Grandal Opry

Dylan Burris breaks down yesterday's best offensive performances.

Yasmani Grandal (CWS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

What a weird season it’s been for Yasmani Grandal. When he went down with a knee injury in early July, he owned a .188/.388/.436 slash line. While that AVG would make many balk, we know that OBP and SLG provide a much more enlightening story. Despite hitting below the Mendoza line, Grandal had an impressive 132 wRC+. He then missed most of July and August rehabbing from surgery.

Fast forward to last night, where Grandal went 2-4 with a double and a homer, with two runs scored and, of course, a walk. He took the Internet whiners to heart and has raised his season-long batting average to .245 thanks to an astounding .369/.500/.750 slash line since returning to action a month ago. I mean come on, the man’s a catcher hitting cleanup for one of the most explosive lineups in baseball.

All that said, I have a few reservations. Primarily that Grandal has never produced a wRC+ higher than 125 (aside from his rookie season) and is currently sitting at 163 with less than a week to go in the regular season. It’s never bad to be cautious when a 32-year-old has a breakout season like this. But really he’s just doing what he’s been doing for the past ten years, just, well, better. In particular, he’s walking 23% of the time — a rate that’s better than Juan freaking Soto when he’s never eclipsed an 18% walk rate previously. So how sustainable is that, really?

In truth, I don’t know. But I do know that plate discipline has always been a strength for Grandal, so it’s not wholly out of left field. Maybe if he had a full season’s worth of plate appearances, he would start to regress to a more reasonable walk rate, but it’s possible he’s just locked in and peaking at a perfect time for the high-flying AL Central champions. He’s just not swinging a lot, and maybe with pitchers’ wild control these days that’s not such a bad idea. What’s more is that he’s making it count when he does swing, ranking in the league’s elite in HardHit% and Barrel%.

So where does he rank heading into 2022? In terms of catchers, Grandal is by far the most productive offensively, nearly 20 full points higher in wRC+ than the next-best catcher. Admittedly, he missed a solid chunk of the season and has only played in 88 games, so again we should display caution when we evaluate the season as a whole. But looking at next year, that White Sox lineup isn’t going anywhere. If Grandal can stay healthy, he’s got as good a shot as anyone to be the best fantasy catcher in the game, especially in OBP leagues. I won’t pretend to have all the answers with Grandal, but I’m pretty confident he’s going to rack up the counting stats next year.

 Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Ryan McMahon (COL): 1-4, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, SB.

The stolen base is a nice bonus, but after now three seasons of pretty much everyday playing time, McMahon still hasn’t posted a wRC+ above 100 despite playing half of his games in Coors. He is by no means bad, but a relatively underwhelming fantasy player. With his infield positional eligibility, he’s a solid utility bat to plug in, particularly for home games.

Jonathan Schoop (DET): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Speaking of utility infielders, Schoop is the perfect case for unexciting but reliable play. He’s pretty much a lock for at least 20 homers while not killing you in batting average, though his walk rate leaves a bit to be desired. In Detroit, he’s been a lock for batting in the heart of the order (primarily in the #2 spot) which boosts his value further. He won’t wow you, but Schoop can provide great value.

Ty France (SEA): 4-4, 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.

France has been on a mission to prove last year’s success was no fluke, and he’s done it quite well. He’s cut down his strikeout rate while maintaining a high batting average (case in point: last night’s 5-5 on-base performance). It’s looking like he’ll fall just shy of a 20-HR season, but he’s been perfectly productive for our third straight utility infielder. All three have their arguments, but if you need AVG, France can be a great option, especially as that Mariners lineup continues to improve.

Mitch Haniger (SEA): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.

Speaking of the Mariners lineup, Mitch Haniger is just three homers away from hitting the 40 mark. Granted, he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to get there, but it’s been a massively productive season for the outfielder. With a 119 wRC+, over 100 runs scored and nearly 100 RBI to match, Haniger has been an important source of production for the Mariners and could be primed for a big 2022.

Bradley Zimmer (CLE): 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI.

Look, it hasn’t been the best season for Zimmer, who has posted a strikeout rate over 35% and a sub-100 wRC+. There’s some potential there with 13 SB on the season, but at 28 years old this has been his best season so far, so I’m not exactly holding my breath. What he did do was homer off his older brother (Kyle Zimmer), which, as a younger brother myself, absolutely rules.

Myles Straw (CLE): 2-5, 2B, 2 R.

Now here is a Cleveland outfielder I can get behind. Straw will likely fall just short of the 30 SB mark but shows off everything except power (he’s currently got a higher OBP than SLG). Now with a full season under his belt, I’m interested in targeting Straw in drafts next season.

Amed Rosario (CLE): 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Rosario has provided a nice average in his first season in Cleveland, but not a whole lot else. He’s at 11 HR and 12 SB on the season, but with a walk rate under 5% and a strikeout rate over 20%, it’s not really worth it. He plays every day, though, so that’s something.

Eloy Jiménez (CWS): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Jiménez hit the ground running upon his season debut in late July, but has cooled off considerably since then. In September, he’s slashing just .221/.286/.351 with only two home runs. It might result in a bit of a discount heading into drafts next year (depending on how the postseason goes), but with his absurd power ceiling, it also might not. The slumps may be rough, but the hot streaks will more than make up for them in the long run.

Eugenio Suárez (CIN): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Entering the month of September, Suárez was slashing a paltry .169/.255/.363 with a strikeout rate north of 30% through nearly 500 PA. Since September 1st, Suárez is slashing .375/.463/.804 with a 219 wRC+ and six homers, bringing him one shy of a 30-HR season. Still, one month of exceptional production doesn’t bring him above the Mendoza line on the season and his strikeout problems aren’t getting better. The home runs will be there, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get much else with it.

Joey Votto (CIN): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

What is there to say about Votto that hasn’t already been said? After a rough 2019 season and an underwhelming 2020, Votto has exploded back onto the scene in 2021. The 38-year-old is hovering right around his career high in home runs, though it comes with the highest strikeout rate of his long career. The “swing-for-the-fences” approach has been working, but as soon as it stops he’s likely to fall off pretty quickly. Will that happen next year? Maybe, but at this point I’m not betting against him.

Jonathan India (CIN): 4-5, 2B, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, SB.

After a slow start, India is putting the finishing touches on a persuasive RoY campaign. Since June 1 — right around the time he was moved to leadoff — he has slashed .286/.395/.504 with 18 HR, 10 SB, and over a 12% walk rate. He’s a five-category contributor but has particularly excelled as a source of run production, which is likely to continue next year as long as he remains in the leadoff position.

Featured image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

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