As part of a 9-1 drubbing of fellow AL division leader Cleveland last night, Boston’s Eduardo Nuñez managed to terrorize both Tribe Vice Ace Carlos Carrasco and reliever Shawn Armstrong with 5 RBIs’ worth of raking. The 2B/3B/SS/OF-eligible slugger, a recent transfer from San Franscisco, has felt comfortable in a Red Sox uniform from the get-go: Nuñez owns a .330 batting average since being traded and has now homered five times for his new club. The power surge is perhaps understandable when you acknowledge that he previously played half his games at stingy AT&T Park, so him having only four jacks as a Giant becomes more forgivable. But for fantasy viability, Nuñez is paying dividends for owners who hung onto him. The speed he brings to the table is something new boss John Farrell has maybe advised him to be cautious with, as he’s only stolen three of his 21 bases with the Red Sox. They’re using him as the leadoff hitter, so expect the run count to trickle a bit higher than RBI as the fantasy season winds down; however, last night shows that he can plate other people just fine from that spot, regardless. He should be owned and started in all leagues. He’s the starting 2B with Dustin Pedroia out, and backs up Xander Bogaerts at short while being available to slot in at first or LF, so expect him to get playing time with no issue whatsoever.
Now, let’s take a look at what some other hitters were able to accomplish Tuesday:
Yangervis Solarte (2B/3B/SS, SDP) – 3-5, HR, 6 RBI. This stat line is exactly what cleanup hitters are supposed to do. Solarte had only driven in three runs in the last two weeks but he exploded to plate guys every time he registered a hit Tuesday. He has as many doubles as he does homers on the season with 14 apiece, and the RBI count is now up to 53. He’s not a surefire fantasy starter at his eligible positions, given the mere 37 runs but he’s slugging .507 this month and could be a useful asset to plug in amid injuries and rest days as contenders ready their clubs for the postseason. Solarte can be a little feast-or-famine too, as he has seven hitless games in August to contrast with six multi-hit games. He’s a fringe player but has the potential to be modestly productive for you.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) – 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 K. It’s insane to me how Suarez’s power is so severely skewed when you look at home/away splits. He’s only hit four homers on the road despite having 23 overall, so this dude absolutely loves playing at Great American Ballpark. With that in mind, he’s still been a good hitter away from home with a .257 average, and he’s enjoying quite the second half with a .305 average in that timeframe. The 69 RBI and 73 runs at this point have him on pace to have the lower 90s represent his best-case scenario finish line for both. He should be a starting fantasy 3B in all 12-teamers.
Nicholas Castellanos (3B, DET) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Castellanos hadn’t been doing so well lately in the power department, as he had managed just two homers in the last month until last night. The dual-homer effort was his second of both the season and the second half for 18 overall, so he’s doing fine even the jacks had become a little sporadic. Not so much a fan of the .248 average but I’ll take it over the .209 he had back on June 1. He has 71 RBI and 60 runs, and I consider Castellanos a backup 3B for 12-teamers and perhaps a starter in deeper formats.
Ryon Healy (1B/3B/DH, OAK) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. Almost an identical stat line to Castellanos’, except the difference is Healy has mashed five more bombs and is averaging .266. He has been occasionally frustrating to own—see the .219 average in July with zero homers as Exhibit A—but when he’s he on, it can be a fun ride. June was his most efficient month at the dish, but he has hit .303 in August and scored 14 runs in the process with over a week to go. He tends to clean up nicely in RBI even when the average or power flags, with 69 to his credit, so that’s a plus. I have consistently used him as a UTIL for much of the year but have not hesitated to bench him if I sensed a cold streak: he’s in the midst of a 10-game hit streak at the moment so fire him up.
Gary Sanchez (C/DH, NYY) – 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K. Sanchez has managed to avoid the injury bug since really early in the season, and he’s now gone yard 25 times in 343 total AB. The reason I mention his steadfast avoidance of the DL is that Salvador Perez (reactivated yesterday) and Willson Contreras (still sidelined until mid-September) have strong cases for being the most outstanding fantasy catchers of the year, but Sanchez was able to gain ground in that race with them both out. He’s got a .274 average, 69 RBI, 61 runs and 2 steals in a year when the C position has a very small and exclusive tier of elite options. Sanchez should have no problem pushing for 35 taters by year’s end, as he has 12 in just five weeks of second-half ball and is really hitting his stride.
Albert Pujols (1B/DH, LAA) – 2-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. Obligatory shoutout to Pujie for taking over the record for homers hit by a foreign-born player with 610 after Tuesday’s bleacher bomb. He had a great game, to dispel any idea that I’m pity-mentioning him in a year when his .231 average may have given many fantasy owners pause at times. Pujols is an indisputable RBI machine, and he’s now cranked out 79 of those on the year to go along with his 19 home runs. His flaw as a fantasy asset comes from not scoring nearly as many runs as he once did, with just 42 this year, since he sometimes gets lifted for a pinch-runner. The bad news is he’s hitting just .208 in the second half and just .214 against LHP on the year, so you may need to stream him accordingly.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, MIA) – 3-10, R, HR, 2 RBI, 5 K. Of course he was going to homer yesterday at some point during the course of Miami’s doubleheader docket in Philadelphia. He’s got the MLB-best mark of 46 and has provided 99 RBI as well. Quite the storybook second half for The Artist Formerly Known As Mike.
Christian Yelich (OF, MIA) – 4-10, 4 R, HR, 5 RBI, 2 K. I got excited when I saw a 1-4, HR, 4 RBI line from Yelich during one of Miami’s games, but it was not a grand slam; instead he hit a three-run homer and plated a run with a groundout. No biggie, though, as going 3-5 with two doubles and an RBI in the other game equates to Yelich having a strong day at the office. Only 14 homers on the season, but a .284 average is spic-and-span when you line it up next to 67 RBI, 77 runs and 11 steals. I’m feeling better about Yelich lately, and I think he could be a solid play as a third OF for you down the stretch if he can keep this recent scoring and RBI clip up.