Going back to the basics this week, folks. Batting average. I know it eludes many of my fantasy teams. Chasing power and steals is far sexier than players who will hit .300 but not do much in any other categories. This thinking always has me searching for that hot player to help out my team’s average. These guys below are some of the hottest hitters that are available in a vast majority of fantasy leagues. It’s up to you to make that important managerial decision and find that player that will give your team’s batting average a jolt heading into the break.
Orlando Arcia, SS MIL – This kid is arguably the hottest hitter on the planet at the moment. Over the last two weeks or so, he paces the MLB with a near .500 batting average in over 50 at-bats. He’s doing a little bit in other categories, but nothing that even compares to that lofty average. Arcia’s batting average has ballooned during this white-hot stretch and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’s hitting over .300 against righties, while his average against southpaws (.270) is nothing to scoff about either. Not only has he wowed with some excellent defense plays, but he’s already doubled last year’s home run total. Milwaukee has no choice but to continue to give the kid everyday at-bats, and that will bode extremely well for his fantasy value. Sure, his BABIP is a bit inflated and his soft contact percentage of 24.7 percent isn’t ideal, but his ability to spread the ball to all parts of the field leaves the door open for a high floor in the batting average department. He doesn’t walk a ton and his strikeout percentage is roughly 18 percent, but there’s no reason why his batting average can’t stay above .285 for the rest of the season.
Kevan Smith, C CWS – Smith is owned in under one percent of fantasy leagues and if you’re in a two-catcher or AL-only league, Smith needs to be on your team, or at the very least, high on your radar. He’s hit safely in seven of his last eight games, hitting well over .400 during that span. Like the player listed below, Smith isn’t going to be of much value in other categories, but a one-trick pony from the catcher position isn’t the worst thing in the world. The seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft has a reverse split, in that he’s hitting 116 points lower against southpaws than righties. However, his lone home run on the season has come against a left-hander. His ISO of .087 is extremely low and he hardly walks, so his only real fantasy value comes during these spurts. It’s a bit of a shot in the dark here with Smith, but hey, who doesn’t love a hot take?
John Jaso, 1B/OF PIT – Jaso isn’t a sexy add by any means, but over the last week, the veteran first baseman and outfielder is hitting .318 with a .682 slugging percentage. He does have two home runs and five RBI during that span, but don’t get use to that from Jaso. He’s well on pace to set a career high in many departments, including home runs, ISO and slugging percentage. Jaso is making hard contact more often than this season in all but one of his professional seasons and he’s spreading the ball around like he has throughout his entire career. He’s struggling against lefties, like he has throughout the majority of his career, but right now, he’s seeing the ball extremely well and his well-hit average of .357 on fastballs over the last month is among the best in baseball. His dual-eligibility is valuable in all fantasy formats, but keep in mind what you’re getting from Jaso; batting average and that’s about it. Sure, he’ll hit a home run here and there, but batting average is his most valuable trait. He’s also valuable in OBP leagues.
Luke Voit, 1B STL – Voit continues to hit for a solid average and he’s slowly moving up the order. He’s hitting cleanup at times for the Cardinals, which bodes well for some counting stats, but right now, his best asset is his batting average. He’s batting just over .300 over the last two weeks, with just five strikeouts. Voit has done a great job staying in the strike zone, but it hasn’t exactly translated in the walks department. Regardless, he’s making solid contact over three-quarters of the time, but his propensity to pull the ball half the time could put him in some sticky situations. During his time in the minors, he sprayed the ball to the opposite field as high as one-third of the time, but that hasn’t translated at the highest level yet. His .353 BABIP is a big reason why his batting average is above .300, but his minor league career shows that he could become a guy who hits for a solid average.
Gerardo Parra, OF COL – Everyone is aware that Parra is a valuable fantasy asset, but an injury has pushed his ownership percentage down to four percent in ESPN fantasy leagues. Before getting injured, Parra was hitting .318 with six home runs, 28 RBI and 23 runs scored. He’s not attempting to steal as much, but that batting average sure does play in more than four percent of leagues. His rehab assignment has begun, which signifies that he isn’t too far from returning to the successful Colorado Rockies. He could be activated as early as today if all goes well, so stay tuned. Through 49 games, his BABIP of .350 was a bit above his career marks, but his OBP and slugging percentage were well above his career marks. He’s generating hard contact at the highest mark of his career, while his 14.6 soft hit percentage would be the third-lowest of his career. Parra is pulling the ball a bit less, while driving the ball to center and left a bit more. His line drive percentage of 28.3 would easily be the highest mark of his career and every fantasy owner has to love that Coors Field is his home park. The Colorado outfielder should resume a high-volume role upon his return from the disabled list.