Rougned Odor: He has six homers over the last eight games and is sporting a 1.305 OPS since the All-Star break. Odor even walked five times in a game last week, as he’s getting close to last year’s BB total in 300+ fewer plate appearances (his OBP is 100 points higher than 2017). He still strikes out a ton, but after hitting .145/.200/.252 against southpaws last year, Odor’s OPS is actually better against them (.833) than versus righties (.819) this season. He’s batting second in Texas’ lineup, and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has increased run scoring more than any park other than Coors Field over the last three seasons (and ranks first in 2018). Odor is unlikely to reach 30 homers for the third consecutive season, but he’s doubled his BB%, has greatly improved his defense and is having his best season yet. He’s been the No. 3 fantasy player over the last month.
Joc Pederson: He has a .950 OPS with 17 homers over just 240 at bats versus right-handers this season and is batting leadoff in one of the best lineups in baseball yet remains unowned in more than 75 percent of Yahoo leagues. Pederson’s xwOBA (.363) ranks top-75 in MLB, and he’s 26 years old just now approaching 1,500 career at bats, so he’s only going to get better.
Rick Porcello: He has a 2.18 ERA and a microscopic 0.68 WHIP with a 20:2 K:BB ratio over his last three starts, including a dominant complete game performance against the Yankees (who entered leading the league in wRC+, albeit currently dealing with injuries) over the weekend. It also helps pitching for the Red Sox, as Porcello is 5-1 over his last six starts and has already racked up 14 wins this season. He’s looking a lot more like 2016’s Cy Young winner than last year’s version.
Kevin Gausman: He owned a respectable 12.9 K-BB% (that ranks top-50 among SPs) pitching for the Orioles and sees his fantasy value get a big boost with the trade to Atlanta. Only a handful of parks have increased run scoring more than Camden Yards over the last three seasons, and purely getting out of the AL East is huge (the Yankees and Red Sox rank No. 1 and 2 in wRC+, while the Rays and Blue Jays are also top-12). Moreover, the Orioles employ almost certainly the league’s worst defense, while the Braves field one of the best.
Jonathan Villar: With the trade to Baltimore (who dealt Jonathan Schoop), Villar has suddenly found himself playing everyday and hitting leadoff for the Orioles. He’s streaky, but Villar offers a nice power/speed combo at second base and is still available in 55 percent of leagues.
Kole Calhoun: He was on pace to record one of the lowest WAR marks in MLB history when June ended but has completely turned his season around since, posting a .322/.378/.759 line in July, when he hit 10 homers over 87 at bats. Calhoun has slowed down in August but has still been a top-20 fantasy player over the last month while earning back a full-time role and even hitting leadoff lately.
Mallex Smith: He moved back to the leadoff spot Sunday and responded with four hits while stealing a base for the third game in a row. Over the weekend series against the White Sox, Smith reached base in 9-of-12 plate appearances, and he’s up to five steals over the past five contests. He’s still available in 75 percent of leagues for those searching for stolen bases.
Luis Severino: Over his last five starts, Severino has allowed 24 runs (23 earned) over 25.0 innings, with his K/9 dropping to 7.6 and sporting an ugly 1.88 WHIP. His season long stats remain terrific, and every pitcher goes through rough patches, but this stretch has been a little alarming (he’s allowed eight homers over this span after serving up just six over the first 118.1 innings). Hopefully it’s just a blip, as his velocity appears fine, but it’s hard not to be concerned about Severino right now.
Dee Gordon: He continues to deal with injuries, as he’s now suffering from an ankle sprain after previously having toe and hip issues this season. Gordon has just one RBI over the last month, when he hasn’t been even a top-325 fantasy asset. His 26 steals put him on pace to fall well short of last year’s total of 60.
Hector Rondon and Keone Kela: Rondon has been great, but his fantasy value took a potentially major hit when the Astros traded for Roberto Osuna at the deadline, as the latter will likely factor into Houston’s closing situation at some point. Kela, meanwhile, was traded to the Pirates, so he goes from closing for Texas to a setup role behind Felipe Vazquez in Pittsburgh. Jose Leclerc looks like the Rangers reliever to own as a result, and he’s still available in more than 75 percent of leagues.