We've made it to the midpoint of the regular baseball season, so fantasy owners should take some time to assess their teams and answer these questions to try and find areas where you can improve.
- Do you have injured players ready to return to action, like Mark Trumbo (foot), making your current starters expendable for trades?
- In Rotisserie leagues, is there someone you can trade with that is a notch or two above you in the standings? By adding to your team, can you subtract from their team?
- Are certain members of your team bound to lose focus when fantasy football draft season begins? Those members make great trade prey in late July.
- In your keeper league, are the bottom feeders to see if they’re ready to give up some stars for your young talent?
- Is there a pitching-heavy team in your keeper league that might be interested in stocking their 2015 holdovers with a player like Jurickson Profar for one of their top bench pitchers?
- In dynasty leagues, can you trade 2014 talent to pick up some players coming back from Tommy John surgery next year, like Matt Harvey?
- Do you have last year’s Rotisserie standings available to check which numbers you’ll likely need to target to place in each category
Hitters of the week
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros -- Stats this week: .482 BA, 1 RBI, 5 runs scored, 10 steals
The diminutive middle infielder is putting together quite an impressive season, and he’s using his feet to punish pitchers. Stealing 10 bags in a week suddenly puts Altuve (36) just four steals away from SB leader Dee Gordon (40). He’s leading the American League in batting average and with rookie slugger George Springer hitting third behind him, he’s able to see more pitches and get on base more frequently. Keeper note: Did you realize Altuve is actually younger than Springer? Sure, Altuve’s streak of stealing two bases a game will likely end at just three games in a row through Sunday, but he’s looking like a Roto monster these days.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox -- .357 BA, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 5 runs
It’s a great week to be a Jose. With 25 home runs, the rookie is the major-league co-leader in home runs with Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion. Abreu’s presence has helped turn the White Sox offense from the worst in the American League last season to the fifth-best this year. There’s a possibility he’ll participate in the Home Run Derby, but we’ve seen players in the past come out of it a different player. Let’s hope he skips it – unless you don’t own him.
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners -- .583 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 5 runs
With five multi-hit games this past week, Seager proved to be red-hot, even though he’s still just hitting .277 on the season. He brought his average up 27 points since last Monday, so let’s not offer up the house for him just yet. He’s having a career season, however, as he’s on pace for 24 homers and 110 RBI.
Hitters of the weak
Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins -- .167 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 runs, 0 steals
While he has yet to match his seven-home run April, Dozier has actually been playing pretty well. Use this week’s disappointing effort to talk trade with whichever owner owns him. He hit better, not worse, in June, with a .253 average and a surprising .387 on-base percentage for the month -- both highs this season.
Xander Bogaerts, 3B, Boston Red Sox -- .056 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 Runs, 0 steals
With 18 at-bats this week, Bogaerts was definitely the worst hitter of the week in the majors, with just one single to go with seven strikeouts. He even got a day off -- and could see more in the future -- as the preseason AL Rookie of the Year candidate tries to put a bad June behind him (.140 BA, .182 OBP and .258 SLG).
Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants -- .200 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 runs, 0 steals
While he didn’t add much to his counting stats, Pence did actually get a base hit in six of his past seven games, and he’s currently riding a five-game hitting streak. There’s nothing to worry about here, as Pence is on pace for over 20 home runs and a .290-plus batting average.
Buy, sell or hold
Buy: Brandon Moss, 1B, Oakland A's
The A’s have been using Moss against left-handers more this season -- and has a better average against southpaws (.271) over right-handers (.262), too. His power comes against righties though, and he’s my pick to lead the AL in home runs in the second half. The only two sluggers with as many or more home runs in fewer at-bats than Moss’ 280 at this point are Troy Tulowitzki (who history tells us will get injured) and Jose Abreu (who, as a rookie, history tells us might slow down in the second half).
Sell: Miguel Montero, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
Montero’s having a great season, so this might look like crazy talk. But let’s take a good look at what we have here. In his ninth season, he’s putting together a career year, on pace for 21 home runs, 91 RBI and a .265 batting average. Those are pretty good numbers overall, but to know that he has to duplicate what he did in the first half to get there makes me skeptical. Plus, you can approach another owner, pitching Montero as the second-best hitting catcher right now (which he is, behind only Jonathan Lucroy), and you should be able to swing a better hitter in exchange. There are plenty of mediocre catchers you can pick up (A.J. Pierzynski, Dioner Navarro, Wilson Ramos), and you’ll likely add a very good player in the trade.
Hold: Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners
With your trade deadline looming and teams beginning to do some serious self-assessing (see above), you’ll likely get some trade offers for Cano. While it’s true, he’s only on pace for 10 home runs this season, let’s not assume he has fallen off the shelf completely. He’s actually hitting well, just without the same power (.113 ISO) that he averaged over his final three seasons in pinstripes (.225). His contact rate is up and the odds are better that he’ll finish as a top-five second baseman than not.
Rookie Hitter Spotlight
Brock Holt, 1B/3B/OF, Boston Red Sox: It seems the wrong rookie third baseman is getting all the fantasy love this season, as Holt has outplayed Bogaerts over the past month or so. He seems to be the next scrappy young buck to make the Fenway faithful go crazy, but let’s not overlook that he’s hitting better than his history suggests he would. And his BABIP of .394 is too good to stay true. With all of that said, his position eligibility is impressive, as he already had 1B-eligibility, and now he’s seeing time at right field, center field, and third base, with the possibility of even playing shortstop in the coming weeks.
By the Numbers
200 – Strikeouts Ian Desmond is on pace for by the end of the season. That would be the seventh hitter with that many strikeouts in major league history, although, Desmond would be the first middle infielder to accomplish the feat.
115 – At-bats by Brock Holt to lead all rookies in the month of June.
111 – Stolen bases by Altuve to lead all hitters over the past three calendar years.
102 – Head-to-Head points earned by Mike Trout over the past three weeks to lead all hitters – by over 10 percent.
38 – Home runs hit by both Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Stanton over the past calendar year to lead the majors.
37 – Strikeouts by rookie slugger George Springer in June, just behind Ian Desmond (39) and Marcell Ozuna (39) to lead the majors.
3 – FAAB dollars bid to win OF Logan Morrison in Tout Wars this week. He was the most expensive hitter in Mixed League, after he cracked a couple home runs last Monday.
2 – Second basemen hitting over .315 this season, including Altuve and Cano.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.