Now that we've reached August, most of baseball's major wheeling and dealing is over. Yes, there are still going to be some trades taking place as veteran players with large salaries make their way through waivers, but -- especially in terms of big-name pitching moves -- the carousel has pretty much come to a standstill.
Teams are still going to be looking, however, to nab that one last piece of the puzzle to tweak their offense to get that hitting boost for the stretch run -- and fantasy teams should be no different. With that in mind, here is a list of one hitter from each of the 30 major league clubs who is severely under-owned as we head into Week 18 of the season:
Arizona Diamondbacks: David Peralta (38.5 percent ownership in ESPN leagues) was batting. 325 as recently as July 21 when he went into an abysmal 4-for-38 tailspin that lowered his average by 24 points. He seems to have come out the other side now, going 5-for-15 to close out his team's long road trip, and he has scored runs in five consecutive games.
Atlanta Braves: Nick Markakis (23.0 percent) is still essentially the same player he was when playing every day for the Orioles, if only a little slower on the basepaths and with slightly less power. In his past 10 games, he hit .353 with a home run and six RBIs. More walks than strikeouts over that stretch (8 BB/5 K) is the key sign that Markakis is locked in at the plate.
Baltimore Orioles: Tim Beckham (29.9 percent) has already tripled his home run output from last season, as the 27-year-old shortstop has really come into his own this season. Since moving to the Orioles at the trade deadline, Beckham has hit safely in all six games with a ridiculously unsustainable .583 average and three home runs. J.J. Hardy is expected back on Aug. 18, but even once Beckham cools off a bit, he might not be able to get his starting job back.
Boston Red Sox: Christian Vazquez (11.2 percent) has been playing nearly every day of late, as his backstop-mate Sandy Leon missed some time with a knee injury. The consistent at-bats seem to have awoken Vazquez at the plate, as he hit .452 over his past eight starts, including five multihit games. Manager John Farrell will likely return to a timeshare with Leon back in action, but Vazquez should be the top dog in the pecking order.
Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward (14.6 percent) notched career hit No. 1,000 on Sunday. While the .256 second-half batting average isn't anything to write home about, Heyward is starting to hit more line drives, and eventually those harder-hit balls should turn into hits. Ownership of Chicago bats is at a premium as this team is beginning to surge offensively, and the veteran outfielder is one of the few members of this lineup with wide availability.
Chicago White Sox: Out of sight, out of mind? Avisail Garcia (55.0 percent) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday after missing two weeks with a thumb injury, and he's feeling good enough that a rehab assignment might not be necessary. Yes, his breakout season took a huge nosedive from June 15 on, as his batting average dipped 40 points over that stretch -- but what's wrong with a .303 batting average? Chicago is 2-10 since Garcia got hurt. The Sox will be better when he's in their lineup. So will you.
Cincinnati Reds: With Scott Schebler out for two to three weeks with a shoulder injury, Jesse Winker (3.2 percent) will get a chance to show the Reds what he can do in right field. He started strong with a pair of home runs in his first two games, but then went just 2-for-14 (.143) over his next four contests through Sunday. Winker was hitting .314 at Triple-A at the time of his call-up, and while he's sure to have his ups and downs during this "audition" with Cincinnati, pick and choose your spots with him and you might be able to capitalize.
Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall simply isn't ready to return from his calf injury, so Brandon Guyer (0.3 percent) will continue to get the majority of right-field playing time for the first-place Indians. Since July 27, he has started seven games and hit .304 with a home run and two stolen bases. He seems to finally be over his own wrist issues, and his performance at the plate should continue to progress toward his career numbers from the dismal .222 pace at which he's currently mired.
Colorado Rockies: Getting a piece of the Rockies' offensive juggernaut is nearly impossible once draft day is over and done with, but Pat Valaika (0.3 percent) has proven himself to be one of the best pinch-hitters in the league -- behind only Ichiro Suzuki (18) with 14 hits in his 38 pinch-hit at-bats (.368). He's also tops in baseball with 11 pinch-hit RBIs. It's a matter of quality over quantity here, and if you're in need of a "Hail Mary" in counting stats, why not try to catch some Colorado lightning in a bottle.
