Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 17 include Jake Bauers, Jesse Winker
How much difference can an extra game or two make? In a short week, plenty. Scott White shares his top 10 sleeper hitters for a pint-sized Week 17 (July 19-22).
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It's a short week, right? Only three days coming out of the All-Star break, which makes matchups even more critical as performances figure to gravitate to the extremes.
But wait, it's actually not three days, as in years past, but four. Two teams — yup, the Cardinals and Cubs — resume play Thursday, giving them an extra game. And what if I told you those same two are also playing a doubleheader Saturday? That makes five games for them compared to three for every other team. It's so much of an advantage that the actual pitchers they're facing hardly even matter.
Now granted, each of those teams has only a couple intriguing bats owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues, and the Cubs rotate so many that none of those intriguing bats figures to play all five games. Still, it's worth noting in case you have to go off the list.
Here are the top 10 sleeper bats for Week 17 (July 19-22):
I know he slumped leading up to the break, and I know I've gotten all too comfortable slotting him at the top of this list in spite of it. But the Mets are visiting one of the most favorable venues for left-handed hitters (Yankee Stadium), they're avoiding Luis Severino and they're facing nothing but righties, against whom Brandon Nimmo still has a .912 OPS
A points-league darling because of his plate discipline, Jake Bauers was heating up just before the break, batting .324 (11 for 34) with three homers and five doubles over his past five games, and has particularly favorable matchups against Dan Straily, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Richards (all righties, too).
With six homers in his past 29 games, Teoscar Hernandez is primed to tee off on the Orioles pitching staff coming out of the break. Truth is, he's the 35th-best outfielder in points leagues since joining the lineup April 13, so he's not a bad play any given week.
Full-time at-bats should be available to Jesse Winker now that Scott Schebler is on the DL with a sprained shoulder, and they're coming while he's hitting .424 (28 for 66) with four homers and a 1.224 OPS over his past 23 games. Facing nothing but righties, against whom he's batting .313 for the season, should help.
He's triple eligible and owned in just 19 percent of CBS Sports leagues, which makes Jedd Gyorko the most perfect player for taking advantage of the Cardinals' five-game slate. He isn't having his best year at the plate, but he did play every day in the final week before the break, with Matt Carpenter displacing Jose Martinez at first base.
Maikel Franco, who has long failed to live up to his potential as a power hitter who makes tons of contact, was hot for about a month before the break, batting .333 (28 for 84) with five homers in 26 games. He'll come out of it facing Padres pitching.
You know the story by now: hot before the break, good matchups coming out of it. Josh Bell, who's batting .323 (32 for 99) with an .883 OPS over his past 32 games, has the added advantage of traveling to hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Jason Heyward is my representative pick for the Cubs' five-game week. Like some of the other candidates — Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora and Ian Happ among them — he's liable to sit at least one of those games, but he's a reasonable bet to play four, especially since all five of the opponents are righties. He still hasn't been the slugger the Cubs signed him to be, but he has been productive as a contact-oriented doubles hitter, batting .331 in his past 40 games.
Denard Span's role was unclear when he first came over the from the Rays in late May, but he has settled into a near-everyday role now. Facing nothing but righties this week should help keep him in the lineup, and he'll put his high-contact ways to good use against James Shields, Dylan Covey and Reynaldo Lopez.
This lefty masher has actually fared better against righties (.292 batting average, .858 OPS) this season, so it's no surprise Wilmer Flores has been an everyday player for the Mets over the past month. What may surprise you is that he has been a top 20 first baseman and third baseman in points leagues during that stretch. And he faces nothing but righties this week.
Best hitter matchups for Week 17
1. Cardinals @CHC5
2. Cubs STL5
3. Phillies SD3
4. Mariners CHW3
5. Rays MIA3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 17
1. Angels HOU3
2. Rangers CLE3
3. Yankees NYM3
4. Braves @WAS3
5. Tigers BOS3
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