It was a long dry month for Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies). From July 26 to August 26, Hoskins had 125 plate appearances where he found just 12 hits and slashed .124/.306/.278 with a .127 BABIP and a heartbreaking 60 wRC+. He was an early-round pick for many folks trying to make a strong push in their fantasy leagues, and his downturn could not have come at a worse time. While he has recently started to turn things around with nine hits in his last five games (including last night’s 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI performance), for some it is too little, too late.
Struggling stars is a hot topic in September for fantasy. What do you do with them? Should you cut them, bench them or just leave them in the lineup and hope they will produce?
In some cases, we can dissect what a player is doing and make recommendations on what to do (just as college hitter and staff writer Kyle Horton did on Hoskins just a few days ago). In other cases, the sample sizes are too small to make any major reactions worthy of a full article (or even a blurb on some idiot’s daily hitting round-up).
At this stage of the game (a favorite phrase of one of my favorite guys, Tim McLeod), your gut becomes a key compass in navigating the end of the season. On one hand, don’t get too cute—cutting Hoskins would have fallen under that category. On the other hand, a hot bat like Jurickson Profar, Kevin Newman, Harrison Bader or Hanser Alberto this week might take a starting spot away from a struggling Yasiel Puig, Danny Santana, Shin Soo Choo, Nick Senzel or Yoan Moncada for a few days. Don’t be scared to make short-term substitutions—loyalty means nothing in September.
Alex Bregman (3B/SS, Houston Astros)—4-5, 2B, RBI. More stolen bases would be cool, but I’m not about to complain about another 30+ home run season with 100+ runs scored, 100+ RBI and a .295/.416/.570 line with 98 walks to just 75 strikeouts.
Joshua Rojas (2B, Arizona Diamondbacks)—4-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Rojas has done quite well in his first 17 games of major league action, hitting .275 with a couple of home runs. I’m not a big believer of him for the rest of this season, but if he can start to show the kind of plate discipline he had in the minor leagues (walk rate over 11%, strikeout rate under 16%), there might be something there.
Abraham Almonte (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-4, 3 R, 2B, BB. The 30-year-old journeyman has been called up for the Diamondbacks for September, which is cool for him but not really news for fantasy owners outside of deep NL-only leagues.
Luis Arraez (2B/3B/OF, Minnesota Twins)—3-4, 2 R, 2B. The current king of contact continues his reign. He has more walks than strikeouts, a .340 batting average and .404 OBP, and is just a really fun hitter to watch. Watch out in 2020 and beyond, because a 1-2 punch at the top of the order with Arraez and Willians Astudillo will make my brain explode and is not out of the realm of possibility.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies)—3-4, 2 R, 3 2B, RBI. You love the ratios, 100 runs scored and the fact he plays in Coors. You don’t love that for the fourth consecutive season that his stolen base total has dropped. On one hand, it’s unlikely to drop a fifth consecutive time in 2020. On the other hand, that’s because he’s going to end the year with, like, three steals.
J.D. Davis (3B/OF, New York Mets)—3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. He’s slashing a brilliant .333/.402/.576 since the All-Star Break and has cemented his place in left field for the Mets. While his 25-30 home run potential in a full season doesn’t seem all that special, the fact that he can do it with a nearly 10% walk rate and a high batting average helps him stand out.
Joc Pederson (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI. The kid just beats up on righties, this time victimizing the young Peter Lambert. The strategy for owning him in 10- and 12-teamers remains the same—start against righties, sit against lefties, collect profits.
Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Since returning from a month-long IL stint on August 20, Taylor has started every single game and is slugging an impressive .652. His positional flexibility and hitting in the #5 and #6 spots most games makes him an ideal late-season pick-up if he’s still out there.
Matt Beaty (1B/OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, SB. You would think that a .293/.344/.502 triple slash in 221 plate appearances would win a guy a starting job, but you’d be wrong. He suffers from playing the same positions and hitting from the same side as Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, so playing time simply won’t be reliable going forward. With rosters expanding, I can’t imagine that it gets any better.
Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. He only had two starts in August where he did not get a hit, and he’s one more tater and one more swipe away from a 30/10 season to go along with his .321 batting average. Again—I was so, SO wrong on this kid.
Franmil Reyes (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-4, R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. He has a walk in five of his last seven games, which is a step in the right direction for the young slugger after walking in just four of his first 23 games with the Indians. I know home runs are better than walks, but he will need to show that he’s willing to take a walk to get opposing pitchers to actually give him something to hit.
Yasiel Puig (OF, Cleveland Indians)—1-3, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, SB. His 16 wRC+ in the last 14 days is absolutely brutal to endure, which is the main reason I mentioned him above as a guy to bench until he turns this ship around. This outing is a good start, but I would be wary over the next few days in 10-team leagues if I had something more appetizing on the bench.
Tommy Pham (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, SB. We are likely witnessing his third consecutive 20-home run season and his second 20/20 season in the last three years, and he’s done it all with a cumulative .285/.385/.482 line. He’s a heckuva player and while he does have durability concerns, his ability to blend power, speed and ratios makes him a high-level fantasy outfielder.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—0-4, 3 K. This is just who Teoscar is. He’s going to hit less than .240 and he’s going to slug close to .450. In very deep leagues, there might be room for that kind of player. In most 10-12 teamers, though, there really isn’t.
Nate Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)—0-4, 3 K. Rookies can be a bit up and down, and he followed up his strong start on Sunday with a big ol’ dud on Monday. In a crowded 1B/DH situation in Tampa, he’ll need to avoid outing this like this if he wants to have impactful at-bats the rest of the way.
And just a little bit of the good stuff from Shelly Verougstraete (WHICH I TOTALLY SPELLED RIGHT WITHOUT CHEATING BECAUSE I AM AWESOME WOOOOO!):
Interesting #MiLB stats from yesterday
Brennen Davis (CHC A) 3-3, 1HR, 1SB, 1RBI 🍟
Heliot Ramos (SFG AA) 2-4, 1HR, 1SB, 3RBI 🍟
Carlos Hernandez (KC A) 6IP, 8K, 1BB, 2ER
Tristan Beck (SFG A+) 7IP, 6K, 2BB, 1ER
— Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) September 3, 2019
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)