Detroit Tigers: Mikie Mahtook (6.5 percent) is fifth in the majors among center fielders (minimum 50 at-bats) with a .329 second-half batting average. He scored nine runs in his past 12 games. Not arbitration-eligible until 2019, Mahtook is an affordable option for the Tigers and one at whom dynasty leaguers in particular should be taking a long look.
Houston Astros: That ownership of Carlos Beltran (22.9 percent) looks an awful lot like what his batting average was on July 21 (.229), prior to his going on an eight-game hitting streak and having hits in 11 of 12 starts since then. The .353 batting average over this stretch is a reminder of the player Beltran used to be -- and can still be. After all, he did hit .295 just last season.
Kansas City Royals: A DH is supposed to hit, hence the H. Brandon Moss (3.2 percent) has just a .208 batting average for the season. However, prior to yesterday's double-header, he hit .300 in his past 14 games, with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He's on a roll right now, and his HR/FB rate is equal to last season (19.4 percent). All he needs to do is launch a few more fly balls.
Los Angeles Angels: Cameron Maybin is ready to return to left field for the Angels after missing several weeks due to a sprained knee. That's why Ben Revere (7.4 percent) is probably not someone you should rush right out and grab off the waiver wire, despite his 11-game hitting streak (.421, five steals) as Maybin's replacement. Then again, all three Angels outfielders have gotten hurt at some point this season and the team isn't going to quit playing Revere cold turkey.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Logan Forsythe (11.3 percent) is perfect for leagues with daily lineup moves. He's hitting .325 against left-handed pitching and just .192 against right-handers. He's batting .271 on the road and just .212 at home. Find the right split, and get him in your lineup. All the other Dodgers have long since been snatched up. Los Angeles isn't going to stop scoring. Two plus two equals Forsythe.
Miami Marlins: Derek Dietrich (1.4 percent) has started August strong with a five-game hitting streak (.333) and a 1.067 OPS. With Martin Prado (knee) all but done for the season (though the team hasn't ruled out a potential return, even with surgery), it's mini-streaks such as this one that will keep Dietrich ensconced at the hot corner for many weeks to come.
Milwaukee Brewers: There are just 17 players this season with at least 100 hits, 10 home runs and 10 steals. Only two of them are under the age of 23 -- Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox (91.3 percent) and Orlando Arcia (27.2 percent) of the Brewers. Arcia hit .360 over the past week of play, and while his power has tended to be streaky, it's hard to understand the lack of fantasy faith here. This isn't Oswaldo.
Minnesota Twins: Robbie Grossman (2.3 percent) missed out on a lot of playing time on the Twins' last road trip, as they played two series in NL parks. Back at home for a four-game set with Texas, Grossman was able to DH, scoring four runs, driving in four and hitting .286 for the series. Add to the mix a career-low K rate and a career-high BB rate, and there's a lot more upside here than meets the eye.
New York Mets: In his past 12 games, Curtis Granderson (15.4 percent) has a .405 OBP to go along with seven runs scored and a pair of home runs. He and Jay Bruce have both reportedly cleared waivers, so either one or both of the outfielders might be moved in the next few weeks. For Granderson, given his brutal home-road splits (.178 at Citi Field, .266 elsewhere), a trade could be a huge boon. Get him on your fantasy roster before the deal while you can.
New York Yankees: On April 23, Jacoby Ellsbury (19.0 percent) was batting .333. On May 24, his batting average was .281. That's when he collided with the outfield wall and ended up having to miss a month. About a month after his return, on July 31, Ellsbury was hitting only. 243. It has been a year to forget, but there's still time left. Clint Frazier has cooled off considerably, with his batting average dropping 61 points to that same .243 in his past 12 games. Ellsbury is primed to step it up.
Oakland Athletics: First baseman Matt Olson (0.3 percent) is a platoon player who hit 19 home runs with a .293 average against right-handed pitching at Triple-A Nashville this season (4 HR, .194 vs. LHP). Strikeouts should be plentiful, but he did hit four home runs in a span of six games during a brief June stint with the A's, and he's about to get a shot to play at least semi-regularly now that first base in Oakland has opened up. (See Seattle below.)
