Each week, Collin Hager uses his HVaC Scoring System to let you know whom to start and drop this week in head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues. This week’s must-starts:
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals
Wong is projected to get only 140 more plate appearances. What if he got the positional average of 175? Every metric would change. It certainly makes him a better bet than the No. 19 ranking he currently has in the HVaC. But by how much? Is it even possible for him to take that leap?
Wong has largely been an everyday player, so the jump in plate appearances is at least possible. At his current rate, it would give him an additional eight hits, potentially four more runs, three more RBI, and two more steals. Each one of his numbers then falls directly into line with the positional marks. Maybe this is a best-case scenario, but that scenario creates a player that is inside the top 10 at his position. If the worst case is 19th, the middle makes him a fringe starter at the position and one who is valuable in leagues that play a middle infield spot.
With that, Wong is a player who should be added for fantasy owners and one who will be a difference maker down the stretch.
Alex Wood, LHP, Braves
Wood is still owned by only 85 percent of owners in ESPN leagues and the HVaC likes him as a top 30 pitcher the rest of the way. His numbers have translated well from the minors to the majors, showing similar consistency. While he may not strand 80 percent of runners going forward, his BABIP being over .300 coupled with an FIP and ERA that are well in line indicate that he should be able to sustain the current level of success.
Kole Calhoun, RF, Angels
His ownership is down 18 points in ESPN leagues, but he is hitting .310 this month and .385 over the last seven days.
In four of five categories, he finds himself within a quarter deviation of the positional mean. Though he could struggle in H/PA, he still checks in as the No. 57 outfielder in the HVaC. The blend he brings for owners makes him worth owning and able to capitalize on those who are dropping him in their leagues.
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels
Aybar is another player being dropped by fantasy owners. While he has slowed in August, his scores all reflect a player who is at or better than the positional average in every category. The HVaC still sees him as a top 10 shortstop as a result. For those interested, he has already equaled his home run, RBI and steal total from last season in 25 fewer games. Stick with him.
Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles
Tillman has been slowly moving up the rankings, a result of his recent run of success. He’s been fantastic this month, and it has pushed him inside the HVaC top 100 pitchers. His four runs in nearly 21 innings this month coupled with a WHIP under 1.00 has owners taking notice. Overall, Tillman has had seven quality starts in his last eight and has room for upside in a K/9 number that has been down over last season.