The NFL is back! I guess you could say they “played” a football game last night in Chicago. There were two teams, at least two defenses. And one team “won.” But who says baseball is boring, right? Anyway, checkout the great folks over at QBList for some awesome fantasy football coverage!
Because there was some football in Chicago, there couldn’t be any baseball. So Wisconsin and Illinois did a little trade, and we had a Brewers-Cubs matchup in Milwaukee while the Bears and Packers faced off in the Windy City. Taking the field for the Cubs was our favorite baseball player who kind of looks like he would have been a high school football star, Kyle Schwarber. He helped the Cubs do what the Bears couldn’t, which was put up a 10-spot, by launching a 442-foot homer finishing the game, going 2-3, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB.
You blink and you miss it, but so many players are having career years. One of them is Schwarber. He has a career high in the following categories: plate appearances, runs, RBI, home runs, doubles, and slugging. He even has a career low in strikeout rate. He’s maintained the solid line-drive rate he had last year while cutting back on the amount of ground balls he hit. Additionally, he’s hitting the ball harder than he ever has with a hard-hit rate above 50%. Sure it’s been a good season, but what about lately? Will he be someone to add or hold on to for the playoffs? Since August, he’s been a whole different player. He is slashing .300/.406/.722 with 10 homers in just over 100 plate appearances. I expect a small step back in production, but he’s hitting as well as he’s ever hit and is well worth owning.
Welington Castillo (C, Chicago White Sox)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Castillo started off his 2019 being ranked among the top 10 catchers in many rankings but has fallen off a cliff this year. He has been hurt on and off this season with a concussion, oblique injury, and other ailments. However, the biggest ding to his playing time when healthy is the emergence of James McCann. However, in the 17 games he’s squeezed in at catcher or designated hitter since August, he has been productive, hitting four home runs with a 118 wRC+.
Whit Merrifield (1B/2B/OF, Kansas City Royals)—4-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI. Whit isn’t running out of shoes like he did last season (he doesn’t even have 20 steals yet this year), but he’s still knocking the ball around and scoring plenty of runs. He has 13 multi-hit games since the start of August, good for a .326 batting average over that span. He is essentially maintaining the fantastic production from last season, but the steals that made him that much more valuable are missing. He has only one fewer caught stealing than last year even though he’s attempted almost 30 fewer steals. His sprint speed has taken a small step back but not substantially.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-3, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. He had to tie the major league home run race back up as Pete Alonso hit No. 45 the day before. Trout crushed his 45th more than 450 feet. One thing I love about Trout this year is that he hasn’t had a month where his wRC+ was below 170 or his OPS was below 1.000.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics)—4-4, 3 R, 2 2B, SB. Let’s go all the way back to my very first ever Batter’s Box. Semien was being drafted as the 26th shortstop off the board. Once again, he is top 12 in all standard categories among shortstops except batting average, where he is 16th. Additionally, his average is currently the best season average of his career. Semien keeps standing out year after year as one of the best values in the draft.
Bryan Reynolds (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. In a year where a player isn’t chasing down the rookie home run record, Reynolds would be the front runner for Rookie of the Year. He added two home runs to his already stellar play since the beginning of August. He is slashing .351/.401/.612 with seven homers and a 160 wRC+ hitting out of the 2-hole for Pittsburgh.
Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Contreras has returned just in time for the fantasy playoffs. And what does he do in his first two games? He picks off right where he left off with six hits and two home runs. It has been quite a bounce-back season for him as he’s hitting the ball more in the air and has increased his hard-hit rate by almost 10 percentage points. He’ll be a boon to any offense that was patiently waiting for his return.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. His first 34 games have been exemplary, hitting 10 homers, scoring 25 runs, and slugging .631. He has been leading off, hitting in front of a couple of formidable hitters in Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. There is ample opportunity for him to score in the various ways he gets on base. I’m already looking forward to what he can put together in a full season moving forward.
Austin Meadows (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Meadows had his hot start to the season but has been up and down since. Even with the hot start, he’s still performed better in the second half so far. Since the end of August, he has been unstoppable at the plate. He is slashing .419/.471/.968 in his past eight games. But even adding the two weeks before this tear, he’s been hitting well. He’s turning things on at the right moment.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, SB. Acuña is making the push for a 40/40 season, which was last accomplished in 2006 by Alfonso Soriano. I am actually surprised at how exclusive this club is with only four members. This feat is something I have heard about, but it hasn’t been drummed up as much as I feel it should. He has about 20 games to club three homers and snag six bases. He has six steals in his past 18 games, so this does seem in reach.
Austin Nola (1B/2B, Seattle Mariners)—3-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI. Despite this being the first I’ve heard this man’s name, Nola’s put together a strong rookie campaign for a 29-year-old. He is slashing .277/.337/.497 in just under 200 plate appearances. He doesn’t have much of a starting role, but he has squeezed in a few appearances at catcher. If anything happens to a Seattle backstop, he may need to step in.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)—2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. When do we start calling Corey Seager Kyle’s brother again? If anytime, I think it’s now. Since the start of August, Seager has been unstoppable. He is slashing .315/.406/.712 with a 191 wRC+, 12 homers, and 31 RBI. He has only played in 85 games this season but is one home run away from tying last year’s total in 155 games.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros)—2-6, R, HR, 2 RBI. His line may not have been the best of the rest to choose from, but many of us have been eagerly awaiting this kid’s return to the bigs in 2019. In his first start with the Astros in 2019, he launched a 395-foot home run. In his 125 games down in Triple-A this season, he finished with a 30/30 season. George Springer was diagnosed with a concussion, and the Astros may want to play it safe and start Tucker until the playoffs. Grab him if he’s still on waivers.
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)