As I mentioned last week, fantasy gamers should now be focused on immediate help rather than looking for a skill set that will have long-term success. With the thought of finding “Mr. Right Now," here is a handful of players who are well-positioned to post meaningful fantasy stats next week — or for the entirety of September.
Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers (39 percent rostered)
Without trying to be too hard on you, fantasy gamers: How the heck is Willie Calhoun rostered in just 39% of Yahoo leagues? The 24 year old has a prospect pedigree, which was earned entirely on the basis of his hitting skills. And he has fared well this season overall (16 homers, .284 average across 211 at-bats) and especially in August (9 homers, 15 RBI, .898 OPS). And his next 16 games are at hitter-friendly parks. This one is a no-brainer.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers (6%)
My obsession with Texas hitters doesn’t stop at Calhoun, as the Rangers are set to play three games at homer-happy Yankee Stadium next week before enjoying four contests against an abysmal Orioles staff. Solak is widely available, but he is coming off a stellar Triple-A season (27 homers, .289 average) and is off to a solid start with the Rangers. While we are at it, gamers who need speed should take a look at Rangers speedster, Delino DeShields (20 steals, 7% rostered).
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays (13%)
Kiermaier isn’t swinging a hot bat of late, but that could change when he heads into a seven-game week that includes matchups against the lowly Blue Jays and the 12-man gas can that is the Orioles pitching staff. With 13 homers and 19 steals, the talented center fielder is someone who provides more category juice than most gamers realize. While we are at it, gamers can target other Rays such as Willy Adames (17% rostered) and Travis d’Arnaud (36%) next week.
Tom Murphy, Seattle Mariners (14%)
Murphy rarely plays, but when he does play, he’s pretty darn magical. The 28 year old has swatted 16 round-trippers across 197 at-bats this season, including six since August 13. And the advanced stats back up his power surge, as he owns elite rates of fly balls (48.8%) and hard contact (42.4%). There are 13 catchers with fewer homers but higher rostership rates than Murphy, who has also been an asset in the batting average department as well.
Jon Berti, Miami Marlins (30%)
I’m a big fan of players with three or more eligible positions, and the four-position Berti certainly fits the bill. Beyond being easy to fit into the lineup, the utilityman man has been swinging a hot bat and running the bases aggressively in August (.287 average, .858 OPS, seven steals). In leagues of 12 teams or more, Berti is certainly a fit on a handful of rosters.
Matt Magill, Seattle Mariners (31%)
Aside from an ugly blown save on August 21, Magill has picked up four saves and a win across six scoreless outings since taking over as Seattle’s closer. He is unproven in the role, and his control skills aren’t elite, but the right-hander has swing-and-miss abilities (11.3 K/9 rate). The phrase “any port in a storm” definitely applies to fantasy gamers who are in tight saves races, and they should give Magill a shot. And although the Mariners are closer to the bottom of the standings than the top, they should be good enough to generate a handful of save chances in September.
Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay Rays (7%)
Available in virtually all leagues, Richards has been very effective (2.31 ERA, 15:4 K:BB ratio) across 11.2 innings since joining the Rays. The right-hander would hardly be the first hurler to find his top form under the masterful guidance of Tampa’s coaching staff, and he is heading into an extremely favorable two-start week that consists of home outings against the Orioles and Blue Jays.
Tanner Roark, Oakland A’s (38%)
Like Richards, Roark has been especially effective (3.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) since joining a new team at the Trade Deadline. In fact, the right-hander has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his five starts as a member of the A’s. Roark could pay huge dividends next week when he starts at his pitcher-friendly home park against the Angels before hitting the road to take on a Tigers lineup that is arguably the most favorable matchup in baseball right now.