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Second-Half Successes - Hot Performances to Buy

As we enter the final seven weeks of the season, we will look at our rosters to see which players are performing at their best.

With a look at the data since the All-Star break, there are several names to target.

We will look to roster the players that best fit our plans and categorical needs down the stretch. Since the break, Matt Carpenter, Rougned Odor, Christian Yelich, and Ronald Acuna are in the top ten in offensive WAR. Here are some other names to consider to help our fantasy teams move up categories in our fantasy baseball leagues.

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Hot Performances to Buy

Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

As part of a top-five offense since the All-Stark break, Matt Chapman (3B, OAK) joins Khris Davis in the top ten in offensive WAR. Since the break, Chapman is hitting .361 with 6 HR, 12 RBI, and 20 R.

Chapman's 95.9 MPH on FB/LD ranks 31st in MLB, and increasing his hard-contact rate from 36% in 2017 to 45% in 2018 is a positive sign. While he carried a 40.0 GB%  in the first half, he has a 52.0 FB% in 37 at-bats in August with a 48% hard-contact rate.

With his hard contact and exit velocity, he has the power to match Steamer's projection of seven home runs over the last seven weeks. Against southpaws, he's hitting more ground balls (43%) while taking fewer balls to the opposite field (19%). Chapman has four home runs and a .841 OPS vs. LHP in 114 at-bats.

He has hit the ball in the air more often (41.0 FB%) against RHP with fewer infield fly balls, and he uses more of the field (27.8 Oppo%). He has a .870 OPS with 12 home runs versus RHP.

Even though he has a .332 BABIP, his 22.3 LD% helps his cause. His 10.1 BB% has remained steady, and reducing his K% from 28.2 in 2017 to 23.1 in 2018. He has fewer swings and misses against sliders (10.5 SwStr%) in 2018, and he can finish with a batting average that won't damage a fantasy roster.

Chapman has the power for a home run per week to finish the season, and he could finish with even more if he can improve his 39.4 FB%. If our teams need some home runs and counting stats, Chapman can provide both.


Mallex Smith, Tampa Bay Rays

Don't look now, but Mallex Smith (OF, TAM) has improved his plate discipline in the second half. His 14.5 BB% and 14.5 K% have contributed to a .451 OBP since the All-Star break. Getting on base more often can give him more chances to steal bases.

As the season winds down, fantasy owners are targeting categories to gain ground in the standings. Mallex Smith has the speed to make up some ground in the stolen base category. In the second half, Smith has stolen nine bases with 15 R and 7 RBI while hitting .343. Not only has his plate discipline boosted his OBP, Smith has stolen seven bases in seven attempts in August.

While it's a small 33 at-bat sample, the outfielder has a 22.7 BB% and 11.4 K% in August. His owns a .512 OBP for the month, and his .974 OPS in the second half is worth a look.

With Tommy Pham's injury, Mallex Smith should continue to receive consistent playing time. Hitting more line drives 35% of the time has contributed to his 37% hard-contact rate and .343 batting average in the second half. Smith's 29.6 ft/sec is the twelfth-fastest in baseball, and his speed is worth targeting for making up ground in SB.


Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves

After making his first All-Star Game, Nick Markakis (OF, ATL) hasn't slowed down in the second half. While some owners may have looked to move him during July, Markakis' across-the-board production places in the top-20 of offensive WAR since the break.

Hitting .342 with 4 HR, 15 RBI, and 13 R has provided good fantasy value. In CBS NL-Only leagues, the outfielder is the 18th ranked player in 2018 and the 16th ranked player over the last 21 days.

He has backed his 14 HR with a 90.8 MPH exit velocity, 10.5° launch angle, and 41% hard-contact rate. He's using all fields with a 38.6 Cent% and a 28.9 Oppo%, and his 27.4 LD% is the ninth-best in the majors. Continue to monitor his power in August, as he has a 43.6 Hard%, 43.6 FB%, and two HR in 42 at-bats. With a few more fly balls, the outfielder could surpass Steamer's projection of four home runs in his remaining games.

Although his .343 BABIP is higher than his .318 career-BABIP, his career-high hard-contact rate supports a batting average near .300 over the final seven weeks. Markakis has remained improved his plate discipline, as he has lowered his K% from 16.4% in 2017 to 10.8% in 2018. While he won't provide a big push in any specific category, Markakis has the profile to surpass Steamer's .279 batting average projection for the rest of the season.

With a spot in the middle of an above-average offense, Markakis can provide all-around production by adding some HR, a .300 batting average, 20+ RBI, and 20+ R the rest of the 2018 season.


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