As we head into the final three weeks of the fantasy baseball season, owners are looking for the best plays to maximize production out of the players. Despite the majority of the guys listed playing for non-contenders, they are all certainly very capable of helping out your roster as the playoff push continues.
1.Hunter Pence, OF HOU: .290 AVG, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 87 R, 18 SB
It’s not often that two Astros outfielders appear together on a list of top fantasy plays, but the contributions by Pence & Bourn are far too great to ignore. Enjoying arguably his best all-around season since he came into the league, Pence has really taken a big step forward with his game this season.
A player that truly provides production in every category, Pence will finish the season with an average above .280, with 25+ bombs, 90+ RBI, 20+ steals, and has an outside shot of scoring 100 runs. Frankly, that’s simply outstanding and very worthy of an early-round selection in 2011. For this week, he’s a start in every format as he’s homered in three of his last seven and has 12 RBI over his last eight games alone.
2.Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL: .322 AVG, 18 HR, 69 RBI, 70 R, 10 SB
Even though he missed some time earlier in the season, Tulo has still made his presence felt in the middle of the Rockies lineup. The talented SS is integral to the team’s success and is an elite option at the position.
Absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball right now for his owners, Tulo may very well be the best option at shortstop for the remainder of the campaign. He ranks third in the NL in batting average, fifth in slugging, and fourth in OPS. There may very well be another shortstop selected in the first round in 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
3.Matt Wieters, C BAL: .255 AVG, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 33 R, 0 SB
A rather uninspiring season line for what was supposed to be fantasy’s biggest breakout player this season, Wieters really struggled early in the season and even lost playing time because of it. However, it seems like September may be the kid’s favorite month as he’s heating up at the beginning of it for the second straight season.
Batting 8-19 with a dinger and seven RBI over his last six games, if only it could be September all year long for his owners and it’d be all gravy. For now, he’s hot enough to be used in all formats especially at a very thin position.
4.Michael Bourn, OF HOU: .260 AVG, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 79 R, 47 SB
One look at Bourn’s stats and it’s easy to see what makes him fantasy relevant. Over his last 17 games, the speedster atop the Astros lineup has been absolutely scorching: 24-67 with a homer, a triple, two doubles, seven RBI, 14 runs, and eight swipes.
Especially value in rotisserie fantasy baseball, Bourn’s ability to fly all over the base paths make him infinitely more valuable than he otherwise would be.
5.Ike Davis, 1B NYM: .256 AVG, 18 HR, 64 RBI, 62 R, 2 SB
After suffering through a stretch where Davis saw his stats take quite a slide, it seems that New York’s young slugging first baseman is starting to adjust to the rigors of the long major league season. Perhaps the most exciting part of the Mets season has been Davis’ emergence as the first long-term option at the position since Keith Hernandez.
Over his last five games, Davis is 8-19 with three taters, seven RBI, and five runs scored. With the Mets playing him regularly as a clean-up hitter down the stretch, Davis should have some solid opportunities to be a regular contributor.
1.Rick Porcello, SP DET: 9-11, 5.10 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 73 K
After last season, Porcello was one of everyone’s favorite young starters in the game. Now in 2010, it’s been a different kind of season for the young Porcello who has really struggled to find any sort of consistency. A sinkerball pitcher without a strikeout pitch, Porcello’s success rests on his ability to keep the ball down in the strike zone.
Although he’s been miserable for the majority of the campaign, don’t be afraid to use this young gun this week as he’s turned in four straight very impressive performances. Lasting at least seven innings in each, Porcello is 4-0 and is pitching deep into the game. It’ll be a real test of his stuff as he takes on a potent Texas offense this week.
2.Brett Myers, SP HOU: 11-7, 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 157 K
Arguably the 2010 fantasy baseball surprise player of the year, Myers has lasted at least six innings in every one of his 29 starts this season. After coming over from Philadelphia, Myers sought to re-establish himself as the formidable starter that many saw with the Phillies a few years ago.
Having done that (and more), Myers has been especially good recently going 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA over his last six starts. He’ll face the Brewers & Reds this week and will look to break Schilling’s mark of 35 straight six-inning or more starts as the season concludes.
3.Tim Lincecum, SP SF: 13-9, 3.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 199 K
Lincecum has had a tough go of it in 2010 as he’s really failed to meet the expectations of his owners. Despite having 13 wins, Lincecum seemingly took the month of August off when he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA.
Now in September, the two-time CY winner is starting to look like his dominant self once again. In his first two starts this month, Lincecum has compiled 20 strikeouts and just one walk. With his next start looking like it’s coming against Milwaukee, owners shouldn’t have any qualms about trotting him out there.
4.Jon Lester, SP BOS: 16-8, 3.26 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 196 K
Despite a rocky start, Lester has really asserted himself as Boston’s best pitcher. A true fantasy baseball ace, Lester’s story is one of the best in baseball. The lefty’s arsenal of power pitches makes him very hard to hit and gives his opposition fits at the dish.
3-0 over his last three starts, Lester’s compiled 30 strikeouts over that stretch, striking out ten in each start. He’ll take on the anemic Mariners offense and could very well rack up double-digit strikeouts once again.
5.Brian Matusz, SP BAL: 8-12, 4.71 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 121 K
Heading into this year, Matusz was pegged as a popular fantasy sleeper by many. At just 23 years old, Matusz’s kick ascension to the major league levels had owners salivating over his potential.
It’s been a disappointing year for Matusz and his owners as the young lefty experienced some serious growing pains at season’s beginning. Now in September, Matusz has strung together four straight victories and has shown flashes of his brilliant potential throughout. He’s allowed just six ER over those starts and has posted a 21:5 K:BB ratio. As long as he can continue to keep the ball down in the zone, he should find success against Toronto next time out.