Batter’s Box: Sheer Force of Wil
Webster’s defines “force of will” as “ability to continue trying despite difficulties.” If that doesn’t define the season of Wil Myers (3B/OF, San Diego Padres), I don’t know what does.
Sunday’s solid performance (3-5, 2B, RBI) aside, it has been a struggle for Myers this season. His rather average .748 OPS comes with a ghastly 34% strikeout rate fueled largely by a spike in swings and misses against breaking and offspeed pitches. He has shown some pop and speed with double-digit steals and home runs, but with a low batting average and long slumps, the limited reward has not been worth the suffering.
But this is September—past transgressions no longer matter. We aren’t thinking of keeping the best players overall, but instead the best players for right now. Over his last 11 games, Myers is slashing .452/.485/.806 with three home runs and four steals with a very acceptable 18.2% strikeout rate and a hit in each of his last eight appearances. He starts the week at home with some tough matchups against the Cubs (though it should be noted that the Cubs can be exploited for stolen bases) but then travels to the hitting paradise known as Coors Field for the weekend followed by a trip to the not-as-friendly-but-still-quite-friendly Miller Park.
The combination of a hot streak and a string of exploitable matchups makes Myers a very appealing player in fantasy. He’s not high on my list for 2020, and I’m really concerned about the trends he’s shown this season, but none of that matters right now. All I care about is whether I need home runs and steals, and if I do, I’m looking right at Myers.
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)—4-6, R, 3 2B, 6 RBI. He’s been in the league for exactly three months as of today, and he has the fourth-best OPS in baseball since his call-up. Also, for Yahoo players, he should be locked in as outfield eligible for 2020.
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B/3B/SS, Washington Nationals)—4-5, 2B, 3 RBI. The hit parade continues for Asdrubal as a National as he continues to pile up multiple hits and RBI seemingly every night. He’s put together a five-game hitting streak and has even been occasionally slotted into the No. 2 spot of the lineup. He’s probably not going to do enough in 10-teamers to make the cut, but he could be a factor as a fill-in for 12-team and deeper formats.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers)—3-6, R, 2 RBI. Forget about the older outfielder at your own peril. The 37-year-old has put together his third consecutive season with at least 20 home runs, a .261 batting average, a .357 OBP, and 80 or more runs scored. That’ll pay the bills as a back-end outfielder in many formats, and he’s got double-digit steals in two of the last three years. He’s a great late-round pickup in 2020 drafts as people shy away due to the age.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Durability is always a concern, but when healthy, he hits the ball awfully hard. He is on a five-game hitting streak and has a nice three-game series in Texas in the first half of the week, making him a nice streamer for your fantasy playoffs if he’s available.
Ronald Guzman (1B, Texas Rangers)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. A batting line of .212/.303/.415 just won’t cut it. With two minor league options remaining and precious few signs of growth, he’s off my radar in all but the very deepest of dynasty formats.
Wilson Ramos (C, New York Mets)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. He’s been a top-five catcher for fantasy this season, and his 12.8% strikeout rate is nothing short of a revelation. He’s probably isn’t going to hit 20 home runs again, but with back-to-back seasons with a high batting average and 70 RBI, he’s a solid catcher in all formats.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Red)—3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He has three hits in three of his last four starts with four home runs and eight RBI in those three games. Other than a truly miserable June where he posted a dismal .536 OPS, Suarez has been an elite fantasy asset and should go quite early in 2020 drafts.
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, New York Yankees)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, SB. Unfortunately for Gleyber fans, he won’t be facing the Orioles over the next 10 days, meaning you’ll have to make do with favorable draws against the Tigers and Blue Jays. 40 home runs is within his reach, and you have to be pleased with the steps forward he made in plate discipline and power.
Starlin Castro (2B/3B, Miami Marlins)—2-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He’s slashing .328/.352/.574 since July 1 and has five home runs in his last 10 games. He’s always had good contact ability, and in 12-team and deeper leagues you could do a lot worse for a corner or middle infielder.
Jean Segura (SS, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-4, 2 R, RBI, SB. The .288 batting average is nice and all, but he looks like he’ll barely breach the double-digit steals mark, and that really hampers his value, especially considering that he is only eligible at shortstop—the deepest of all positions.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, RBI, SB. One more dinger will give him three straight seasons with 30 or more, and he also has two straight seasons of 20 or more steals. He’s a special player and is a first-rounder in all formats.
Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants)—0-4, 4 K. He surprisingly has hit well since August 10 with a 129 wRC+ in that stretch. His last eight games have been less encouraging, though, as he’s put together a lowly .526 OPS since the calendar flipped to September. If I were in a fantasy playoff and had been counting on Longoria, I’d be moving on.
Josh VanMeter (1B/2B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds)—0-4, K. Well, it was fun while it lasted. He put up an amazing 1.333 OPS in 42 July plate appearances after coming out of nowhere, but since the start of August, he’s hitting just .209/.276/.339 with precious few counting stats. Let go and move on.
And for the icing on the cake, minor league highlights from Shelly Verougstraete:
Interesting Playoff #MiLB stats from yesterday
Royce Lewis (MIN AA) 3-5, 1 2B
Brennen Davis (CHC A) 2-5, 1 2B, 1RBI
Edwin Uceta (LAD AA) 6IP, 5K, 1BB, 1ER
Forrest Whitley (HOU AAA) 4IP, 6K, 5BB, 3ER
— Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) September 9, 2019
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)