When vying for a fantasy baseball championship during this time of year, you are encouraged to get category-specific and figure out where you can best increase your totals and make your move in the standings.
For some, it is all about speed and strikeouts. For many others, though, there is movement to be made in the power categories, and this is easily one of the best times of year to focus on your home runs, RBIs and even runs scored.
With the heavy influx of minor league players and numerous big league pitchers being rested at this time of year, the level of competition has dropped on many teams, and the power is more abundant than ever.
We’ve been so enamored by Giancarlo Stanton’s run at Roger Maris’ mark of 61 home runs and Rhys Hoskins’ dynamic second-half run that few people have seen the rising home run totals around the major leagues throughout August and at the beginning of September.
Monday’s four-homer game from J.D. Martinez certainly helped bring the focus to the power department, and double-dinger performances from lesser-known players like Martin Maldonado and Matt Olsen didn’t hurt either, but many fantasy owners still are missing out on some of the other supporting cast members.
Over the past seven days, Martinez and Olson have launched five homers apiece, and Orioles catcher Welington Castillo shares the lead with five himself. Logan Morrison seems rejuvenated late in the year with four homers over the same time span, and Kendrys Morales not only has four of his own, but has also recorded 12 RBIs as well.
J.D. MartinezGetty Images
Extend that time period to 14 days and not only are all of the aforementioned players hitting well, but we also can throw in Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has six homers over the past two weeks with 12 RBIs and nine runs scored.
In fact, if you look at the overall monthly splits for the major leagues, you’ll see a strong increase from July to August as the league average for the month jumped from 31 homers per team to 37.
We’re just four games, per team, into September, and if you prorate the home run totals to a full month, you’ll see the overall average is still at a season-high of 37, but the average home run total in the American League is expected to see an increase to 45 from 39. The prorate in the National League drops to 30 from 35 for now, but let’s just wait and see what guys like Martinez, Stanton and Hoskins do for an encore.
If you’re a fantasy owner who sees potential mobility in the counting stats for hitters, it is time to look at your waiver wire and start fishing off teams who are facing a strong number of bottom-feeders moving forward. Find those teams who are either resting starters before the playoffs or are auditioning a number of minor league arms and start targeting their opposition on the waiver wire.
The White Sox make for a great example, as they still are rolling out James Shields and mixing in Lucas Giolito, David Holmberg and Reynaldo Lopez. Holmberg is coming out from the bullpen, and Shields, Lopez and Giolito have allowed a total of 11 home runs over a combined nine starts.
With three games against the Giants, six against the Royals, five against the Indians, four against the Tigers and three against the Astros, you should be looking for potential waiver adds from those teams. You can even start fishing off the White Sox lineup, as they face a number of youngsters and struggling veterans from each of those teams.
Your waiver wire may not be flush with power hitters, but you certainly should be able to find a number of players who have potential and could heat up over the course of the next 3 ¹/₂ weeks.
No one ever said winning a fantasy baseball title was going to be easy. Digging deep and doing some extra research at this time of year is a must. Fortunately, there really isn’t a whole lot of digging here. Scan those bottom-feeders such as the Reds, Blue Jays and even the Padres, and pull up their schedules. Once you see which batting orders to target and which players are on waivers, the rest is cream cheese.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m.