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Fantasy Baseball Edge: Heating Up

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By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott, and Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis

As the fantasy playoffs get closer and closer, every fantasy owner is in search of that one hot player who can help carry his or her squad the rest of the way. We at RotoAnalysis are going to focus on three players this week who can fill that void for your team. Whether they were simply off on the wrong foot this season, something is now suddenly clicking, or they are just plain old undervalued, here are our three picks for upside the rest of the way.

Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers C

For a guy who wasn’t 100% owned in ESPN leagues until a week ago, Lucroy has been pretty darn good. He broke out last season to the tune of a .320 average and even more impressively, cutting his strikeout rate in half. What has been impressive this season is his increase in power. Last year Lucroy played in only 96 games but still ended the 9th catcher on the player rater. Given how weak the position is overall, Lucroy should easily be ranked as a top 5 catcher right now. After hitting just 8 home runs before July, he has doubled that total since. Those 16 homers are tied for second best among all catchers and if Lucroy’s average can make up any ground between its current .280 and last year’s .320…look out.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays 3B

Lawrie has disappointed for the most part in his young MLB career, but over the past fourteen days Lawrie is hitting .347 with three homers. While a two week sample size is never going to get me to completely believe in a player, it’s a major step in the right direction. Over the span, Lawrie has struck out less than 10% of the time and posted an equal number of walks and strikeouts. In the second half, Lawrie’s line drive rate is 22.2%, up from a 13.5% clip in the first half of the year. It wasn’t long ago that Lawrie was one of the top offensive prospects in the game. It seems Lawrie is finally fully healthy and may be ready to show why he was ranked as a top prospect just last year.

Elvis Andrus, Rangers SS

The window to buy low on Elvis Andrus is rapidly closing, if it hasn’t already slammed shut. Over the last 15 days, Andrus has been one of the top 20 hitters in fantasy, and that’s after he headed into the All Star break with a .242 average (.300 OBP) and just 19 steals. Well, in his 19 games since the break, Andrus has already swiped 8 bags, and is hitting .333 with a .407 OBP. Skills-wise, Andrus is only getting better and his line drive and groundball rates are nearly identical to what they’ve been the past couple seasons. I know it might seem like he’s been around for a while, and that’s because this will be his fourth full season in the majors, but Elvis Andrus turns 25 at the end of this month, and his bat is only going to get better and better as he eases into his hitting prime. If you can still buy low on Andrus thanks to some bad luck on balls in play and an uncharacteristic lack of running, do so as soon as possible, because Andrus should be the high average/steals/runs guy fantasy owners have become accustomed too for the rest of 2013.

Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems, Matt @KidCotti21, and Matt @Schwimingly. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.

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