All too often, players get dismissed in fantasy leagues because of a low batting average. Owners are paranoid that a player with a low average is going to siphon off points in that category and no matter how productive he may be, will always be a drain. But then they get so caught up in avoiding these players and only see the aggregate numbers that they miss when one of them turns things around. Here are two players to check out for the home stretch. Both are turning their average around, both can hit for tremendous power and even if they do start to slump again in the average department, there’s simply not enough time for them to accrue enough at-bats to completely kill you in the category.
Wilin Rosario, COL |C| Ownership: ESPN – 21.5% Yahoo -32.0%
We’ve spoken at length about Rosario and his talents at the plate this season and he is far from being a kept secret. But when you bring him up, the first thing people say is “great power, horrible average”. And while that may be true if you look at his totals — .252 with 22 home runs and 56 RBI — you can’t deny that there is a learning curve for rookies and this 23-year old power-hitting backstop still hasn’t reached his full potential. So when you look at his August numbers and see that he’s hit .292 for the month with six home runs and 16 RBI, you simply cannot dismiss it as a fluke month. Rosario has dramatically increased his walk rate over the last two months and here in August, maintained a respectable strikeout rate that he began to improve last month as well. He’s broken back open his line drive rate (from 5.4% last month to 15.1% now) and dramatically reduced the number of balls he mashes into the dirt. In fact, his 0.73 GB/FB is at its lowest for the season. He is becoming a more complete hitter again and the power totals are spiking as a direct result. The .277 BABIP indicates that it’s more than just luck, so look out for him over the final month of the season.
Mark Reynolds, BAL |1B, 3B| Ownership: ESPN – 31.7% Yahoo – 34.0%
He was almost on his way out when the Orioles brought up Manny Machado and stuck him over at third base. Reynolds had been struggling all year and was in serious danger of losing playing time as the team had plenty of options to go with that weren’t having a hard time hitting their weight. But staring at the prospect of riding the pine on a team possibly headed to the playoffs did not suit the veteran slugger. Over the course of 22 games this month, Reynolds has hit .271, and while that’s not the most impressive number out there, it is a pretty tremendous feat for him. He’s still striking out too much, but a 27.2% strikeout rate is actually pretty good for him. But to help, he’s also increased his walk rate to an outstanding 18.6% and has enjoyed the assistance of a favorable .377 BABIP. Now a regression in BABIP is to be expected for the month of September, but what it’s doing for him right now is helping him swing with more confidence. He’s got four home runs and 10 RBI and with a few more games to go here in August, he is likely to finish with it being his best month of the season. With that type of confidence and momentum, coupled with a playoff atmosphere, Reynolds has a strong chance of continuing this momentum throughout September. If you need power at the corner, he could be a nice bet.