Fantasy Baseball: David Wright and 10 Underperforming Players to Buy Low
Fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, while the first three months should be accounted for, a lot can change as the summer drags on.
Players will get hot and get cold. As a fantasy manager, it is your guess as to when each will happen.
So far, each of the players I have listed are struggling. These guys have been known to carry their teams offensively, but this year has been different. They have each struggled.
Still, those struggles will not continue. I have compiled a list of 10 players who will turn their fortunes around. Accordingly, you should be sure to pick these guys up before they go on their tear.
Orlando Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
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Orlando Cabrera is hovering around his career-low batting average (.239). Still, the Cleveland Indians are trying to keep him in the lineup.
This week, it looks like they are going to move him to third base. Although he does not hit for power, he usually is good for at least 30 doubles in a season. Right now, he's barely on pace to hit 20.
Doubles are great for fantasy, especially for players who don't hit home runs. I think Cabrera's doubles will start coming once his average starts to climb.
At the end of the day, Cabrera is a quality starter in most leagues. Once he qualifies as a third baseman, he will become even more dynamic.
Manny Acta seems determined to keep Cabrera in the lineup. He is too talented to struggle this much, and I think he will get hot around the All-Star Break.
Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs
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Unlike most players on this list, Kosuke Fukudome has been hitting well this year. In fact, he has the highest batting average of his Major League Baseball career.
From a fantasy perspective, however, he is not giving a great performance. His home runs are characteristically low, but that does not excuse his mere 11 RBI. A third of those came in one game!
While his hits are coming in steadily, Fukudome has eclipsed five fantasy points only twice in his last 18 games.
Fukudome is not normally a great fantasy option, but he is usually more respectable than this. In the second half, I expect him to get a little more pop in his bat, which will (hopefully) result in more RBI for the Cubs outfielder.
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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Torii Hunter started the season on a tear (31 RBI by Memorial Day), but he has completely cooled off.
In June, he is batting an abysmal .238, and he has twice as many strikeouts as RBI. So, which Hunter can we expect for the rest of the year?
While I don't think he will drive in as many runs as he did in May (19), he will definitely perform better than he has in June.
The All-Star Break will give him time to clear his head, and Hunter will be able to have a strong second half.
His strikeout totals will remain high, but he should be able to knock in enough runs to make the Ks a moot point.
Derrek Lee, Baltimore Orioles
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Derrek Lee is not playing as well as he can, or as well as he should. After his performance over the weekend (2 HR, 4 RBI), however, that looks like it might start to change.
While you can't judge a player by one series, Lee's walkoff home run on Friday could instigate a hot streak. Sometimes, veterans just need a spark to catch fire. Friday's bomb could be just the spark Lee needs.
As a fantasy option, he needs to drive in more runs, especially as a first baseman. Those RBI may have to wait until Brian Roberts comes off the disabled list.
However, Lee should start getting doubles consistently, for he has hit 30+ in all but two of his full seasons.
This could be a snowball effect for D-Lee, and he should be a solid option for a first baseman, especially in AL-only leagues.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
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Joe Mauer continues to struggle with injuries. Year after year, the Minnesota Twins star suffers a relatively serious injury. He played to start the year, but it was evident that he was rushing back, which forced him back to the DL.
Since coming back, Mauer has batted an embarrassing .138. You can count his extra base hits, doubles and RBI all on one hand. For a former MVP (and $184 Million Man), that is unacceptable.
Some people may be down on Mauer, but don't let his slow start fool you. He is still one of the best hitters in the game, and he will almost surely bring his average up to .300.
Do what you can to acquire Mauer while he is at his lowest, because he will start driving the ball soon.
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
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Pablo Sandoval has not played too bad this year, but injuries have slowed him down. He missed over a month of the season, and he has only hit .222 since coming back.
Still, I'm not worried about the Kung Fu Panda. He is a good hitter, and he has the ability to light it up for weeks at a time. The power has not been there this year, but I believe that he will start finding gaps over the next month, and plenty of RBI will come with that.
The San Francisco Giants started off a little slowly (13-15), but they have re-assumed their place at the top of the NL West.
The defending Champs are confident in their ability to win, and I think there is a decent chance that they run away with their division. If they do, Sandoval will be a big reason why.
Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs
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Geovany Soto seemed to have a rebound year last season, and it appeared like he was going to produce this year.
That hasn't happened.
Before Sunday's 3-for-3 performance, his batting average was dangerously close to the Mendoza Line. He has struck out twice as many times as he has walked, and he almost has half as many home runs as RBI.
Those numbers don't look good at all.
However, his 3-for-3 performance could be a sign for things to come. The Cubs need to score more runs, and a some of that burden falls on Soto.
He is a much better second-half player, which is why I think he will become one of the most coveted fantasy catchers after the All-Star Break.
Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
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Dan Uggla has been an awful fantasy option this year. Many people thought he was going to hit 30-40 home runs and drive in over 100, but all he has done is strike out.
Strike out a lot.
While he has managed 11 home runs (a respectable total), his abysmal .177 average discounts most of that. He only has 27 RBI, and he can barely get on base one out of four appearances.
Every time he looks like he's breaking out of his slump, he crashes back into it.
Still, I believe in Uggla. I think he will figure it out (at some point), and he will put up monster numbers. For his career, he has been great in the second half, and I don't think this year will be any different.
If Atlanta is going to try to upset Philadelphia for the division, Uggla will have to crush the ball.
I wouldn't count out the Braves.
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
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Chase Utley's numbers have steadily declined since 2007 (arguably, his best season). This year, they have reached a new low.
He started the season on the DL, which kept him out of the Phillies' lineup until the last week of May. Since then, Utley has struggled to get back into things.
Once he gets in a groove, however, Utley will start hitting the stitches out of the ball.
As a fantasy owner, it will take good timing, but Utley is too talented to continue to struggle, which is why it would be better to acquire him sooner rather than later.
David Wright, New York Mets
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David Wright may be on the disabled list, but he would be worth taking a look at. The five-time All-Star has not played well, but I expect him to crush the ball when he comes off the DL.
When you compare his first half/second half splits for his career, his power totals are nearly identical. However, he has played nearly 100 fewer games after the All-Star Break.
This season, Wright suffered an injury earlier than normal, which should keep him safe for the rest of the year.
He may break his streak of five straight All-Star games, but I think he'll play the second half of the season as an All-Star.