Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 18 include Ketel Marte and Greg Bird
Short week is in progress. What about the first full week after the All-Star break? Scott White shares his top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 18 (July 23-29).
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Break's over. Back to work.
Nobody's getting an off day over the weekend, of course, and few teams will in the first full week back from the All-Star break either. More specifically, 19 will be playing seven games in Week 18 (July 23-29). One that isn't? The Rockies. They're at Coors Field, but for only five games, which makes it probably a net negative for their hitters.
Jake Bauers was at his best just before the break, batting .324 with three homers in his last eight games, and yet his line-drive and hard-contact rates suggest he has more batting average correction to come. Facing six righties this week — four of them being Orioles hurlers Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman and Yefry Ramirez — should help with that.
A switch-hitter, Ketel Marte has been at his best against left-handed pitchers this year, batting .303 with a .957 OPS, which is great since the Diamondbacks are scheduled to face three in their seven games this week. He has been elevating the ball better since the start of June, putting together a .971 OPS during that stretch despite poor BABIP luck.
Yeah, I'm getting tired of writing about him, too, so I'd appreciate you picking up and holding Brandon Nimmo so he no longer qualifies for this list. The Mets have some of the most favorable matchups this week, facing the Padres and Pirates in seven games, and he's their best hitter who's somewhat available. What do you want me to do?
Though his numbers are mostly terrible, Greg Bird has been elevating the ball and making tons of hard contact, so his five home runs in his final 14 games before the All-Star break may be the start of something big. He's scheduled to face only one left-hander in seven games this week, and the righties are a bunch of Rays and Royals fill-ins.
The Phillies open the week against the Dodgers, which isn't so great for their hitters, but then they close it against Anthony DeSclafani, Matt Harvey, Luis Castillo and Homer Bailey, which obviously is. And Maikel Franco has been one of their hottest hitters of late, batting .330 (29 for 88) with five home runs in 27 games.
Teoscar Hernandez has been the 36th-best outfielder in points leagues since entering the lineup April 13, so it's never a stretch to start him in Fantasy. The Blue Jays are playing only six games this week, so they're not among the teams with the most favorable matchups. But three of those games are against White Sox pitchers.
Stephen Piscotty was on fire leading up to the break, batting .321 (26 for 81) with seven homers and a 1.059 OPS in 21 games, which makes now a great time for the Athletics to have the most favorable matchups, visiting the Rangers for four games and the Rockies for three. I'd prefer if they weren't facing four left-handers, given Piscotty's struggles against lefties last year, but his track record suggests the unfavorable split is a fluke.
Though he's also facing more lefties than I'd prefer, Kole Calhoun nonetheless has terrific matchups against pitchers like Lucas Giolito, James Shields, Dylan Covey, Wade LeBlanc and Felix Hernandez. And he's catching them at just the right time given that he has eight homers and a .903 OPS in 26 games since returning from a strained oblique.
With Yoenis Cespedes' return to health being all too brief, Wilmer Flores is still in line to be the Mets' full-time first baseman and has fared well in the role, batting .284 (31 for 109) with five homers and an .809 OPS in 31 games. He has those same favorable matchups Nimmo does, facing pitchers like Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Clayton Richard, Ivan Nova and Trevor Williams, and is available in nearly 90 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Matt Duffy rarely cracks this list as a low-ceiling hitter whose production mostly comes from his batting average, but he has been remarkably steady this season, keeping that batting average between .305 and .325 since mid-May. And if you think facing a bunch of righties benefits Bauers, check out Duffy's numbers against them: He's batting .335 with an .820 OPS.
Best hitter matchups for Week 18
1. Athletics @TEX4, @COL3
2. Angels CHW4, SEA3
3. Mets SD3, @PIT4
4. Yankees @TB3, KC4
5. Rays NYY3, @BAL4
Worst hitter matchups for Week 18
1. Padres @NYM3, ARI3
2. Tigers @KC3, CLE3
3. Pirates @CLE3, NYM4
4. Cubs ARI4, @STL3
5. Reds STL3, PHI4
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