With the season not quite a third of the way through, you should have a pretty good idea of where your team is lacking. Assuming you’re not playing in a points-based league, finding players who can significantly help you in a specific area is sometimes just as important as finding players who are capable of helping you a little in multiple areas. More relevant to our discussion here, one-category dynamos are far easier to acquire than their five-tool brethren.
What I’ll be doing today is going through the five batting categories in a standard 5×5 setup and giving you a few players who are projected to provide significant help in those categories. Many of these players will likely come at the cost of hurting you somewhere else, but … we do what we can, right?
Carlos Pena: The Rays first baseman is absolutely killing you in batting average right now (batting .177), but he’s still hitting a decent number of long balls (eight) and driving in some runs (31). Oliver definitely doesn’t see any Triple Crown contention in his future (.232 batting average the rest of the season). It does, however, see him slightly increasing his homer pace, projecting 26 homers the rest of the way. That’s the fourth-best projection in all of baseball, and he’s probably available for a reasonable price.
Jay Bruce: The Reds outfielder hasn’t exactly been having the sophomore breakout some had predicted (.273 batting average, seven homers, 24 RBIs). No, Oliver is not predicting a breakout. It does like him for 22 homers the rest of the way, which is 14th most.
Adam Lind: The Blue Jays outfielder has been a pretty big disappointment this year (.224 batting average, seven homers and 26 RBIs). Oliver projects him to right the ship, somewhat, and hit .271 the rest of the way. More importantly, it likes him for 66 RBIs, which would be the 19th-best total in baseball.
Aaron Hill: Lind’s teammate is having an even worse start to his season, hitting .163. The power is there, though (eight homers), even if the RBIs aren’t (17 RBIs). Oliver sees him considerably ramping up his run production, projecting 63 RBIs. That would be the fourth-best total for second basemen.
I’ll be entirely honest, Oliver’s “Rest of Season” runs leaders basically reads like a who’s who of fantasy baseball. Not a lot of surprises anywhere in there that are particularly useful. You don’t need Oliver to tell you that Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun are going to score a lot of runs this year.
Nyjer Morgan: If you drafted the Nationals outfielder assuming your SBs were taken care of, you’re probably a bit disappointed (nine so far). That .242 batting average isn’t exactly endearing him to anyone, either. Well, Oliver projects a much more useful finish. Not only does it project him to hit a downright respectable .279, but it also likes him for 22 steals.
Brett Gardner: So far, the Yankees outfielder has been a pleasant surprise. He’s stolen 18 bases (fourth best in baseball) and has scored 38 runs. Oliver doesn’t foresee him keeping up the run-scoring pace, but it does like him for 28 more steals, which is the fifth-highest projected total.
Vladimir Guerrero: A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have bothered listing the Rangers designated hitter on this list. He’s currently hitting .328 and has looked like a rejuvenated man. I put him here mainly as a way of saying that Oliver believes that at least the average is real. We’re only projecting 334 plate appearances, which speaks to his perceived fragility, but he’ll make the most out of them. Oliver projects a .306 batting average, which is the ninth highest.
Martin Prado: The Braves second baseman is another player who’s off to a surprising start (.325 batting average and 37 runs). He’s also another player Oliver is showing some faith in, making him one of the 14 players it projects to finish the season batting at least .300. Oliver foresees a .302 batting average the rest of the way.