As the fantasy baseball season slowly winds down and visions of a league championship are dancing in your head, it is very important to steam roll into September with a strong fantasy lineup to back you up. It’s time to change your strategy and play the hot hand. I’ve chosen five potential hitter sleepers who’ve been white hot, and may help solidify your fantasy team’s lineup for the next few weeks.
Based on current ownership numbers, there is a decent chance that they will be available on your league’s waiver wire. So if you think they can help your team, make your move right now!
Kennys Vargas - Minnesota Twins, 1B
Owned in 29% of Yahoo leagues
If you could use a corner infielder with some pop, look no further than the 6’5” and 275 pound Kennys Vargas. With a batting average in the mid .330’s and OPS over .900, Vargas has really taken the AL by storm since he started getting regular at bats in early August after a mid season call up.
Despite the small sample size and a high strike out rate Vargas’ outstanding .200 ISO, a measure of a batters raw power, has fantasy baseball owners jumping at the opportunity to add the slugging first baseman to their lineups for the stretch run. His lack of plate discipline makes it unlikely that Vargas can keep his average over .300 over a full season but you only need him for the next several weeks.
Vargas is making noise and your fellow fantasy owners are listening and making him one of the most added players in fantasy baseball so take the advice of those late night infomercials and ACT NOW!
Travis Snider - Pittsburgh Pirates, OF
Owned in 12% of Yahoo leagues
Believe it or not Travis Snider has made highly touted Pirate prospect Gregory Polanco expendable. With the return of Andrew McCutchen from the DL the Bucs found themselves with an extra outfielder. They decided that for the short term Snider’s bat, complete with an average batted ball distance of over 302 feet, would be better able to help them in their late season push for the playoffs. Polanco will probably be called once rosters expand after September 1st but for now Snider will be seeing regular at bats and he has been making the most of his plate appearances as of late.
In Snider’s last 82 at bats he is batting .292 with 4 homers and 13 RBI. His HR/FB rate of 16.9% is well above the 9.5% league average and he has managed to lower his strikeout percentage. Although it appears that Snider may finally be living up to the high expectations from early in his career he has had a tendency to be streaky. If you do pick him up, ride his current hot streak but be mindful of the possibility that he might cool down rather quickly.
Carl Crawford - Los Angeles Dodgers, OF
Owned in 55% of Yahoo leagues
Do you remember when Carl Crawford used to be a fantasy machine? He was a perennial .290 plus hitter who stole 50 or more bases every season while scoring 100 runs and slugged 15 or more home run... and then the injury bug hit. Over the past three years he has played an average of just 92 games per season.
The good news is that lately he is starting to look like the old Carl Crawford. In his last 73 at bats he is batting .328, and has scored 14 runs and stolen 9 bases. He has always had loads of talent; the big problem has been keeping his bat in the lineup. A healthy Crawford can help you make a run at your fantasy leagues championship this season.
Owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues
Joe who? Joe Panik that’s who! He might not steal a bunch of bases or hit too many home runs (he has just one in 140 at bats) but Panik (what a fun last name!) can fill a void on your fantasy team at some very thin positions. I know you’ve never heard of him but Panik is eligible as a second baseman and shortstop and he has put together a solid season since being called up from the minors.
His overall season average is .307 but over his last 77 at bats he is batting a sizzling .376 and has scored 10 runs. His other offensive numbers won’t exactly blow you away but if your middle infielders have been underachieving and you consider that there just aren’t many options for middle infielders on the waiver wire at this time of year you are going to want to take a closer look at Panik.
Steve Pearce - Baltimore Orioles, 1B / OF
Owned in 13% of Yahoo leagues
If you are looking for a little late season pop from an outfielder or corner infielder, 31 year old late blooming Steven Pearce just might be your man. With 15 home runs and a batting average close to .290 Pearce’s latest power surge is forcing the Orioles to get him in the lineup every day.
With an outstanding .243 ISO and career high line drive and HR/FB percentages, Pearce is looking like the guy who tormented starting pitchers earlier this season. Most recently he has hit four home runs in an eight game stretch, not too bad for a guy who is sitting on your league’s waiver wire and eligible at two positions.