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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Consider Dustin Ackley, Tommy Milone, Kennys Vargas
By Tim Heaney
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He has hit either first or second in each of the last four games; in the first three, he went 8-for-14 before Wednesday's 0-for-4. Until that stinker, Ackley Kid had rattled off a .390 BA with 7 RBIs in 77 July at-bats. It seems he's taking a better plate approach. His dual positional eligibility is a nice bonus for what should be an improved performance over the last two months.
Two sneaky risers from the trade deadline. Milone should rejoin the rotation next week. He hasn't struck out many this year, but he'll be a serviceable back-end arm for a deep rotation. Vargas clubbed 17 HRs with a .281 BA and 63 RBIs at Double-A New Britain and should start at least half of Minny's games each week. This is an extended audition, and fantasy owners should join in.
The Cardinals are one of the worst road offenses in the game. The Nats' home bats aren't good enough to scare you away from the righty, who should recover after a brief July stumble.
Players losing value, potentially drop candidates.
As if his ongoing 3-for-32 stretch didn't confirm he's not the second coming of Carl Yastrzemski, Boston traded for Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig on Thursday, which jeopardizes Holt's place in the lineup the rest of the season. He can play all around the diamond, but his deflating plate work won't bode well for him to play every day.
Alexei Ramirez has been knocked down a peg since May ended. He's hitting .228 with just three homers and 14 RBIs in that time. His penchant for stealing bases -- since 2011, 67 of them, including this partial campaign -- keeps him relevant for starting lineups. But his .250 road BA falls far short of the .315 at U.S. Cellular Field. He'll struggle in pitcher-aiding Safeco Field, where the Cuban Missile has hit just .250 with two longballs in 88 career at-bats. This year, he's 1-for-13 against Seattle's staff, who holds one of the best home ERAs in the game.
Lefty stick Kolten Wong has hit just .216 on the road this year in 88 at-bats, compared to .265 in 132. Plus, Camden Yards has skewed more toward a pitcher's advantage this year. However, Wong has hit five of his six home runs on the season in July (in which he's also hitting .290) and against right-handed pitching; he's likely to face three right-handers in Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Bud Norris.
The Marlins' pitchers have leaned on Marlins Park and hold one of the league's worst road ERAs and OPS ratings. Jay Bruce's .199 average at home wouldn't normally strike fear into opposing pitchers, but the fact he has hit eight of his 10 home runs at hitter-enhancing Great American Ball Park should reignite the 27-year-old. In 22 at-bats against the Marlins last year, Bruce hit .318 with a .919 OPS, despite not leaving the yard.
The Brew Crew's all-right-handed rotation should mean plenty of plate appearances for Andre Ethier. The 32-year-old has done little to earn consistent fantasy ownership (.247 BA, four HRs and 37 RBIs) continues to prefer facing righties. All his homers and all but four of his RBIs have come against the majority lot, while he's only been allowed 42 at-bats against southpaws this season. Carl Crawford has done little to justify breaking the lineup. Deep leaguers looking for a fifth starting outfielder play should activate him for this series.
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