No worries, fantasy owners: Alejandro De Aza may not speak Swahili*, but this past month his numbers have been music to fantasy owners’ ears. With a .350/.418/.567 line in July, a strikeout rate that has decreased every month of this season, and already reaching a career high in home runs, there are many reasons for optimism. Yes, he struggled early on this season, but he seems to be rounding into form with an approach that attempts to hit for more power. And why not? After all, he plays in a park where Adam Dunn bunted for a home run** last year. I, for one (unless I can speak for more than one?), am embracing the slightly more homer-friendly De Aza. If he continues to steal bases, then he will add to the scarcity of players who steal bases, but don’t destroy your OPS (you know who you are). For the rest of the season, I believe that he will be able to maintain his current .278/.336/.444 line, which represents a slight dip in OBP with a nice bump in slugging. Anyway, here are some other guys I’m dreaming about in OPS leagues:
Kelly Johnson – Back in early May, I said, “I’ll admit that I was skeptical of him this year. Like Dan Uggla, his strikeout and contact issues were causing him major issues the past couple seasons. In 2013, his contact rate has increased, while his strikeout rate has held steady, resulting in a decent .244/.330/.427 line. He’s worth trusting as a second baseman or middle infielder, but I’m still going to keep an eye on that strikeout rate to make sure he maintains his current production.” Since then, he’s been up and down, but now he’s hot and worth seeing if he can maintain a good stretch. He could be available in your league after an owner lost patience with him.
Miguel Montero – He’s a good waiver wire grab if you need catching help. Once upon a time, he was productive. Maybe the story continues in the second half this year? There’s nothing more exciting than a sequel, right? Right?
David Freese – I keep going back to him, and he’s getting dropped in leagues despite being passable recently. How’s that for an endorsement? Why do I have so many questions in this post?
Brad Miller – Nothing to see here, people… Except a freaking awesome player! He’s been sent by the middle infielder gods and should really be owned in more leagues. He’s been better than I expected and should continue to be solid, even if his production slows.
Brandon Belt – I don’t really have anything else to say about him other than he’s hitting and is probably on your waiver wire. Time to fall back into his arms and let him drop us again.
Jedd Gyorko – He’s had a miserable start to the second half, but I believe that he’ll turn things around soon.
Paul Konerko – Well, he’s back, but is his back back? I thought he was finished earlier in the year, but it’s possible that his struggles were largely due to his injury. Since he’s widely available, I’d take a chance to see if he can turn Republican and summon the powers of David Ortiz’s patented Grand Old Party bat.
*He may, in fact, speak Swahili.
**Hawk says a lot of things. I mis-hear a lot of things. Either one of these could apply here.
Tom Jacks is sporadically on Twitter @votetomjacks