Batter’s Box: We Are Living In An Alternate Correality
For owners who may have despondent when Astros SS Carlos Correa sustained his torn thumb ligament and had to somehow slog through six weeks of fantasy play without him: holy moly, is he coming up big now that it’s crunch time in the playoffs. After a scintillating 4-4, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB line Thursday, this is now back-to-back games with a quartet of hits, preceded by three on Tuesday. He’s scoring runs like a madman (17 total in September, including eight in the last five contests) and is now up to 24 homers. Stealing bases is essentially the only thing he hasn’t really done for you this year, but everything else is so exceptional that may not even matter. He’s going to be in the conversation for future AL MVP awards in years where he stays healthy the whole time. That’s another way of saying he should be an obvious tab as a keeper.
Now, let’s take a gander at some other hitting happenings around the league:
Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, HOU) – 3-4, R, 3 RBI, BB (IBB). Gonzalez has one of the sweetest possible five-game hit streaks going right now after having amassed 12 knocks in his last 20 AB. That stretch has also seen him plate eight RBI. Everybody trying to close out their fantasy championship should be interested in starting a switch hitter with eligibility at every possible position who’s batting .377 in September. Two homers this month might give you a little pause, but with 11 doubles and 17 RBI to his credit, it’s not like Gonzalez’s efficiency at the dish isn’t manufacturing plenty of offense for Houston.
Corey Dickerson (OF, TBR) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, K. Despite this respectable box score from Dickerson, he’s been otherwise absolutely awful recently. Before the pair of hits that chipped in to help beat the Yankees, he was batting just .169 in September. Having hit 27 homers all year is great, but it was only No. 2 this month and provided just his fourth RBI of the month. That kind of recent failure to plate ribbies is super disappointing for a guy that cranked out 29 between May and June combined. He’s trailed off hard, and even though he has admittedly set a career best in runs scored with 83 on the year, I don’t think I trust him enough right now to have a big final weekend for you.
Dee Gordon (2B, MIA) – 2-5, 2 R, SB. This race for the steals crown is really coming down to the wire, huh?! Gordon stole his 58th bag yesterday and got No. 57 on Wednesday, and he trails Billy Hamilton by just one. Beyond his excellent speed, though, you know the drill with Gordon: no power (2 HR), fantastic average (.333 this month, .306 overall), hella run-scoring (110 this year), and meager RBI production (an abysmal 33 in 641 AB). People tend to give me a hard time for valuing the SB Studs highly, but all categories are equal in roto so I don’t see why having a guy who’s a near guarantee to help you win one would be a bad idea. Obviously, you need power hitters and RBI rakers to make up for Gordon’s shortcomings. Carry on and enjoy fun baserunning.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, MIA) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. The man just won’t stop. A league-best .636 slugging percentage and 59 homers, plus he’s tied with Nolan Arenado for top marks in RBI. If he doesn’t win NL MVP—which, in my opinion, he absolutely should—it will be because someone like J.D. Martinez or Charlie Blackmon is doing wonderful baseball things for a playoff-bound club. I’m personally pulling for him to beat Roger Maris’ mark of 61, and it could happen: Stanton has hit .297 against the Braves, and eight of his homers have come at Atlanta’s expense.
Roberto Perez (C, CLE) – 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI. Is Perez going to keep channeling the magic he unlocked during his two-homer Game 1 of the World Series last year? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but he does have five bombs in just 51 September at-bats and has accounted for 12 RBI as well. Perez can be a little bit of a tanker when it comes to your roster’s collective batting average, though, so be forewarned if you’re going to stream him as a backup catcher. Thursday’s solo shot broke an 0-13 slump, in the interest of full disclosure. He’s nothing more than a last resort at catcher for fantasy purposes.
Daniel Murphy (1B/2B, WSH) – 3-4, RBI, BB. I feel like I haven’t mentioned Murphy in ages, and it’s probably because he’s not producing at the same brisk clip as we’ve come to associate and expect with him. Also, the fact that Dusty Baker is playing coy with the nature of injuries to his star players like Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t help matters during championship week: by explaining away their healthy scratches as rest days due to “general soreness,” we literally didn’t know whether to expect a pinch hit here or there, or even when we could reasonably count on a return to the lineup. Having said that, Murphy has hit safely in four straight and has absolutely victimized Pittsburgh this year: he’s hit .438, scored twice and gotten three RBI against the Pirates, so you can rely on him to do well in this series.
Matt Chapman (3B, OAK) – 2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Chapman has been more than serviceable in fantasy during his first season—a partial one—up in the majors. He’s homered four times this month, and he’s managed to score 12 runs and knock in 11 RBI all while batting a slightly underwhelming .230 in September. The symmetry between runs and RBI has been a consistent theme for Chapman through the summer, as he’s amassed 38 of each in spite of jumping up and down the batting order for Oakland. He’s a bit of a flyer to throw in at UTIL, but hitting safely in five of his last seven does bode well.
Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, CHW) – 3-4, 2 RBI, K, CS. He had a simple, yet modestly fruitful, day at the office. Sanchez has 16 runs in September yet weirdly hasn’t scored in the last four games he’s appeared in, but then again, he’s not had an XBH in that span either so perhaps not entirely surprising. He also hasn’t homered since September 9, which is kind of troubling. I’m keen on the guy in the medium term, i.e. what he’s been able to do in the late summer, but I’m not sure Sanchez has the chops in the here and now going to be the one to make a crazy difference in your final three days of fantasy contention. I’m quite excited to snag him next year as a sneaky late-round pick or even as an undrafted free agent, so keep him on your radar due to future upside.
Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE) – 2-4, R, SB. That’s 15 swipes for Frankie. A delicious cherry atop an already tasty résumé featuring 33 homers and 88 RBI from the switch-hitting shortstop, I’ve greatly enjoyed the internal debate of who I’d rather have rostered at any given time between Lindor and Correa. Both are unbelievable at baseball, and I sincerely hope we get to watch an ALCS featuring both players. You guys know I had to wrap the ol’ Batter’s Box with mention of a Tribe player, and it’s been easy to speak Lindor’s praises for fantasy viability this second half.