Fantasy Baseball Week 14 Preview: Top 10 sleeper hitters highlighted by Ian Desmond, Oscar Mercado
With a series in London and a series in Colorado, Week 14 is fit for some interesting lineup decision. Scott White offers a few hitters who might help.
So here's something new to account for: The Yankees and Red Sox play a two-game series in London this week. The stadium is obviously being converted for baseball, so we don't know yet how it'll play. But we do know the Yankees and Red Sox will have back-to-back days off for travel.
Understandable, but nonetheless weird. Obviously, their hitters are limited to just five games this week, but it just so happens to be a week when only eight teams are playing seven games. Is it enough of a disadvantage, then, to impact your lineup decisions? Probably not except for those on the fringes already, like Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Michael Chavis.
As for potential replacements for Week 14 (June 24-30), well, any of these hitters would work. They're my ten favorites owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
1) Ian Desmond, 1B/OF, Rockies
The Ian Desmond redemption tour continues with four games at home, where he has an OPS around .950, and four games vs. left-handers, against whom he has an OPS around 1.050. A greatly reduced ground ball rate has helped him tap into his power again, and he's primed to make the most of it this week.
2) Oscar Mercado, OF, Indians
After a sluggish start to his big-league career, Oscar Mercado's numbers are beginning to resemble the ones he had in the minors. So far in June, he has hit three home runs and stolen four bases, and he continues to strike out at a rate that suggests he'll be of some use in batting average as well. It helps he'll be facing nothing but Royals and Orioles pitchers this week.
3) Lourdes Gurriel, 2B/SS/OF, Blue Jays
With five home runs in his past 13 games and nine in 40 overall, Lourdes Gurriel is performing at about a 40-homer pace even though his home run-to-fly ball rate isn't radically different from a year ago. His numbers appear more sustainable than not, in other words, and that's doubly true in a week he's scheduled to face pitchers like CC Sabathia, Danny Duffy, Homer Bailey and Brad Keller.
4) Chris Taylor, 2B/SS/OF, Dodgers
The Dodgers' new starting shortstop with Corey Seager on the IL, Chris Taylor already seems be taking to full-time at-bats, stringing together multi-hit games and even a multi-homer game Wednesday. He's of course no stranger to Fantasy players, having been a must-start option just two years ago, and a seven-game week that includes four at Coors Field seems like a good time to reacclimate yourself.
5) Cavan Biggio, 2B/OF, Blue Jays
Cavan Biggio has cooled off again after a nice five-game stretch that included two two-homer games, but he remains a versatile contributor, offering both power and speed, who's a steady presence on the base paths even when he isn't swinging the bat well. His matchups this week, those same ones Lourdes Gurriel has, should help him swing it a little better.
6) Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels
Though his season-long numbers won't grab you, Kole Calhoun has a near-.850 OPS since the start of May — and that's despite having below-average batted-ball luck. He's a regular on this list whenever he has favorable matchups, and that's certainly true in a week he's facing righties like Tyler Mahle, Tanner Roark, Tanner Anderson, Mike Fiers and Chris Bassitt.
7) Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers
Alex Verdugo had been a little disappointing in terms of power production as the main A.J. Pollock replacement, homering just once since April, but that changed with his two-homer game Saturday. He remains a good contact, hitter and has been playing more consistently than ever with Chris Taylor's move to the infield. He'll also have the benefit of a four-game series at Coors Field this week.
8) David Fletcher, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Angels
Speaking of contact hitters, David Fletcher is maybe the game's preeminent, having struck out just 19 times all year. He has slumped over the past couple weeks, dropping his batting average below .300, but he's more than serviceable at any of the four positions where he's eligible with those same favorable matchups Kole Calhoun has.
9) Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Indians
Jake Bauers has been a zero for so long that it's hard to put much faith in any sort of hot streak, and that hot streak may well be over given his four straight hitless games. But he's still batting .324 (11 for 34) with two homers over his past nine. The Indians face nothing but righties this week, which should keep him in the lineup, and they're some of the worst the Royals and Orioles can throw at him.
10) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
A hot streak doesn't really move the needle for Jason Kipnis either, but because he's more of a what-once-was than a what-could-be. It's been a long while for the 32-year-old, who said he "found something with [his] hands" last weekend. Whatever that means, the result is him batting .440 (11 for 25) with three home runs over his past seven games, which still wouldn't be enough to move the needle if he didn't have such favorable matchups forthcoming.
Best hitter matchups for Week 14
1. Dodgers @ARI3, @COL4
2. Indians KC3, @BAL3
3. Brewers SEA3, PIT3
4. Nationals @MIA3, @DET3
5. Phillies NYM4, @MIA3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 14
1. Pirates @HOU3, @MIL3
2. White Sox @BOS3, MIN3
3. Cardinals OAK2, @SD3
4. Red Sox CHW3, NYY2
5. Twins TB3, @CHW3
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