As fantasy baseball nuts we are always looking at numbers – we are extrapolating and making predictions based on historical data and it gets so bad that we see those numbers in our heads when we close our eyes at the end of the day. Congratulations, you’re human – but often we look at available players and trade options with specific positions in mind and at times don’t consider enough the stats that we need to target. For some reason we think we are in actual relationships with these players and we have so much invested in them that we become stubborn managers leaving stats on the table. We refuse to sit a guy because we don’t want to miss his breakout game. I get it, but refusing to have an open mind will kill you whether you are in a ROTO league or a head to head league. First identify the stats your roster has deficiencies in – target those stats – over position. You’ve got to let go of that pride, and make better use of your UTIL spot. Let’s examine some players that may help you meet some statistical needs versus positional needs and let’s get your roster more competitive and well rounded. I’m not going to get too much into ratio stats like avg. obp or ops as most leagues use only one or two of those stats and they are split up pretty evenly in league settings. Let’s take a look at offense as it requires significantly more strategy and pitching can be streamed for Ws and Ks.
Luis Valbuena, 2B – Houston Astros: Valbuena is 9th in the majors in HRs and is only 24% owned, meaning he is likely available in your league. I hate the thought of chasing stats but Valbuena hit 16 bombs last year and there’s a good chance he’s better than the 2B you are playing right now. His 2B eligibility alone should have him owned in more leagues. The main reason why this power will stick is because he’s batting at the top of a great Astros line up in between Jose Altuve and George Springer. He is getting a lot of great pitches to hit and will easily hit 20 HRs this season. He offers no speed – but if you are struggling in power consider playing him at 2nd or in your flex.
Kelly Johnson, 1B, 3B, OF – Atlanta: Johnson is another guy who has flashed 20 plus HR power in the past and has shown no reason why he won’t do it again. He has 6 bombs already so if your team needs to be super charged, give both these guys a shot in your line up, and enjoy watching yourself move up in the standings.
David Freese, 3B – Los Angeles Angels: At only 17% owned Freese if healthy, should be a great source of RBIs for the rest of the season. The Angels have a great offense and they all get on base. Currently Freese is 2nd in the majors in RBIs amongst 3Bs and my guessing is that you’re holding tight on the hot corner with players like Kyle Seager, Will Middlebrooks, Pablo Sandoval and Xander Bogaerts. If a lack of RBIs are weighing you down than Freese should be playing ahead of all of these guys.
Angel Pagan, OF – San Francisco: Only 30% owned Pagan is a five category contributor. He’s not going to kill it in any one stat but the guy is a beast when it comes to getting on base and is 5th in the majors in hits. Hits is a grossly watered down stat but with a lot hits, comes a lot of counting and ratio stats. There’s a laundry list of players that are dragging down your roster that Pagan should be starting in front of and you know who they are.
Andrelton Simmons, SS – Atlanta Braves: Only 24% owned Simmons will have more runs, Hrs, and RBIs than Adeiny Hechavarria of the Marlins who is currently the 2nd ranked SS in the league. If its runs you are looking for swap out any SS not named Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitski. He already leads all SS in runs, so ditch your current SS and enjoy the uptick.
Billy Burns, OF – Oakland: The A’s have one of the best offenses in the league and Burns just stole his first base in just his 4th game. He’s hitting almost .500 and has three straight multi-hit games. He takes his last name literally as well as he was a burner on the base paths swiping over 70 bags last season in the minors. If he gets regular playing time, he may steal 30 – but you will have to keep an eye on him.
Rajai Davis, OF – Detroit: The old faithful of SBs Davis is still available in 53% of leagues. If you need steals, put him in your line up and stop playing guys like Nick Markakis and Curtis Granderson.
Nori Aoki. OF – San Francisco: Back in the National League Aoki has been an on base champion for probably the best small ball team in the majors. With 6 SBs already and only 38% owned Aoki will contribute in speed and other counting stats. You’re locked into Desmond Jennings but why? If you’re set in HRs and RBIs I’d even play him ahead of Starling Marte or Yoenis Cespedes – but you’d have to really be set.
Remember gamers, you are not committed to these guys at all. Look at them as loaners necessary to super charge your line up and fill in the gaps while injured players get healthy and cold players heat up. There have been a ton of injuries this season, so you have to adjust and there’s a bunch of players under performing as well forcing you to be extra patient. In the meantime you’ve got to keep your roster moving and bench players that aren’t producing. There’s a fine line between finding adequate positions to fill and actual stat chasing. The goal is continue to dominate the stats you have a core competence in and grind it out to at least be competitive in the stats where your team is lacking. Good luck gamers!