By Sam McPherson
One of the fantasy baseball benefits of inter-league play has been in minimizing the amount of “shock” that goes along with players switching leagues at the end of the July before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. In the old days, the lack of familiarity with opposing players, the different stadiums and even a different style of play could really change a player’s fortunes drastically.
Today, the adjustments are less, because every MLB team is playing inter-league games throughout the year, but differences between the American League and the National League do still exists. Thus, every year, there are players that get traded and flail for their new teams—while other players thrive in their new surroundings.
It has little to do with going from a bad team to a good team, either. Some of it has to do with ballpark dimensions for hitters, and some of it has to do with adding the designated hitter to the lineup (or subtracting it) for pitchers. Either way, if one of your players gets traded this week, make sure to spend some due diligence looking at the new surroundings to predict future performance.
You may want to trade the player in your own league to an owner that isn’t as wise as you have become after reading this column and doing your research. Most fantasy leagues have a late-August trade deadline, giving you time to adjust your own roster just like the big-league general managers do every summer.
Players to Get Into Your Lineup Now
1. Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: Yes, he just had a big week, which means everyone will have their eye on him, but Grichuk has been on the verge for awhile. We apologize for not selling you on him earlier. With 10 home runs now in just 216 at-bats, the Cardinals rookie is improving daily. Grichuk still strikes out too much; however, you can expect that to get better as the season progresses—meaning his batting numbers will get better as well.
2. Joe Ross, SP, Washington Nationals: Seems unfair the Nats could add an arm like this to their rotation, and it’s an opportunity for you to grab a productive midseason call-up. Ross has an unreal two walks and 27 strikeouts in his first four MLB starts, and while you shouldn’t expect that kind of control to last, it is a demonstrative example of how talented this kid is on the hill. The fact he tosses pitches for the Nationals means he’s going to be in winning situations a lot, too.
3. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles: His first full season in the majors last year was ugly (.209 average, 122 strikeouts, 13 walks), and this year, Schoop went on the disabled list in April with a knee injury. He’s back now and hitting the ball well, so if you need middle infield help, this is a good place to get it—even if he still is striking out a lot.
4. Marco Estrada, SP, Toronto Blue Jays: He is under the radar of most fantasy owners, and that’s where winning teams and their owners hang out. Estrada is 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA right now, and while he only gets seven Ks per nine innings, that’s tolerable for a fantasy team that needs wins. He’s also cut his HR allowed rate in half from 2014. Look for Estrada—and the Blue Jays—to surge in the second half of the season.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Brett Anderson, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: His injury history is the first red flag, so if you’ve ridden Anderson this season to the success (5-5, 3.33 ERA) he’s had, count yourself lucky already. He tweaked his Achilles recently, and the Dodgers are thinking he can avoid a DL stint. Don’t be fooled—sadly, the very-talented Anderson is always just one pitch away from a season-ending injury. Interesting to note that just as the Oakland Athletics start selling this year, three of their former players show up on our “Sit/Drop” list this week, too.
2. Derek Norris, C, San Diego Padres: An All-Star with the A’s in 2014, Norris has been an RBI machine for the Padres this year. However, his career pattern isn’t pretty for the second half of the season. Norris tends to wear down after the All-Star break as evidenced by his career numbers before (26 HRs, 108 RBI) and after (11 HRs, 56 RBI). Trade him if you can to the one Padres fan in your league.
3. Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: If you drafted Moore in the hopes he’d come back from injury to regain his 2013 form right away (17-4, 3.29), you need to understand that not every Tommy John surgery is created equal. Moore is not even close to being the pitcher he once was, and he may never be that guy again. Patience is key, but releasing him now and trying him on for size again next year makes the most sense.
4. Chris Carter, 1B, Houston Astros: If you’ve held on to Carter this long in 2015, his .187 batting average might not matter to your team’s average anymore—it’s league worst already, right? No doubt the former A’s slugger has power; however, his playing time is also diminishing in Houston as the ‘Stros try to make the postseason. Carter played in 77 games through June, but he’s only been in 11 games in July. When the .187 power hitter is riding the real-life bench half the time, he shouldn’t be on your fantasy roster at all.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball and fantasy sports for many online sites, including CBS, AXS and Examiner.