by Will Overton
We’re almost down to our final two months of the season and it’s time to pull out all the stops. Those guys you’ve been holding onto and waiting for their bats to heat up for a month now? It might be time to tell them to take a hike.
At this point in the season it’s important to have as many of the guys in your lineup producing at a high level as possible. There’s still a place for patience with the big names, like you don’t cut Brett Lawrie cause he’s struggled the last week. But the fringe guys you can’t just let go of aren’t doing you any favors.
One thing that’s going to be your friend at this point in the season is the waiver wire, because it can be the means to adding a hot bat. Have a struggling star? Move him to the bench and put in a hot hand until either the star heats back up or your hot hand goes cold.
Streaming pitchers in fantasy baseball is a well known, over used strategy, but streaming hitters doesn’t happen enough. Pick up the hot bat, play him until he goes cold and drop him for another one. It’s an effective strategy for the right team, a team with some fringe players who are expendable primarily. But it also takes time and the effort of watching the waiver wire to know who the hot bats are.
I’ll help you out by pointing out some of the hotter bats in the league right who are available on a good amount of waiver wires:
Casper Wells – OF, Seattle Mariners: Not too many guys floating around the waiver wires who are hotter than this guy. Wells has been playing almost everyday since June 13th and he’s batting .311 since that time with 19 R and 18 RBI. And he’s also starting to find his power swing with 4 HR’s in his last 12 games, including two in his last four. Wells has never gotten a chance at extended playing time, but for his career he has hit .268 and has a 21.3 HR/AB rate which is pretty good as it is, and when he’s on a hot streak it’s all the better.
Lorenzo Cain – OF, Kansas City Royals: Welcome back to the big leagues Lorenzo Cain. Since returning from the DL exactly one week ago Cain is 9 – 23, even after going 0 – 4 yesterday, and has 6 R, 2 HR and 6 RBI. This was supposed to be Cain’s breakout year, but he was derailed by a 3 month DL stint. Now he’s hot and he’s available in a lot of leagues. Some thing his 2 HR’s are misleading, but there’s more to this leadoff man than speed. Cain had as many HR’s last season at AAA as he did steals (16) and the power might be more real than most think. Ride him while he’s hot, but he might not actually cool off.
Alexi Amarista – 2B, San Diego Padres: The San Diego Padres don’t sport a lot of offensive threats for fantasy players, but a hot bat is a hot bat, and it’s not always easy to find one for the middle infield positions either. Amarista is currently riding a seven game hit streak and is 10 – 26 in those games with 3 R , 3 RBI and 1 SB. It’d be nice to see more of his hits turn into runs, but as a leadoff hitter, even for a bad team, he should see run scoring chances if he keeps getting on base and I have to think the Padres will open him up a bit more on the base paths soon too because he has base stealing speed. Streaming middle infielders can be tough to do, but Amarista is worth a shot.
Jeff Baker – 1B, Chicago Cubs: Meet this week’s super deep league special, Jeff Baker. The 31 year old vet from Germany had stumbled upon some extra playing time in the OF lately to spell Bryan LaHair against lefties. And the way he is going that platoon is likely to be permanent with a chance for even more playing time if Alfonso Soriano or LaHair are shipped out of town. Baker is 11 – 20 since the 4th of July and has 3 HR’s in that span, with 9 RBI in the month of July despite sharing playing time. Baker would be a useful plug and play in deep leagues with the hot bat he’s swinging, and has potential for more depending how these next couple weeks shake out.
J.P. Arencibia – C, Toronto Blue Jays: It’s not often you get anything more than power from Arencibia, but he’s producing a bit more of a well rounded game here lately. Arencibia is hitting .316 so far in July, and so while he only has 3 HR’s so far this month he’s still a good play right now at catcher. Because of the power potential he possesses Arencibia is at least an average fantasy catcher all the time, but when he’s hot like this and still has that power potential he’s an above average option. He’s 8 – 20 since the all-star break and you should be using him while this lasts before he goes back to killing your team average.
Who are the hot bats floating around your waiver wire that everyone is ignoring? Any of these five guys? A few others? Are you in a deep league where a hot bat is one hitting over .240 this month? If so what names are you looking at? Leave us some comments and let your opinion be heard.