At this stage of the game, every single point matters. So much so, in fact, that the numbers become more important than the names. By that, I mean, it’s not as much about the players in your lineup as it is about the statistics on your league’s standings page.
Find the categories that are most essential to your chances at gaining ground and focus on adding players who will address those areas. This applies more to rotisserie leagues than head-to-head ones (since matchups and scoring in the latter change each week), but the point remains the same: Numbers over names.
With that in mind, here are three American League outfielders owned in less than 50% of leagues, each of whom has the ability to help your team in a specific category down the stretch.
Peter Bourjos, Angels
Ownership: ESPN – 42% / Yahoo! – 32%
The 24-year-old centerfielder is hitting a very respectable .286 for the year, but he’s been extremely streaky all season. His BA by month: .300, .176, .329, .261 and .391 so far in August, which has been his best all-around month by far. In fact, he’s actually hit a season-high 5 homers and 5 doubles this month, so he’s clearly stinging the ball lately. As long as he can avoid a repeat of his putrid May (when his BABIP was an unlucky .243), Bourjos offers some real upside in this often hard-to-predict category. While his overall .363 BABIP might give you pause, Bourjos isn’t likely to be a victim of the regression monster because he can really run. His 21 infield hits are the fourth-most in baseball, so he doesn’t necessarily have to continue hitting the ball all that hard in order to post a high average. But the fact that he is, well, that’s even better.
Eric Thames, Blue Jays
Ownership: ESPN – 8% / Yahoo! – 5%
Thames, 24, was a popular add back in early July. But a 3-for-36 streak from the end of July into early August saw him fall off plenty of rosters as owners jumped ship figuring Thames’ rookie run had come to an end. Not so fast, folks. He’s since regained his stroke, and is once again hitting for some pop, with 3 homers in his past 10 games, and his .193 ISO for the season indicates he’s capable of hitting a handful more bombs over the final six weeks. His fly ball percentage (39%) is right around league average, but his line drive rate (25%) puts him right in line with the best in baseball. As a guy who hits the ball with authority that often, and in the air more than on the ground, Thames has the requisite profile for owners in need of homers. As a potential bonus, he could chip in enough RBIs — he knocked in 17 during the month of July — to aid that category, too.
Ben Revere, Twins
Ownership: ESPN – 5% / Yahoo! – 3%
The speedy Revere has three things that will make him useful for those in search of steals: a clear path to playing time and his right and left legs. With Denard Span, who missed two months due to a concussion, now back on the DL with what the Twins are calling migraine symptoms, and Delmon Young having just been jettisoned to Detroit, Revere has found himself playing everyday again. In June and July, the two months Revere got full-time duty, he swiped 7 and 9 bags, respectively, so a double-digit tally between now and the end of the season is a good possibility. And don’t let the guy’s .300 OBP worry you: His July OBP was a meager .280, and he still managed his best poaching month of the year. In other words, when he’s on, he runs. The 23-year-old is leading off, too, so he’s in position to provide a solid runs total from here on out, should that be another categorical necessity.