By Sam McPherson
By the time the Fourth of July has passed, the 2016 Major League Baseball season will be entering the second half of its long, six-month life. As real-life general managers evaluate their own respective teams’ chances for making the postseason, fantasy baseball team owners must do the same: Can your fantasy team win the league championship?
Take a look at the standings, and don’t just look for a low number in any of the statistical categories. Analyze how close your weakest categories are to overtaking the teams above you in that specific category. For example: your squad may be the second-to-last team in home runs, but if the team above yours in that category has 50 more HRs than your team already, you won’t catch that team in that category any time soon.
On the contrary, if your team is dead last in saves—but there are three teams ahead of yours within just 10 saves combined—you have a better chance of gaining points in that category than you do in the HR category scenario defined above. That means a smart fantasy owner won’t trade or look for more HRs. A smart fantasy owner will look for the extra saves instead, and she/he might even trade away some HRs to gain those saves.
This is an important time to look at your team’s strengths and weaknesses, to see what categories need help and perhaps what categories you can sacrifice some stats in to catch up in others. Smart team owners look at the standings regularly to see these kinds of opportunities, and your fantasy management strategy should be no different.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Kendrys Morales, DH, Kansas City Royals: If you need HRs, Morales could be the ticket for you. His position flexibility is lacking, of course, so he clogs your ability to move players around in daily moves leagues. However, with 14 HRs and 45 RBIs right now, he’s on pace for a very good season in terms of pure production. Better yet, he’s hit .404 since the beginning of June, meaning Morales is getting hotter now that it is summer time. Ride that heat wave!
2. Bud Norris, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: With the trade last week from the Atlanta Braves to the West Coast, Norris suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. His numbers in Atlanta were okay (3-7, 4.22 ERA), but underneath that topical stuff, Norris was actually pitching well. Now, he has a better team behind him as he already tossed six shutout innings with the Dodgers in his first start with them—adding eight strikeouts in the process.
3. Marcus Semien, SS, Oakland Athletics: His batting average has improved every month of the season so far, and currently, he has 17 HRs and and 43 RBIs. Those are good production numbers from a shortstop. Semien also has five stolen bases, so he can give your team a slight boost right there. For some reason, though, a lot of owners aren’t interested in him. Perhaps he can help your lineup in 2016.
4. Dee Gordon, 2B, Miami Marlins: This is a sneaky move, if others in your league haven’t thought of it already, of course. Gordon was suspended a long time ago for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, but he is due to come back soon. If he’s on the waiver wire in your league, grab him now and stash him on your bench. When Gordon plays, he steals a lot of bases, and that can help anyone’s team.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Colby Lewis, SP, Texas Rangers: Baseball is fickle. Just a few weeks ago, Lewis was close to throwing a perfect game against the Oakland Athletics. Now, he’s on the 60-day disabled list with a muscle strain. Sixty days from now, the MLB season will be close to over. Lewis cannot help you anymore this season, realistically. Drop him now and move on.
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds: He’s in his mid-30s now, and after years of productivity, Phillips finally be slowing down. He was last an All-Star player in 2013 and after a bad 2014, he recovered for a solid 2015. But this season, it’s like 2014 all over again with just a .255 average and a .669 OPS. The minimal power and speed aren’t worth keeping on your roster, when other players are out there putting up big numbers at the keystone position.
3. Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants: He is out with a concussion currently, and those have been notoriously hard for MLB players to come back from in the recent past. Panik never projected to be a good MLB hitter, yet somehow he keeps hitting home runes in a home park that not’s conducive to HRs (unless you’re Barry Bonds on steroids, of course). After hitting eight HRs and driving in 37 runs last year, he already has seven HRs and 36 RBIs this season. Proceed with caution, as the concussion is a tricky injury for a sport that requires concentration, eyesight and focus.
4. Nathan Eovaldi, SP, New York Yankees: Recently, he won four straight starts. At the end of May, he was 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA. Since then, the Yankees starter has coughed up 31 earned runs in six starts to see his record drop to 6-6 and his ERA rise to 5.54. Those numbers kill any fantasy owner, so get Eovaldi off your roster immediately and let some other owner roll the dice that his second half can be better than this.
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.