Fantasy baseball owners sometimes have very short memories. Or in some cases, they have long memories -- about the wrong things.
They always remember when a player or a team starts the season off red hot or stone cold, but in the middle of the season, if some other team has become stellar offensively, it doesn’t make the same impact on their minds. Part of the reason for not noticing might be because the middle months of the season are combined with the first two months. Another reason is because most fantasy baseball owners are also getting prepared for their fantasy football drafts.
Here are the top five offenses that have changed their hitting fortunes from April/May to June/July (through July 26).
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: While the Angels were the highest scoring team in June and July, it’s the Pirates that scored the biggest difference from runs-per-game in April-May (3.81) to June-July (4.54).
2. Atlanta Braves: The Braves were a hair behind the Bucs with 0.726 runs-per-game difference. Chris Johnson has five homers and 20 RBI in July alone. No NL team has scored more runs in July (95).
3. Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton’s awesome June had something to do with this. The leadoff hitter hit .327 with three home runs, 18 RBI and 14 stolen bases in June.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks: Can’t pin the success on the return of Mark Trumbo, as he has just three RBI since returning on July 11.
5. Tampa Bay Rays: Makes sense now why they were one of the hottest teams in baseball since late June. But even though they’re in earshot of a wild card, it might have cost them prospects, since they might not trade David Price now.
Here are the five worst offenses that have dropped in run scoring from April/May to June/July (through July 26).
1. Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton’s amazing start (16 homers in the first two months) has slowed down considerably (seven homers since June 1).
2. Toronto Blue Jays: A severe dropoff in home runs will definitely drop you to the back of the pack.
3. San Francisco Giants: You can’t blame Hunter Pence, but Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey just can’t get hot at the same time.
4. N.Y. Yankees: Mark Teixeira had a solid May (6 HR, 19 RBI) and June (6 HR, 16 RBI), but his April and (injured) July have been ugly, with just five home runs and 13 RBI combined.
5. Boston: They’ve actually hit about the same home runs over the past two months as they had in the first two, but they were the second-lowest scoring team in the majors in June (84 runs), in front of just San Diego.
Hitters of the Week
Carlos Santana, C/1B/3B, Cleveland -- Stats this week: .557 BA, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 8 Runs scored, 1 SB
Santana brought his batting average up over 25 points for the season in just one week on the road against the Twins and Royals. He smashed five home runs in the Royals series, which makes him the first player to do so this season (and the first since Hunter Pence did it last September against the Dodgers). Santana leads the majors with 72 walks this season, which gives him a great on-base percentage (.371) when you consider his batting average (.232).
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto -- .375 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 Runs, 1 SB
Bautista is actually second to Santana in walks, with 69 this season, including four this past week. He reached base in exactly half of his plate appearances against the Red Sox and at the Yankees this week. Joey Bats ranks among the best hitters in fantasy this season, once again, as only Troy Tulowitzki (.432) has a better on-base percentage than Bautista (.414).
David Ortiz, DH, Boston -- .286 BA, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 6 Runs, 0 SB
Another American League East slugger coming off a great week, Big Papi destroyed the Blue Jays to start the week (4 HR, 8 RBI), before hitting another against the Rays Sunday. In spite of a batting average (.251) that could be his worst since 2009 (.238), he’s still showing well in the power categories, with just Miguel Cabrera (81) and Jose Abreu (79) posting more RBI than Ortiz (76). He’s on pace for 39 home runs this season, which would shockingly be his best total since he hit 54 in 2006.
Hitters of the Weak
Bryce Harper, OF, L.A. Angels -- Stats this week: .177 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 Run, 0 SB
Six games at two of the sweetest hitting parks in the majors (Colorado and Cincinnati) didn’t help Harper snap out of his nightmare 2014. Since coming back from thumb surgery at the end of June, Harper has just two home runs and three RBI. Between injury trouble and not meshing well with Nationals manager Matt Williams, this just hasn’t been the season Harper turns into a fantasy first-round pick.
Leonys Martin, OF, Texas -- .160 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 Runs, 0 SB
Martin has had a few good weeks this season, but overall, his season hasn’t been too impressive, as he hasn’t progressed from what he did last year. Next year, he’ll enter his Age-27 season, which is prime breakout age, and will also be his third full season in the majors. Expect him to get some talk as an undervalued player because of his speed (18 steals this season) and the power his 6-foot-2 frame should someday produce.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh -- .182 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 Runs scored, 0 Steals
Cutch had a tough series at home against the Dodgers (just three hits), and he followed it up with a series in Colorado he’s prefer to forget (one hit in 11 at-bats). He has seven games this week, all on the road, at San Francisco and Arizona. Even with the horrible week, he’s the second-best player in Head-to-Head points this season, just behind Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Buy! Sell! Hold!
