DJ Peters (TEX): 4-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
For those who are both in and out of their playoff races, there is still a very important task to do as the season winds down—scout! While September call-ups aren’t quite the expansion they used to be (teams can only call up two players this season), this is still the time of year where many younger or more overlooked players will get an expanded role, especially for teams who are clearly in rebuilding modes.
One of those teams is the Texas Rangers, and while they aren’t a particularly potent offense right now, they are an interesting offense to watch because rookie Adolis García is actually the oldest regular in the lineup at 28 years old!
Many young players in Texas that have flashed fantasy-relevant skills (Nick Solak, Nathaniel Lowe, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and even Leody Taveras), but none had their power more on display on Sunday more than DJ Peters, who went 4-5 with a double, two home runs, and four RBI. In fact, over his last 11 games, Peters is hitting .265 with six home runs and 21 combined runs and RBI, and yet he remains available in 99% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
The free-swinging 6’6 outfielder’s massive raw power and surprising speed for a man of his size make him worth a look for anyone in need of power or back-end outfielder in the season’s final month. The schedule for the Rangers isn’t quite ideal over the next few series, but few players are as widely available and potentially as impactful as the hard-hitting Peters.
Sure, Peters comes with warts—like Lowe and García, he strikes out far too much, and unlike those two hitters, he walks far too little. That’s a legitimate problem and will likely suppress his 2022 value come draft day. That said, it may not really be our problem right now—he’s improved that rate slightly over the last two weeks to keep it under 30%, and more importantly, there is less than one month left in the regular season and we have to be a little less discriminating when we find ourselves in need of a certain stat (like home runs).
Peters will bat in the middle of the order for Texas every time he starts, and he sure as heck isn’t trying to hit a single, so he becomes a very useful power source at a time where some top players may start getting more rest days as the playoffs approach.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 4-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB.
Reynolds continues to plug away as a high-quality fantasy outfielder. He’s on pace for a 25 home run, 85 runs scored, 90 RBI season with .300 batting average, an OBP well north of .375, and a slugging percentage over .500. In midseason drafts, Reynolds went as a top-50 outfielder and inside the top-200 picks, but there’s no way he goes that late after continuing to perform at such a high level. He’s currently performing as a top-15 outfielder, and I’d expect him to be drafted within the top 25 at the position next season.
Matt Duffy (CHC): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, SB.
As I mentioned a few times, the Cubs had a really soft schedule last week and several players took advantage, including Duffy who hit .400/.455/.700 with five runs scored, six RBI, and a stolen base in five games. While the Cubs will be at home all week, they’ll draw some tougher assignments with Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, Kevin Gausman, and Logan Webb all as projected starters, so I’m likely tossing a lot of the Cubs streamers back on the wire for more favorable matchups…
Frank Schwindel (CHC): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
But I’ll be holding Schwindel. This was his third three-hit game in a row, and he now has six home runs in his last seven games. In fact, in the 22 games since becoming the primary table-setter for the Cubbies, he’s hitting .372/.426/.733 with eight home runs and 40 combined runs and RBI, thanks in large part to the 10 multi-hit games in that span. While several soft matchups have likely played a role, there’s just no reason he should still be available in over 60% of ESPN leagues and over 50% of Yahoo leagues.
Pablo Reyes (MIL): 2-2, HR, R, RBI, BB.
I’m embarrassed to admit that despite Reyes having over 294 major league plate appearances across 133 games, I cannot recall ever hearing his name before. Reyes hasn’t shown much in his time in the big leagues, hitting just .235/.303/.366, but he saw some extra playing time last week for the Brewers with Eduardo Escobar, Kolten Wong, and Willy Adames all being on the IL recently (though Escobar has returned), and strung together hits in his last three appearances. He’s likely a platoon bat right now with Jace Peterson, though, and the 28-year-old utility man doesn’t have relevance in any but the very deepest of NL-only formats.
Nicky Lopez (KC): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, SB.
I lamented this on Friday’s Friends with Fantasy Benefits podcast as well, but after stealing 10 bases in 14 games against several teams who do well to limit runners (like the Astros and Cardinals), Lopez faced multiple games against the White Sox and Mariners, who are currently first and fourth (respectively) in allowing stolen bases. Against the Mariners, Lopez got on base three times in each of the four games but attempted zero stolen bases. In three games against the White Sox, he got on base five more times but attempted exactly one stolen base (which was successful). He still played every day and he still hit second. So why did this happen? Because baseball is cruel.
For what it’s worth, Lopez’s next seven games are against the Orioles and Twins, and neither of those teams are especially adept at stopping base stealers or keeping runners off the bases. You have to keep starting Lopez in just about every format.
Tyler O’Neill (STL): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
O’Neill continues to hit in the best parts of the St. Louis lineup, and was recently moved into the coveted three-hole late last month. He has a home run and multiple RBI in two of his last three games, and while he still strikes out in over 30% of his plate appearances, he’s been able to keep his batting average at a healthy .276. If he gets hot, he could approach 30 home runs on the season, though he’s more likely to finish somewhere just past 25, which is more than enough to remain in the top-30 outfielders for 2021.
