Tuesday saw Cincinnati OF Scott Schebler hit a grand slam—his first of the year—as part of a decisive 14-4 win over the reeling New York Mets. With a 2-4, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, K performance yesterday, Schebler has capped a 12-day explosion of offense since his return from the 10-day DL with a left rotator cuff issue. With seven XBH and 11 RBI over this most recent 10-game span, coupled with a decrease in strikeouts and a obscenely low BABIP of .207 in the second half, what’s not to like about Schebler right now? If the season ended today, his .503 slugging percentage would be a career high, and he’s managed to reduce his swinging strike percentage to a career-low 13.3%—still not great but improving—and has brought his overall contact rate up this year. Many may not see him as a viable everyday start, but the signs are all pointing to a fully rehabilitated Schebler finishing the year like a locomotive firmly locked on the tracks of the warpath. Batting .387 in August means that he’s methodically bringing that season batting average up that was the glaring flaw in his roto portfolio; the time to acquire the guy with 26 home runs who’s shockingly only owned in 26% of Yahoo leagues and 22.4% of ESPN leagues is now.
Let’s take a gander at what other notable things happened in the world of hitting yesterday:
Jorge Polanco (2B/3B/SS, MIN) – 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB. “Cross-category gem” is a great way to characterize Polanco’s day at the dish Tuesday. While admittedly pretty bad against LHP on the road to the tune of .172, Polanco doesn’t really have other weaknesses limiting him and he is shaping up to be an awesome utility infielder to finish the season for you. He’s hit safely in 12 of his last 13, with a lone 0-4 outing August 24 against the White Sox and LHP Derek Holland at Guaranteed Rate Field being the only bump in the road. Anybody looking at his splits is probably unsurprised by that. Basically, he’s red hot right now and has matched Schebler’s .387 average this month while slugging .720. And now that you know when to occasionally bench him, enjoy what he brings to your roster if he is available in your league.
Elvis Andrus (SS, TEX) – 4-5, 3 R, RBI. Andrus ensured an unexpectedly longer road trip would turn out just fine with this stellar XBH-laced showing Tuesday for Texas. The Rangers were the away club at a provisional Astros home game taking place at the Rays’ Tropicana Field because of Hurricane Harvey, and Andrus rung in the special occasion by getting his batting average back up over .300 for the first time since the All-Star break. Andrus had a triple and two doubles on the day, and he has now scored 23 runs in the month of August. It boggles my mind, especially with his baserunning speed (23 SB) and sudden uprising of power this year, that he remains unowned in 6% of both Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF/DH, TEX) – 3-6, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 K. Back-to-back games with a jack for 17 overall, and Choo now has a batting average of .265 on the strength of a 31-96 August. He’s scored a quarter of his season total for runs (80) just this month. Absolutely a solid grab if you need some assistance from a guy perenially at or near the top of the Rangers order for good reason. Choo quietly has collected 11 steals on the year, too, and 63 RBI could certainly be worse.
Manny Machado (3B/SS, BAL) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. I’ve called this a power purist’s dream stat line before. Manny is back to being Manny, and he seems resolute to sprint to a competitive finish in the fantasy world after underwhelming for a chunk of the season. He hit the 30-HR mark with this duo of solo shots Tuesday, and that makes 12 bombs in August alone. He’s been on an RBI tear as well, plating 34 this month for a season total of 87. He’s averaging way better right now than his 2017 BA of .268 would indicate, based on the second-half split of hitting .337. Do not hesitate to start him with a vengeance every chance you get.
Mikie Mahtook (OF, DET) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Disregard this stat line. Mahtook has severely dropped off over the past two weeks: this solid but flukish performance came at Coors Field, so don’t let it distract you from the reality that he had gone just 4-40 in his previous 11 game appearances. He’s an excellent outfielder in real life, but I wouldn’t trust his bat right now with fantasy playoffs right around the corner.
C.J. Cron (1B/DH, LAA) – 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. Cron has hit nicely during the second half, going .307 since the break and .310 in August alone. The power had taken a brief break, with these two jacks being his first in 11 days, but he does have seven in August. He thrives as a hitter lower in the order, so if you are a lineup checker throw him in as a starter CI or UTIL if the Angels are slotting him in at the 6- or 7-spot. He’s gone just .233 batting fifth and .240 from cleanup. The counting stats aren’t overwhelming, but he’s clearly heating up by having hit 18 of his 39 RBI this month.
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, STL) – 1-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K. Consecutive games with homers for Carpenter, who now has 18 for the year. His average has been middling of late, which is explained by just 17 hits in August. The good news is that eight of those 17 have been for extra bases, so he still poses a slugging threat even when he’s struggling with efficiency at the plate. He’s locked in as the Cards’ leadoff man, so the 74 runs outpacing his 63 RBI makes sense. He’s an above-average starter at any one of his eligible positions despite the BA shortcomings.
Jose Abreu (1B, CHW) – 4-4, R, 2 RBI, BB. Abreu did his damndest late in the game to try spurring his White Sox on for a comeback, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Twins when all was said and done. The 30-year-old Cuban has a .303 average now after the perfect night, which pairs nicely with 26 homers and 80 RBI. Batting consistently third, he’s scored 77 of his own as well. I’m liking his late-season form: .312 average with 10 bombs in just six weeks despite a .350 BABIP all indicate he’s going to keep raking for you.
Eric Hosmer (1B, KCR) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K. Hoz was never the reason Kansas City was struggling to score and/or win during their recent historic skid, as he notched four hits against Cleveland during that three-game series. He launched his 22nd dinger of the season Tuesday and owns a pretty tasty .888 OPS through 497 at-bats. A .320 average has most owners, me included, salivating. Hosmer is 100% capable of reaching the century mark in runs with 80 right now (16 in August). He has six steals on the season but hasn’t swiped a bag since July 28, just as an FYI.