The bad news is that the two teams with the best matchups (Mariners and Indians) are below-average offenses without a lot of roster-worthy hitters. There is a clear No. 1 for me this week and he fits into a pattern that runs throughout the list; six of the 10 sleeper hitters this week are hitters I think are underowned regardless of what their matchups are. I’d be happy to add several of them even if I didn’t need a starter this week.
Here are the 10 best hitters for Week 13 owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues:
1. Mallex Smith
I’ve been trying to get people to add Mallex Smith for two weeks. Maybe this schedule will be the thing that spurs action. Smith gets seven games against the Royals and Orioles pitching staffs. In all honesty, it shouldn’t take that. He was almost universally drafted and he’s been awesome of late. I think he’s viewed as more of a Rotisserie-only option but he’s the No. 14 outfielder in points over the past 21 days.
Ramon Laureano is another outfielder who is just flat out underowned. His matchups are mixed this week. He does have seven games and three of them are against the Orioles, but the other four are against Tampa Bay. Laureano has been a top-30 outfielder over the past month and has 14 home runs and 15 steals over 117 major league games. He’s startable every week in categories leagues and I’d even use him in points this week.
Like Laureano, Scott Kingery is an underowned hitter with a mixed schedule. His four games against the Nationals aren’t great but we’ll take the three against the Marlins. Kingery has also been on fire for most of the season with a .315/.356/.613 slash line. There’s some good fortune mixed in there, but with triple eligibility he deserves to start somewhere.
4. C.J. Cron
Finally we get back to something a little bit more traditional. C.J. Cron is probably owned in just about the right number of leagues for me. But with seven games, including four against the Royals, he probably needs to be started everywhere. Cron, like many of the Twins, has been a pleasant surprise this season with an OPS over .850. I don’t expect that lasts all season but I wouldn’t bet on it ending against the Royals pitchers.
Cooper gets seven games away from his home park and four against a suddenly-struggling Cardinals staff. Away from Marlins Park he owns a .304/.381/.536 slash line. While that is still a small sample size, his .835 OPS overall would make him a worthwhile add in any league that requires five outfielders or a corner infielder.
6. Jeff McNeil
Jeff McNeil is one of those hitters whose best format is points but he’s still good enough to start as a middle infielder in categories leagues. He’s hitting .337 this season and almost never strikes out, which has earned him the leadoff role against right handed pitching. He may sit against one of the lefties this week but that would still give him six games. Also, he has an .804 OPS against lefties in his career so he probably shouldn’t sit at all.
7. Kyle Seager
Remember Kyle Seager? He’s finally healthy and starting regularly for the Mariners. He’s even started to heat up a little bit. In the month of June he owns a .910 OPS with four home runs and a stolen base. He gets the same fantastic matchups Mallex Smith does and should be a solid corner infielder or utility in a points league.
The Indians have the second-best schedule of the week with four games at Texas and three against the Tigers. If only they had a few more league-average hitters. In fairness to Oscar Mercado, we haven’t had time to figure out if he is yet. For the year he owns a .767 OPS with a pair of stolen bases in 23 games. He’s been playing regularly and hitting in the top third of the order, and he has six hits in his last five games so he should stay there.
9. Jorge Soler
Jorge Soler has fooled us so many times that it seems like people just don’t want to buy in again. But he should be started in any categories league in a seven-game week. His 17 home runs and 47 RBI demand it. Over his career his OPS is 30 points higher against left-handed pitchers and he’ll face four (mostly-mediocre) lefties in Week 13.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for Hernandez this season. He started off on fire with a .999 OPS in his first 67 plate appearances, and has been one of the worst hitters in baseball since, slashing .175/.234/.313. But there have been a few signs of life in June and Corey Seager’s injury likely means he’ll play close to every day against a slate of below average pitchers. He’s a desperation play, but sometimes middle infield calls for just that.
Best Hitter Matchups for Week 13
- Mariners KC3, BAL4
- Indians @TEX4, DET3
- Dodgers SF4, COL3
- Twins BOS4, @KC3
- Royals @SEA3, MIN4