Start and sit hitters for Week 24
Looking for a hot bat to help propel you through the playoffs? Our Scott White analyzes each position to find the best bets in his Week 24 start and sit hitters.
Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.
At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.
All stats are updated through Thursday, Sept. 4.
Joc Pederson and Maikel Franco were two of the more notable players called up for the start of September, but neither is assured playing time right now. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has said Pederson is the team's only true center fielder and could certainly justify sitting Carl Crawford for him. He'll be a sleeper if he continues to play over the weekend. Franco looks like he's the lesser half a lefty-righty platoon with Cody Asche but could also factor if that changes.
Coco Crisp is still dealing with a neck injury that has plagued him for most of the second half. He's supposed to return to the lineup this week, but he's been in and out of it so much with this same issue that you can't trust him down the stretch in Fantasy. Michael Morse (oblique) and Steve Pearce (abdominal) are looking too risky to start as well.
Anthony Rizzo is talking like his back strain could cost him the rest of the season, so you wouldn't want to mess with him. Justin Upton's bruised triceps, on the other hand, doesn't sound serious enough for me to remove him as a "too obvious" outfielder. As always, you'll want to check back to make sure he returns over the weekend.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs||83/61|
|2.||Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Red Sox||45/33|
|3.||Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates||90/68|
|4.||Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins||64/55|
|5.||Russell Martin, C, Pirates||72/59|
|6.||Ben Revere, OF, Phillies||70/57|
|7.||Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers||58/40|
|8.||Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals||62/42|
|9.||Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, Cubs||38/30|
|10.||J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles||77/61|
Start: Russell Martin, Pirates
Started in just 59 percent of leagues, Martin continues to be overlooked at what remains a thin position even with the return of Yadier Molina. He's having his best season since his All-Star days with the Dodgers, averaging more Head-to-Head points per game (2.80) than Salvador Perez (2.50). If there was ever a week to buy into him, this is it. The Pirates have the most favorable matchups of any team, facing pitchers like Kyle Kendrick, David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, A.J. Burnett, Felix Doubront and Travis Wood.
Instead of: Travis d'Arnaud, Dioner Navarro, Stephen Vogt
Sit: Tyler Flowers, White Sox
With three home runs in his last three games, Flowers may seem like a sneaky hot-hand play -- hey, people have tried crazier things when on the verge of elimination -- but there's a reason he's batting .240 with a .678 OPS on the year. He hit .395 in his first 13 games this season only to hit .176 in his next 65. He hit .455 in his first 14 games of the second half only to hit .120 in his next 17. He's the worst kind of streaky -- one whose bad far outweighs the good -- and his matchups against Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir and Phil Hughes should be enough to cool him off this week.
Instead of: Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Wilson Ramos
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Victor Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Adrian Gonzalez, Lucas Duda, Chris Carter, Adam LaRoche, Chris Davis
Start: Matt Adams, Cardinals
You may have noticed Adams is batting just .125 (6 for 48) in his last 14 games, and you may be tempted to sit him because of it. But the slump coincides with a stretch of games in which the Cardinals have faced an unusually high number of left-handed pitchers. Adams is batting just .200 against lefties compared to .318 against righties. He'll face five righties in his seven games this week, including homer-prone types like Dylan Axelrod, Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon and Jordan Lyles.
Instead of: Mark Trumbo, Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira
Sit: Brandon Moss, Athletics
The Athletics have taken to sitting Moss against lefties again even though he has a better batting average against them (.274) than righties (.235) this year. Considering he's just the 28th-ranked first baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues in his last 81 games (or exactly half of a full big-league season), it's not so surprising. The Athletics have plenty of lefty mashers on their roster and have to generate runs somehow. If Moss' .180 (24 for 133) batting average since the All-Star break isn't enough to scare you away, the four lefties on tap for the Athletics should be.
Instead of: Adams, Kennys Vargas, Billy Butler
|2.||Angels||@CLE1, @TEX3, HOU3|
Start: Scooter Gennett, Brewers
One of the hottest hitters in baseball leading up to the All-Star break, Gennett hasn't been able to get much of anything going since then, batting .266 (25 for 94) with only six extra-base hits in 32 games. Having to sit so often for Rickie Weeks certainly hasn't helped matters, but with seven righties on tap, that shouldn't be an issue this week. Gennett, who's batting .319 with an .841 OPS against righties, hasn't played more than four games in a row since ... well, since before the All-Star break. His matchups against Brad Penny, Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, Nathan Eovaldi and Dylan Axelrod should also help.
