Batter’s Box: Go Biggio or Go Home
Home run? Check. Stolen base? Check. Hitting for the cycle? Check. Cavan Biggio (2B, Toronto Blue Jays) did it all for fantasy owners on Tuesday (4-5, 3 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 SB) and likely has many folks smiling heading into the final weeks of their regular season. He has multiple hits in four of his past five games and does face the Orioles five more times for the remainder of the season, making him a nice little pickup in most formats.
Because I have all offseason to talk about what I think about Biggio for the future, I’m going to use this space instead to rank my top-six “best” schedules for the remainder of the season for hitters by team. It’s important context, as these last few weeks are all about matchups, and it gives some insight on how I would settle roster decisions about evenly skilled players.
- Minnesota Twins (Remaining Opponents: KC x2, CWS, DET).
- Baltimore Orioles (Remaining Opponents: TOR x2, SEA, BOS).
- Cleveland Indians (Remaining Opponents: DET, PHI, CWS, WSH).
- Detroit Tigers (Remaining Opponents: CLE, CWS x2, MIN).
- Washington Nationals (Remaining Opponents: STL, MIA, PHI, CLE).
This is based largely on who their opponents are for those series and the combined quality of the rotations and bullpens of those opponents. I think the Twins and Orioles are in a tier above the rest, and their players will win most “Player A or Player B” discussions for me when making lineup decisions.
I struggled a bit with my No. 5, as the Nationals don’t have a necessarily ideal remaining slate, but they do play in more games with just one day off left this season and a doubleheader still ahead. While I did mention Toronto as having a good schedule, they came in just outside of the top five when looking at the whole picture.
I hope this little ranking is helpful for those looking to make a run with limited roster moves. For those still reading, if I had to rank strength of schedule for just stolen bases, the top three would be the Pirates, Reds, and Marlins. Not a big fan of their upcoming schedules overall, but they’ll have plenty of exploitable batteries on which to run.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox)—4-6, R, HR, 2 RBI. I am predicting a loud 2020 for Anderson. People are starting to notice how awesome he has been this season, and he was probably a bit underrated coming into 2019. He has been a top-10 shortstop in standard leagues (top-15 in OBP because of his minuscule walk rate) despite missing about 30 games because of injury and has been a true five-category contributor all season. He was drafted right around pick 100 in five of the six 2 Early Mocks with a minimum pick of 88. Shortstop is CRAZY deep, but if Anderson can hit above .270 with 20 home runs and 20 steals, he’ll be an excellent value.
Miguel Rojas (SS, Miami Marlins)—4-6, 3 2B, 6 RBI. NL-only managers can usually squeeze some value out of his 500 plate appearances with a good batting average and chip-in power and speed contributions. He avoids the strikeout well enough, so maybe 16-plus team points leagues might get some utility out of him as well, but I doubt it.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants)—3-6, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. There was a time where Crawford was an OK shortstop in deeper leagues because of the shallow pool of hitters at shortstop. That time passed a long while ago. He’s likely the starting shortstop again for the Giants for another year or two and will play in plenty of games, but there’s not much here for fantasy purposes.
Austin Dean (OF, Miami Marlins)—3-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. He was excellent in Triple-A this season, slashing .337/.401/.635 in 282 plate appearances, but has struggled at the major league level so far. He’s a little old for a modern rookie (he’ll be 26 next month), but those in very deep dynasty leagues who need outfield depth might consider a pick up. He was never highly regarded as a prospect, but he could hit 15 home runs with a .260 batting average in a full-time role.
Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins)—3-6, R, 2 RBI. He’s finally back after more than two week out without an IL stint. The Twins have one of the most favorable hitting schedules for the remainder of the season, and Gonzalez could be a nice fill-in in deeper formats thanks to upcoming series against the Royals and Tigers.
