Jake Lamb - 3B, ARI
Owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues
In his first exposure to the big leagues as a 23-year-old rookie late last year, Lamb struggled, batting .230 with a 636 OPS in 37 games after being called up in early August. The young infielder did pick things up down the stretch, however, with a .280 average and five extra-base hits in his final 14 games.
That strong finish, in combination with his outstanding production in the minors, where he had hit .327/.407/.566 between Double-A and Triple-A before his MLB promotion, led to hopes that a breakout year was on tap in 2015.
It hasn't exactly played out that way for the third baseman. Lamb got off to a red-hot start, batting .414 with a 1204 OPS in his first 10 games, but then suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for nearly two months. He finally returned to the Diamondbacks in mid-June but couldn't find his way back into the zone, batting .224 with 22 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances over the remainder of the month.
Here in July, Lamb has kicked things into a gear a bit more, and while he's still striking out a bit more than you'd like to see, he's at least drawing some walks and making more hard contact. Of particular interest has been his speed output; he has three stolen bases this year and four triples (three coming in July). While we don't necessarily expect him to be a consistent ongoing threat in those categories, it does serve as a reminder that he can run a bit.
Power is where Lamb should produce more reliably long-term, even though we haven't seen a whole lot of that this year. The line drive machine smashed 19 homers and 43 doubles in just total last year and has a .558 career slugging percentage in the minors.
He's currently starting at third for Arizona almost daily and should be a quality performer over these final two months.
Franklin Gutierrez - OF, SEA
Owned in 0% of Yahoo leagues
In many ways, Gutierrez's career has been a tale of what could have been. He emerged in his mid-20s as an elite defensive outfielder with enticing offensive upside, but the last several years have been marred by a medley of injuries, limiting him to just 173 total games in the majors between 2011 and 2014.
Still, an excellent first half in Triple-A this year, and now some impressive production in a part-time role with the Mariners, should have fantasy owners wondering what could be.
Gutierrez missed the entire 2014 season with an inflammatory arthritis condition, and signed a minor-league contract with Seattle in late January. He spent most of the first three months with Class-AAA Tacoma, putting up an excellent .317/.402/.500 slash line with seven homers and 12 doubles in 48 games.
The resurgent performance earned the 32-year-old a ticket back to the big leagues, where he has been functioning mostly as a fourth outfielder. Gutierrez has started only 12 of Seattle's 29 games since being recalled but he has made the most of the opportunity, batting .255/.304/.490 with three jacks, including a walk-off job on Sunday night against the Blue Jays.
He's been seeing the field with increasing frequency, and his recent theatrics should only help, especially with the Mariners badly needing offense and possessing little stability in left field, where Gutierrez has been alternating with Seth Smith and Dustin Ackley.
This might be kind of a longshot, and there's a reason that Gutierrez is currently owned in almost no leagues, but he's making a case with his play and any injury in the M's outfield could immediately propel him into an everyday role.