There was plenty of Garrett Hampson hype leading into the 2019 season. He ended with an ADP around 200 according to FantasyPros. One of the biggest obstacles in his way was the positional competition. Ryan McMahon was also fighting for an infield spot. Third overall pick Brendan Rodgers had a shot of coming up. The Rockies were still interested in playing Ian Desmond for some reason. But Hampson’s solid hit tool and elite speed gave fantasy owners hope in trying to find those rare late-round steals. The initial Hampson experiment was rough. He lasted until mid-May and had a short stint in early June before being called up permanently by the end of June. The 105 plate appearances he had during the first chunk of the season were abysmal. An 8 wRC+ with a .186/.231/.258 slash with only one homer and one steal. I’d rather start Desmond over that.
But after the call up in late June, things were slightly better for Hampson. July saw an 87 wRC+ with a 17% walk rate, but his August was rough again and it seemed dire for him. He had plenty of chances but he was never able to capitalize. Then comes September. He started to make a ton more contact, especially on pitches out of the zone. His O-Contact for the season is 61%, but in September, it’s 79.4%. He’s not hitting the ball as hard as he had, but he’s just not whiffing. He’s putting the ball in play and working his speed to get on base. He has the eighth fastest sprint speed among qualified players according to Baseball Savant. He’s swiped six bags in six tries as well. He just needs to get on base and then he’s dangerous. But this isn’t like Billy Hamilton. His OBP at every minor league level has been over .375. And he plays at Coors. A steady diet of putting the ball in play can get him games like yesterday’s 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, SB.
Kyle Lewis (OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. This 2016 first-round pick has been performing like a first-round pick since he was called up a couple of weeks ago. Through 10 games, he has six dingers and has a hard hit rate over 60%. His strikeout rate is 37.2% while his AAA rate was nearly 30%. He will have to work on that to keep up production long term.
Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF, New York Mets)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. I doubt any were expecting McNeil to swat 23 home runs in 128 games even if they knew about the juiced ball. He has had a power surge of late, hitting five homers in his last eight games and has 16 since the All-Star break. Looking at his first and second halves is a fun take on stats like wOBA and wRC+. Those two stats are essentially equal for McNeil comparing first and second half. However, his average dropped 70 points while his slugging jumped 75 points.
Pete Alonso (1B, New York Mets)—1-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Number 50 traveled 437 feet. He’s the first player to 50 this season, and the second rookie ever to reach 50. He is now two home runs away from Judge’s 2017 record of 52 home runs by a rookie. With nine games to go, Alonso has a solid chance of breaking it.
Aristides Aquino (OF, Cincinnati Reds)—2-4, R, HR, RBI, SB. He cooled off for a stretch of not homering in 13 games before hitting two over his last three. He also added a stolen base to bring his total to five. It’s been 20 days in September and Aquino has turned his 185 wRC+ through August into a 123 on the year with the help of a 30 wRC+ so far this month. Interestingly, his hard hit rate is up 10 percentage points in September. He was just overly lucky in August and has been overly unlucky this month.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Don’t forget how good Turner is when going into next season. In nearly 220 less plate appearances than last year, he has only three less homers, 17 less runs, and 10 less stolen bases with an OPS in the mid-.800s. It will be interesting to see how the Nats operate this offseason with the loss of Rendon but Turner is still hitting in front of Juan Soto.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Moreland somehow has almost the exact same average and OBP for three straight seasons. This is no Khris Davis shenanigans—but it’s close. He came off the IL in the end of July but hasn’t been playing every day. He also has been pretty quiet with his bat until last night’s two home run performance. He’s nothing to be concerned over in the last week of fantasy.
Eloy Jiménez (OF, Chicago White Sox)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 4 RBI. Eloy has had a handful of injury issues this season most recently with his hip, something that is important for hitting. This injury came about in late August and only kept him sidelined a few games but since that has gone away, he’s been a beast. Since August 27th, he is slashing .375/.417/.677 clubbing seven home runs, two of which were grand slams.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. Mercado has been in the two hole for the Indians almost all season long and that has helped him score a good amount of runs. I am curious with the Indians’ plan with him next year after a full year under his belt and Jose Ramirez back. If they keep him hitting between Lindor and Ramirez, we’re looking at one of the biggest sleepers going into 2020. A solid shot at a 20/20 2020 with plenty of run production potential.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, Atlanta Braves)—2-2, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. 40/40 is back with a new episode! He still sits at 37 stolen bases but has added one more home run to his 40 plus total. Getting on base three times (two of which to first base) did not produce any stolen bases. Now that the Braves have clinched the East, does this mean they’ll be more aggressive to reach this mark or hold him back in case of injury?
Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Another season of Carlos Correa, another season full of injury. Lately, it’s been more back issues which seem like they will continually crop up for this still young star shortstop. Injuries like this are always frustrating for everyone involved. But with the Astros’ position in the standings, they don’t want to take chances. In his second game back after missing the last month, Correa proved he’s still got it. If he stays on the field—he’s incredible, but who knows if he can? It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next season in drafts.
A.J. Pollock (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Speak of the devil! The perennial “will he stay on the field” player has mostly stayed healthy in the second half after missing a good chunk of the first half with an infection in his elbow. There has been a lingering groin issue in the second half but he never hit the IL again. Despite the injury, his second half has been stellar. He is slashing .292/.354/.562 with 13 dingers in 206 plate appearances. We all know what he is capable of when he plays, it’s just the if he plays.
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)