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Fantasy Baseball Category Boosters

August is here, but it’s not too late to make moves to improve your teams.  In fact, now that many in fantasyland are starting to turn their attention towards football, it’s a great time to shore up your fantasy baseball team.  Here are three players who can provide category boosts for your team down the stretch.  They all have performed well in the past month, and they all are readily available in many leagues.

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Fantasy Baseball Category Boosters

Power and Speed Boost:

Harrison Bader (OF — STL)

Harrison Bader has missed a good chunk of the season due to injuries.  He missed all but one game in April dealing with a hamstring issue and he missed all of June with a rib fracture.  Basically, he’s only played in May and July, and the production in those two months could not be more different:

  • May:  .217/.304/.420    81 wRC+    .203 ISO in 79 PA
  • July:  .357/.402/.619    173 wRC+  .262 ISO in 92 PA

Bader possesses both pop and speed.  On the season, he has nine home runs and six stolen bases in 48 games.  He’s struggled with plate discipline in the past — since 2018, he’s never had a strikeout rate lower than 28.8%  But this season, he’s cut that number down to 18.2%  Yes, we’re talking about a small sample size here, but it’s worth noting that when Bader was only hitting .217 in May, he still carried a 14.3% strikeout rate for the month.

So what’s changed?  Well, it looks like Bader has figured out how to hit breaking balls this season.  Since 2017, Bader has never hit better than .205 against breaking pitches.  This year, he’s hitting .305 against them, with five of his nine home runs coming off breaking pitches.  Bader is rostered in 57% of CBS leagues and 49% of Yahoo leagues.  Assuming his improvements stick, he could provide a nice boost of power and speed going forward.

Ratios and Win Boost:

Logan Webb (SP — SF)

I said it before with Patrick Sandoval, and I’ll say it again with Logan Webb:  I’m a sucker for pitchers who provide decent strikeout rates and generate groundballs at a high clip.  On the season, Webb has a 3.33 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  He also has a 24.1% strikeout rate, a 60.3% groundball rate, and a 30.4% CSW rate.  His ERA estimators indicate he should be able to maintain his performance for the rest of the season:

  • 3.33 FIP, 3.15 xFIP, and 3.53 SIERA

Webb has been nothing short of fantastic since rejoining the Giants in July. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in all five of his starts, with two of those starts coming against the Dodgers.  During this span, he has 2.25 ERA and 1.04 WHIP and has pitched at least five innings in his last three starts.

Webb operates with a sinker, changeup, and slider combo, with the slider generating a 45% whiff rate.  He also pitches in a pitcher’s park for the league-leading San Francisco Giants.  He’s rostered in 52% of CBS leagues and 39% of Yahoo leagues.  Webb should provide a boost across the board, including some win potential.

Runs Boost:

Cesar Hernandez (2B — CWS)

Need a boost in runs?  Cesar Hernandez is your man!  Yes, his .234/.312/.424 slash line and 100 wRC+ doesn’t inspire much confidence, but a look at his recent production might.  Since July 1, Hernandez has slashed .270/.351/.510 with six home runs in 114 plate appearances.  He also has a .240 ISO.  Perhaps more importantly, Hernandez has fallen into some situational luck.  He was acquired by the White Sox in a trade deadline deal, and the move should be a boost for his fantasy value.

Since the trade, Hernandez has been hitting second in the lineup, sandwiched between Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu.  The White Sox are no strangers to generating runs, ranking fifth in the American League in runs scored.  Assuming he sticks near the top of the lineup, Hernandez will be a run production machine.

Hernandez has a 18/61/47/0 /.234 stat line on the season.  His 18 home runs are a career-best, surpassing his 15 home runs in 2018.  He should continue to provide a little bit of pop, and he should improve his batting average.  He’s a career .272 hitter who has been unlucky this season with a .260 BABIP — 70 points lower than his .330 mark.  Hernandez is rostered in 69% of CBS leagues and 34% of Yahoo leagues.

Thanks for checking out this week’s article. Be sure to check out Eric Cross’s updated Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects.

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