Nick Kappel’s Fantasy Focus: The All-August Free Agent Team

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Joe Mauer, Ryan Howard, and Mark Reynolds. Everyone knows their names, and most people know they’ve played exceptionally well in August.

What most people don’t know, however, is that Will Venable has batted .311 with six HR and 17 RBI in August.

Being able to scour players like Venable from the waiver wire is a vital component to your playoff run. For this reason, I present to you the All-August free agent team:

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez

Pudge isn’t quite the hitter he used to be, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting respectable numbers in August. Over the last month, Rodriguez has scored 16 runs, hit one long ball, driven in five runs, and has even swiped a bag, all while batting .274.

It’s not pretty, but in deeper leagues this type of production is useful from a catcher, and Pudge is currently owned in only 19 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

First Base – Lyle Overbay

Overbay isn’t driving in runs at the clip he was earlier this season, but he’s recorded a hit in 12 of his last 14 games, and is batting .348 in August.

The 32-year-old also has three HR on the month, the same total as Justin Morneau. Deep leagues should take notice.

Second Base – Mark Ellis

Ellis’ season totals aren’t pretty, but what he did in May and June isn’t going to help you win now anyways. What’s important to know is that Ellis ranks second among players at his position with 21 RBI in the month of August.

What’s most impressive is that he’s batting .340 this month, meaning his presence on your team can only help you. Ellis is currently owned in just 24 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Third Base – Ryan Roberts

Roberts has spent the majority of his time playing second base this season, but he’s eligible at third base as well.

In 86 August at-bats, Roberts is batting .360, with 16 runs, four HR and 11 RBI. He’s even displayed good plate discipline, walking as many times (11) as he’s struck out.

Roberts is owned in just 26 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but is making a strong case for a starting job with the Diamondbacks next season. Keeper and dynasty league owners should take notice.

Shortstop – Erick Aybar

Aybar has been very useful over the past month, batting .307 in 101 at-bats with 19 runs, two dingers, 10 RBI and five steals.

The 25-year-old provides just what you need at the shortstop position; a solid batting average, a good amount of runs, and the ability to swipe a few bases. If the rest of your league hasn’t picked up on him yet, you probably should.

Left Field – Carlos Gonzalez

Gonzalez struggled in his first crack at the big leagues last year in Oakland, but he’s recently showed why Baseball America named him Arizona’s No. 1 prospect in 2008.

In 66 August at-bats, Gonzalez has smashed six HR, driven in 13 runs, and has scored 15 times; all while batting .379. He’s forced his way into the Colorado lineup, and there’s a good chance he’s playing well enough to belong in your lineup as well.

Keeper and dynasty league owners should take notice, as the soon to be 24-year-old is currently available in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Center Field – Will Venable

Most fantasy owners have never even heard of Venable, but he’s caught my eye over the past month. In 90 August at-bats, he’s hit six HR and tallied 17 RBI, while scoring 16 times. He’s even stolen three bases, and he’s batting .311.

According to Baseball America, some scouts in the organization have compared Venable’s skill set to a guy like David Justice; a player who hit 20 HRs 11 different times and was a career .279 hitter.

The 26-year-old is still available in a whopping 79 percent of leagues, so go out and grab him.

Right Field – Angel Pagan

In 527 career at-bats prior to August, Pagan hit a whopping nine HRs. In 98 at-bats since, he’s hit six jacks to go along with 19 RBI, 18 runs and four steals. The 28-year-old has even posted a respectable .286 average this month.

Although this hot streak is unlikely to continue, it’s definitely worth mentioning.

Starting Pitcher – Carl Pavano

Over the past month, Pavano has posted better numbers than Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Josh Beckett.

In 39 August innings (six starts), Pavano has gone 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He’s even posted a very respectable 28:8 K:BB ratio.

On the season, Pavano has amassed a 3.73 K:BB ratio, and his 4.07 FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching on an ERA scale) is a full run less than his 5.11 ERA, suggesting he’s pitched much better than his ERA indicates.

Pavano’s recent trade to Minnesota puts the 33-year-old in the thick of a playoff race, meaning he’s got something to play for.  Pavano is owned in only 34 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so there’s a good chance he’s available to aid your playoff run as well.


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