Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 25 feature Jonathan Villar, Luke Voit
A matchups oddity for the Reds has our Scott White weighing his options. He looks at 10 hitters who could make a Fantasy impact in Week 25 (Sept. 10-16).
Normally in this piece (seeing as the point is to identify sleepers), I focus on what's good about the upcoming scoring period. But I want to draw your attention to something bad — at least for one particular player.
The Reds are set to play six games in Week 25 (Sept. 10-16). All six are projected to be against left-handed pitchers.
I've never seen anything like it. I'm not sure it'll actually come true given that it's September and probable pitchers change by the day. But seeing as Joey Votto has hit .235 with a .709 OPS against lefties this year, it gives me some pause about using him. He hasn't been particularly productive in his first week back from a DL stint (leg contusion) and has of course failed to hit for power all season. He walks so much that I don't think you could justify sitting him in a points league, but a categories format? Maybe.
But what about Scooter Gennett, who has performed respectably against left-handed pitchers this year but has sat against three of the past four the Reds have faced? It really comes down to who you'd be replacing him with, right? I think only the first of these 10, all owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues, would offer enough to justify it.
If he wasn't hot enough already, performing like a top-12 outfielder since the start of June, Stephen Piscotty has upped the ante with seven home runs in his past 19 games. The Athletics have good matchups, too, going against the Orioles trio of Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy and then whatever relievers the Rays throw at them.
The Mets open Week 25 with four games against Marlins pitchers, all right-handers, and will face six righties in seven games overall. That's good news for Brandon Nimmo, who has an OPS nearly 200 points higher against righties than lefties this season, reaching base at a .408 clip. He's scorching hot at the plate again, too, batting .457 (21 for 46) with two homers in his past 14 games. There's a lot to like when he keeps the strikeouts in check.
Nothing like regular playing time to snap a player out of his slump, and that appears to have happened for Jonathan Villar, who is getting everyday at-bats for the Orioles and is batting .372 (16 for 43) in his past 11 games. Even more notable is that he has seven steals during that stretch, reviving a skill that had gone dormant with the Brewers. He'll look to keep it going against some of the worst the Athletics and White Sox have to offer this week.
Luke Voit may not be the Yankees' long-term answer at first base, but he has certainly carved out an everyday role to close out this season, having recently homered in three consecutive games. He's now up to seven homers in 22 games in a Yankees uniform and will get to face pitchers like Kohl Stewart, Jake Odorizzi, Marco Estrada and Ryan Borucki this week.
The surplus of left-handed pitchers may not improve Joey Votto's chances of contributing in Week 25, but they sure help Scott Schebler's. Indeed, Schebler bats left-handed but has furthered a two-year trend of hitting lefties better than righties, batting .337 with an .867 OPS against them this year. He's also beginning to come around at the plate after missing most of August with a sprained shoulder, batting .353 (12 for 34) with three homers and three doubles in his past 10 games.
With eight home runs in his past 21 games, Ryan O'Hearn has demonstrated big power in the heart of the Royals batting order, but he slugged a modest .471 over his minor-league career and just .391 at Triple-A Omaha this year. I'm dubious, but the Royals do have favorable matchups against the White Sox and Twins this week, facing five righties in six games.
Joc Pederson, who has cut way down on his strikeouts this year and boasts an .805 OPS, nonetheless has minimal value in Fantasy because he so consistently sits against left-handed pitchers. The Dodgers are facing only one of those in their seven games this week, though, and righties like Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani and Adam Wainwright are known for getting hit pretty hard.
A victim of bad BABIP luck all year, Michael Conforto has seen his numbers normalize a bit in the second half, during which he has hit .257 with 11 homers and an .816 OPS. He has those same favorable matchups that Nimmo does.
Jeff McNeil also benefits from the Marlins-heavy seven-game slate and continues to make contact at an exceptional rate, batting .403 (29 for 72) over his past 21 games. He has forfeited some playing time Wilmer Flores recently, with Jay Bruce getting most of the starts at first base, but the surplus of right-handers should help keep him in the lineup.
Jake Cave, who got chances with the Yankees and Reds before latching on with the Twins, should get regular playing time down the stretch thanks in part to the Twins' decision to leave Byron Buxton off the September roster. He's making good on it, too, having homered six times in his past 18 games. The strikeout rate is concerning, but there do appear to be genuine bat skills here, his line-drive rate ranking among the highest in the league and his soft-hit rate ranking among the lowest. Having seven games on the schedule this week should help.
Best hitter matchups for Week 25
1. Angels TEX3, SEA4
2. Yankees @MIN3, TOR3
3. Mets MIA4, @BOS3
4. White Sox @KC3, @BAL3
5. Athletics @BAL3, @TB3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 25
1. Tigers HOU3, @CLE3
2. Rockies ARI4, @SF3
3. Reds LAD3, @CHC3
4. Cardinals PIT3, LAD4
5. Rays CLE3, OAK3
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