s now 3-17 in September including Sunday’s 0-6 performance. I would remove him from your active lineup for the week ahead, maybe even consider dumping him if there is a productive outfielder on waivers.
Corey Dickerson: There was some optimism surrounding Dickerson after batting .294 in July, but that was short-lived. Dickerson has batted .229 or lower in each of the other four months, and he has just five home runs post all-star. The run production has improved and you might get double-digit RBI totals for the month, but the lack of power and low average make him low-end MI option – meaning not much use in the outfield.
Brett Gardner: In 2014 and 2015 we accepted the mediocre batting average because it came with 20 plus stolen bases, 15 plus home runs, and a high run total. With one month to go he will be lucky to reach 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases, and those chances are even dimmer since he has just two home runs and one steal after the all-star break. He can still be a somewhat useful bat at home, but for the playoffs I want a hitter that is a little bit more than “somewhat useful”.
Danny Valencia: His final line looks good; nobody is going to complain about a .293 average with 15 home runs over 392 at bats. If you look at his month to month numbers and you’ll see eight home runs, 19 RBIs and 18 runs scored in May; that’s half his home run production and one-third of his run and RBI numbers in one month. Valencia basically had an empty batting average the other months; he showed enough to stay relevant, but not enough to really help your fantasy team. He finished August with a.273 average, but he has hit .206 with zero home runs and one RBI over the past two weeks – just one hit in September. You may not want to drop him, but you should at least explore some waiver options.
Travis Shaw: The arrival of Yoan Moncada will definitely cut into Shaw’s playing time, and his recent numbers aren’t helping his cause. Shaw hit .167 in August and did not hit a home run after August 5. This isn’t his first prolonged slump either; he hit .214 back in June. Between Moncada, Hanley and Papi, there is no room for Shaw in the lineup – hence, zero fantasy value for September.
Ben Revere and Mark Teixeira: I should not have to address this, but considering their ownership level is over 30% apparently I do. This is not the .300 hitting, base stealing Revere of years past; it is only a shell of the man we once knew. He had one decent month for average and steals, but the other four months are filled with false hopes and broken dreams. As for Teixeira, he hit .193 before the break and is hitting .213 after the break.
If you currently own Revere or Teixeira you should be ashamed of yourself.
Joc Pederson: Strike one for Pederson is the platoon splits; he sits when there is a lefty on the mound. Strike two is his .231 batting average in August and .156 average over the past two weeks. Strike three comes in the form of Andrew Toles who plays centerfield and has been crushing the ball since being recalled on August 21. The final strike is a 29.1% strikeout rate in the second half. Like Javier Baez I love the future potential here, but I’m skeptical of how much use Pederson will be to fantasy owners over the final month.
A quick look at last week’s “Not Hot” list – Are any of them showing signs of life?
Jurickson Profar and Derek Norris should be dropped if you haven’t done so already. Matt Wieters can also be dropped; at this point you’re better off playing the hot-hand and matchups off the waiver wire.
Jay Bruce, Jake Lamb, Curtis Granderson, Josh Reddick, Gerardo Parra and Michael Saunders each had varying degrees of success this past week, but considering all of them have struggled since the all-star break I would not get too excited. There are probably better options on waivers if you take a few minutes to crunch the numbers.
Both Hunter Pence and Cole Calhoun had a down August, but both appear to be coming around. I give their numbers this week more weight than the above players since their slump was over a shorter time-frame. Plug them both back in your lineup.
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