Batter’s Box: For Your Sake, Abreu Don’t Have To Play Against Him
Sure, it was against the hapless San Francisco Giants, but Jose Abreu had himself a slugstravaganza over the weekend. If an elite fantasy 1B going 7-11, 6 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, BB, K doesn’t call for invoking an awesome and newly coined word, then I don’t know what would. It’s a shame Abreu is doing all this work for the White Sox when they’re dead last in the American League, but the beauty of fantasy baseball is being able to appreciate meaningless feats of strength in the sunset of a lost season. During the second half among qualified hitters across the league, Abreu has the seventh-highest slugging percentage (.615) and is tied for 23rd-best batting average in the same timeframe with Francisco Lindor (.307). The power has come through nicely for Abreu’s fantasy owners, as he has 31 overall and 12 since the beginning of August. He doesn’t really have any weaknesses as far as situational or BVP splits go, although it’s a good thing for his OBP that he’s averaged so well because his second-half walk rate of 4.5% is horrendously low. He has performed very poorly against cutters and splitters this year, but I’m just nitpicking to find a kink in Abreu’s otherwise sterling armor at this point. For what it’s worth, across the three leagues I’m playing in this season, Abreu belongs to two second-place teams and a fourth-place team. It’s not causation or correlation that they are playoff squads because of Abreu’s presence on their rosters, but he sure didn’t hurt their causes. Deploy him in your lineup at all times.
Now, on to a quick recap and spin on some other noteworthy hitting performances:
Michael Taylor (OF, WSH) – 6-8, 3 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, BB, SB. This stat line becomes even more eye-popping when you realize it encompasses just two games’ worth of work. He’s oscillated in and out of my Top 150 hitters rankings, but this series against the Phillies has me inclined to believe Taylor is going to be hot for the remainder of the regular season and at his peak for Washington’s postseason appearance. He had an inside-the-park grand slam on Friday, for crying out loud. A .274 hitter for the year, Taylor also has swiped 14 bags and owns a homer count of 16. This outburst of RBI is a bit unusual for him, considering that he had just 40 in 328 at-bats before this weekend; he’s typically been more a run-scorer. He missed over a month due to injury midsummer, but starting September on a .344/.400/.813 note is certainly encouraging for fantasy owners looking for some clutch depth at OF down the stretch.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI) – 3-10, 4 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, SB. I keep piping up about this dude. What Hoskins did this weekend against the Nats is great cross-category stuff, but the four walks were the delicious OBP-flavored icing on the cake for me. Hoskins has a .296 season average across 108 AB and has hit 276 in September specifically. 27 runs, 14 homers, and now a singular steal also adorn his hitter’s portfolio. He’s usually Philly’s cleanup guy, so 32 RBI round it all out for you. He’s been a phenomenal asset over the last month and I recommend everyday usage of him if you’re lucky enough to have snagged him when the hype was fresh.
Matt Olson (1B/OF, OAK) – 5-14, 5 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, K. Just one strikeout across four weekend games is a pretty solid accomplishment on top of dual homers and managing as many runs as he did hits. He’s atop the depth chart at 1B over regular DH Ryon Healy, and the 23-year-old has been mashing well since getting recalled from Triple-A Nashville on August 8 after the trade of Yonder Alonso to Seattle. A .308 average in the month of September has helped him pad his season-long BA to .268, and six homers in the last eight days is also the opposite of shabby. The recent clip of hitting safely in seven of the last eight games and his apparent comfort with churning out RBI with power make him an appealing grab right now.
Chad Pinder (2B/SS/OF, OAK) – 2-11, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB, 4 K. If you’re only going to muster two hits and a walk in 12 plate appearances, I guess it’s making the best out of a bad situation to go yard twice. Pinder isn’t an everyday starter but has had several PH outings lately. Over 247 AB, 14 bombs and 38 ribbies aren’t bad marks, per se. But looking at what the aforementioned Hoskins has been able to do in a month by comparison, Pinder’s lack of efficiency actually comes glaring through. Pinder has only averaged .243; in my eyes, he doesn’t have much fantasy appeal as title hopefuls contend in the playoffs. Boog Powell, on the other hand, is the guy that Oakland got for Alonso and he currently outranks Pinder on the CF depth chart. His 7-13, 8 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, BB, 2 K line from the weekend shouldn’t go unmentioned: I think this guy is going to be awesome and could be worth a dynasty add or a mental note for next year’s draft.
Chase Headley (1B/3B, NYY) – 3-13, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. Headley didn’t have a great series against Texas, but it was worth mentioning that a) he has a nine-game hitting streak going, and b) I noticed 1B eligibility next to his name for the first time just today. I did a little digging, and sure enough, I was not taking crazy pills thinking he had previously just been 3B-eligible: Headley’s started 31 games at first since the All-Star break so that will carry over to next year as well. He owns a .278 average for the year, has scored 68 runs, and has manufactured 59 RBI for the Yankees. He’s a backup asset at his positions and is probably best used as an occupant of a UTIL or CI spot on your roster.
Aaron Judge (OF, NYY) – 3-10, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K. Judge hadn’t had a multi-homer game since June 11, so it was super encouraging to see him get that monkey off his back yesterday. I just talked about him on Friday, so no huge spin on things other than the boost of his slugging percentage from .568 to .583 with Sunday’s performance.
Jose Reyes (2B/3B/SS, NYM) – 4-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB, 3 K, SB. Reyes is hitting .314 over the first third of the month. The steal Sunday was his 20th, a number that did honestly surprise me. He’s a good run-scorer, not a great one: 65 runs over 436 AB isn’t the most efficient, but Reyes is certainly not a liability in any category lately. The dual-homer night on Friday brought his season total to 12, so that’s on the low end, but he’s serviceable as a backup infielder for sure.
Miguel Cabrera (1B/DH, DET) – 3-8, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K. He came back from his suspension to homer against the Blue Jays, so that was certainly a welcome contribution for his fantasy owners. For a guy that’s been a bona fide megastar for over a decade, though, this has been his most disappointing season by far. A .250 average, just 15 homers, 47 runs, and 59 RBI are all going to end up as career worsts (his rookie season counting stat totals don’t really count since he only played in 87 games). It’s unfortunate to see, but he could soon transition into being primarily a DH in the next year or two.