You can’t live in today’s world without being informed of Murphy’s Law—the notion that what CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. Now, it actually isn’t a part of Sean Murphy‘s narrative, as he went 2-4 with a home run, two runs scored. three RBI, and a walk yesterday. I mean, it hasn’t quite been the breakout we hoped for from the rookie backstop, but he now has two straight games with a home run and three straight with a hit. With the A’s still having eight more games to go this week, including four against the Ranger’s pitching staff), he could be a solid catcher to stream in OBP leagues thanks to his high walk rate and decent power. But that’s not the important part of this story. This is about how you’re going to handle the last month of what has been a wild season.
First, don’t assume that because you have a “lead” in a category that you’re going to win it. With a season of small samples, it wouldn’t take much of a slump to go from first to fifth. The same applies to head-to-head—two or three guys with a bad week could put the leader in a 1-9 week and all of a sudden it’s a whole new race.
Second, some of your best players will slump and some guys you cut will go off on a wild hot streak. It’s OK. You’re not dumb. You just have bad luck sometimes just like everyone else. Don’t panic.
Third, if you’ve avoided the IL pinch so far, don’t be shocked if it hits you now. Keep your watch list full so that you’re ready to add players. If you’re in a weekly league, always have a plan for how you’d fill in 2-3 spots at any given time.
Finally, make sure you understand streaming. As the season shrinks, we’re going to care less about talent and more about opportunities. Who has the most games left on the schedule? Who faces the best teams for steals or home runs? Streaming a hitter is a very viable and often underused strategy that can win you your league in this short season.
I know this section today is short, but it felt vital to remind folks that a 60-game season never normalizes. No lead is safe. No roster is deep enough. You need to be prepared.
Jean Segura (SS, Philadelphia Phillies)—4-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI. He may not have elite power or speed, but Segura has been a top-10 shortstop over the last two weeks thanks to his ability to consistently make contact and drive in runs. He is available in just about one-third of leagues and could provide an RBI boost to those who could use one.
Dylan Moore (SS/OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI. The 28-year-old hit the IL in mid-August due to a sprained wrist, but in four games back has already stolen two bases and hit a home run. Despite the missed time, ESPN’s player rater has him as the ninth-best shortstop on the season and he’s available on over 40% of waiver wires, so scoop him up if you need some power and speed.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees)—2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB. He’s been the third-best fantasy first baseman on the season in standard leagues and the strong performance breaks him out of a 0-11 slump over the weekend. We’ve seen Voit go on power surges before—he went on a very similar one when he joined the Yankees back in 2018—and while he might not slug .619 forever, there’s no reason not to believe he can’t do it for another couple of weeks.
Aaron Hicks (OF, New York Yankees)—1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB. On one hand, the plate discipline is fantastic. He’s walking more than he strikes out, and he has a solid .365 OBP. On the other hand, he’s shown very little power (slugging .400 with just 4 home runs on the season). The injuries have put him in the third spot in the batting order, which should mean some RBI opportunities, but he’s just not all that interesting to me outside of OBP, and even in OBP I think he’s probably a little overrated.
Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF, New York Mets)—2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB. Injuries have nagged away at McNeil, though he’s managed to string hits together from time to time. He slumped through the second half of August but now has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games and has really turned up the power. If he’s available in your league due to the slump, grab him now.
Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins)—2-4, HR, 2B, R, RBI. If you know what to make of Byron Buxton, tell me in the comments below. He somehow still only has one steal, but he’s uber-athletic and has an awesome glove, and has flashed some power and speed. I’m not saying it’s impossible to catch lightning in a bottle here, but I will say that I no longer know how much lightning is in the bottle, nor do I have any idea when lightning might strike.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS, Kansas City Royals)—1-5, HR, R, RBI, SB. This was his 11th stolen base of the season, so at least he’s doing that, right? It’s easy to sit here and say that we saw the issues coming with his hyper-aggressive plate discipline and outright unwillingness to take pitches, but I also bet there’s an alternate reality where Mondesi is hitting .275 and winning a bunch of leagues for people because he’s just always been a very streaky player. If anything, this was the inherent downside of the “take big risks because it’s a short season” strategy, though he should always be on watch lists because he can go off at any time (like right now when he has six hits and three steals over his last four games).
Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, Atlanta Braves)—0-3, R, BB, 2 SB. Remember when he started slow and hadn’t stolen a base? Worrying about Acuña is not very wise (unless he’s injured).
Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays)—1-3, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2 BB. I’m not doing to hate on the plate discipline—a 16.2% walk rate with a 20% walk rate is impressive and a nice sign of growth for the young catcher. On the flip side, hitting .155 and slugging .321 indicates there’s still a lot more growing to do.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—3-6, 2B, R, RBI, SB. Yup, still raking (as is teammate Teoscar Hernandez). Enjoy it while it’s here because there’s still potentially a lot of volatility in the short-term.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. His first major league stolen base! Baseball is fun! Also, I still think there’s a batting title in his swing, but the 21-year-old might need a little more time to figure out big-league pitching.
Cavan Biggio (2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—1-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB, SB. The big drop in strikeouts is helping him maintain a respectable .252 batting average, and if he keeps doing that, he could quickly be a top-seven second baseman for years to come. Heck, he’s the second best one so far this season!
Miguel Rojas (SS, Miami Marlins)—4-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI. A 31-year-old with a career .266/.319/.357 line has a 1.057 OPS through 56 plate appearances this season? Sure, why not. He also doubled his walk rate! I’m not reading super deeply into this yet but I suppose you can grab him in deeper formats if you want to try and ride the wave.
Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, San Diego Padres)—2-4, 2B, RBI, SB. He’s heated up a bit over the last two weeks, hitting .351/.342/.541 (not a typo, just a weird thing that happens sometimes when you take zero walks) with two home runs and two steals. The pop and speed are real, but he’s stuck at the bottom of the order and has always been inconsistent at the plate, so don’t get too excited.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire