The Major League Baseball playoff races are starting to take shape as teams fade away and sell before the trade deadline or try to acquire pieces they need to contend. The Fantasy Baseball season is moving into the stretch run as well as teams position for the final playoff push.
This is no time to have dead weight on your team so if you have an injury or need an upgrade check out our daily sleeper central for a whole lineup of players producing for their teams who are unowned in at least half of ESPN leagues. Here’s who stood out last night:
Lorenzo Cain – OF – Kansas City Royals: After a lengthy battle with a hip injury, Cain has reemerged and become a big bat in the middle of the Royals lineup. He played just five games before hitting the DL April 11, and finally returned July 13. Since then he’s been making up for lost time. In 11 games this month he’s hitting .378 with 11 RBI, three doubles, and a pair of home runs. His OPS is a robust .987 and he seems to have settled into the third spot in the order right in from the Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas. Cain added his first steal in his first attempt yesterday as well. If you lost Jose Bautista or for whatever reason need an outfielder who can hit, Cain is still available in 65% of leagues. He’s one of the top pickups in the Majors for the rest of the season.
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C- Derek Norris -Oak: (0.1% owned in ESPN leagues) 1-4, R, 2 RBI, HR. When you’re backup catcher hitting just .188 connects on a big home run you know things are going well for your team. Such is life for the A’s right now…
1B- Jeff Keppinger – TB: (2.4%) 2-4, RBI. Keppinger contributes in batting average and OBP. He doesn’t have elite power numbers or speed but is hitting .329 with an OBP of .399.
2B- Jemile Weeks – Oak: (27.2%) 2-4, R, RBI, 3B. Weeks doesn’t help in batting average (.219) but still has a solid .303 OBP and 13 steals on the year. He’s scored 40 runs in 89 games and is part of the suddenly solid A’s offense. He should be able to rebound and is a nice buy-low candidate.
3B- Chris Johnson – Hou: (9.5%) 2-4, R. Johnson has a deserved reputation for being a streaky hitter and may be ready to go on a tear. He is 9-17 in his last four games and has his average up to .276. He’s hitting in the middle of the Astros lineup for what it’s worth.
SS- Brandon Crawford – SF: (0.9%) 1-4, RBI. Not that it counts for more in fantasy-ville, Crawford has shown a penchant for the clutch lately and came through with a walk-off RBI last night for the Giants. For July he’s hitting .269 with 10 RBI and a pair of homers. His OPS has steadily risen each month of the season and is .732 for this month.
OF- Lorenzo Cain – KC: (34.9%) 2-4, R, 2 RBI, HR, SB. See Above.
OF- Garrett Jones – Pit: (24.0%) 1-4, R, RBI, HR. Jones has 7 RBI in his last six games with two home runs. He hasn’t hit for average, but his RBI and home runs have been solid.
OF- Travis Snider – Tor: (3.0%) 1-4, R, RBI, HR. Snider is off to a .333 start in his first four games up with the Big League club. He also has two home runs and four RBI in his last two games. The Jays are prepared to give him a long look in LF and he could have some nice value as the season winds down.
AL Starting Pitcher- Will Smith – KC: (0.0%) 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, W. Not many people saw this coming from Smith who entered last night’s game in Anaheim with a 7.97 ERA to face the Trout and Trumbo led Halos. He dominated though and looks to stick this time in the Royals rotation.
NL Starting Pitcher- Paul Maholm – ChC: (8.1%) 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W. Not even the hot Pirates bats could touch Maholm who improved to 4-0 in July with a 1.20 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.