Hey everyone, My name is Daniel Rotter @drot_6 on Twitter.
I will be forecasting hitters for you to add in fantasy baseball based on different depths of leagues.
I will focus on leagues with deep free agent pools (50-75% owned on ESPN.com), medium (25-50%), and shallow (<25%).
These hitters may be short-term hot hitters, or hitters that I feel are ready to break out. On that note, let’s dive right in! (Stats and ownership as of 7/17)
DEEP FREE AGENT POOLS (50-75% OWNED ON ESPN.COM)
Ian Desmond, COL OF, 1B (71.5% owned)
Since his move to the favorable atmosphere in Denver at Coors Field, Ian Desmond has yet to seize the hitting greatness that he could be capable of playing half of his games in the Colorado air. With two trips on the disabled list already under his belt this season, Desmond has missed 36 of the Rockies 93 games and has yet to make a complete impact in their lineup. The shortstop-turned-outfielder-turned-first baseman has hit .288 this season with just five home runs and 28 RBI, but could be poised for a break-out since his return from the DL on July 16. The Rockies had lost 15 of their previous 20 games before Desmond’s return, but on the day of his return, the Rockies shellacked Steven Matz in a 13-4 victory over the Mets where Desmond went 2-3 with a run scored and two RBI. Desmond has a history of many respectable fantasy seasons, and he could be the spark plug to the Rockies and your fantasy team to take down his opposition.
Scooter Gennett, CIN 2B, OF (67.1%)
Best known in 2017 for hitting four home runs in one game on June 6, Scooter Gennett has actually been enjoying a nice break-out season. Gennett has already topped his career-best for home runs in a season as he has 16 home runs in just 75 games, topping his previous best last season of 14 in 136 games. The 5’10” lefty has also hit .312 on the campaign, with 54 RBI, and a stellar On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) of .970. Gennett has done a lot of damage recently as well, in the month of July “Scooter” is hitting 13-for-34 (.382), with four home runs, 12 RBI, nine runs scored, and a stolen base. If Gennett is still available in your league, his consistent hitting and dual-eligibility should provide enough explanation as to why he deserves to be on your team.
Kyle Schwarber, CHC OF (58.9%)
This is a risky decision to include Schwarber in my “Hot Hitting Previews,” he has been quite the opposite of that description for the entire 2017 season. After tearing his ACL in the first week of the 2016 season, Schwarber rushed back to make an impact for the Cubs during the playoffs and helped them capture a World Series title. However, 2017 has been much less of a fairytale for Schwarber and the Chicago Cubs as a whole. On the season, Schwarber has hit an abysmal .180 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI but the deeper stats do show hope for Schwarber in the second half. Schwarber has been a horrible victim of his batted balls being caught or fielded at an incredibly high percent, as his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is an outlandish .199. With the MLB average hovering around .300, Schwarber should be in for a beneficial batting average adjustment as more of his batted outs turn into hits because he is getting out on balls in play at an unusually high clip. Since his call-up from a short stint with Triple-A Iowa, Schwarber is hitting 6-for-22 (.273) with two solo home runs, showing that he could be in for a much better second half after an improvement in these six games.
STANDARD LEAGUE FREE AGENT POOLS (25-50% OWNED ON ESPN.COM)
Whit Merrifield, KC 2B, OF (45.5% owned)
Merrifield, the second year utility player out of the University of South Carolina, has made his presence known to Royals fans by already topping his numbers from 2016 in less games in 2017. This year, Merrifield has hit .287 with seven home runs, 33 RBI, and 15 stolen bases, but like Gennett has done a lot of damage in the month of July. In July, Merrifield has hit 17-for-52 (.327), with eight runs scored, one home run, four RBI, and seven stolen bases. Merrifield appears to be emerging as a consistent option for stolen bases, and if your team is in need of that category he could be a sneaky addition.
Paul DeJong, STL 3B, 2B, SS (39.9%)
DeJong has sneakily been a consistent producer at the middle infield positions since his call-up from Triple-A Memphis on May 28, where he hit a pinch-hit home run in his first major at-bat. In 2017, DeJong has posted a .302 average, with nine home runs and 20 RBI in 39 games, a respectable start to his young major league career. Since July 4, DeJong has hit 14-for-31 (.452) with three home runs, four RBI, and six runs scored, a major help in the batting average department. DeJong is a little known commodity among casual baseball fans, and could help your team in multiple categories as the Cardinals hunt for a playoff spot.
SHALLOW FREE AGENT POOLS (<25% OWNED ON ESPN.COM)
Mike Napoli, TEX 1B, DH (17.2% owned)
The least owned 20 home run hitter in all of fantasy baseball, Napoli has been a disappointment with the bat for the Rangers until recently. Napoli currently leads the major leagues in home runs in the month of July (six), and has recorded a hit in nine of his ten July games. On the year, Napoli has hit just .203, but has added 20 home runs to his credit and has driven in 42 RBI, but much of this production has occurred recently. In July, the 12-year veteran has hit 10-for-36 (.278) with those aforementioned six home runs and 10 RBI. If Napoli can get near his production that he had last year in Cleveland (34 HR, 101 RBI), he is definitely worth rostering.
T.J. Rivera, NYM 2B, 1B, 3B (7.4%)
Worth a look for owners in large leagues, Rivera has been hitting the ball pretty well lately for the Mets and is only owned in 74 of every 1000 leagues. This season, Rivera has hit .303 with five home runs and 25 RBI in 64 games. Receiving more and more playing time due to his contributions with the bat, Rivera has started nine of the Mets’ 11 July games, where he has hit 14-for-33 (.424) with three home runs, seven runs scored, and eight RBI. While Rivera is probably worth a longer look for owners in 10 and 12 team leagues, in larger leagues Rivera is rosterable due to his hot bat and frequent playing time at multiple infield positions.
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About the Author:
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Daniel Rotter is just your typical high school student in many ways: he is a member of the varsity football team, does his homework, works as an umpire for little league baseball, and is the sports editor for his school newspaper. Daniel is different from most high school students in that he loves all things sports, and is obsessed with statistical, player, and rules knowledge of many sports, but particularly baseball. Still too young to legally participate in DFS, Daniel still spends most of his time on season-long fantasy sports for the time being. Daniel is an avid Baltimore sports fan, and roots hard for his Orioles, Ravens, and Maryland Terrapins.