In the next month, many leagues will see their final chance at redemption dwindle away with the trade deadline expiring. In my leagues, the trade deadline is August 20, but it might be sooner for you, so take a look at your league settings to find out when it is!
You may be in a hole right now in a certain category and you need to try and deal for some players to make a run at fantasy gold. I'm going to shed some light on guys who can help you in some different categories.
Batting Average and Runs
Before I get into a couple of players to help you out in average and runs, let's run through an exercise. Go to your fantasy team's overall stats for the year and find your hits to at-bat ratio. In my league I'm sitting well with 1248-4489 (.278), but I'm cutting it close with league-mates having averages of .276 and .275.
Now let's add 15 hits to your total and find the new average. In my case, my average skyrockets to .281, which would put me seriously close to first place. As you can see, about fifteen hits can be the difference between fifth and second in your league. If you can find a guy who will get a lot of hits and a lot of at bats (a guy in a very fast-paced offense), then you can slowly but surely catch up to the league leaders. Another plus side to guys who hit well for average is that they are more likely to help you in RBI and runs.
Skip Schumaker 2B/OF STL. Luckily for you, this player may be available as a free agent in your league seeing as he's only owned in 43 percent of CBS leagues. This guy may not steal bases or hit home runs but he can score runs in a hurry as well as improve your batting average. Schumaker has already managed to reach 105 hits on the season which is more than other leadoff guys like Jimmy Rollins (94), BJ Upton (91), Nate McClouth (88) and Ian Kinsler (95). Don't you wish that you had those extra 15 hits in your batting average now?
He's on pace for 94 runs but I think he can score even more since they now have Holliday to send him home. Schumaker is either already a free agent or available for dirt cheap so go out and get him so he can help your average out.
Howie Kendrick 2B ANA. Whatever Howie did in the minors to fix his swing worked, because in 15 July games Kendrick is hitting 20-52 (.385) with 9 RBI, 11 R, 2 SB and a HR. He's known for being a contact hitter so he's bound to keep up a .300 pace for the rest of the year. He might have come back swinging well but you can still get him for a good price and he will surely help you down the stretch.
Home Runs and RBI
When you grab a guy from free agency who will help you in these categories, you are going to have to give a little with your batting average. Most of the sluggers who hit for average and power are already taken. Keep this in mind when acquiring these guys, and play them just to catch up in these categories. Once you do catch up, you can take them out of the lineup so they don't do more damage to your average.
Pat Burrell OF TB. You already know how potent the Tampa Bay offense is, right? Well this guy hits right in the middle of that offense right behind season surprise Ben Zobrist. He was injured for a good portion of the season but owners held on dearly to the former first round selection. When he didn't hit homers out of the gate, owners gave up on him (the guy in my league dropped him). He's now owned in 66 percent of CBS leagues, which makes him available to a lot of mixed-leaguers out there. He's shown signs of life this month hitting three homers and there is no reason to doubt another 12 homers from this slugger. Remember, when healthy, this guy has been a lock for 30 homers and 90-100 RBI. Go send an offer for him and see if you can get him for cheap. Recently he's been traded straight up for Magglio Ordonez, Aaron Harang or Marlon Byrd(!!!).
Carlos Quentin OF CHW. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Quentin was on a torrid pace last year and people were putting him in the MVP discussion. This year, he's had foot problems and he's struggled with it. After sitting out weeks on the DL, he resumed play in the minors and showed signs of life (14-37, .378 avg, 10 R, 9 RBI, 1 HR). After his first week back in the majors though, owners may be ready to abandon ship after he went 5-25. Try sending a low ball offer for Quentin and see if you can nab him up though, because he is bound to improve. I've recently seen him traded straight up for Scott Kazmir, Max Scherzer and James Loney, which would all be steals in my opinion.
ERA and WHIP
John Lackey SP ANA. His overall numbers are deceiving to the naked eye. He sports an acceptable 4.22 ERA with a decent 1.29 WHIP. What you need to know is that he is finally 100 percent and ready to string together some quality starts for your team, and at a discount price at that. He came back in the middle of May without any spring training and struggled a bit, but now he has his control down as you can see from his last five starts (36.1 IP, 4W, 1L, ~3.00 ERA, ~1.00 WHIP, 28K). He's back to his regular self so see if you can grab him before his value is too high.
Jeff Niemann SP TB. So Niemann just put up a stinker Sunday against Toronto, but if we take a closer look at his last four starts, there is a statistic that I love about Niemann. He has just four walks in his past 26.2 IP along with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. If Niemann can continue to find the strike zone and limit his walks like he has recently, owners are bound to benefit from him starting on their team. Go get him for cheap before he makes a run down the stretch.
Joe Blanton SP PHI. Last year around this time, Philadelphia acquired Joe Blanton and from then on, he did not lose a game. Philly has one of the best offenses in the league and as last Sunday's game against St. Louis showed us, he may give up some runs, but he's in a great position to win every game. If you are in need of some wins go out and trade for this guy right now. Recently he's been traded straight up for Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche and Homer Bailey, which shows you owners aren't putting a lot of faith into him right now.
Any Chicago Cubs Pitcher. To put it lightly, Chicago's offense has been a disaster. Derrek Lee had a slow start, Aramis Ramirez has been out for most of the year and Kosuke Fukudome couldn't hit a beach ball with a fun noodle. Everything has started to fall into place for their offense though with Lee finding his swing, Ramirez coming back strong and Theriot (I call him "The Riot") getting on base. Many of those no-decisions and losses that Cubs pitchers were getting earlier will turn into wins for them. Just ask Randy Wells if you don't believe me.