By Sam McPherson
In the last two seasons combined (2014-2015), Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hit .314 with 23 home runs and 103 RBI in 673 at-bats. This led a lot of fantasy baseball owners to believe that Turner was ready for a big season in 2016 now that he was finally handed the key to the full-time starting role for the team, and as a result, Turner was drafted by the 10th round in most leagues.
Fast forward to the end of May, and Turner was hitting just .235 with three HRs and 16 RBI. Suddenly, he was on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues, because owners had found better-producing players at the position. Back on May 9, even we suggested right here in this column that you merely bench Turner since he wasn’t producing. Hopefully, you didn’t waive him!
This is where patience reaps rewards: Since June 1, Turner has now hit .281 with six HR and 14 RBI in the last 17 games alone. He’s hot, and now is the time you want him in your lineup. If he’s on waivers in your league, this is the time to benefit from someone else’s folly and snag a potential All-Star hitter for your own roster.
Every year, this type of sequence happens with several MLB players in fantasy baseball, and the key is understanding which players to outright drop early, and which players to merely bench, because you know they’re too good to just dump for good. After those slow starts are behind them, many players end up having very good statistical seasons come late September, and you don’t want to be the owner that severed ties too soon.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Michael Saunders, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: He missed most of the last two seasons (2014-2015) with injuries, so at age 29, this is really more like his age-27 season. It’s showing, as Saunders is flashing power (15 HRs already) like he could have a few years ago if he had been healthy. It also helps that he’s in the middle of the the Toronto lineup, which is very good if you haven’t noticed. Grab him if you still can.
2. Brandon Finnegan, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Back in 2014, he made history as the first player to ever play in both the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same season. Now with the Reds, Finnegan is having a very good month: 2-1 record, 2.96 ERA, 1.192 WHIP. Yeah, he plays for Cincinnati, so perhaps he’s still a spot starter for now, but Finnegan is only going to get better. He has a lot of talent.
3. Tim Lincecum, SP, Los Angeles Angels: If you keep expectations modest, Lincecum could help your rotation. He is not going to be the version of The Freak that won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. That Lincecum is long gone. What he can be for you now at age 32 is a serviceable SP that won’t hurt you too badly in the ERA and WHIP categories while getting you some wins and a few strikeouts, too.
4. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers: As noted above, Turner is rounding into form right now, and projected out the rest of the season, he could add 15 HRs and 40 RBI to your team in the second half of the season. That’s good production for the position, so re-insert him into your lineup now if you still have him—or look for him on waivers, as other owners may have given up on him too soon after his slow start to the 2016 season.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Gerardo Parra, OF, Colorado Rockies: He is out with an ankle injury right now, and although we suggested earlier this season to pick him up, we now are suggesting fantasy owners drop Parra for good in 2016. He’s just not hitting, despite being in Coors Field, and with the ankle injury, his speed will be compromised if and when he returns at 100 percent. Parra has been a huge fantasy disappointment this season for a lot of owners.
2. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets: Bench him if you can, because after a hot start in April, the Mets sophomore slugger is hitting just .157 since May 1 with just 12 RBI in that span. Conforto was a slight revelation for the Mets last year in their run to the World Series, which made him a bit overrated in drafts this year. However, we have to remember he still has only 426 MLB plate appearances under his belt right now.
3. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox: In 21 starts last season at age 22, Rodriguez looked like a fine sleeper pick for 2016. However, an injury slowed his progress earlier this season, and Rodriguez looks terrible right now (6.97 ERA). If you were counting on him to help your team, you’ve been brutally disappointed. It could be time to just cut bait for this season and look for him again late in 2017 drafts.
4. David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: After a breakout season last year (.893 OPS), Peralta has been relatively brutal this season so far (.259 average with just four HRs and 15 RBI). He has just three extra-base hits since April, so perhaps there’s something wrong with him on the injury front. Either way, the waiver wire is full of players producing much better than this, so don’t hold your breath waiting for Peralta to wake up.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.