By Sam McPherson
From the draft to midseason, fantasy baseball owners are constantly chasing roster balance, trying to establish strength in all statistical categories that make up the game they play. But as the July 4th holiday approaches along with the demarcation line of 81 games played by most Major League teams, it’s time for the wise team manager to change strategy and recognize the realities of where her or his team stands right now. This is all about the standings and where the team resides in each of those aforementioned categories.
Start with the place in each category and then study the gaps in real statistical numbers between the team above and the team below in the standings. If your team is 25 stolen bases behind the next best squad in that category, forget trying to chase steals. Meanwhile, if your roster has the fifth-most home runs in the league—but is only nine HRs behind the league leader—you should focus on that category in order to maximize the possibility of gaining ground in the overall standings. Smart owners study the standings closely in order to make wiser acquisitions in the second half of the season instead of pointless ones.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Keon Broxton, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: If batting average is a lost cause for your team, then Broxton is a guy you want on the roster. He has an outside shot at a 30-30 season this year, with 13 HRs and 14 SBs right now. Yes, he leads the National League in strikeouts, but his counting stats should be all you need to pay attention to at this point. With 160 career MLB games under his belt, Broxton is what he is (a .240 hitter), so take advantage of the positives if you can.
2. Kenta Maeda, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: He had a tough start to the season, with a 5.21 ERA through the first two months of the season. Since then, however, Maeda has been much better, giving up just four earned runs in 21 innings this month. He also has posted 25 Ks in those 21 innings. Maeda posted a 3.48 ERA last season, and he’s probably going to end up around there again this year, with wins and Ks adding up in the second half. If he’s on your waiver wire, grab him.
3. Jordan Montgomery, SP, New York Yankees: Fifteen starts into his rookie season, Montgomery is acquitting himself well with a 3.62 ERA and 1.207 WHIP. With 83 Ks in 87 IP, though, he is setting himself up for second-half success if his stamina holds out. He has averaged 136 2/3 innings in his last two minor-league seasons, so the Yankees would be wise to keep him around 150 innings this year. Keep an eye on that reality after you pick him up to make sure you don’t end up eating some bad outings later.
4. Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals: His on-base percentage is still mediocre (.316), but Taylor hits decently enough with a .279 average right now. He just doesn’t draw walks, but with 11 HRs and nine SBs in just 68 games, he is on pace for a nice 20-20 season without hurting the team’s collective batting average. Keep an eye on Taylor’s average, though, if that’s a concern. He’s never hit this high before, so a correction to the mean may be in order over the next few months.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Chase Anderson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: He hit the disabled list recently with an oblique issue, which is tough luck for owners that grabbed him on our suggestion in late April. With six wins, a 2.89 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP, Anderson has been a very nice contributor to fantasy pitching staffs so far in 2017. Oblique injuries can be lingering problems for pitchers, though, so monitor his recovery and decide later whether or not to keep him. If you can trade him in the meantime, do it.
2. Dexter Fowler, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: At age 31 now, he is hitting a career-low .245 this season, and Fowler currently is on the DL with a heel spur problem. He’s a switch hitter, but if he can’t rely on that right heel to drive the ball from the right side, his effectiveness will be limited upon return. Furthermore, Fowler has a career-low three SBs right now with little chance of reach double digits, as he’s done for eight straight seasons. As he transitions his game to power (13 HRs this year, matching his number from 2016 already), keep an eye on his recovery. Trade him, too, if you can.
3. Carlos González, OF, Colorado Rockies: The time has come to say goodbye, perhaps, to CarGo. He was an All-Star selection last season, but he will be 32 in October. CarGo is hitting .221 with a .648 OPS, and while his speed has been gone for years now, his power is waning as well in 2017. After hitting 30 HRs for every 162 games played prior to this season, CarGo has just six homers right now despite playing in Coors Field. Bid him adieu, as there are much better options on waivers for the position.
4. Mark Melancon, RP, San Francisco Giants: He’s now on the DL for the second time this year, and Melancon’s career was already on the decline coming into the season. The Giants are on the hook for his contract through 2020, so they better hope he recovers (and then some). You don’t need to worry about that, but his 10.9 hits allowed per nine IP this year is untenable for a closer. Even if you give Melancon the benefit of the doubt for being hurt, it’s clear he’s not effective this season in San Francisco. Drop him and find a better reliever out there.