Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
Norichika Aoki, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
- Last 18: .352 BA, 14 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 7 SB in 84 PA
We've touched on the merits of Aoki here and here. Many seem to have listened. Did you?
Chris Nelson, 2B/3B, Colorado Rockies
- Last 18: .348 BA, 12 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB in 72 PA
Some tinkering - a simple soft-toss session that focused on protecting the outside corner and bringing his feet closer together in the box - allowed Nelson to start clicking. The crack of his lumber is much louder nowadays.
He's typically much better at home, at least with his clip, and will have eight more games there. That precedes a three-game trip to Chavez Ravine next weekend and a trio of contests at Chase Field - nice schedule. Deep mixed leaguers might find him on their cheat sheets for next spring at this rate.
Lance Lynn, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
- Last 2: 2 W, 0.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 12 K in 12 1/3 IP
For a spell, his position was "RP," which prompted many to drop him. A rough August caused him to get the boot, but his walk issues are back under control, and, as Nick pointed out, the righty has regained confidence in his fastball. Don't let someone else grab him.
Nate McLouth, OF, Baltimore Orioles
- Last 13: .357 BA, 12 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB in 69 PA
A mystery change to his approach helped McLouth rediscover the across-the-board talent that once had him as a viable fantasy resource. By the looks of things, his hacks have a smoother path to the strike zone.
His base thievery gives you more reason to hope he'll continue his raking. He's hitting atop a sometimes-awesome lineup that's making a postseason charge.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
- Last 20: .333 BA, 15 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB in 89 PA
In a year where Rizzo continues to figure out left-handed pitching and the rigors of an up-and-down full-season performance, he's finishing strong and hitting the ball with more punch (25.0 liner rate, compared to 13.4 in his sample last year).
Sure, the competition is thinned out a bit thanks to roster expansion. He still struggles versus southpaws, and his swing tends to get long once in a while, which increases his slump risk. But he's using Chicago's garbage time wisely and has the goods to be a mixed-league CI next year.
Logan Forsythe, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres
- Last 16: .359 BA, 15 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB in 69 PA
Forsythe still relevant
KFFL's Forsythe information has been just as voluminous as Aoki's. He's had a few 0-for-4s and 1-for-4s of late, so he probably won't carry a team on his back anymore. He remains a useful MI piece, though.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Houston Astros
- Last 13: .273 BA, 8 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB in 51 PA
Maxwell is the latest beneficiary of Houston's rebuilding effort. He's been a toolsy tease heading into this season, and he's landed in a perfect home park to accentuate his right-handed pop.
He strikes out way too much to be relied on for a helpful BA over a full season, but little runs like this displayed under minimal pressure help those in need now. There's power-speed allure, chiefly in single-universe leagues, for next year's drafts, depending on whether he wins a starting gig.
Kevin Correia, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Last 3: 2 W, 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 9 K in 19 IP
He has an outing Saturday against the Houston Astros, which is the likely predicator for his widespread waiver love. Those solid numbers above came against the Astros, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. Correia squares off at the New York Mets next week and most likely the Atlanta Braves to wrap up his season.
This year has been typical low-K, great-control Correia with more grounders and a heavy side of luck on his opponents' in-play clip (.268). Play the good matchups (preferably not the Bravos), thank him for his service and forget about him for mixed leagues next year.
Travis Wood, SP, Chicago Cubs
- Last 6: 2 W, 2.77 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 32 K in 39 IP
Another streamer special that's been decent lately. He faces the Cardinals at home Saturday - not a fantastic matchup, definitely not as good as the favorable schedule he's had of late.
Be careful. He visits either Colorado or Arizona next. You may want to wait until Chicago hosts Houston in the final series to deploy him next. The homer problem that plagues him doesn't bode well for those spots.
Even with the .243 BAABIP he's logged, the cutter he's embraced this year has given him more mixed-league credence, and he's netting the first strike in more at-bats this year than in the past. Fly-ball pitchers often give up lower in-play clips anyway. It's been a true growth campaign that might make 2013 look a lot like 2010.
Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
- 9/21: 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB 2 K in 5 IP
That 77-pitch Friday return against the Chicago Cubs reminded people he existed. It was likely enough for St. Louis to roll with him in their rotation. He lines up to visit the Houston Astros and host the Cincinnati Reds. Of course, when Carp is active, the schedule doesn't matter. Play him.
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.