I guess there’s no better time than right here, right now to tell you. This post will be for owners of teams not in contention anymore. All three Crackerjacks really advocate playing the season out start to finish. As a matter of fact, anyone who really takes fantasy baseball seriously should advocate that. There’s nothing more annoying than looking at someone’s roster and seeing probable starting pitchers on the bench, with injured players in active spots.
Let’s just say for fun that you’re in a 10-team league roto league and sitting in seventh place. Realistically, you’re not jumping six teams, so maybe you’re thinking about packing it in. After all, it doesn’t really matter if you finish in sixth, seventh, or eighth place, does it? Generally not, but what you do and don’t do can still have a significant impact on the league’s champion.
Maybe your placement won’t be changed at all, but think about how fun it is to play the spoiler. I enjoy it. Whether you’re contending or not, you can impact the race just by finding a point in a specific category. The person you took it from may have needed that point for the title, therefore significantly impacting the race.
Before getting into some names to impact said races, I want you to go to your league standings and look at the stats that are close for you. Mind you, you may not be contending for first, but if you’re in a race for sixth place, that’s still one point that can make all the difference. So, I want to take a look at all of the stats and look at some available names that can help you win some tough races. Lastly, before I do, I am not suggesting that you bench a Robinson Cano for Jemile Weeks to pick up some steals. Stay within reason, of course. But if you’re struggling at a given position, give these guys a look.
Today, we’ll look at hitting. Later on, we’ll go into pitching.
Runs: Yunel Escobar, Toronto Blue Jays
I’ve said it time and time again, but the American League East isn’t exactly a pitcher’s division. The parks are live, the offenses are powerful, and with the possible exception of Tampa Bay, the pitching rotations have no depth. There are other “available” players (owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN leagues) who currently have more runs scored, but none are on a team likeTorontowith the reliable playing time that Yunel Escobar will get.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Escobar plays short, which is not exactly a deep position in fantasy ball. So, not only is he a good bet to score some runs going in, but there’s a pretty good bet that he wouldn’t be a significant downgrade for most of you.
Of course with runs you’re betting not only on Escobar’s health, but the health of those who will drive him in, as Escobar’s seven homers doesn’t indicate that he’ll drive himself in a lot. But again, the Blue Jays are fourth in baseball in runs scored, so that lineup packs a lot of punch. Guys like Zack Cozart won’t get the playing time of Escobar, while Denard Span plays in a position where he probably would be a big downgrade for you, and he’s on the Twins, who aren’t going to impress anyone offensively. Looking at the waiver wire for a runs guy, you’d be hard pressed to bring in an overall package like this one.
Home Runs: Raul Ibanez, New York Yankees
I know the Yankees lineup can be a little hard to find at-bats in, but hear me out.
- Everything I said about the American League East and hitters when talking about Escobar applies here and then some. Raul Ibanez has a powerful swing from the left side, and the ball tends to fly out of right field at Yankee Stadium.
- Even if he’s in something of a platoon, keep in mind remember that Ibanez is the lefty while the majority of pitchers are right handed. So, even in a pure platoon, Ibanez will have his name on the lineup card more often than his counterparts.
- With Alex Rodriguez out, Eric Chavez won’t be a part of the DH mix, opening at-bats up for Ibanez.
Bottom line, Ibanez will get at bats. Get it? Got it? Good!
There aren’t weak spots in the Yankees’ lineup. Whoever you’re facing and wherever he bats in the order, you know that a guy with pop is coming up soon. So, I am not too concerned with the fact that Ibanez is a bottom of the order guy. The fact is that he’ll see a lot of pitches to hit in hitter-friendly scenarios. If you’re trying to find a way to sneak some homers into your lineup, that’s about the best you can hope for.
RBI: Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates
If you’re going to drive in runs, you need to be hitting with men on base. Garrett Jones does have some flaws, but the Pirates have no choice but to put him behind Andrew McCutchen. When you’re batting behind McCutchen, you’re going to drive runners in.
Something common with all of these hitters thus far is that they’re all in hitter-friendly environments. The NL Central isn’t quite the AL East, but it’s kind to the hitters.
Jones is a powerful player who’s taken advantage of that situation this year. When he makes contact, he hits the ball hard, which will produce a lot of runs with men like McCutchen on base.
I know about the drawbacks in his game and that he plays first base in outfield, not exactly thin positions. But I am looking at Jones at be a good producer for the next two months. So, if you have a high steals guy in the outfield and that’s not a serious race for you, make the change to Jones and pick up some RBI coming home.
Steals: Juan Pierre, Philadelphia Phillies
First of all, when you’re sharing an outfield with Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence and they’re traded within hours of each other, it’s going to free some starting spots up. Steals is such an interesting position and while I am not going to rant on it again, I do need to point out that high stolen base guys aren’t necessarily valuable or even competent in other categories, which is entirely unique.
But Juan Pierre is a little different in that regard. No, he’s not going to slug the ball out of any Major League park. Actually, he’s probably not going to slug it out of any Little League park. But he is a career .297 hitter and is currently batting at a .312 clip, which is obviously quite strong. He’s still stealing bases at a strong clip, as his 25 steals are tied for ninth in the league with former teammate Victorino.
When you look at the available guys who are ahead of Pierrein steals, we’re talking about an injured Dee Gordon, Rajai Davis, who will see the bench a lot more as his teammates get back to health, a .223 hitter in Jordan Schafer, and Tony Campana, a platoon player. They are only marginally better in steals, and nowhere nearPierrein terms of overall value. If you need some swipes coming home, look for the old veteran who’s next stolen base will be number 580 and is one of the top 25 ever in that skill. You won’t be sorry.
Average: Denard Span, Minnesota Twins
I’m not crazy about Denard Span’s chances to score many runs from here on out, but he’s a solid hitter. Span’s career average is .287 while his 2012 clip is .297. On top of that, he steals bases and has even managed a decent run total thus far this season.
He won’t fill up a stat sheet, but we’re not looking at guys who do that now anyway. No, here we’re looking at guys who excel in one category while being at least respectable in others. In Span, you have a guy nearing .300, which is far from a freak season for him. I see this as a pretty low percentage risk in average with potential for a nice kick in a few other areas.