Instead of: Martin Prado, Dustin Ackley, Brandon Phillips
Sit: Brandon Phillips, Reds
Phillips has been downright useless since returning from thumb surgery, batting .138 (8 for 58) in 15 games. Perhaps he was rushed, as manager Bryan Price suggested Thursday, but let's not overlook the fact he had a .701 OPS before the injury. He's no longer a home run hitter or base stealer, and he was never an on-base specialist. Particularly because he was rushed, he's no more than a last resort at his position these days.
Instead of: Neil Walker, Mookie Betts, Kolten Wong
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Todd Frazier, Evan Longoria, Kyle Seager, Matt Carpenter, Carlos Santana, Josh Harrison, Nolan Arenado, Pablo Sandoval, David Wright, Chris Davis
Start: Luis Valbuena, Cubs
Among the most shocking sentences you'll read today: Valbuena is the eighth-best third baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues over the last seven scoring periods. That's because he leads the position with 11 home runs during that span. He's batting .327 (18 for 55) with six of those home runs in his last 15 games, so it's not like he's beginning to trail off, making him a good bet to capitalize on his matchups against homer-prone pitchers Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Jeff Locke and Edinson Volquez this week. Notice I included two lefties in there? Yup, the Cubs haven't been sitting him against them lately.
Instead of: Casey McGehee, Brock Holt, Yangervis Solarte
Sit: Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
Chisenhall's static starting rate shows exactly why I have to recommend players like Valbuena in Fantasy. The shortage of startable third basemen in some leagues has kept it above 40 percent. That's with him scoring no more than 16 Head-to-Head points in the last 12 scoring periods, only three times topping a dozen. In 215 at-bats during that span, he's batting .237 with a .675 OPS. True, he has hit .452 (14 for 31) in his last 10 games, but his matchups against Jered Weaver, David Price and Max Scherzer should bury him again this week.
Instead of: Valbuena, Trevor Plouffe, Solarte
|3.||White Sox||OAK4, MIN3|
Start: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Hardy missed a couple games recently with back spasms -- an injury that also plagued him earlier this season -- but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that he's hitting for power again, belting five of his nine home runs in his last 87 at-bats. He's also batting .310 during that stretch. Back in the lineup, he has the right matchups to keep it going this week. Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, Brandon McCarthy, Shane Greene and Hiroki Kuroda have combined to allow 1.04 home runs per nine innings this season, and that's not even counting the poor sap the Yankees find to start the second game of their doubleheader Friday.
Instead of: Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Andrelton Simmons
Sit: Elvis Andrus, Rangers
That's right: I had so much fun taking down Andrus last week that I'm back to do it again. Even with my revelation that he's only the 16th-best shortstop in Head-to-Head points leagues over the last eight weeks (or nine now), he remains started in 82 percent -- or what I'd normally consider "too obvious" territory. If you don't like what he's been giving you with unremarkable matchups, you really won't like what he gives you in a six-game week against pitchers like Matt Shoemaker, Alex Wood, Julio Teheran and Mike Minor.
Instead of: Alcides Escobar, Arismendy Alcantara, Yangervis Solarte
OutfieldToo obvious: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon, Yasiel Puig, Jayson Werth, Matt Holliday, Ben Zobrist, Bryce Harper, Josh Harrison, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Ryan Braun, Billy Hamilton, J.D. Martinez, Matt Kemp, Corey Dickerson, Christian Yelich, Lucas Duda, Nick Markakis, Denard Span, Kole Calhoun, Chris Carter, Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, Marlon Byrd
Start: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
You may notice in the table positioned near the beginning of this column that Betts isn't even my favorite sleeper outfielder this week. Jorge Soler is. But considering Soler has done no wrong in the majors so far, I feel like highlighting him here for the second straight week is almost too easy. After a couple of underwhelming stints earlier this season, though, Betts is still flying under the radar. The rookie is batting .333 (14 for 42) with three homers and three steals in his last 11 games. He has nine walks in 16 games since returning compared to one previously, showing he has a better read on major-league pitching now. He hit .346 with a .960 OPS between two minor-league stops this year.
Instead of: Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson
Sits: Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
So Ozuna had a nice game the other day, huh? You think he might be breaking out of his latest of many slumps, do you? Well, I wouldn't be so sure. The Marlins have some iffy matchups this week against pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Cole Hamels, and all seven of their games are on the road, where Ozuna is hitting just .235 with a .644 OPS.
Instead of: Jorge Soler, Betts, Ben Revere
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