Amed Rosario (CLE): 4-8, HR, R, 4 RBI.
The Guardians, White Sox, and Twins are in a dogfight for the AL Central crown. On Saturday, Cleveland did their part to distance itself from Chicago and Minnesota in the division.
The Guardians swept Saturday’s day-night doubleheader against the Twins at Progressive Field, with a playoff-charged crowd in attendance for both games. In addition, Amed Rosario had a big part in both Cleveland wins.
In the Guardians’ 5-1 win in Game One on Saturday, Rosario collected four hits and two RBI, which was just enough, thanks to Shane Bieber’s stellar eight-inning performance.
In Game Two, Cleveland won 7-6 in a 15-inning barnburner (it was the last game to finish on Saturday). Rosario not only had four hits again in the evening contest, but he also drove in four RBI, hit a home run, and batted in the winning run in the bottom of the 15th (thanks to a fielding error by Minnesota’s Jermaine Palacios).
Rosario is ready for playoff baseball in Cleveland, even if his production has been a little up and down fantasy-wise this season.
The 26-year-old utility player is hitting .284 for the year, but his OPS is only .719 for the year. He has whiffed less in 2022, as his 16.9% K rate is down 3.5 percentage points from a season ago. However, his walk rate is down 1.4 points, and his chase rate ranks in the bottom 5th percentile, according to Savant. That is a big reason why his OBP is only .315 for the year.
What made Rosario such an interesting prospect when he was in the Mets system was his power-speed potential. Based on Savant’s percentile rankings, Rosario ranks in the 72nd percentile in max exit velocity and 96th percentile in sprint speed.
And yet, Rosario has only hit 10 home runs and stolen 14 bases this year. In deep leagues, that kind of production would certainly be valued. In standard mixed leagues though, those home run and stolen base numbers were underwhelming, if not disappointing, especially considering his raw tools and potential.
That being said, Rosario seems to be locked in at the plate and seems to rise to the occasion, especially in big games like today which pretty much sank the Twins’ playoff hopes.
Will Rosario continue to step up at the plate and help carry the Guardians to an upset in the postseason? Will a strong postseason help him build momentum for a strong 20 HR-20 SB campaign in 2023?
For the most part, Rosario has always been more “hype” than “production” on the fantasy end, especially over the past couple of seasons in Cleveland.
But who knows … maybe the next couple of months could help Rosario tap into that long-awaited potential in 2023.
Which in turn could make him a valuable sleeper in next year’s fantasy drafts.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Seth Brown (OAK): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
The A’s earned a surprising win over the Astros on Saturday night, as they knocked around José Urquidy for six runs on seven hits. Brown had two hits on Saturday, which included a three-run home run in the 5th inning, which gave Oakland the lead. Brown hasn’t hit for a high average this year (.233). However, he has collected 23 home runs and 62 RBI, not bad for a middle-of-the-order bat on a rebuilding team. It will be interesting to see if Brown will see some suitors from more competitive teams this offseason, which could boost his fantasy value in 2023.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Atlanta won 4-3 over the Phillies, with Acuña producing all four of their runs. It’s been a bit of a regression year for Acuña on the power end. He has only produced 13 home runs in 104 games, which is down from the 24 he hit in 82 games in 2021. However, Acuña still ranks in the 89th percentile in barrel rate and 96th percentile in hard-hit rate, so the raw power is still there. Furthermore, he has stolen 28 bags this year, which is 11 more than a year ago. It’s possible that the home-run power could return in 2023, which should make him a borderline Top-10 fantasy player once again.
Eduardo Escobar (NYM): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
It will be a photo finish in the NL East, as only one game separates New York and Atlanta in the division. Escobar did his part to help the Mets stay on the right track, as he collected two hits and drove in three in their 5-1 win over the Pirates. The 33-year-old was a key acquisition for the Mets last offseason, but he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. He is only producing a .726 OPS, which is 60 points lower than a year ago. Escobar does have 18 home runs, which is nice, but the days of him being a fantasy mainstay may be coming to an end after this season.
MJ Melendez (KC): 3-5, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, SB.
Melendez may not have a set position in the field (he’s rotated between catcher and the outfield), but he’s been solidified at the top of the Royals lineup. Then again, Melendez is producing a 12.7 percent walk rate, which places him in the 94th percentile in that category. So it makes sense why manager Mike Matheny would pencil him in in the leadoff, despite him primarily playing catcher. On Saturday though, Melendez showed he could do more than just walk, as he collected three hits, scored four runs, and stole his second base of the year. In fact, he became the first Royals catcher in franchise history to score four runs in a game, which is pretty incredible considering Salvador Perez is still on this roster.
Willy Adames (MIL): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
The Brewers are barely hanging on in the playoff race, as they are 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot. On Saturday, they earned a big 4-1 win over the Yankees in Milwaukee, with Adames leading the way with a big three-run home run off of Jameson Taillon. Adames has been a huge producer for the Brewers, as he has collected 30 home runs and 92 RBI this year in 544 plate appearances. Brewers fans are hoping that he has a little bit left in him to help power Milwaukee past San Diego in the Wild Card race.
Yadier Molina (STL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
All eyes were on Albert Pujols and his chase for 700. But it was Molina who stole the show, as he hit his 176th career home run. It hasn’t quite been the final year that Molina wanted, as he is only hitting .220 with a .556 OPS in 252 plate appearances. That said, he is posting a .982 OPS in the month of September, and the Cardinals would certainly welcome his best baseball come playoff time.
Rodolfo Castro (PIT): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.
Castro had an underwhelming debut in 2021, as he hit .198 with a .653 OPS in 31 games. This year has been a much better one for the 23-year-old. He is not only hitting .244 with a .761 OPS in 54 games but also has 10 home runs and five stolen bases to boot. Castro’s teammate Oneil Cruz may be the one gaining all the dynasty and keeper league buzz due to his mammoth home runs. That said, fantasy managers shouldn’t be sleeping on Castro either this offseason. He could be the more productive fantasy player in 2023 (with more position flexibility as well).
Luis Campusano (SD): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.
The Padres recently called up Campusano for their playoff push, and so far, he’s producing a .241 average and .637 OPS in 11 games. He absolutely tore it up in Triple-A El Paso for the past two years. He hit .295 with 15 home runs in 81 games last year and has produced a similar line in the same number of games this year, prior to his call-up (.298 average; 14 home runs). Austin Nola is still the main man behind the dish in San Diego, but Campusano could make his case for a more regular role at the big league level in 2023, especially if he can help the Padres clinch a playoff spot.
Justin Turner (LAD): 3-4, R, 2 RBI, BB.
The Dodgers took care of the rival Giants in San Francisco, winning their 100th game of the season. Turner collected three hits and two RBI and is now hitting .283 with a .811 OPS for the year which also includes 13 home runs and 80 RBI. Turner has been on fire since the All-Star break, as he is hitting .350 with a .999 OPS and has five home runs in only 141 plate appearances. The Dodgers were already a dangerous team heading into the postseason. But seeing another Turner heating up? That only spells bad news for the National League in October.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)