By Sam McPherson
It happens in both real baseball and fantasy baseball: An owner or general manager makes a big splash by acquiring a big name right after the All-Star break, but that new player doesn’t really help the team as much as they thought—because the team failed to take advantage of a better opportunity that would have improved the roster more significantly.
Think of it this way: Your fantasy baseball team has a batting average of .257, which is last in your league. The next team in average is all the way up at .269 right now. There’s no point in going after a .300 hitter for his average, because you can’t make up that gap in the remainder of the season. It’s just not statistically possible.
However, your fantasy team’s steals total (56) is a middling league figure, and there are three teams ahead of you in steals currently—but none of them have more than 62 steals for their total. As an owner/GM, it makes a lot more sense now to find some extra speed, because you can gain big-time in the standings with a boost in that one category.
Identifying what statistical gains your team needs right now coming out of the All-Star break to improve the most in the standings is going to be the key to winning your fantasy league.
Players to Get Into Your Lineup Now
1. Kyle Schwarber, C, Chicago Cubs: Just another reason why the Cubbies are going to be good for a long time going forward, Schwarber could be the answer you’re looking for as a backstop. In a brief call-up earlier this season, he hit .364 with six RBI in just six games. He should be in the big leagues to stay now for the rest of the season.
2. Andrew Heaney, SP, Los Angeles Angels: And the rich get richer. How this former top Miami Marlins prospect ended up with the Angels is just unfair, but you don’t care about that. Heaney was terrible last year in his MLB debut (0-3, 5.83 ERA), but he’s found his stride now in Los Angeles (3-0, 1.32). The Angels want to defend their American League West title, and Heaney will help them do just that.
3. Taylor Jungmann, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: His team may stink, but Jungmann is still worth picking up. At 25-years-old, he’s on the polished side of rookie status, so be confident in his numbers (2.15 ERA, 1.000 WHIP). The 4-1 record is a bonus, since he pitches for the Brew Crew. He’s not a huge strikeout guy, but Jungmann does have enough stuff to make batters swing and miss fairly often.
4. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins: It may be too late to grab him in your league, but you never know. A top prospect, he’s now swinging away with the Twinkies to the tune of a .378 average, two home runs and eight RBI in just 11 games. He also has 15 strikeouts already, so that average won’t last forever, obviously. However, Sano is still good enough to start on most fantasy rosters immediately.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Jesse Chavez, SP, Oakland Athletics: This guy has a pattern that is emerging, and it means you should trade him to someone else in your league right away. In 2014, he had a 3.14 ERA before the break and a 4.60 ERA after the break. This year, already, he has a 5.27 ERA in his last seven starts after posting great numbers in April and May. Sell high if you can—and don’t look back.
2. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins: He was a nice surprise last year, hitting 23 HRs and driving in 85 runs with a .269 average. But halfway through 2015, he has just four HRs and is hitting under .250 on the season. Time to let him go; there are plenty of better-hitting OFs out there on waivers.
3. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals: This is a big loss for the defending AL champs, but Gordon is going to miss eight weeks now with an injury. By the time the All-Star outfielder returns, the season will be almost over. There’s no use stashing Gordon on your roster when you might get just a few games from his bat come late September.
4. Mike Montgomery, SP, Seattle Mariners: His hot start got a lot of people excited, but don’t be fooled. First off, despite a two-game stretch where Montgomery K’d 17 batters in 18 innings, overall he has just 34 strikeouts in 55 innings. Montgomery has also thrown 95+ pitches in all his starts but one, and in half his starts he hasn’t gotten past the sixth inning. He still needs time to mature, so trade him if you can to someone who thinks the 2.29 ERA will last another 10 weeks.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball and fantasy sports for many online sites, including CBS, AXS and Examiner.