By Sam McPherson
Every year, Major League Baseball goes through this miniature drama of picking All-Star rosters for the American and National league in the Midsummer Classic. A lot of weight gets put on the label “All-Star player” in real life, and that value can be transferred to fantasy baseball, too, if an owner is wise enough to take advantage of opportunity.
Many fantasy baseball owners overvalue the “All-Star” designation, meaning you may be able to trade some players with that label and get more in return. Consider that every team in the MLB gets an All-Star representative on July 12 this year – not every All-Star player is equal in terms of statistics. However, statistically blind fantasy baseball owners do exist in every league.
They will trade for All-Star players without question, and it’s up to you to work that to your advantage. If you can find an All-Star player on the waiver wire—and quite often you can, especially if he plays for the Philadelphia Phillies or the Minnesota Twins, for example—pick him up and trade him to one of those team owners in your league. Likewise, if you have an “overrated” All-Star player on your roster already, see if you can flip him for someone better.
Smart owners will see through the ruse, of course, so propose your trades wisely. Trade proposals don’t often work, but when they do, smart fantasy owners can use them to their advantage. This is a good time of the season to start thinking about how you can flip an overrated All-Star player for an underrated player that wasn’t picked for the Midsummer Classic.
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
1. Justin Bour, 1B, Miami Marlins: The 28-year-old slugger hit 23 home runs last year, but for some reason, he’s still underrated. Bour has improved his walk and strikeouts rates this year, and he already has 14 HRs in 2016. If you need some power in your lineup, he’s the answer since not too many fantasy owners are on to him yet. He’s hitting .327 in June, too, so he’s hot right now as the Marlins somehow stay competitive in the NL East Division. Maybe hiring Barry Bonds as the hitting coach was a good idea after all.
2. Doug Fister, SP, Houston Astros: The Astros have charged back into playoff contention, and Fister is one reason why. He’s not going to give you a lot of strikeouts, but his wins (eight so far) and ERA (3.36 right now) should be pretty good going forward now that he’s found his groove again. As Houston continues to play better baseball, Fister is going to be a key cog in their rotation—piling up a lot of wins and posting that solid ERA. Grab him while you can if your team needs to improve in the win category.
3. Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs: Everyone knows how the Cubbies lost Kyle Schwarber this year, but this is another young Chicago catcher that could help your team. Through just nine games so far, Contreras is hitting .348 with three HRs and nine RBI. Those are great numbers, and while we all know they won’t last all season, why not pick him up and ride him while he’s hot? Most catchers are replaceable on your roster, anyway, so the risk here is low. We’re not saying you should drop Buster Posey to pick up Contreras, of course, so just be smart here.
4. Seung-hwan Oh, RP, St. Louis Cardinals: He should be the new closer in St. Louis, and Oh’s numbers right now are off the charts (2-0, 1.66 ERA, 51 Ks in just 38 innings, 0.789 WHIP). Maybe those will suffer a little in a closer’s role due to pressure, etc., but still, Oh is going to be more valuable to your roster if he adds some saves to those statistics. Considering the Cardinals have lost a lot of close games this year, Oh is just what they need at the back end of the bullpen to make up some ground in the second half of the season.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Raisel Iglesias, SP, Cincinnati Reds: His potential makes him a little overrated right now, so maybe you can trade Iglesias. He’s back from injury now but stuck in the bullpen as the Reds are being careful with his shoulder. That means he’s not going to have a lot of value for your team until he makes his way back into the rotation. Even so, he’s given up more hits than innings pitched this season, and that’s dangerous for a starting pitcher—even if he does have a lot of strikeouts. Trade him or bench him.
2. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets: Bench him, because he will be back. After hitting .365 in April, the former Oregon State star has hit just .148 in the last two months. He’s got too much talent to stink for too long, so there’s no need to panic here. Yes, find a replacement hitter for team, but don’t waive Conforto. At worst, trade him to a Mets fan in your league that still has faith in him. You should be able to get a good return on him that way if you’re impatient.
3. Dexter Fowler, OF, Chicago Cubs: He is on the disabled list now, but you should consider trading him if you can. Why? Fowler plays for the Cubs, so he’s overrated there. He also isn’t stealing bases like he used to, and that hurts his value in fantasy baseball. Plus, with a hamstring injury, it’s going to be awhile before you even know if he’ll start stealing bases again when he comes off the DL. Fowler is posting a career-high OPS mark (.881) right now, but you could find better players on someone else’s roster if you’re clever enough to pull off a trade with the right Cubs fan in your league.
4. Trevor Rosenthal, RP, St. Louis Cardinals: This is the opposite of picking up Oh, of course. After saving 93 games over the last two seasons, Rosenthal just never had it going right this year. His ERA is twice what his career mark was before this season, although he was posting career-best strikeout numbers. In single-season leagues, you might as well drop him, because it’s hard to see the Cardinals giving him any serious chances for saves again this season. But he can probably fix himself by next year.
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.