As Augusts wanes and football starts to rev up, a large percentage of fantasy baseball players begin to lose interest. Whether it is because they are falling (or have fallen) out of contention in their redraft leagues or the long grind of 162 games have begun to wear them out, mid to late August is where people start to check out.
However, now is a time in which values for next season can really change. A hot or cold last month can drastically inflate or depreciate a player’s value on draft day for next season. While others check out, this is the time to play close attention to those players that may be interesting values or overinflated coming into 2017.
Here are four players I will be keeping a close eye rest of the way to better access their values for next season:
Miguel Sano, 3B/OF, Min- Sano was the 60th player off the board coming into to this year according to NFBC. People were enamoured with his power potential and eventual multi positional eligibility, in spite of the fact he began the year as DH only in most formats. Sano has not returned value on his high draft position. This is partially due to injury. Having logged only 379 plate appearance up until now and slashing .239/.330/.468, has kept those power numbers fantasy players covet in check. If Sano can mash in September, his stock will most likely be overinflated once again. However, if his struggles persist through the end of the season, we could be seeing one of the greater draft bargains coming into 2017.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Tor- Stroman was the 92nd player off the board according to NFBC. After watching him look so good at the end of last season in his return from a knee injury in Spring that derailed almost the entirety of his 2015, many people (including myself) were all in this year. In the first half, Stroman was awful. Sporting a 4.89 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 6.44 K/9 was infuriating fantasy owners. However, he made some mechanical adjustments (that our very own Eno Sarris wrote about) and the results since the break have been fantastic. He has a 3.40 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 10.49 K/9 in seven starts. If he continues this through the end of the season, we may see another large spike in draft position next year. However, the early season numbers have helped keep this turnaround under wraps so far.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, STL- Carpenter was 69th player off the board in NFBC leagues this year. In the first half, he was one of the best players in fantasy which appeared to be validating his 2015 breakout. Through his first 78 games of the season he had 14 home runs and was slashing .298/.420/.568. Unfortunately, an oblique injury sent him to the disabled list and since his return on August 5th he has not looked the same. In 15 games this month, he has only hitting .220/.313/.339 with one home run. This may just be him still shaking off the rust or could be lingering effects from the oblique, but either way, a disappointing end to the year could drastically impact the way fantasy owners look at him coming into 2017.
Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA- King Felix has been an interesting pitcher so far this season. He was the 53rd player taken in NFBC leagues this season and so far has turned in a underwhelming showing so far. A 3.26 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are 30th and 41st best among starter with at least 100 IP this year and his K/9 of 7.83 ranks 48th. However, since the beginning of August he has an ERA of 2.73, a WHIP of .98 and a K/9 9.10 which rank 29th, 15th, and 23rd respectively. A strong or poor end to the season could easily sway ADPs in 2017.
Hunter Pence, OF, SF- Pence was a player looking to rebound from an injury shortened season last year. He was the 106th player taken in NFBC leagues and started the off fairly well, hitting .298/.375/.486 and seven home runs in his first 50 games before hitting the DL with a torn hamstring. Since returning to action on July 30th, he is hitting .218/.269/.299 with only one home run in 22 games. His play in the outfield suggests that he is healthy (outside of the foul ball he took off of his face from his own bat.) If he can shake off the rust and slump he is currently going through, he could greatly improve his draft stock going into next season. However, if his struggles persist the industry will likely look at him as a declining player with two consecutive disappointing injury filled seasons, which would leave him as a nice value in drafts in 2017.
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.