In an unexciting season for the Royals, lead off man Jon Jay (OF, Royals – (12.5% owned on ESPN, 9% on Yahoo) has been one of the few bright spots. After a slow start, Jay has been heating up at the dish and been one of the hottest hitters in May. Jay is 5th in the MLB in batting average with an incredible .368 mark this month. His 43 hits in May are the most in the MLB, and although in a weak lineup he has been able to help in other areas. Forget your awful Justin Timberlake memes, because it’s gunna be JAY! Jay is a career .290 hitter, so although impossible to sustain his current pace, he remains a good bet to be a solid source of hits and batting average for your fantasy teams the rest of the way.
The Cubs began the season with a huge void in their lineup, as they couldn’t seem to get any production out of their leadoff hitters. Albert Almora Jr. has been locked in at the plate lately, and has made a strong case to be the team’s leadoff hitter going forward. He has recorded 47 hits in his 149 at-bats, good for a .315 clip through 47 games played for the Cubs. Since May 1st Almora is hitting an impressive .342, recording 25 hits in 24 games. Some other players that have 25 hits on the month include Justin Upton, Aaron Judge, and Trea Turner. It is true they offer more in over categories, but if you are looking for hits and batting average (we are) then Albert Almora Jr. should be on your list.
So Nimmo could/should actually appear underneath every category on this list but I decided to put him under runs because that has been his biggest strength this season. Basically, add Nimmo because he can help you across the board. He bats atop a Mets offense that has been pretty successful as of late, largely in part due to Nimmo’s efforts. Over the past 2 weeks, he is tied for 5th in the league with 12 runs scored. Yes, the sample size has been small but he is still close to the top in this category over the past few weeks. Nimmo has an impressive .429 OBP this year, fueled by an outstanding 15% walk rate. Not convinced by the small sample? In nearly a full season combined at the major league level (145 games), Nimmo has walked at a 13.8% clip. It is pretty safe to say that Nimmo will continue to walk, get on base, and get plenty of opportunities to score runs for your fantasy teams. Better get to Finding Nimmo on the waver fire if he’s still there ;)
If you look at his name real quick it almost looks like “Ian Kinsler” with a hyphen at the end. When you add in the fact that he plays 2B and scores runs for the Texas Rangers, I’d bet there are Texas fans that think he is Kinsler. Might as well be too, as Kiner-Falefa has been one of the Rangers strongest performers so far this season. His 16 runs scored this month are tied for 30th most in the MLB. That may not sound too impressive, but when you realize that most of the names in front of him are 90% + owned fantasy studs it looks a lot better. His .329 OBP and 8.4% walk rate have been impressive enough to move up to the top/middle of the order, which bodes well for scoring runs. Especially since the Rangers have been producing in May, scoring the 4th most runs in the league with 136. Hitting in front of guys like Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo should ensure that Kiner-Falefa continues to produce runs for your team.
Aguilar’s ownership is definitely higher than the rest of the names you’ll see here, but I just had to include him. One, because he’s been THAT good. And two, because I wrote two weeks ago that Aguilar’s ownership ranks would spike if he continued hitting. He was 4% owned in ESPN and Yahoo leagues back then, and now he’s at 59% and 69% respectfully. Since then he has hit .300, along with 6 home runs, 12 runs scored, and 16 runs batted in across 13 games. In that span he is 2nd in home runs, 1st in runs batted in, and 5th in runs scored. Braun’s return to the lineup has not affected Aguilar’s playing time, and rightfully so. Aguilar is locked in at the plate lately, and is the best source of power on the waiver wire if he’s available. The real test will be to see how things play out when Eric Thames returns, but as of now Aguilar’s bat has earned him a spot in the middle of the order.
