By Sam McPherson
It’s always frustrating in fantasy baseball when your star hitter(s) take a day off, and as the hotter months approach, this can happen more regularly to any owner’s roster. However, if you have a few players with multi-position eligibility, then it doesn’t hurt so bad in the standings by the time October rolls around in your league.
The “utility” players have become more necessary in recent years for real Major League teams, too, as a guy like Ben Zobrist has shown by winning back-to-back World Series championships with the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs, respectively. MLB managers like these guys, and so should fantasy baseball managers as well.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Chris Taylor, UTL, Los Angeles Dodgers: Taylor’s primary position is third base, but he should be eligible at second base and outfield by now in most leagues as well. Throw in a .302 batting average, seven home runs, 24 RBI and four stolen bases, and it’s easy to see why Taylor will keep getting starts in L.A. for a playoff-contending team.
2. Jeff Hoffman, SP, Colorado Rockies: The Mile High team is for real this season, and Hoffman is one reason why. After getting roughed up a bit last year in his first MLB action, he is cruising now to the tune of a 4-0 record, a 2.33 ERA and a stunning 34:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In just 27 innings, he’s shown amazing control, so pick him up if you can.
3. Ryon Healy, 1B/3B, Oakland Athletics: He now has over 500 at-bats in MLB dating back to last season, and Healy has acquitted himself well so far with 27 HRs, 74 RBI and a .294 average. He’s in the majors to stay, and he also has multi-position eligibility, which comes in handy as noted above.
4. Jimmy Nelson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: With 16 losses last year, he led the National League in that category. But Nelson, like his whole team, has turned it around in 2017. He does give up too many hits still, although Nelson counters that with a 9.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate currently. His 3.45 ERA and 1.265 WHIP are career-best marks right now.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Ben Zobrist, UTL, Chicago Cubs: We suggest benching him for now, because Zobrist has extreme value due to his flexible role. However, at age 36 now, the three-time All-Star selection may be slowing down. He’s hitting just .222 this year, and no owner can afford that in his lineup without a lot of HRs or SBs. Zobrist has neither of those. Trade him if you can.
2. Tony Watson, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates: He did well enough last year in the closer role after his team traded away Mark Melancon to earn the nod to start 2017, but Watson now has lost the closer job due to a big increase in hits allowed (10.5 per 9 IP) and a decrease in strikeout rate (just 6.6 per 9 IP). He won’t be getting the job back, so you might as well release him.
3. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs: Maybe Oakland’s Billy Beane knew what he was doing back in 2014 when he traded this highly touted prospect. Russell is still just 23 years old, but he’s struggling after an All-Star season last year where he hit only .238 anyway. With a .207 average this year, his numbers are down all across the board. Bench him or trade him.
4. Matt Moore, SP, San Francisco Giants: He is the fourth Giants SP we’ve put in this category already this year, but that’s what happens when the team’s rotation is just 16-31 so far this season. Moore was a sleeper pick in a lot of drafts coming off one great postseason start in 2016, but his 5.28 ERA and 1.507 WHIP this year show he has a long way to go still in recovery. Let someone else take the risk.