Major League Baseball packed out Saturday again as the season rolled on into the first weekend of August. Teams are finding their places in or out of the playoff races and in fantasy baseball it’s a critical time if you want to push for your league’s championship.
If you’re in a hardcore, deep fantasy baseball league, you’ve got to find sleepers early in their development and grab and stash them. Whether you’re in a keeper or redraft league, it’s important to work the waiver wire to add the players that can give your lineup a boost.
Here’s our daily Sleeper Central (archive) post for the MLB games of August 4 highlighting performing players owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues. They represent value pickups whether you’re in a ultra-deep league or just need to give your team a tuneup for the stretch run.
Rajai Davis – OF – Toronto Blue Jays: I’ve always thought Davis was a bit underrated, but he never really got the chance to showcase his abilities. With the injury to Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays trade deadline moves to overhaul their outfield, he’s getting the change to play virtually everyday now for the Jays. His average has never been his strength but he’s up to .261 on the year and is a solid .286 since the All-Star break. In his 19 games since the break he’s collected 18 hits including a pair of home runs and six doubles overall giving him a solid .800 OPS. All of those stats are average for an outfielder, but what really stands out about Davis are his steal totals. He has 30 steals on the year while only being caught eight times. He has seven since the break and four in his last eight games. He’s getting the playing time right now and will be a good pickup option for speed and some slugging for as long as he’s in the lineup every day. Despite hitting safely in his last nine games, he’s owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues.
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C-Eric Kratz – Phi: (0.0% owned in ESPN leagues) 1-3, R, 2 RBI, BB, HR. In 14 games Kratz is hitting .346 with four home runs giving him a small sample-sized OPS of 1.316. He’ll get quite a bit of playing time with Carloz Ruiz out until mid-September and makes a solid catching pickup until then.
1B- Mike Carp – Sea: (9.7%) 2-4, RBI, 2B. Carp has been brought back up to play 1B for the Mariners and has hit .351 in his 11 games back with seven RBI and six runs scored. He still has nine K’s, but if your league doesn’t penalize heavily for strikeouts he can be a solid option at 1B if you need a fill-in or are resorting to just grabbing the hottest bat.
2B- Alexi Amarista – SD: (9.4%) 3-4, RBI, SB. Amarista missed some playing time and lost his fantasy baseball momentum with a thumb injury last week. He’s back in the everyday lineup now though at one of his multiple positions. He returned to the top of the lineup as well with his .316 OBP and his 6 stolen bases. He’s a deep-league option at a middle infield spot where average and steals can be hard to come by.
3B- Scott Rolen – Cin: (0.7%) 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 3B. Rolen has helped pick up the slack for the New Red Machine as they continue on without Joey Votto. His totals for the year are still ugly but since the All-Star break he’s played 19 games with a .355 average, a .994 OPS, 11 RBI, and six extra-base hits.
SS- Ruben Tejada – NYM: (23.0%) 2-5, R, RBI, BB. Tejada is what he is. If you need batting average help from your SS and some runs scored he’s your guy. He did hit his first home run of the year earlier this week but offers little in the way of power and has just one stolen base as well. He is hitting .321 now though for the Mets and has scored four runs in the last 10 games for the Mets.
OF- Rajai Davis – Tor: (17.0%) 1-4, R, BB, SB. See above for summary.
OF- Jarrod Dyson – KC: (0.7%) 2-3, SB. Dyson has been starting most games in CF for the Royals and is producing from the bottom of the lineup. He’s 13-28 since the All-Star break with two doubles, two triples, and six stolen bases. He won’t provide power but if you need runs and steals Dyson is a solid pickup as long as he keeps playing everyday in KC.
OF- Justin Maxwell – Hou: (0.0%) 4-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR, SB. Brad Mills has been a big fan of Maxwell and may try and get him more at-bats as we head to the end of the season especially with games like this. He’s hitting .247 for the year with 12 home runs, 35 RB, and three steals in 182 at-bats.
AL Starting Pitcher- Wei-Yin Chen – Bal: (36.4%) 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K, W. Chen has won three of his last four starts to improve to 10-6 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in his last five starts allowing seven runs in 32.1 innings with 31 strikeouts over that span.
NL Starting Pitcher- Lucas Harrell – Hou: (2.6%) 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 5 K, W. Harrell got his ERA back under 4 to 3.98 while getting his ninth win of the season against the Braves last night in Atlanta. He has allowed two or one earned run in each of his last five starts and would have a much better record than 9-7 if the Astros provided him more run support.