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Changing Lanes

Dave Swan breaks down last night's hitting performances.

Lane Thomas (WSH): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

In the wake of 2021’s trade deadline blockbusters was an under-the-radar move in Washington. The St Louis Cardinals realized their outfield was too crowded and sent Lane Thomas packing in a trade for Jon Lester. Since that move on July 30th, Thomas has been a tremendous asset for the Nats. In his last 132 plate appearances, Thomas is slashing .310/.402/.549 with a .950 OPS. Included in that terrific slash line is the 2-for-5(1 HR), 2 R, and 3 RBI Friday night. The overall production is making him 51% better than the MLB average in terms of wRC+. This begs the question, who won in this trade? Time will tell.

The outstanding results in Washington are night and day, compared to his output for the redbirds. This again begs the question, what changed and made him a viable fantasy outfielder? For starts, perhaps every day ABs play a role in this. As I mentioned, St. Louis has a loaded outfield, and rarely could Thomas stay in the lineup long enough to make an impact. Given this lack of continual playing time, I think Thomas was pressing. His K% is down nearly 10%, and he’s making better contact on balls in the air. Now, we haven’t seen enough of St Louis Thomas or Washington Thomas to know exactly what he is. The only thing we do know, sometimes change is good, especially for Lane.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday.

Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Jarred is finally starting to return some fantasy value. The uber-talented mega prospect swatted his 11th and 12th HR of the season, with four coming in his last six games. Additionally, in the previous two weeks, the Seattle slugger is starting to show signs of life as his OPS is north of .800. Now, if he could only limit those pesky strikeouts as he carries a 37:4 K/BB ratio. If he is available in your league, at the very least, you should consider grabbing him for the boom potential the rest of the way.

Tim Anderson (CWS): 1-3, 2B, 2 R, BB.

The BABIP King found his way on base twice last night, but what stands out is the walk. That four-ball plate appearance was only his 20th on the season. This is pretty remarkable when you consider he is the leadoff hitter for a highly potent offense. His high batting average and speed make him the dynamic fantasy player he is, and the White Sox couldn’t be more thrilled to get his back atop the lineup for the final stretch of regular-season baseball.

Brandon Crawford (SF): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

At 34 years, seven months, and 28 days old, only Alcides Escobar and Andrew Romine are players more senior than Crawford to man the shortstop position. However, Crawford is having a career year that is seeing new high-watermarks in HR, SB, and batting average. You might ask yourself, how valuable has he been? Well, in terms of WAR, he ranks fifth among all shortstops in the MLB.

Kolten Wong (MIL): 3-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI.

Even with three trips to the IL and a recent stop on the paternity list, Wong has been terrific for the Brewers. His .280 batting average comes with 12 HRs and nine stolen bases. He’s been the speedy-OBP type of player they needed to get their offense in gear. No matter how often Wong disappears, the Brewers continue sticking him in the leadoff spot, and his presence is much needed as the ball club makes a final push for the playoffs.

Khris Davis (OAK): 2-2, R, BB.

Yes, Khris Davis still plays in the MLB. After a release from Texas in June, Davis awaited interest from any team looking for an all-or-nothing power bat. On August 4th, he signed a minor-league deal with the Athletics’ minor league affiliate Las Vegas Aviators. Once the September rosters expanded, boom, Oakland calls the slugger back up. Since then, Davis hasn’t hit for power but is showcasing a useable .756 OPS over his last 26 at-bats.

Brent Rooker (MIN): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Rooker’s eight HRs on the season as lovely, but they come with a 32% K-rate that is draining his production. If he can’t fix the strike-out issue, his 13% barrel rate will be much less appealing, and he will be a very streaky hitter. Rooker is only 26, so there is still a window of improvement, but a ton of work lies ahead.

Joey Gallo (NYY): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

Gallo sent two shots over the outfield fences and brought his season total to 37. That makes 25 with the Rangers and 12 with the Yankees. Sure, he’s slumping in New York as his OPS is only a shade over .750 and the batting average is below the Mendoza Line. But this is what you get from a player that strikes out well over 30% all the time. Sit back, and enjoy the ride in New York.

Sam Hilliard (COL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.

The only combo meal of the night belonged to a Colorado outfielder. While I wish I could lament how well the season has been for Hilliard, that isn’t the case. His stat lines(.202/.280/.452 with 11 HR) look more like a middle-of-the-road catcher and not the speedy outfielder he is. There’s been massive trouble handling elevated fastballs, and until that issue is solved, well, his value is null.

Kurt Suzuki (LAA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

In his age-37 season, the career is near completion, but Suzuki went big last night. Frankly put, he is a backup catcher with backup catcher numbers. His .221/.285/.337 slash line least a less than desirable taste in your mouth. Additionally, the defense has fallen off as well. Enjoy him while he lasts; we likely won’t see much of Suzuki after 2021.

Keibert Ruiz (WSH): 3-5, 2B, R, RBI.

The three-hit performance is the second in as many nights for the highly-touted catching prospect. He’s had a rough go to start his MLB career with the Nationals, but recently showing all the hype is about. Small sample size argument aside, he’s 8-for-27 with a .737 OPS. If he can bring the OBP+power skills he showcased in the minors and handle an MLB pitching staff on most days of the week, you’ve got a future perennial top-10 catcher. Just be patient.

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dave Swan

Dave Swan is an avid Chicago Cubs fan that enjoys all aspects of fantasy baseball-especially DFS. He would trade his right arm for a GIF library of Greg Maddux pitches. Swan's baseball thoughts are available at @davithius.

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