For most folks, this week marks the final one of the regular season in fantasy baseball. While some are still making a final push to get into the tournament, others are gearing their teams up for a championship run. Either way, keeping up with the trends in the fantasy game are important. Who’s hot? Who’s not? As I mentioned in last week’s installment, year to date statistics become far less important with such a short season remaining. Deciding to add a player on a nice hot streak can sometimes decide who wins and who loses. Remember, the best team doesn’t always win a championship in both real and in fantasy sports. A lot of the time, the team with the hottest group of players and those who have put their squads in the best positions to win often do. With that comes this week’s edition, the last of the regular season in which I take a trip around the diamond and provide hot-hitting or interesting options to plug into your lineups. These players are all available in a substantial chunk of leagues and none are owned in more than 75%.
C: Jason Castro, Houston Astros (ESPN 69.7%, Y! 61%): How is the Astros backstop un-owned in more than 30% of leagues? Castro has hit his way into the top 5 catchers according to ESPN’s player rater. He has been white hot over the past month, to the tune of a .367 batting average. In that time, he has launched 6 home runs and knocked in 17. The hot August has added to Castro’s already solid numbers. For the year, he has a .282 batting average with 18 home runs and 52 RBI. It looks as though owners are finally starting to take notice, as Castro has been one of the most added players in ESPN leagues. Still very available, now would be the time to add him because his ownership will become near universal soon if he keeps producing this way.
Honorable mention: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (ESPN 50.6%, Y! 61%): Last 15 days: .275, 3HR, 13RBI
1B: Michael Morse, Seattle Mariners (ESPN 37.8%, Y! 33%): Morse isn’t a part of this list because he’s been hot of late, just the opposite. The powerful slugger has been horrid since returning from the DL. In the past month, Morse has just 12 hits, 2 of them home runs. However, this recent rough stretch has forced many owners to drop him and his ownership totals have plummeted. Keep in mind that the former Washington National has 13 homers in just 283 AB’s this season. Likely on your league’s waiver wire, keep a close eye on him. If he begins to hit, make sure you run, not walk to add him. If he gets hot over the season’s final month, he could make a serious impact for your squad.
Honorable mention: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics (ESPN 62.1%, Y! 31%): Last 7 days: .316, 3HR, 4RBI
2B: Emilio Bonifacio, Kansas City Royals (ESPN 54.3%, Y! 25%): The speedster was a trendy sleeper entering the season; with some thinking he could approach 50 steals. However, he had been horrible through the season’s first half with Toronto. He was shipped to the Royals on August 14 and since then, he has become more of the player we thought he would be. Since joining Kansas City, Bonifacio has worked his way into the starting lineup by batting .292/.393 with 8 steals. It’s possible that regular center fielder Lorenzo Cain might miss the remainder of the season with an injury, which would open up regular playing time for Bonifacio. The Royals have shown they are willing give him the green light to run. If he can couple that with the ability to take walks and get on base he can be a valuable asset for the stretch run.
Honorable mention: Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers (ESPN 70.1%, Y! 36%): Last 15 days: .385, 7R, 1HR, 5RBI
SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (ESPN 38.9%, Y! 53%): We’ve been through this before. Jeter is back again and supposedly has overcome yet another lower-body issue, this time his calf. The 39 year old needs to be owned in most formats, as he will likely contribute conservatively across the board. The Yankees offense has seemingly awoken after adding Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez back to the mix, so a healthy runs total is probably in order. With middle infield being so shallow, the future hall of famer should make for a solid free agent acquisition. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees aim to rest Jeter a fair amount down the stretch though, as he has been unable to stay on the field this season; he’s had just 27 AB’s to date.
Honorable mention: Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners (ESPN 17%, Y! 14%): Last 15 days: .267, 3HR, 8RBI
3B: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers (ESPN 71%, Y! 75%): Over his last 7 games, Ramirez is hitting over .400 with three long balls and 9 RBI. The veteran slugger has been slowed by knee issues all season, but if this is any indication that he is finally healthy he needs to be owned in every single fantasy league. Remember, this man hit .300 with 27 homers a season ago so he could be a huge boost to your team’s hot corner if healthy.
Honorable mention: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (ESPN 70.1%, Y! 43%): Last 15 days: .288, 10R, 3HR, 6RBI, 2SB
OF: Robbie Grossman, Houston Astros (ESPN 35.3%, Y! 18%): For as bad as the Astros have been, they have actually pumped out some decent fantasy options. Grossman, with the likes of slugger Chris Carter and catcher Jason Castro have been viable fantasy options for their own purposes for portions of the season. Grossman has been great over the past month hitting leadoff for the Astros. In that time he has managed a blazing .354 batting average to go along with 4 homers, 18 RBI and 3 steals. It looks as though Grossman will be given an extended look for the remainder of the season in hopes of locking up a roster spot for 2014. If he continues to set the table atop the Astros order like he has, he can be a valuable deep league addition. Ride him while he’s hot.
Honorable mention: Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays (ESPN 32%, Y! 20%): Last 15 days: .378, 10R, 3HR, 8RBI
Timothy King is a staff writer for RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @TKing978 and his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com & DobberBaseball.com!