Surging Hitters: Pham getting feisty, Rojas setting up for strong run

MLB: Game One-Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres

For the past couple of weeks I've modified this column to find targets for specific categories. Heading into the final month of the season, we're going to keep that going so that we can help each other climb our standings by targeting the categories we need most.

At this point in the season, you're not just looking to find good hitters but hitters who help you in the categories you most need in order to move up your standings. It doesn't matter if Jake Burger is hitting lots of home runs. If you don't need production in that category then he may not be the best add.

As a consequence, the purpose of this article is to try and find short-term values in specific categories. These are players you may roster for just a week or two as you ride a hot bat or a spike in playing time. We may target a specific schedule. Whatever the case may be, all of them will be UNDER 50% rostered in Yahoo! leagues and all of them will be players I think can help you in the short term in the specific category listed.

With that said, here are NINE HITTERS who I think are worth an add right now based on your category needs.


Elvis Andrus - 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox
Rostered in 18% of Yahoo! leagues

These are tough categories to add right now since most of the players scoring lots of runs or producing meaningfully high batting averages are widely rostered. That means the players in this section are a bit of a gamble, but those are the risks you need to take at this point in your season.

Production-wise, there is nothing too risky about Andrus. He's hitting .343 over the last month and .333 with six runs scored, nine RBI, and two steals over the last two weeks. He was starting regularly at 2B with Tim Anderson active and has slid over the SS during Anderson's suspension. The risk here is that the White Sox decide to let the younger Lenyn Sosa stay at 2B when Anderson returns since this is a lost season in Chicago.

Even if Andrus is removed from the leadoff spot when Anderson is back, I think his average and runs will remain fantasy-viable in the near future. This weekend, Chicago plays Oakland in a four game set. They then get a tough matchup with Baltimore, but immediately after, they will play nine straight games against the Royals and Tigers. That's certainly an enticing proposition if you want a hitter who has been seeing the ball well to keep racking up hits.

Elvis Andrus Chart

Josh Rojas - 2B/3B, Seattle Mariners
Rostered in 13% of Yahoo! leagues

This is recency bias at its finest, but Seattle is cooking as of late, and so is Josh Rojas . He's tied for 8th in baseball with 12 runs scored over the last two weeks, while also hitting .316 with two home runs and two stolen bases.

He hits at the bottom of the Mariners' lineup, so there aren't tons of RBI opportunities there, but the top of the order has been consistently driving Rojas in when he gets on base, and we've seen him produce solid stretches of production over the last two years with the Diamondbacks.

To make matters even more appealing for Rojas, the Mariners get a three game set with the Royals this weekend, then three games against Oakland, then three against the Mets, and then three against the Reds in Great American Ballpark. That's 12 straight games of plus hitting matchups. You'll want to be targeting Mariners' bats over the next week. That could also mean J.P. Crawford who is off of the concussion IL and is hitting leadoff for Seattle. Rostered in just 15% of Yahoo! leagues, he could be a great deep league add over the next two weeks.


Carlos Santana - 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
Rostered in 12% of Yahoo! leagues.

Rowdy Tellez is back, and Carlos Santana is still in the lineup. Tellez has shifted to a DH role against righties with Santana playing 1B. Santana has also continued to hit third in the lineup, which is good news for his fantasy value.

Over his last 10 games, Santana is hitting just .195, which is not what you like to see; however, he in 10th in baseball with six barrels in that span despite the poor average. He's also hit four home runs and driven in 10 runs over those 43 plate appearances and posted a 45.5% hard-hit rate, so he is making authoritative contact.

The Brewers get three games at home against the Padres this weekend, then three against the Cubs, three against the Phillies, and three against the Pirates. That's not a bad stretch over the next two weeks, and I think the Brewers could be in for some solid offensive outputs. With Santana already driving in 13 runs and hitting six home runs in his 21 games in Milwaukee, it's a strong wager he'll be involved in those solid offensive games.

