Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Preview: Top 10 sleeper hitters include Willie Calhoun, Anthony Santander
The Rangers play eight games in Week 22, and the Orioles have a couple hitters who could surprise. Scott White reveals his sleeper bats for the upcoming scoring period.
Seems like hardly a week goes by when there isn't a team scheduled to play eight games as part of a makeup for all the rainouts earlier this season.
In Week 22 (Aug. 19-25), that team is the Rangers, and it's not like they're going to face much resistance from the Angels and White Sox pitching staffs. They have some moving parts in their lineup, which can make for difficult recommendations, but one of the most buzzed-about hitters in recent weeks appears to have become a fixture.
He tops my list of sleeper hitters for the upcoming scoring period, all owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
TEX Texas • #5 • Age: 24
Considering how available Willie Calhoun still is, maybe I'm overestimating the buzz. He has had a fairly quiet August but did homer for the fourth time this month Thursday, and given how little he strikes out, the batting average can slide only so far. He can do some serious damage with eight games.
Miguel Sano 3B
MIN Minnesota • #22 • Age: 26
"Serious damage" is the only kind of damage Miguel Sano does, taking up injured Joey Gallo's mantle as the preeminent three-true-outcomes player in the game. The strikeouts can be frustrating at times, but considering one the only two quality pitchers he's facing in a week against the White Sox and Tigers is Matthew Boyd, who himself has had trouble keeping the ball in the yard, Sano is in a good spot to succeed.
Jason Kipnis 2B
CLE Cleveland • #22 • Age: 32
Since making a mechanical adjustment in mid-June, Jason Kipnis has hit .297 with an .883 OPS, making him a top-10 second baseman during that time. For the season, his OPS is about 200 points higher against righties, and the Indians have five of those on the schedule this week, including three from the Royals rotation.
ARI Arizona • #18 • Age: 25
It's a little surprising Carson Kelly isn't more widely owned given the way he has performed since taking over as the Diamondbacks' primary backstop in early June, having hit 12 home runs with an OPS around .950. He's still starting only about two-thirds of the time, but that's not so different from most any other second-tier catcher. Perhaps a week against pitchers like Kyle Freeland, Jordan Lyles, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies makes for a good time to hop aboard.
BAL Baltimore • #25 • Age: 24
Anthony Santander's emergence has been a surprising one given that the 24-year-old wasn't exactly taking Triple-A by storm prior to his promotion in early June, but the low strikeout rate and modest home run-to-fly ball rate suggest that what he's doing isn't exactly a fluke. He'll have a chance to keep doing it with seven games against the scrubby Royals and banged-up Rays rotations.
ARI Arizona • #53 • Age: 28
Though the home runs have been less regular, Christian Walker has actually been piling up hits in August, going 16 for 51 (.314). He's still among the top 10 in hard-hit rate, according to FanGraphs, and should see plenty of pitches to hit hard against the Rockies and Brewers rotations this week.
MIL Milwaukee • #2 • Age: 22
Trent Grisham, the former first-rounder and Triple-A standout, hasn't quite secured an everyday role with the big club, but he has performed well with the chances he's gotten. It helps that the Brewers are facing nothing but right-handers this week, and Dakota Hudson, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and Merrill Kelly are all pretty hittable.
Renato Nunez DH
BAL Baltimore • #39 • Age: 25
Renato Nunez gets those same favorable matchups as Anthony Santander, but with an added wrinkle: four of them throw left-handed. The 25-year-old has nearly an .850 OPS against lefties and just interrupted a slump with five hits Wednesday followed by a three-run homer Sunday. Here's betting he pulls out of it this week.
Josh Rojas RF
ARI Arizona • #9 • Age: 25
Josh Rojas has started five of seven since joining the big club, and if the pattern continues this week, he'll benefit from the same favorable matchups as Carson Kelly and Christian Walker. He has mostly just collected singles so far while avoiding striking out, but his .332 batting average, 23 homers and 33 steals in the minors this year suggest there's exciting potential here.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #22 • Age: 30
Jason Heyward is always a reasonable choice when the Cubs are facing nothing but righties, as is the case this week, given that he's batting .285 with an .863 OPS against them. Most of this week's batch aren't of a particularly high skill level either, including the likes of Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez, Erick Fedde and Joe Ross.
Best hitter matchups for Week 22
1. Rangers LAA4, @CHW4
2. Rays SEA3, @BAL4
3. Cardinals MIL3, COL4
4. Astros DET4, LAA3
5. Diamondbacks COL3, @MIL3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 22
1. Padres @CIN3, BOS3
2. Giants @CHC3, @OAK2
3. Athletics NYY3, SF2
4. Pirates WAS4, CIN3
5. Red Sox PHI2, @SD3
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