Abraham Toro (SEA): 2-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
Make it back-to-back multi-hit games for the former Astro, who continues to surprise and impress as a key cog for the Mariners. Toro will face his former team for three games to start the week before seeing the Diamondbacks and Red Sox, so while he may get a few more hits, it may be difficult for him to steal any bases. He’ll get three games against the Royals after that, then finish with two series against the Athletics and Angels. I wouldn’t read too much into the following stat, but in 83 plate appearances against the Athletics and Angels, he’s hit just .208/.253/.299 (though he’s been slightly better in 20 plate appearances in 2021, hitting .300/.300/.350).
Jo Adell (LAA): 3-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
The full season stats still don’t impress, but Adell has been vastly improved at the plate in his last 12 games, striking out just 15.2% of the time with a .326 batting average and a .904 OPS. This week’s schedule is far from favorable for the former top prospect, but a strong showing would go a long way towards restoring Adell’s future value.
Kevin Pillar (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.
Combo meal gets you in the article, and it’s worth noting that he’s been playing almost every day for the last week or so. While he’s only hitting .224 with a .265 OBP this season, he’s somehow managed to hit 14 home runs and swipe four bases in limited work, which would look something like 23-25 home runs and close to 10 stolen bases in a full season. Pillar has a player option for 2022, so if he decides to leave and somehow finds a full-time role, he could be fantasy relevant in five outfield formats next year.
Javier Báez (NYM): 4-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, SB.
He’s unlikely to ever go back to the .280 hitter he was in his prime, but Báez still has enough bat speed and raw power to finish the season with something along the lines of 33 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and a .250 batting average. Argue about the methods all you want—he swings at everything and often looks awful doing it—but you can’t really argue with the results. His free agency will be intriguing to watch, and I’m sure someone will pay him to be a major part of their offense in 2022. While his lineup context and home park may matter a little (it would be great to see him somewhere with a very clean batter’s eye, like Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, or even another season with the Mets), all that really matters for Javy is playing time.
Nick Gordon (MIN): 3-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Gordon, who is the half-brother of speedster Dee Strange-Gordon, has seen time all over the diamond for the Twins in 2021, making appearances at second, short, third, center, and left. Nick isn’t nearly as speedy as Dee, and while he does bring a little more with the bat, it’s not enough to make him fantasy relevant.
Bo Bichette (TOR): 4-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI.
He’s exactly four steals and four home runs from a 25-25 season, and through 916 plate appearances in the major leagues, he’s sporting a healthy .298 batting average. The FanGraphs Auction Calculator has him as the second-best shortstop in fantasy (behind Tatis and ahead of Trea Turner), and he’ll be drafted in the first 15 picks of 2022 drafts.
Alejandro Kirk (TOR): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
In 91 plate appearances since being called up after the All-Star Break, Kirk is hitting .300 with a .463 slugging and has now worked his way into the sixth spot in the lineup and nearly every day work as a catcher and DH. The 22-year-old backstop makes a ton of contact and should get plenty of chances to drive in runners this week, especially when Toronto travels to Baltimore for a four-game series this weekend.
Gary Sánchez (NYY): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.
The ups and downs of this guy really can wear you down. After 20 straight appearances without a home run between July 21 and August 30 where he hit .188/.263/.261, Sánchez now has three home runs in his last three starts. I can’t really recommend him for his series against the Blue Jays coming up (except for maybe the Steven Matz start), and the series against the Mets isn’t much better (projected starters are Megill, Walker, and Carrasco). If you wanted to cut him for someone else in a one-catcher league, I wouldn’t stop you. In fact, if both Gary and Alejandro Kirk were available, I’d urge you to take Kirk.
Franmil Reyes (CLE): 4-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
In his last 16 games, Reyes is hitting .304 with six home runs and 16 RBI. We’ll have to wait another year for him to finally eclipse the 40 home run mark that he’s more than strong enough to clear, but he should still get to 30 despite the fact that he likely won’t have more than 115 games on the season. If there’s one thing to keep your eye on, it’s that Reyes is just three outfield starts from gaining eligibility there in Yahoo formats next season. He was drafted outside the top-150 in NFBC formats coming into 2021, and he should be available even later in 2022, making him a player I am likely to target later in drafts.
J.D. Martinez (BOS): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
His slugging is down over 100 points in the second half compared to the first half, and the batting average and OBP are also alarmingly low for a player of his caliber. While I haven’t figured out the entire issue, I did find this, and while it’s alarming, it suggests it is something JD can fix on his own:
Cedric Mullins (BAL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Having now cleared the 25-25 mark on the season, Mullins appears well on his way to reaching 30 home runs and 30 steals. His .305 batting average is what really ices the cake on the power-speed combination he brings, and if the season ended today, he’d finish as a top-three fantasy outfielder. Even if he falls short of the 30-30 season, he should be drafted as a top-20 (and probably even top-15) outfielder next season.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)