Fantasy Baseball: In The Batter’s Box – Categories

by Joe Bond
By: Joe Bond

In fantasy baseball, the goal is to be the best you can be in all categories.  It is inevitable though that you will struggle at a category or two and at this point in the season, you know what category your team struggles with.  Well I’m here to help by discussing the five standard hitting categories (runs, home runs, rbi, stolen bases and batting average) and give you players that are available in the majority of leagues that can help you in each.  So without further delay, lets get going.

Runs

There are a few players available in most leagues that can help you in this category, and they are actually in the Top-60 of all players.  Jon Jay (OF - StL) is the best available option with 33 Runs on the season.  Like most of these guys, his average and home runs are low, but he actually has a decent amount of RBI with 25.  The next best guy in runs is David DeJesus (OF - ChC) with 31.  DeJesus has a pretty good average on the season, .275, but its been below .200 the last two weeks, yet he is still able to score runs because of a good overall OBP of .338.  Carlos Pena (1B/DH - Hou), yes that’s right, Carlos Pena is actually third on my list with 30 runs scored on the season.  You would think a high percentage of his runs would have come from home runs, but actually only 6 of them have, which tells me he can be relied on to score runs even when his power is not there.  A player that won’t show up on many searches for runs is Derek Dietrich (2B/SS - Mia).  He was only called up about a month ago, but has been pretty good so far.  He started off really hot batting .400 early on, but has cooled off hitting just .232 now.  He has still managed to score 12 runs in the poor Miami offense, and is somebody I would keep an eye on if I needed help with runs, especially when Giancarlo Stanton returns.

Home Runs
Home run hitters are typically not owned because they either have a low batting average or because they are just not known very well.  All the healthy players I’m going to discuss fall into one of those categories.  Adam Dunn (1B/DH - CWS) has to top this list with 13 home runs on the season, easily beating everybody out.  Now, of course we all know why he is not owned in more leagues, and that is his horrible .162 average.  It’s just hard to stomach the batting average even though he can provide above average power numbers.  Somebody with a much better batting average is Jason Castro (C - Hou) with .271.  He only has 8 home runs on the season, but has hit 4 in the last two weeks with a .390 batting average.  Another player that has 8 home runs on the season is Marlon Byrd (OF - NYM).  His batting average is not horrible at .255 on the season, but he is very streaky, as proof by his .217 average over the last two weeks.  Even with that poor average in the last two weeks, he has hit 4 of his home runs, so he can hit them out despite not collecting a lot of hits.

There are also a couple of players on the DL, coming back relatively soon that should be picked up if you need help with home runs.  Will Middlebrooks (3B - Bos) should be activated very soon, and already has 8 home runs on the season, even though he has been hurt since May 24th.  He proved he has plenty of power last season, and can be counted on for it this season, too.   Cory Hart (1B/OF - Mil) is another player that is one to look out for with home run power.  He has been on the DL all season with a knee injury, but is starting to run and could begin a rehab assignment soon.  I want to remind everybody how many home runs he has hit over the last three years, 87.  Hart is somebody that if I needed help in home runs, I would target as soon as he is scheduled to come back from his injury.

RBI
It’s hard to differentiate players that can help you in home runs and can help you in RBI, mostly because they usually go hand-in-hand, but I’ll try to do it.  First off is Ryan Doumit (C/OF/DH - Min).  He has 32 RBI on the season right now, along with 8 home runs.  He is currently in a hot streak, hitting 15 RBI, 5 home runs in the last two weeks.  Next is Brandon Moss (1B/OF - Oak).  He has 30 RBI on the season to go along with 9 home runs.  He is only hitting .125 in the last week, but still has 4 RBI and 2 home runs during that time, which proves he can still help you even when in a bit of a slump.  Brandon Belt (1B - SF) started off the year horrible, but turned it around to bat in 28 runs so far this season.  He’ll be a streaky player all year, but is worth owning when he is on his hot streaks.  Another player I was going to mention above Belt was Yonder Alonso (1B - SD), but news of him landing on the DL made me move him down.  He is still worth mentioning, though, since he has 29 RBI on the year along with a .284 average.

Stolen Bases
Stolen bases is a weird category to chase since most of these guys provide zero power.  The players owned that can help you, are usually 5-tool players, or at least can help you with average and runs, but the ones not currently owned do little aside from steal bags.  There aren’t many players available that can carry you in steals, but one is Ben Revere (OF - Phi).  He is sitting at 13 on the season, with 6 of those coming in the last two weeks, so he is starting heat up after a terrible start.  Juan Pierre (OF - Mia) has more stolen bases, 16, but is not hitting as well on the year, and plays for a worse team, so I consider Revere a better option than Pierre.  That, however, doesn’t mean Pierre is a bad option if you are desperate for steals.  A player who is kind of a sleeper in the stolen bases category is Michael Saunders (OF - Sea).  He was on the DL for a part of the season already, but still has 9 steals on the year.  Another plus for him is that he is clearly the best power hitter of the group, with 4 home runs and 13 RBI.  A player everyone seems to have forgotten about is Cameron Maybin (OF - SD).  He was just activated from the DL last night and already stole two bases, and also got caught stealing another. He could easily steal 30 bases the rest of the way, and if he gets moved up in the lineup, like I expect, he could score a good amount of runs too.

Batting Average
Batting Average is a tough category to find players that can help you.  One main reason is that most of the guys who can hit for good average are already owned because they are the best hitters in baseball, and they also help in other categories.  Another reason is that the guys who are available don’t have as many at bats, so their batting average can be a bit inflated.  Either way, I’m going to do my best to give you guys that I think will see steady playing time going forward and can help you in that category.  

Lets start with Chris Johnson (1B/3B - Atl).  He started the year out in a platoon at third base with Juan Francisco, but an injury to Freddie Freeman gave him the opportunity to start at first for a few weeks and prove to the team he was the better player, and he did just that by batting .333 so far on the year.  Since Freeman’s return, Francisco’s playing time was cut, and he was designated for assignment, then traded to Milwaukee this past Monday, leaving Johnson as the full-time third baseman.  Adam Lind (1B - Tor) is hitting an impressive .329 on the season and an even better .468 during the last two weeks.  He wasn’t getting regular playing time to start the season, but with him swinging the bat like he is now, Toronto is making sure they keep him in the lineup.  A.J. Pierzynski (C - Tex), is not batting in the .300s like the rest of these guys, but a catcher batting .297 is valuable.  In fact, that gives him the 5th highest batting average for catchers that play regularly.  The rest of his numbers don’t make him stand out, but keep in mind he missed two weeks in the middle of May with an oblique injury.  The last player I want to mention is one who just landed on the DL, Eric Chavez (3B - Ari).  Before landing on the DL, he was hitting .325 and also added some decent power numbers with 7 home runs and 25 RBI.  He was starting to see more regular playing time at third since his bat heated up, but the injury will keep him out a minimum of 3-5 weeks.  Still, when he returns I’d look his way if I needed help with batting average since he can, and will, help in other categories, as well.


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