If you want to start chipping away at the league leaders you need to focus on innings and at-bats. I know a lot of people are against adding mediocre players as a way of increasing at bats because they are worried that the new players will bring categories such as average and era, or whip down. When talking about hitters, you need to focus on your starting lineup; there is no good that comes from having a guy racking up the at-bats while on your bench. Sure, you could adjust your lineup based on the opponents starting pitching every day, but that does not always guarantee you more production.
Your best bet is to fill out your fantasy team with excess starting pitchers. That way you can set your lineup everyday and get as many innings as you can. More innings MIGHT mean a higher ERA and a higher WHIP, it also MIGHT mean a lower ERA and WHIP. It WILL mean more strikeouts and more chances for wins. The positives outweigh the negatives. And there are quality starting pitchers still available that can help you out in all categories. Johnny Cueto of the Reds started the season late after coming off of an injury, but he has not allowed an earned run in three of his seven starts this season. He sits at 3-2 with a very impressive 1.93 ERA on the year. He is available in 36% of Yahoo public leagues. Dillon Gee of the Mets just improved to 7-0 on the season with a 3.05 ERA. He is available in 64% of leagues. Phil Humber of the White Sox is sporting a 2.87 ERA with a WHIP under 1.00. The best part is that he has gone at least seven innings in eight of his last nine starts. He is an inning eater. He is available in 61% of leagues.
Brennan Boesch of the Tigers is red-hot
As far as your lineup is concerned, stock up on at-bats from guys in your lineup. It does not matter how many at-bats a guy is getting if he is on your bench. People might not realize the kind of year Todd Helton of the Rockies is having all of a sudden. He won’t get you stolen bases but he is now hitting .322 and after starting the season batting 5th, he is now batting third and amassing more at-bats. He is available in 60% of Yahoo leagues. Brennan Boesch of the Tigers is another guy to look at. He has come on strong as of late. He was hitting .250 at the beginning of June and he’s already streaked his way to a .280 average. He is a free agent in 49% of fantasy leagues.
For those of you in a deeper league where any at-bats help, keep an eye out for Bill Hall. He was released by the Astros earlier this month, but just signed with the Giants to fill in for Freddy Sanchez who will miss extended time to a dislocated shoulder. The Giants lineup is pretty bare right now so expect him to get plenty of at-bats while he is in there.
Remember whatever you do, a guy on your bench amasses no stats. You have to get him into the lineup to take advantage of your team’s depth.