Tommy Pham - OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Rostered in 28% of Yahoo! leagues

Tommy Pham seems to make a lot of headlines for the stuff he does outside of the white chalk lines, but inside of them he just continues to produce. The 35-year-old is enjoying a bounce back season with a .264/.335/.475 triple slash and 13 home runs, 51 RBI, and 15 steals over 96 games. Over the last two weeks, Pham is sixth in all of baseball with 14 RBI while also hitting .296 with three home runs, 10 runs scored, and two stolen bases.

He has started against both righties and lefties for Arizona and hits third no matter the lineup. Considering Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte are hitting in front of him, that's really good news for his RBI prospects.

Arizona gets four games against Cincinnati to end this week before a three game set against the Dodgers' three best arms, which is not ideal. A three game set after that against Baltimore will be tough before three against the Rockies, so the schedule doesn't fully work in Pham's favor but the lineup context and recent production certainly do.

DJ Stewart - OF, New York Mets
Rostered in 2% of Yahoo! leagues

Moving from a former Met to a current Met for your deep league target. Over the last two weeks, DJ Stewart has started 11 games for the Mets as an everyday player against right-handed pitching. Over those 11 games, he's hitting .281 with five home runs, six runs scored, and 10 RBI.

This is a player with a career .233 ISO, 19.4% HR/FB rate, and .774 OPS against right-handed pitching, so we know he can produce power when given a chance. In September/October of 2020, Stewart played in 23 games for Baltimore, hitting .230 with seven home runs and 15 RBI. Producing something similar over the Mets' final 30+ games of the season is certainly feasible.

Stewart has started every game against right-handed pitching for New York, but the Mets are also scheduled to see three lefties in their next eight games so that gives Stewart just a few chances to produce against pitchers like Chase Silseth , Jon Gray , and Dane Dunning . It's not my favorite spot, but if you're in really deep leagues, I think you can take the plunge.

DJ Stewart xSLG


Harrison Bader - OF, New York Yankees
Rostered in 28% of Yahoo! leagues

Last week I mentioned Bader because he has 14 steals on the season and has been playing every day in CF for the Yankees. Well, he had no steals this past week and his roster percentage dropped, but I'm still going to include him here because that's how dire things are on the wire for speed assets.

Bader doesn't strike out (17.4% strikeout rate) and hits near the bottom of the Yankees' lineup, which makes him more likely to run since he's not on base when Aaron Judge is up. Bader has been slumping of late, but he still makes quality contact, and this is a Yankees team that is getting desperate, so I see them making a strong push to try and close this season out on a high note. That may not lead to wins, but it will lead to more aggressive baseball, which could lead to some strong steals output for Bader.

Rafael Ortega - OF, New York Mets
Rostered in 1% of Yahoo! leagues

Another low-rostered Met who can volume his way to fantasy viability is Rafael Ortega, who has started every game for the Mets this week, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher. He has three steals in 21 games in New York without being caught after posting 12 steals in each of the past two seasons. It's not a sexy add, but if you're looking for every day at bats with the chance to swipe a base, Ortega is a solid option in deeper formats.

Michael Siani - OF, Cincinnati Reds
Rostered in 1% of Yahoo! leagues

Let's end with a total dart throw. Siani was just recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday with Stuart Fairchild going on the 7-day concussion IL. Fairchild had also started five straight games across all three outfield spots for Cincinnati since they like to mix and match their lineup to give players a day off. Now, the Reds could just let TJ Hopkins or Nick Martini get those at-bats, but they are also set to face right-handed pitchers in six of their next seven games, which is good news for the left-handed Siani or Martini.

What's good news for you is that the 23-year-old Siani has 22 steals in 108 Triple-A games this year and had 52 steals across two levels last year. He can fly, and the Reds like to run. If he gets three starts over those next seven games, you could be looking at three steals from him in the week (on the high end, obviously), which could make a major impact on your league standing.