Fantasy Baseball Category Fixes: Six players to boost your hitting
Struggling to dig yourself out of an early season hole in a category? Heath Cummings has a player for each of the five major categories plus OBP.
More Fantasy Baseball:|
I love categories leagues. Whether it's head-to-head or traditional, season-long Rotisserie, I really enjoy the strategy involved with chasing specific categories both on Draft Day and throughout the season. No, these leagues can't match the ease or accuracy of points leagues; I love those too, but it's a treat for my brain.
A common problem for many Rotisserie owners is looking at the complete standings far too often and at the category standings far too little. Telling me that your team is in sixth place doesn't help me help you. Telling me that you're dominating pitching and getting killed in home runs and RBI makes it much easier. With that in mind, take a look at your categories standings, figure out where you're struggling, and then go add one of these six category fixes.
I'm fairly confident more than 36 percent of our leagues are categories leagues, and I can't figure out how Mallex Smith would be available in any of them. Smith is currently tied for 10th in arguably the hardest category to acquire. He shouldn't just be owned in 100 percent of Roto leagues, he should be started pretty much every week. He has two more steals than Billy Hamilton and a .078 advantage in batting average.
Speaking of average, I do expect Smith will be a two-category contributor, at least. He's cut his swinging strike rate down to 11 percent and he hardly ever hits fly balls. Smith is second in baseball in infield hits, with 11. He's also moved up the order as of late, and with Denard Span gone, it wouldn't be surprising if he gets more time as a leadoff hitter.
It may seem weird to suggest a guy with five home runs on the year as a source of power. But with Brian McCann on the disabled list, Max Stassi is likely going to show us he should have been the every day catcher all along. In a reserve role he has absolutely ripped the cover off the ball, to the tune of a .303/.367/.562 slash line in 98 plate appearances. The .303 average is mostly a product of his .415 BABIP but the .258 ISO looks mostly legit.
Stassi has a 41.4 percent hard contact rate this year and a fly ball rate near 40 percent. In 2017 he hit 16 home runs in 274 plate appearances across three different levels. He's playing in a good park, surrounded by great hitters. In a two catcher league you're lucky if you have one who is a legitimate source of power. Stassi can change that in a hurry, and he's still available in more than 80 percent of leagues.
At least Stassi has an excuse for his low home run total. Morrisoon has 185 plate appearances and somehow he's only drive in 18 runs. It's not that big of a mystery; he had 11 hits in the entire month of April. After an atrocious start to the year, however, the Twins' lefty has shown some signs of life in the month of May, with his OPS rising 160 points. He's also moved up in the order recently after spending a couple of weeks hitting seventh.
I didn't ever think Morrision was going to match his career year from 2017, but I also didn't expect a .228 BABIP and a HR/FB rate below 10 percent. He has some positive regression coming, which should result in plenty of RBI with a talented cast of hitters in front of him.
Joe Panik is about to return from the disabled list and I'd bet he's about to raise his batting average as well. A career .281 hitter, Panik has been plagued by bad luck with a BABIP that is 41 points below his career average. This is a guy who has had a strikeout rate below 10 percent every year since 2014, and had actually cut it to six percent (!) before his injury.
Unlike Stassi and Morrison, Pirela has already been helping in his category. In fact, he's been doing a lot of good things, it just seems no one is noticing. He has a good batting average, an acceptable walk-to-strikeout ratio and seems to slot into the top four in the Padres order almost every day. The one thing he hasn't done is hit a home run, but with a 35 percent hard-contact rate I would expect that changes sooner rather than later.
With eligibility at second base and in the outfield, I find it likely there's a team in most Roto leagues who needs runs or average help and has a place to play Pirela. You should expect near double digits in home runs and steals to go along with the runs.
Max Muncy is doing a little bit of everything right now, but one thing I feel confident he'll continue is getting on base. Muncy had a career .382 OBP in the minor leagues and the same exact percentage in 928 Triple-A plate appearances. He's consistently had a walk rate above 13 percent throughout his professional career, and his strikeout rate has generally been above average. What is new since the start of 2017 is that he's crushing the baseball.
In Triple-A last year Muncy delivered a .984 OPS with 33 extra-base hits in 379 plate appearances. Since being called up to the big league club, he's kept mashing with a 47 percent hard contact rate and a soft contact rate of just 12 percent. I'm skeptical the power is real since last year's numbers came in the PCL and Muncy is a 27 year-old with a career .438 slugging percentage in the minor leagues, but there is little reason to doubt his ability to get on base.
Fantasy Baseball Today Newsletter
You're destined to gain an edge over your friends with advice from the award-winning FBT crew.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Ryan McMahon reminded everyone why he shouldn't have been on the waiver wire in the first place...
SportsLine's trade chart and evaluator grades every Fantasy baseball deal
Looking for early-season breakouts you can trust? Aaron Sauceda dives into changes five pitchers...
As the Vladimir Guerrero wait continues, another of Scott White's five to stash is poised to...
Frankie Montas shows again Wednesday night that his new splitter has raised his profile as...
The Fantasy Baseball Today Podcast talks the key news like Chris Sale's fail, James Paxton's...