Omar Narvaez (C, Seattle Mariners)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. It was a fairly lean August for Narvaez, but he’s gone right back to hitting in September with a .975 OPS in 40 plate appearances. He doesn’t play every day, but that’s normal for a catcher. He’s valuable in all formats as a starting catcher who is just above the streaming line and has a little extra value in OBP formats because of his 11.3% career walk rate. He’s an exceptional target as a starting catcher at the very end of drafts in 2020 if you are a in a league that starts just one backstop.
Austin Nola (C/1B/2B, Seattle Mariners)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. He’s been the fifth-best catcher in standard formats over the past 15 days per the ESPN Player Rater despite a recent eight-game skid where he went 4-27. He has solid plate discipline and tends to get hits in bunches (like the seven he’s piled up in his past two games). If he’s available in your league and you need a catcher, he’s not a terrible choice—just watch out for that Astros series coming up.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. He’s available in nearly 80% of ESPN leagues, has an ideal upcoming schedule, is on an eight-game hitting streak with multiple hits in five of his past six, and is locked in as the No. 2 hitter. Go add him right now.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-7, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. He’s come back down to Earth a bit over the past few weeks, but he’s still been an OK fantasy outfielder overall. Batting leadoff for a not-great offense limits his counting stat contributions, and I think for fantasy purposes he’d be more useful in the middle of the order because he’s not much of a stolen base threat. The Braves and Dodgers are still on the schedule, which isn’t fun, but he does have a three-game set against the Rockies (at home) which is exploitable. Also, there was a really cool moment in this game when he hit that home run in the top of the ninth. As much as I talk about stats, the human part of the game is incredibly fascinating, and hitting a home run in the same place your grandfather hit a whole bunch of them is probably a really cool feeling.
Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)—2-3, R, 2 RBI, SB. He had an ADP of 68.3 in the 2 Early Mocks, putting him ahead of other outfielders such as Andrew Benintendi, Rhys Hoskins, Ramon Laureano, and Yasiel Puig. That speaks volumes about what people think of the speedy outfielder who has shown quite a bit more power than was originally expected. In standard leagues, he has been the 22nd-best outfielder this season, which is actually better than every one of those names I mentioned above (though Laureano has played in considerably fewer games). The quality of contact metrics available on Statcast are extremely skeptical of Robles, giving him an xBA of .229 and an xSLG of .359. Robles’ speed accounts for some of the discrepancy, but it does give me a little pause on his 2020 price. I’m also a bit concerned about the nine times he was caught stealing, though it hasn’t necessarily stopped him from running this season.
Yan Gomes (C, Washington Nationals)—2-3, 2 2B, RBI, BB, SB. He has basically been the everyday catcher for the Nationals this month, and while he’s not getting a ton of hits, he’s displaying plenty of power. His four home runs in September are already more than he has in another month this season, and with a favorable schedule in front of him, he could be a streamer if you need one for your final matchups.
Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B, Washington Nationals)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, RBI, BB. The 36-year-old is having his best season since 2011, hitting .341 with a .578 slugging overall and a 1.280 OPS since Aug. 12. The Nationals have a juicy weekend series against the Marlins, and Kendrick makes a fine addition in most daily leagues.
Austin Meadows (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—1-2, R, 2B, 2 BB, SB. He’s been the best fantasy outfielder over the past 15 days and after a long speed drought has two steals in his past three games. He’s also on a 15-game hitting streak, during which he’s amassed seven doubles, eight home runs, 20 runs, 20 RBI, three stolen bases, and a .361/.432/.792 batting line. He faces the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays in his upcoming games and should be locked into every starting lineup basically every day.
Kyle Lewis (OF, Seattle Mariners)—0-5, 4 K. Well, that’s rookies for ya. A day after a three-hit performance, he gets absolutely flummoxed by the Pirates. If you picked him up, go ahead and use him (but have a backup in mind for that Astros series—I have a feeling he’ll be a bit overwhelmed there).
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—0-4, 3 K. He’s 0-13 since returning to the lineup after dealing with neck issues and is slashing just .103/.212/.138 in September. He’s a nifty little speed/power threat, but his durability and contact concerns make him a tough guy to own when the stakes are high. I’d be dropping him in most formats for something a little more exciting.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)