Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the early months of the fantasy baseball season, you don't often see a player put together a month of success that goes largely unnoticed.
But in the dog days of summer, when a players' numbers are already cemented by three months worth of at-bats, that's exactly what happens.
For example, look at what New York Mets outfielder Juan Lagares has accomplished since the All-Star break: a .313/.356/.531 slash with three homers, 14 RBI, 12 runs and five steals in 26 games.
But because he batted .234 with a .596 OPS in the first half, he's hitting .266 with a .715 OPS on the year and as a result is only owned in 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak is owned in just 23 percent despite hitting .306 with 10 homers, 25 RBI, 26 runs, 20 walks and a .942 OPS over 43 games since returning from a multi-week stay in the minors in June.
Fantasy owners likely remember that Smoak hit .240 with a .694 OPS in his first 46 games this season after batting .223 with a .683 OPS over his first 355 major league games.
San Diego Padres outfielder Will Venable produced three straight seasons with at least nine homers and at least 24 steals, but he's a career .254 hitter and also batted .219 over his first 88 games this year.
That's probably why nobody has noticed Venable is hitting .370 with seven doubles, a triple, five homers, four steals, 13 runs and a 1.105 OPS over his last 23. He's available in 84 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Despite the lack of impact players at the shortstop position, especially after Everth Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta were suspended in the Biogenesis fallout, rookie Brad Miller of the Seattle Mariners only has a home in 13 percent of leagues.
Miller is hitting .261 with four longballs and a .769 OPS in 39 games since being called up and .308 with two homers, six extra-base hits, five RBI, 10 runs, five walks and an .849 OPS over his last 15 contests.
Another rookie, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, is available in 82 percent of leagues, likely due to the fact that he struggled to a .239 average and a .671 OPS over his first 74 games.
The young third baseman's strong glove work at the hot corner kept his bat in the lineup however, and he has hit .375 with two homers, 12 RBI, a .918 OPS and just eight strikeouts over his last 22 games.
Even if none of these players can help you, the point is that someone on the free agent list likely can. Don't be afraid to drop an established mid-level player who has struggled in favor of someone who is on the upswing. At this point in the season, you don't have time to be patient with non-stars.
Utilize the 7-day, 14-day and 30-day filters to pinpoint which available players have been doing well lately and make the change.
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