It’s August and fantasy football season is in full swing, which means that those of us still grinding away at fantasy baseball can often find a bit of an advantage.
While your leaguemates may be watching videos of Aaron Rodgers and Garrett Wilson connecting for touchdowns in practice, you can be scouring the leaderboards to find hitters that are being overlooked.
At this point in the season, you’re not just looking to find good hitters but hitters who help you in the categories you most need in order to move up your standings. It doesn’t matter if Jake Burger is hitting lots of home runs. If you don’t need production in that category then he may not be the best add.
In this article, we’re going to try and find short-term values in specific categories. These are players who may see a boost in playing time due to an injury, may have a strong schedule ahead of them, or may just be seeing the ball well at the moment. Whatever the case may be, all of them will be UNDER 50% rostered in Yahoo! leagues and all of them will be players I think can help you over the next week or two.
So far in this series, we covered Triston Casas , Kerry Carpenter , Randal Grichuk , Edouard Julien , and Alex Kirilloff (pre-injury) when they were all below 50% rostered on Yahoo, so we’ll hope to keep some of that success rate going.
With that said, here are six hitters who I think are worth an add right now based on your category needs.
RUNS AND AVERAGE
Mike Tauchman – OF, Chicago Cubs
Rostered in 38% of Yahoo! leagues
I know it might be wild to think of adding Mike Tauchman if you’re trying to win a league, but the 32-year-old has established himself as a consistent regular for the Cubs and even pushed Seiya Suzuki to the bench. Over the last two weeks, Tauchman is hitting .404 with 12 runs in 14 games while leading off for the Cubs, who are one of the hottest teams in baseball.
There’s some signal that this is a little more than luck. Despite being on track to set a career high in plate appearances, Tauchman has cut his strikeout rate to 19.8% from 30.4% last year. He’s pulling the ball more than he ever has and being more selective, which has led to more barrels and a higher contact rate than he’s ever had. All of that has caused his batting average to continue to climb.
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Could this all unravel in a few weeks? Of course, but we should ride the production while we can.
Rostered in 19% of Yahoo! leagues
A lot was made about Crawford revamping his swing mechanics in the off-season, but nobody really paid attention because he didn’t start hitting for power or barreling the ball more consistently. Still, Crawford does have a career-high barrel rate, even if it’s just 4%, and just had a .996 OPS in July, so he’s clearly making meaningful contact while still sporting a 91.3% zone contact rate on the year.
Over the last two weeks, Crawford is hitting .325 and is tied for 16th in all of baseball with 10 runs scored (in 11 games). He hits lead off for a Mariners team that, starting Friday, will play 10 of their next 16 games against the Royals and White Sox. He’s a pretty good pick up in the short term if you need a Bo Bichette or Tim Anderson replacement.
HOME RUNS and RBI
Matt Wallner – OF, Minnesota Twins
Rostered in 10% of Yahoo! leagues.
The Twins always seem to have too many useful fantasy players for the spots in their lineup; however, sadly for Minnesota, injuries have made it easy to find places for players who would otherwise be in the minors. With Royce Lewis , Byron Buxton , and Alex Kirilloff on the IL, Matt Wallner has found himself in the lineup every day and hitting fifth.
Over the last two weeks, Wallner has five home runs, 10 RBI, and a .769 slugging percentage in 12 games. He certainly has some swing-and-miss in his profile, so he’ll likely never sport a good batting average, but he has a 17.9% barrel rate and 47% pull rate, so he can get to his plus raw power often.
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The Twins play three games in a hitter-friendly park in Philadelphia this weekend before playing five games against the Pirates and Tigers next week, so Wallner could be a good short term add for those looking for some pop.
Davis Schneider – 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Rostered in 25% of Yahoo! leagues
I had to include Schneider at some point here. While he’s not a traditional power hitter, he did hit 21 home runs in Triple-A this year with a 33.8% hard hit rate. He had a 45% pull rate in the minors and a 46% pull rate in his limited MLB sample, but it seems like looking to get out in front and drive to left field is part of his approach. From a power standpoint, that is clearly something we like. In reality, I think Schneider will settle into a solid player with maybe a .250-.260 average and a few chip-in home runs. However, while he’s swinging a bat this hot, you should roll the dice on him.
Friedl barely qualifies here based on rostership percentage, but he fits by the letter of the law. He has five steals in his last 13 games and 21 steals on the season. With Jake Fraley hitting the IL, Friedl has been playing every day, even against a lefty on Tuesday, and consistently hits second in the Reds’ lineup. What’s great about Friedl as a speed asset is that he doesn’t really hurt you anywhere, unlike those times in the past when you had to roster Jarrod Dyson or Billy Hamilton .
He’s quick to write off because his Statcast page has a lot of blue, but that would be a mistake.
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Friedl doesn’t hit the ball hard at all, but he makes great swing decisions, a lot of contact, and hits the ball on the ground enough to make use of his plus speed. He’s the perfect example of a player understanding his swing and abilities and working to make the most of it. He’s a career .270 hitter, so it really doesn’t matter if his xBA is .240 or his Max EV is low; he will get on base in a good lineup and steal bases and that’s what you want from him.
Much like Matt Wallner has benefited from the Twins’ injury problems, so too has Castro. The 26-year-old is playing nearly every day between 3B and LF and has five steals in his last 12 games and 28 steals on the season while only being caught four times. He’s lifting the ball a little bit more than in year’s past and chasing outside the zone a little less, which has helped him hit .247 after not hitting over .240 each of the last two seasons, but this is not the beginning of some major breakout. This is simply a player getting an opportunity and providing you with one major fantasy skill while not really hurting you anywhere else. Sometimes that’s enough.