Free-agent guide: Javier Baez and other pickups worth making

Javier Baez is an obvious fantasy pickup this week, provided he's still lingering on the waiver wire in your league. David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker hit .307 with nine home runs in April and fantasy owners loved him. In the three months since, he’s hitting .220 with seven home runs, yet he remains owned in three-out-of-every-four ESPN standard leagues. Then there’s Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, a top-5 middle infielder on the Player Rater for the past 30 days, hitting .310 since the start of June with nine home runs and seven stolen bases. He is owned in roughly 43 percent of leagues. Who would you rather own today -- the guy who played well in April, or the one helping fantasy owners lately?

This seems like an easy answer, and I’ll grant you that using ownership percentages in the final week of July, when so many owners have probably ceased making moves and turned their collective attention to football, isn’t a great gauge. However, Baez is a future -- and current -- star, one who's being misjudged because few view him as playing regularly on a stacked team and Walker, a reliable, regular player for years (with only one good month out of four this season), is someone fantasy owners should have already parted with. The season numbers look impressive, but the fifth month of the season starts Monday and we can do better than rely on season numbers.

So let’s celebrate this Friday, the final one before we hit August, by resuming our free agent buying guide theme. It sure seems like some of July’s stars, who might have the staying power to aid fantasy owners over the next two months, are out there. You want to know who they are. Let’s do this.