Carlos Santana (SEA): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Seeing Carlos Santana jump out of yesterday’s box scores with his 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI showing in the Mariners’ 9-1 drubbing of the Angels made me look at the calendar. What year is it?
If you’re wondering and don’t have a calendar nearby, it’s 2022 and Santana is 35 years old. He’s well past his peak performance seasons when he constantly impressed with his walk-to-strikeout ratio while flashing good power, but even past his prime, Santana’s still contributing as a middle-of-the-order bat for a team that looks to be playoff bound.
Yesterday, the slugging switch hitter homered from both sides of the plate. Santana took José Suarez deep from the right side for a fourth-inning grand slam before turning around and hitting a solo shot from the left side against Mike Mayers in the ninth.
A late-June trade sent Santana from the floundering Royals to the contending Mariners — a move I’m sure he was quite happy with. Interestingly enough, Santana’s stats from his stints in Kansas City and Seattle are nearly identical. In 212 plate appearances as a Royal, Santana posted a 101 wRC+ and a .314 wOBA. As a Mariner, those numbers are 101 and .302, respectively. What’s even more interesting is that he’s gotten to those results in very different ways.
It looks like since he’s arrived in the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners’ staff has been coaching him to ditch his trademarked elite plate discipline skill in order to focus more on sending balls over the outfield walls. The highlighted numbers are incredibly distinct for Santana, as that 19% strikeout rate would be the highest single-season rate he’s posted since his first full big league campaign back in 2011. The 12.1% walk rate over a full season would be his lowest ever.
No matter what approach Santana chooses, it’s remarkable that wRC+ tells us that they both come out to creating runs just a few percentage points better than a league-average hitter. Seattle’s seemingly found it to be more valuable having him swing for the fences.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Amed Rosario (CLE): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB, 2 SB.
The Guardians wrapped up their five-game series against the Twins yesterday with an 11-4 victory, pushing them to a nearly insurmountable seven-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central standings. Rosario played a big role in yesterday’s win; his sixth-inning three-run homer broke the game open, pushing the Guardians’ lead to 7-3 at the time. He didn’t stop with the long ball, as he added two stolen bases to complete his third combo meal of the season. In 614 plate appearances, Rosario’s up to 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases to go along with a career-best strikeout rate (16.8%) and wRC+ (104). Rosario and the Guardians open a three-game set against the White Sox on Tuesday, a series that will likely go a long way in determining who claims the AL Central crown.
Ty France (SEA): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
France got in on the Mariners’ blowout win yesterday. Seattle’s first baseman got the better of a Zack Weiss slider, pulling it 408 feet over the left-centerfield wall. The seventh-inning blast was a milestone one for France: his 20th home run of the year, a number he’d never reached in previous years. France’s season slash line is now up to .272/.336/.442 to go along with 20 home runs and 77 RBI. It’s just another solid season for the 28-year-old, and surprisingly, his 127 wRC+ is actually the lowest he’s had in any of the past three years.
Jon Berti (MIA): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB.
A late-September matchup between the Marlins and Cubs probably wasn’t a game many had circled on their schedules, but Berti provided some fireworks for the loyal fans who tuned in. The fleet-footed utilityman not only stole two more bases pushing his league-leading total up to 36, but he also hit his fourth home run of the year. Berti has four stolen bases in his last six games, so if a few extra stolen bases could win you your fantasy championship, Berti’s available in 49% of Yahoo! and 79% of ESPN leagues.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Naylor collected two extra-base hits last night, pushing his new career high in both doubles and home runs to 24 and 18, respectively. In his fourth year at the big league level, Naylor’s finally found his groove. This marks the first campaign he’s eclipsed more than 300 plate appearances, and he’s rewarded the Guardians for plugging him into the lineup often with a career-best slash line of .256/.316/.447 which spits out a 114 wRC+. Naylor’s power surge is in large part due to modest increases in all three of his flyball (32.7%), pull (44.2%), and barrel (8%) rates.
Pete Alonso (NYM): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
It was a banner day for Alonso and the Mets. Alonso launched a 437-foot no doubter for home run number 36 of the year against reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, and the Mets went on to win 7-2 punching their ticket to the postseason. Alonso’s been his typical elite self at the plate this year. He’s slashing .267/.346/.507 and his 118 RBI leads the National League. He ordered a combo meal yesterday, swiping a bag in the eighth inning for his fifth of the campaign. Those five swipes are the cherry on top of an incredibly productive season for Alonso’s fantasy managers.
Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Since being recalled to the Marlins when rosters expanded in September, Cruz has been on a tear — he has hits in eight of the ten games he’s started, including three home runs and 12 RBI. If your fantasy team needs outfield help, you could take a gamble on Cruz and try to ride out this hot streak, but it’s hard to trust a player with a .636 OPS on the year who hits in the bottom half of one of the league’s worst lineups. He’s available in over 99% of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, so roll the dice if you’re feeling lucky.
Michael Toglia (COL): 3-4, 2 3B, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Toglia posted the very rare two-triple batting line yesterday, notching both against Jakob Junis in the second and third inning of yesterday’s game. The Rockies’ big swinging 2019 first-round pick is hitting .226/.284/.484 through his first 69 plate appearances. He’s not a bad option as one of the last players on your fantasy roster over the final two weeks, especially when he’s playing in Colorado.
Spencer Torkelson (DET): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 R, BB.
If you were told before the season that 2022 would be a year full of incredible rookie performances, you would’ve surely assumed that Torkelson was one of them. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to live up to the prospect hype. A .197/.282/.295 line and a 25.5% strikeout rate over his first 298 career plate appearances resulted in a demotion for the former top prospect in mid-July. Torkelson was called back up when rosters expanded in September and has been much better, hitting .280/.379/.460 with a 15.1% strikeout rate. Those improved numbers have come over a very small 50-plate-appearance sample, but the strong finish will certainly boost Torkelson’s draft stock heading into the 2023 season.
Jose Altuve (HOU): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Altuve led off yesterday’s game with a 410-foot home run on a middle-middle fastball from Drew Rasmussen, and the Astros never looked back. They went on to win 4-0, clinching their fifth AL West title in the past six seasons. Altuve’s been a vital part of the Astros’ current run of success, and it’s no different this year. Yesterday’s home run was his 25th of the year and he’s also shown a resurgence on the basepaths – his 18 steals are the most he’s had since 2017.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
There haven’t been a lot of bright spots in Wrigleyville this year, but Morel has definitely been one of them. The 23-year-old super utilityman rocked an Edward Cabrera fastball 409 feet over the left-centerfield wall in Miami yesterday for his 14th home run of the season. Since being called up from Double-A Tennessee back in May, Morel’s .237/.309/.428 slash line has Cubs fans excited for how he could further develop in 2023 and beyond.
Joey Meneses (WSH): 4-4, SB.
Meneses’s storybook season continued last night as he collected four singles – all hard hit – in the Nationals’ 5-2 loss to the Braves. The four-hit day raised Meneses’ batting line to .325/.356/.548. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it’s hard not to view Meneses as this year’s Frank Schwindel. I’d love nothing more than to see his success continue, but not reaching the majors until he’s 30, a .378 BABIP, and a minuscule 4.5% walk rate has me concerned that even if he breaks camp next spring with the Nationals, he won’t be able to live up to the expectations he’s set in the second half.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)