Buy: Matt Kemp, OF, L.A. Dodgers
Sure, his power and speed (8 HR, 5 SB) isn’t what it used to be (39 HR, 40 SB in 2011), but he’s also the subject of several trade possibilities. One rumor has him going to Seattle, which isn’t a great upgrade for him, and the other has him traveling across the country to Boston, which is a great thing for him and his owners.
Sell: Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia
Over the past four weeks, only five other players have scored more Head-to-Head fantasy points than the veteran shortstop. He has five home runs for 15 RBI and 16 runs scored, to go with five stolen bases. Unfortunately, he hit just .215 in that span, with an equally dismal .284 on-base percentage. Use his power stats (on pace for 20 home runs for just the second time in five seasons), in trade talks, but know that he’s a 35-year-old, 5-foot-8 shortstop, who will likely return to average.
Hold: Billy Butler, DH, Kansas City
The 28-year-old designated hitter is having his worst season in the majors, projected to hit .273 with seven home runs and 63 RBI. But “Country Breakfast” has already started to turn things around, with two homers this past week. Over the past two seasons, his batting average has been 40 points better after the All-Star break than before it. Shake off mediocre trade offers for the Royals’ clean-up hitter.
FanNation Throwdown Picks
Here are my picks for infielders and outfielders in this week’s FanNation Throwdown games! Check Michael Beller’s pitching report for his top pitcher picks for each day.
INF: Adam LaRoche at Miami – The veteran slugger is hitting .284 against right-handers, with 12 home runs and 45 RBI this season, and Nathan Eovaldi has a 7.00 ERA in his past three starts.
OF: Emilio Bonifacio vs. Colorado – Rockies starter Yohan Flande has allowed at least three earned runs (in less than six innings) in each of his four starts this season. Bonifacio is hitting lefties at a .381 clip this year.
INF: Nolan Arenado at Chicago Cubs – Edwin Jackson has a 12.66 ERA in eight career games against the Rockies. Arenado hits right-handers well, and he has three home runs and seven RBI over the past week.
OF: Billy Hamilton vs. Arizona – Trevor Cahill has an 8.31 ERA in his past three starts, and the speedy leadoff man has 32 RBI and 32 steals against right-handers this year.
INF: David Ortiz vs. Toronto– Big Papi is crushing the ball lately, and he leads all Red Sox hitters against lefties. Mark Buehrle has also struggled over his past three starts.
OF: Brett Gardner vs. Texas – Colby Lewis has a 10.54 ERA in his past three starts, and Gardner has hit nine of his 10 home runs this season against right-handers, with a .458 slugging percentage.
INF: Salvador Perez vs. Minnesota – One of the best fantasy catchers this season, Perez is batting over .300 against right-handed pitchers, and Kevin Correia has a 7.07 ERA in his past three starts.
OF: Jose Bautista at Houston – RHP Jarred Cosart has a 7.47 ERA in his past three outings, and Joey Bats is red hot this – including against righties.
INF: Rougned Odor at Cleveland – The Indians expect to bring back Justin Masterson Friday against the Rangers, but he might need time to get his groove back. Left-handers are hitting .330 against him this season.
OF: Brandon Moss vs. Kansas City – Jeremy Guthrie has a 9.19 ERA in his past three starts, and only two hitters have more RBI against right-handed pitchers than Moss’ 61.
INF: Devin Mesoraco vs. Miami – We mentioned Eovaldi’s stats earlier, and the young Reds catcher is batting .292 against right-handed pitchers, leading the team. He also has 14 homers and 41 RBI against “northpaws.”
OF: Michael Brantley vs. Texas – Miles Mikolas got hammered by the Athletics Sunday, allowing seven earned runs, and Brantley leads the Indians against right-handers, with a .346 batting average and 47 RBI.
INF: Conor Gillaspie vs. Minnesota – Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson is coming back from a back injury this week, and Gillaspie leads all White Sox hitters, hitting .357 on the season against right-handers.
OF: Melky Cabrera at Houston – Astros starter Scott Feldman has struggled recently, with an 8.15 ERA in his past three starts, and he has a 5.77 career ERA in 13 games against the Blue Jays.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.