Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 21 include Steven Souza, Franmil Reyes
The teams they’re playing in those doubleheaders — the Marlins and the Phillies — are each playing just seven games, but even that’s an advantage over the majority of the league, which is scheduled for six games are fewer. The Orioles, Red Sox, Astros and Brewers are each scheduled for five.
This should obviously impact lineup decisions beyond just which pitchers your hitters are facing, and it’s true the Braves and Mets each have more or less an automatic bid into my “best hitter matchups” for the week. They’re well represented here among my favorite hitters owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Kole Calhoun‘s production slowed a bit in Week 19 (July 30-Aug. 5), when he faced a bunch of Rays and Indians pitchers, but he has picked it up again in Week 20 and is still batting .292 (45 for 154) with 14 homers and a .996 OPS in 43 games since returning from an oblique injury. And now he has seven games against Padres and Rangers pitchers.
Ketel Marte has hit safely in every game so far in August, giving him a .298 batting average and .941 OPS in 59 games since the start of July. He’s the fifth-best shortstop in points leagues during that time, so it’s amazing to me he’s still only 58 percent owned. That should change with him facing Rangers and Padres pitchers this week.
Brandon Nimmo fell off a cliff in mid-June and, judging by his strikeout rate, probably won’t return to must-start status. But he’s showing signs of coming around, doubling four times in his past two games, and faces nothing but righties in the Mets’ eight games this week. His OPS is 150 points higher vs. righties than lefties.
Second verse, same as the first. Michael Conforto hasn’t been as productive as Nimmo this year, but his batted ball profile is the more encouraging of the two. He has historically fared better against righties than lefties, too, but mostly I just like his chances of doing something worthwhile with so many games at his disposal.
A lengthy bout with a strained pectoral at the start of the season put Steven Souza in a pretty big hole, but he has begun to climb out of it recently, batting .338 (25 for 74) with two homers and a .998 OPS over his past 20 games. He’ll benefit from the same favorable matchups as Ketel Marte, going against pitchers like Bartolo Colon, Yovani Gallardo, Walker Lockett and Clayton Richard.
Franmil Reyes has returned from the minors with a reduced leg kick and a hot bat, going 9 for 15 with three homers in four games. Strikeouts were a big issue in his first stint in the majors but haven’t impacted him so much during his terrific Triple-A campaign. He’ll have seven games to test if the leg kick has made all the difference.
The Braves are the other team playing eight games this week — and with matchups more favorable than the Mets’ — but they don’t have as many hitters who meet the 80 percent threshold. At 41 percent ownership, Johan Camargo does, and he has a knack for putting the bat on the ball with above-average power. It’s the sort of high-floor profile that can thrive with enough volume.
I mentioned the pitching staffs Kole Calhoun is facing this week. Here are some of the pitchers: Clayton Richard, Brett Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Ariel Jurado, Drew Hutchison and Martin Perez. That’s good news for Albert Pujols, too, who’s still a pretty good power hitter at age 38, homering six times in his past 19 games. He has played mostly first base of late, so the three games in an NL park shouldn’t impact his playing time.
Jedd Gyorko has been playing close to every day anyway, shifting Matt Carpenter over to first base, but he’s clearly a fixture vs. left-handed pitchers. That’s because he’s batting .318 with a 1.009 OPS against them. The Cardinals have three on the schedule in their seven games, and none of Tommy Milone, Gio Gonzalez and Wade MIley are the kind to hold Gyorko back.
A fixture for the Mets at first base over the past month, Wilmer Flores is another sort of low-impact, high-floor hitter who could see a big boost with an eight-game schedule. He may bat right-handed, but like Nimmo, he has been at his best against right-handed pitchers this year, batting .292 with an .849 OPS.
Best hitter matchups for Week 21
Worst hitter matchups for Week 21