Another guy that has higher ownership rates, as well as someone I’ve suggested adding for those in need of some power. Don’t expect his average to carry you to victory, but he does quite a bit of damage in the hits he does record. Villanueva is tied for 9th in the MLB with 14 home runs this year, recording 6 of those in the month of May. Villanueva hits a lot of fly balls (56% rate) and his impressive 23% HR/FB rate means he should hit plenty of home runs over the course of the season. ZiPS projections have him hitting another 14 home runs this season, which could definitely help you greatly in this category. He continues to struggle against righties as his .176 average will show, but at least has managed to hit 4 home runs off them. He’s not the sexiest option, but he will be a pretty reliable source of home runs the rest of the way.
Both of the above guys are owned in >50% of leagues, so I felt obligated to throw a deeper option out there. The rookie has started out slow but Reyes has shown off his 70 grade power, belting his 4 home runs over his past 8 games played. It appears that he has been adjusting to major league pitching, and should hopefully be able to help from here on out. ZiPS has him projected for 13 more home runs this season, which could definitely come in handy to some owners. His average will not be a positive contribution to your total, but average across the league is down and he offers some power for cheap.
Runs Batted In
Moreland had already been a decent fantasy 1B, but the departure of Hanley Ramirez thrusted his value up a ton. Mitchy 2-Bags now gets the luxurious role of being the everyday first baseman for the best offense in baseball (1st w/301 runs). Not only that, but he has hit 3rd or 4th in each of his last 7 starts at first. If he continues to hit in the heart of an order that features MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, Mitchell Two Bageth could knock in close to 90 runs. Moreland could have also appeared under the Home Runs category, as he has 8 on the year and has recorded at least 22 in each of the past 3 seasons. He has knocked in 14 runs over the past month on a .318 clip, hitting 5 home runs and slugging .697 in that span. Drake says More Life, I say More Land.
Ronald Guzman – 1B, Rangers – (8.4% and 9% owned)
Another guy who would have fit wonderfully under the Home Runs category, Guzman has lowkey been one of the league’s hottest hitters over the past few weeks. His 4 home runs in the past 15 days are tied for 6th most, and his 12 runs batted in are tied for 9th. He sits on 6 home runs and 24 RBI for the season thus far. He sat on a .187 average and 35 Ks through his first 27 games, but in the 11 games since he has hit .342 with 4 home runs, 7 XBH, and 12 RBI. We’d like to see his 31.4% K rate improve, but his .224 ISO and 19.5% HR/FB rate is enough power upside to offset that flaw. He hits in the middle of the order for a Rangers team that was 4th in runs for the month of May. That translates to lots of opportunities for Guzman to drive in runs, especially hitting behind some speed like Delino Deshields. ZiPS has him knocking in 38 more runs this year, and that could be even higher if the Rangers continue to score like they have been.
Suggesting people to add for SB is tough because they usually fail to offer much elsewhere, and the SB are so spaced out. However, Jankowski has been a guy that has been helping owners by hitting for a plus average (.309) in addition to SB. He has been struggling at the plate as of late, but he was due for some regression given how high his average and BABIP were. Jankowski should continue swiping bags for you if he continues to play in Padres outfield with several young options. He has 8 thus far on the season, and has only been caught stealing twice. He has been hitting leadoff mostly, which is great since it gives him more opportunities to get on and steal bases. Even more promising is that 7 of his 8 stolen bases have come in the past month, meaning they are allowing him to be active on the base paths. ZiPS has him swiping 13 more bags the rest of the season, so a 20 SB option off the waiver wire ain’t too shabby if you need help in that category.
You know your team is struggling when a .202 hitter is your new lead off man. But that is just how bad the Diamondbacks offense has been as of late. He has been walking at a 10.6% rate, so at least he has that going for him. There is a glimmer of hope for Dyson’s average however, as his career low .221 BABIP is well off his .302 mark. So hopefully a move to the top of the order will get a spark out of Dyson. Even on his putrid average, Dyson has been able to swipe 9 bags in his 11 attempts. If he continues to walk and can increase in batting average, Dyson could make for a great lead off option. ZiPS has Dyson swiping 18 bags the rest of the year on a .249 average and .316 OBP. His value can realistically only go up, so he’s a good option if you are in need of some stolen bases.