Philadelphia Phillies: Cesar Hernandez (38.2 percent) might not be with the Phillies much longer if they decide that Scott Kingery is their second baseman of the future. That said, all Hernandez is doing right now is increasing the potential return for Philadelphia on a trade. An 11-game hitting streak (.391) has elevated his batting average to .294, and he has added five steals to the mix, too. Last year, he hit .294, as well, and he's already matched the home run total (6) in just 77 games.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell (33.3 percent) has had an up-and-down 2017. As recently as July 26-29, he went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts. Yet, after not starting that following game, Bell has hit .400 with a home run and no strikeouts in his past seven games. A .239 first half has given way to a .304 second half, and while the yo-yo is likely to continue, with each change of direction, the apogee keeps getting higher.
St. Louis Cardinals: The disabled list is where Dexter Fowler (32.9 percent) has been since July 24, as a wrist injury has kept him out of action. He's expected back in the Cardinals' lineup on Wednesday for the home half of a four-game set with the Royals. Fowler has been solid in St. Louis this season (.265, 10 HR, 1.13 K/BB), while most of his woes have come on the road (.217, 4 HR, 2.41 K/BB). Where he bats in the order might well dictate how well he does going forward, but he's probably worth the risk.
San Diego Padres: Since coming back from paternity leave, Manuel Margot (32.3 percent) has been on fire, batting .345 with four home runs and 10 RBI in his past 13 games. In fairness, nine of those games came at home, where Margot is batting .336 on the season (compared to just .215 on the road). Still, trips to Cincinnati, Arizona and Colorado remain on the Padres' schedule, so perhaps that road split can make a bit of a comeback for the new father.
San Francisco Giants: I'm not normally a proponent of using BABIP in-season as a tool to suggest that a player might simply be getting unlucky, but in the case of Brandon Crawford (36.1 percent), I'll make an exception. There's nothing in any of his peripherals to indicate a reason for his career-low .227 batting average this season, and his BA-to-BABIP comparison remains constant. As such, I'm willing to roll the dice that he can gain 20 to 25 points in batting average the rest of the way, simply by way of a few bounces in his favor.
Seattle Mariners: It's not that Danny Valencia (17.0 percent) has been a bad first baseman. His .265-12-54 at the position isn't too far behind Yonder Alonso's (43.2 percent) .266-22-49 this season. However, using Valencia against left-handed pitching and Alonso against righties would create a "hybrid player" hitting .292-23-65 on the season. It should be a win-win statistically for both players going forward.
Tampa Bay Rays: Maybe he just needed a change of scenery. Lucas Duda (18.7 percent) is batting .323 with three home runs and seven runs scored in nine games since being traded from the Mets to the Rays. So far, he has played just about every day, either at first base or DH, so neither he nor Logan Morrison have lost at-bats. At least in the short run, that should continue.
Texas Rangers: The power of Joey Gallo (37.6 percent) has never been in question. It's been a question of what he can do with the at-bats that aren't home runs or strikeouts that will determine his true fantasy value -- especially in points leagues. With eight home runs in his past 13 games, the real amazement is that Gallo went 6-for-20 in those "other at-bats" and, overall, hit .304 in that span as a result. Those are numbers we can get behind, regardless of format.
Toronto Blue Jays: Steve Pearce (8.3 percent) got a spotlight on his performance recently with a pair of walk-off grand slams in a four-game span to close out July. The recent acquisition of Norichika Aoki (0.5 percent) could potentially compromise some of Pearce's playing time. That said, if anything, the duo's "reverse splits" could well end up helping both outfielders perform better in the long run by starting against like-handed pitchers.
Washington Nationals: Since joining the Nationals from Philadelphia, Howie Kendrick (15.8 percent) has actually improved upon his .340 batting average by going 10-for-27 (.370) with a home run in eight games. Kendrick hasn't hit over .300 for a season since he was 24, but even though he's suffered through multiple injuries this season, his average hasn't yet dipped below that threshold all year. At some point, the returns of Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor could make for a crowded outfield in Washington, but if Kendrick is still hitting when that happens, he'll almost certainly be the one who plays.