Before delving into the seven hitters selected for fantasy Week 25 due to recent trends, keep some hitting matchups in mind when setting lineups for championship week in head-to-head leagues or for owners trying to hold on to their position with time running out. First, San Francisco’s bats do not lead the list often and with only five games on tap next week, they can be avoided for fantasy. Boston will head to Cincinnati for a three-game set next weekend — which could be bad news for Hanley Ramirez, who’s a liability in the field.
In the other interleague tilt in Week 25, the Cubs will play two games against the Rays. Tampa Bay hists so Chicago will get a designated hitter. Other teams of interest, the Twins could face three southpaws on the road, giving a boost to their right-handed bats, most notably Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier. Philadelphia could see up to four left-handed pitchers which should keep Rhys Hoskins’ torrid home run pace on track. Last, the Padres should see three southpaws within their seven-home-game set in the week ahead, setting up Jose Pirela to succeed.
Now for the seven hitters to add with ownership numbers well below their recent production levels.
- Chris Iannetta, Arizona
Starting with a catcher to add for Week 25, why not Chris Iannetta? Entering Thursday, Iannetta’s prior 16 games yielded a .320 average, .460 on-base percentage and 1.000 OPS with three home runs, five RBIs and 11 walks. He added three hits in five at-bats against the Rockies at home to move his average to .345 over his past 17 games. In leagues which reward on-base percentage, Iannetta has been a machine and hitting second against left-handed pitching in at least two games next week, along with his recent spike in production, make him a perfect safe floor type of addition to benefit a team without hurting in ratio in statistics.
- Jose Martinez, St. Louis
A repeat from least week’s list, Jose Martinez continues to rake for the Cardinals. He has reached base in 15 straight games, hit safely in 13 of his past 14 and is batting .435 (20-for-46) in September. This month, Martinez has nine runs, four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs while settling in the cleanup spot in the lineup. He has responded with a .310 isolated power in September along with a 50 percent hard contact rate. For the year, Martinez’s slash line is .318/.381/.545. Whether he can repeat this next year does not matter to those trying to win now. Ride the hot streak and hope his weighted runs created plus over 200 since the start of the month translates into another strong week of production.
- Nick Castellanos, Detroit
The Tigers seem to be in tank mode but Castellanos continues to stuff the stat sheet. He’s in the midst of an 11-game hit streak with 18 hits in his past 41 at-bats (.439) with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs in that span. Over his past 31 games, he has 14 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 29 RBIs with a .365 average. Noting the hard contact breakout earlier this year, along with the spike in production, and Castellanos still remains too low owned in leagues with two weeks left to play.
- Jeimer Candelario, Detroit
With the Tigers’ lineup in flux, rookie Candelario will get an extended look as the team prepares for the future. Candelario homered for the first time this month on Thursday and he’s hitting .349 for the month going 15-for-43 with seven runs, five doubles, a homer, four RBIs and five walks. More important, Candelario is settling in batting fifth with the Tigers hosting the A’s and Twins for seven games in the week ahead. A perfect low-owned dart throw in a head-to-head matchup for owners with a low aversion to risk.
- Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
Becoming the first rookie since Mike Trout to reach base six times in a game could signal a strong finish ahead for Moncada. Riding the wave of a six-game hit streak, Moncada has recorded 12 hits in his past 28 at-bats (.429), raising his average from .179 to .229 in the process. Moncada also homered and stole a base in Thursday’s 17-7 rout over the Tigers. Chicago will play three games in Houston next week then three home games versus a beleaguered Royals pitching staff. Betting on talent this time of year makes sense. Hoping to profit on a strong finish by Moncada down the stretch agrees with this premise.
- Ozzie Albies, Atlanta
Far removed from his abysmal start upon being promoted, Albies extended his personal hit streak to 12 on Thursday with his fourth home run of the season. During his streak, Albies is hitting .340 with 17 hits in 50 at-bats with an on-base percentage north of .400. Dating to Aug. 17, spanning 27 games, Albies has 37 hits in 107 at-bats (.346). Slotting in second for the Braves with six home games on tap versus the Nationals and Phillies, Albies presents himself as a sneaky middle infield option for fantasy owners. Especially those targeting runs and on-base percentage.
- Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
After cratering in the first half, Tim Anderson is doing his best to salvage his fantasy season of late. With three more hits on Thursday, Anderson has notched multiple hits in eight of his past 10 games, going 21-for-46 (.457) with 11 runs, two home runs and eight RBIs. During his past 36 games, Anderson carries a .314 average and he’s finally flashing the speed fantasy owners hoped for. Anderson has five of his 11 stolen bases this year over his past eight games. He will face favorable matchups at the end of next week and if he steals two-three bases, he could make a difference in critical head-to-head contests.
There are no guarantees when taking chances on unproven commodities, but with Matt Olson facing three left-handed starters next week, use the players above to maximize lineup construction for the games ahead.
Be sure to check back this weekend for Jim Finch’s two-start pitcher primer along with Al Melchior’s Sunday stream column to target the right high-upside arms on the last day of head-to-head games. Flags fly forever and good luck.
Statistical Credits: Fangraphs.com, MLB.com, ESPN.go.com