Fantasy Focus: Stretch Run Help

August 24, 2009

At this point in your fantasy season, you should be gearing up for one final push to a title. While most of the guys who can help you win are already on rosters, these late season call-ups could propel you to your league crown.

Neftali Feliz RHP – If you've been following baseball for the last couple of weeks, you don’t need me to tell you that Feliz has impressed. Already in a late-inning role for the Rangers, Feliz has walked just one batter and has only allowed one run in his 14.2 innings pitched. While set-up men are rarely relevant in most fantasy leagues, the Rangers do not have a set closer. And if Feliz continues to mow down hitters like he has thus far -- 19 strikeouts -- he could be in line to take over those duties sooner rather than later. Feliz would be a must-add in all leagues if he were to take over the Rangers’ closer.

Matt LaPorta 1B/OF – Recalled from Triple-A on Wednesday, LaPorta should have more success this time around than he did in his big league debut (May). In his first stint with the parent club, he posted his worst IsoP (.111) and wOBA (.268) at any of his stops -- note this he was playing sporadically over 49 PA. Expect LaPorta to put up considerably better numbers this time. Ryan Garko, Ben Francisco, and Victor Martinez have all been traded, and as they played LaPorta’s primary positions, he has much less competition for playing time. Manager Eric Wedge has even said that LaPorta will receive regular playing time until the end of the season. LaPorta could give your fantasy team a boost in power at either first base or the outfield.

Travis Snider OF – Like LaPorta, Snider didn’t exactly thrive in his first taste of the major leagues this season. Demoted to Triple-A in mid-May, he then flourished at the plate. He hit his way to a .327 IsoP and an absurd .460 wOBA before getting recalled on August 18th. Like LaPorta, Snider could provide nice power numbers for your fantasy team down the stretch, and should receive regular at-bats.

Brett Wallace 1B/3B –  Acquired from the Cardinals in the Matt Holliday trade, Wallace has been everything the A’s could have hoped for since he joined their organization. He projects as a guy who can hit for both power and average, though his power has be inconsistent. He isn’t yet on the A’s 40-man roster, but he has been pushed through the minor league ranks thus far in his short career. Combine this with his success at Triple-A Sacramento (.250 IsoP and .371 wOBA in 132 PA) and it would not be a surprise to see the A’s take a closer look at their new top prospect this season. He is definitely someone to keep an eye on in all leagues.

Hector Rondon RHP – Rondon has improved his stock more than arguably any other pitcher in the minors this season. He's struck out more batters than last year while walking fewer, and his BABIP has been at a maintainable rate this entire season. With the Indians' major league club devoid of impact arms, there is a lot of buzz that they will give Rondon a look in September. The fact that he is already on the 40-man roster only encourages those thoughts. If called up, Rondon would be someone worth watching in all leagues, as his potential and performance point to future big league success.

Jason Heyward OF – Before you read further, let me put a disclaimer on Heyward – I do not think he’ll get called up to the major leagues this season. He just turned 20 years old, has never played in Triple-A, and is not on the Braves 40-man Roster. Having said that, some people are speculating that he could get a look in Atlanta down the stretch, and if he does, you need to add him in your fantasy league. Heyward has put together as impressive of a season as any prospect his age in recent memory. He has walked more than he has struck out in Double-A (13.2 BB% to an even more impressive 9.6 K%), has had an IsoP of .276, and a wOBA of .431. All of this as a youngester in his first taste of the upper minors. Jim Callis of Baseball America recently stated that he feels Heyward is better than Justin Upton was, and you have only to look here to see what our own community thinks of him. Heyward has unbelievable talent, and is worth a spot in every league if he gets called up.


Discussion question: Which of these players do you think will provide the biggest boost to fantasy teams this season? (Discuss here.) 


Ethan Saporito can be contacted at