It's hard to believe the fantasy season is already winding to a close, but if you play in standard leagues (and even most custom leagues), you're on the home stretch by now. I'll keep this introduction short and sweet then. You all know the drill: below are five hitters owned in fewer than 50% of leagues who I think could be impact bats for weekly formats next week. If you're looking to fill a spot in your lineup down the stretch, then check these guys out.
1) Michael Cuddyer (OF)
2014 Stats: .317 BA, 16 Runs, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 3 SB
Games Scheduled: 5
As of 7:00 PM on Friday evening, Michael Cuddyer was owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues. Frankly, I find that astounding. This is a player who's batted .328/.385/.524 over the last two seasons with 25 home runs and 13 SB despite only playing in 161 games.
Sure, he's injury-prone, but when he's healthy, Michael Cuddyer is a must-own player in every format.
He would have made his return from the DL on Saturday had rain not interfered, and once he's back, there are few easily ownable guys who can make his kind of impact. Oh, and did I mention he plays in Coors Field? Grab him now.
2) Dexter Fowler (OF)
2014 Stats: .269 BA, 44 Runs, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 6 SB
Games Scheduled: 6
Dexter Fowler is another guy coming off a recent DL stint, but that doesn't deter me from sticking him on this list. Before hitting the DL, he was giving his fantasy owners very healthy run totals thanks to an excellent .380 OBP, with a bit of every other category tossed in for good measure.
While he's no power or stolen base stud, he's got enough speed and pop that you wouldn't be surprised to see him contribute in those categories in any given week. I also love the fact that he'll be playing a series at Yankee Stadium, an excellent park for left-handed power (Fowler switch hits). Simply put: Fowler is a safe player with a good deal of upside, and at this point in the season that’s got a lot of value.
3) Adam Lind (1B)
2014 Stats: .319 BA, 30 Runs, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB
Games Scheduled: 5
These are Adam Lind's career lefty/righty splits:
vs RHP: .291/.348/.511 with 123 HR
vs LHP .213/.258/.332 with 21 HR
Can you spot the trend? While Lind mashes right-handed pitching, he's frankly next to useless against lefties. The good news for next week is that Lind is only scheduled to face one left-handed pitcher, Tampa's Drew Smyly.
The rest of his projected opponents are all right-handed, and when you toss in the extreme friendliness of his home park, you could be getting a pretty nice power week out of Adam Lind if you roster him.
4) Seth Smith (OF)
2014 Stats: .291 BA, 46 Runs, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB
Games Scheduled: 6
Frankly Seth Smith is a pretty similar player to Adam Lind in terms of platoon splits:
vs. RHP: .281/.362/.492 with 77 HR
vs LHP: .205/.279/.318 with 8 HR
Once again, notice the trend? Smith, unfortunately, will have to face two lefties next week in Wade Miley and Andrew Chafin, but he also plays an extra game, so he and Lind will have the same rough number of opportunities to make an impact for fantasy owners.
While Smith does have to face Zack Greinke, he'll also get to feast on the less-than-impressive Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Josh Collmenter. For a player with a good mix of batting average and power like Smith, I'm expecting a very nice week given those matchups.
5) Brock Holt (3rd, OF)
2014 Stats: .297 BA, 52 Runs, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 6 SB
Games Scheduled: 7
He also offers fantasy owners position flexibility at both third and outfield (and possibly more, depending on what the minimum threshold for eligibility is in your league), and he'll likely be an above average contributor in runs scored next week.
Toss in a little bit of speed and a seven-game week, and I don't think you're likely to find a much better 3B in a very shallow free agent market this time of year.