We are approaching September 1, when fantasy owners will be treated to a nice, new crop of players added to the database. Rosters will expand and a handful of uber prospects will be called up to see how they fare at the MLB level.
Savvy fantasy vets need to keep two things in mind. First, the young pitchers called up will likely struggle. It's just the way it is. Second, you can really take a chance on some of the young hitters. Pitchers haven't seen them and they know a roster spot could be on the line for 2010. They tend to have more success than a rookie pitcher. The final month is crunch time, but we still have a week together before we get to that point.
Feel free to e-mail with any fantasy baseball questions you have over the next two months. It's always good to get an outside opinion and I'm happy to help. Let's get to this week's T.I.P.S.
B-Rob doing it all...
Brian Roberts is normally known as a three-category contributor. He steals bases, scores runs and hits for a solid average. But now he's added power to that repertoire. Roberts was this past week's top overall player, hitting .324 with four homers, seven RBIs and three steals. Since the break, Roberts is hitting .333, 60 points hitter than his .273 pre-break average. He has been particularly useful in August, where he has six homers in just 21 games. The best overall second baseman over the past month hasn't been Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia or Aaron Hill, it's been Brian Roberts.
Big Papi making his owners happy...
David Ortiz has been a huge disappointment this season, but he's still contributing some power. In 293 at-bats before the All Star break, Ortiz had a .222 average with 12 homers and 47 RBIs. Since then, his average hasn't improved, but his power has. The big guy has eight homers and 28 RBIs in 121 at-bats after the break. He will ruin your average, but odds are he's already done that for you. If you don't plan on cutting him, let him play and he will reward you with some power numbers. Think eight homers and 25 RBIs from here on out.
Randy Wolf has had some solid seasons in his MLB career, but in his 11th season, Wolf is on pace for one of his best. The southpaw has a 3.34 ERA and 1.11 WHIP on the year, and was completely dominant this past week. In two starts he pitched 14.2 innings, struck out 15 and finished with two wins, a 2.45 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP. As the Dodgers make a run for the pennant, Wolf is quietly enjoying his best month of the season. Wolf makes for a nice addition at a reasonable value as the season winds down.
Cardinals add another veteran
Kyle Lohse's placement on the DL forced the Cardinals to seek help. They opted for the only pitcher in major league history with 200 wins and 150 saves. John Smoltz was ineffective as a starter for the Red Sox, so they cut him and let him pitch somewhere else. It happened to be St. Louis, where in his first start, Smoltz struck out nine in five scoreless innings. He's not as smooth as he has been in recent years, but there's something in the St. Louis water that makes pitchers overachieve. Smotlz will be a six-inning type that can provide above-average Ks and a decent ERA. He's worth a roster spot in all leagues.
Wilson 2.0 producing in Seattle
Jack Wilson has been battling a sore hamstring, so the Mariners brought up Josh Wilson. In addition to shortstop, Josh Wilson has second base eligibility as well. He received 22 at-bats this past week and had 11 hits, six runs, two homers and four RBIs. In AL-only leagues, the one-percent owned Wilson probably isn't worth a pick up. Jack Wilson hasn't played since August 12, but he is expected to play later this week and Josh Wilson will go back to the minors or find a spot on the bench. His play has been intriguing, but it won't last.
Zambrano back, Gorzelanny out
Tom Gorzelanny has been relatively effective in the Cubs rotation, but that opportunity is now lost as Carlos Zambrano returns from the DL this week. Zambrano should be pretty fresh, and can be counted on to contribute from the get go. Gorzelanny will go to the bullpen. He doesn't strike enough people out to continue rostering him. However, if another of the Cubs pitchers goes down, Gorzelanny becomes a must-add.
Former No. 1 pick playing like it
Delmon Young has been a platoon player for most of the season, but a recent power surge has him as the Twins everyday left fielder. His average is still pathetic and his 0.15 BB/K is laughable. But ... he's starting to utilize some of that power that he was supposed to possess. Young's three homers this past week accounted for 37 percent of his homers on the season. He added 10 RBIs over the week, but his average was still a miserable .207. If you are completely desperate for power, adding the 10-percent owned Young may be a nice short-term solution. However, his low average and lack of stolen bases will likely hurt you more than help you.
Marlon Byrd has received a steady diet of playing time this season, but does tend to get a few days off here and there. Considering his play in August, Byrd shouldn't sit at all. The 31-year-old is hitting .321 in August with four homers, 15 RBIs and four stolen bases. With the exception of runs, Byrd is producing positively in four categories. It's a joke that he's only owned in 40 percent of leagues. Over the last month Byrd is your 22nd-ranked player. Just ahead of Miguel Cabrera, Utley and Adrian Gonzalez.
Pirates utility man playing more often
Delwyn Young hasn't really been given an opportunity to play in Pittsburgh, but with the most recent overhaul of the team, Young is seeing his name penciled in the lineup more often. Over the past week, Young has hit .389 with five runs, one home run and four RBIs. On the season he's batting .309 in 243 at-bats, so it's clear that he can help any team searching for help in the average department. His power is limited and he has only two steals on the season, so he won't be a savior for any team. In NL-only leagues, Young can help out at second or in the outfield. At 10-percent owned, the price to get him is minimal.
Pick up Adam LaRoche
LaRoche is a frustrating player. I won't deny that. He's also one of the streakiest players in the majors. Luckily, since joining the Braves, LaRoche has been one of the top first baseman in baseball. In 19 games as a Brave, LaRoche has hit .415 with seven homers and 16 RBIs. Atlanta is competing and LaRoche's presence in the middle of the order is a reason for that. Obviously the average won't continue to hover around .400, but he's comfortable in Atlanta and that's evident by his power numbers. At 57-percent owned, you may be able to get him off your free agent list. Take advantage of his hot streak. Over the past month he's ranked higher than Mark Teixeria and Prince Fielder.
In keeper leagues, make sure you own Derek Holland
There have been a ton of rookies to warrant some excitement this summer, but Holland may be the brightest of the bunch. A 6-2 lefty, Holland has followed a similar path to most young stars. They initially struggle, then figure it out. Holland has figured it out. In August, the 22-year-old has a 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 18 Ks in 25.1 IP. What's even more impressive is that his three August victories have come against the Twins, Red Sox and Angels. Holland will come into 2010 as one of the best value picks around. Beat the rush and make sure he is already on your squad.
Gain some ground in saves
Trusting a Washington closer has been about as easy as trusting some of the sleazy politicians that reside in the same city. Miracles do happen, however, and Mike MacDougal is living proof. MacDougal has thrived in the closers role, saving seven games in the last month with a 1.98 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He's been a Top 10 closer, and although he doesn't strike many people out, MacDougal has become a reliable closer. Treat him as such.
(Stats through 8/24)