Fantasy Baseball: What did we learn from June?

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5-min read

With our calendars having flipped to July, this is the perfect time to recap some of the best and worst performances from the month of June. There should be some nuggets in this article that shape your lineup and streaming decisions during the coming weeks.

Top Offenses (June OPS in brackets)

Astros (.867), Angels (.826), Blue Jays (.822): Who needs Mike Trout?! Despite losing the consensus best hitter in baseball, the Angels are coming off their best offensive month of the season. Shohei Ohtani has been absolutely on fire of late (1.312 June OPS) while Justin Upton has resurrected his career. I wouldn’t completely avoid the Angels lineup, but their recent success means that I would be more careful with streaming starters against them until they cool off. The Astros and Blue Jays are a different story, as they are arguably the two toughest matchups for fantasy managers and should be avoided with most starters.

One more takeaway: After a rough May, the Yankees placed fifth in June OPS. Their lineup has predictably become one to avoid once again.

Worst Offenses (June OPS in brackets)

Cardinals (.626), Cubs (.630), D-backs (.631): Matchups with St. Louis have been unusually easy for opposing pitchers of late. Three Cardinals regulars (Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Tyler O’Neill) logged an OPS above .740, but the rest of the lineup was very disappointing. Meanwhile, the Cubs were a boom-or-bust June lineup that was among the league leaders in homers but also the most strikeout prone club. Although Chicago will sometimes have an offensive outburst, I would look to stream starters against them. Finally, the D-backs continue to be arguably the top streaming target. Their offense is bad, their pitching is bad, and they rarely win games.

One more takeaway: Life is good for NL Central hurlers right now. The Pirates barely missed this list, meaning that three of the best matchups for starters exist within one division. This is something to keep in mind when assessing starters on the waiver wire.

St. Louis Cardinals' Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals struggled with the bat in June. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

Top Pitching Staffs (June ERA in brackets)

Giants (3.04), Dodgers (3.17), Astros (3.34): There are no real surprises here. We all knew the Dodgers would have a great pitching staff and the Astros rotation has become arguably the deepest in baseball. The Giants are perhaps the biggest story in this group, as they continue to succeed despite not having many big names on their staff. Fantasy managers should be ready to add almost anyone in San Francisco’s effective rotation — especially Logan Webb when he returns from the IL in July.

One more takeaway: Five of June's six-best pitching staffs were in the National League. This stat isn’t surprising, but it is a reminder that we need to prioritize league differences when assessing free-agent pitchers this season, after being able to ignore that stat in 2020.

Worst Pitching Staffs (June ERA in brackets)

Orioles (6.38), D-backs (6.10), Royals (6.00), Twins (5.90): Arizona continues to populate all the wrong lists. Fantasy managers should look to stream plenty of hitters and starters against the D-backs, who have been ineffective in virtually every area. And for those who wish to look ahead, the Cubs face the D-backs in two of their initial three series after the All-Star break. Elsewhere, the Orioles are on another level in terms of pitching ineffectiveness right now, and that situation is unlikely to change with the foursome of dangerous lineups in their division.

One more takeaway: The Royals and Twins were joined by the Indians and Tigers as four of the six worst pitching staffs in June, which is big news for fantasy managers who are considering AL Central batters on the waiver wire. The White Sox play 20 of their 26 July games against either divisional foes or the Orioles.

Home Run Leaders (June total in brackets)

Kyle Schwarber (16), Shohei Ohtani (13): Two players surpassed the 10-homer plateau in June, and both are surprising for different reasons. Schwarber was ice-cold in April (.619 OPS) before getting on track in May (.857 OPS) and taking off last month. He has thrived out of the leadoff spot, and he could continue to score plenty of runs by batting in front of Trea Turner and Juan Soto. Still, Schwarber managers may want to trade him for a premium return with a team in their league that is struggling to generate power. Ohtani is fascinating in that his hitting has been so good that the Angels have backed off his pitching workload. Fantasy managers should now view this incredible talent as mostly a hitter-only option, but his overall value has never been higher.

One more takeaway: Jonathan Schoop was among five players who sat third with 10 June homers, and he continues to be one of the most underrated power sources. The second baseman never has an elite homer total, but he won’t hurt your batting average and should finish with 25-30 long balls.

Stolen Base Leaders (June total in brackets)

Ronald Acuna (10), Starling Marte (9), Ozzie Albies (8): Do you understand why I keep pushing fantasy managers to get their steals early in drafts? All of these speedsters were top-50 picks back in March. They all provided a helpful batting average during June and went deep at least four times. Marte and Whit Merrifield (seven June steals) are arguably the best trade targets for someone who wants to move up in steals.

One more takeaway: Shortly behind the top June group were some lesser names such as Myles Straw, Steven Duggar, and Raimel Tapia. These players all have holes in their game, but they represent steals on waivers for managers who have enough depth to handle someone who doesn’t help in most categories.