Brandon Lowe (TB): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
A few months ago, I was a bit nervous about Brandon Lowe.
Over the first two months of the season, things weren’t going exactly as I (and many others) had anticipated. Lowe was hitting under the Mendoza line, with a surprisingly strong walk rate and power stroke, but a characteristically wicked strikeout rate over 31%. Then, he seemed to turn things on sometime in June:
Now, Lowe is a great example of why batting average is a terrible stat—even now, he’s hitting just .233 on the season. But his full slash line tells a different story: .233/.339/.496, good for a 131 wRC+ on the season. He clawed his way back up to around the top-five second basemen in the league. If you were able to stomach those first two months, he’s rewarded you greatly with 28 home runs, including a scintillating performance last night, going 3-4 with two home runs and three RBI.
Yes, he’s hitting .233 with a strikeout rate just shy of 30%—but with that comes everything else, including a 12% walk rate and nearly 30 home runs. He’s still struggling against southpaws and often gets dropped in the order there, but against righties, he’s put up a 155 wRC+ on the season and currently bats leadoff.
Last season was remarkable from Lowe, but despite a rough couple of months at the beginning of this season, he’s shown that 2020’s breakout was no fluke. He’s settled into a nice groove and could be the difference that could push your team to the finish line. As long as you didn’t give up on him back in May.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Connor Joe (COL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
It’s not much to go on, but in his 142 MLB PA this season, Joe is slashing .291/.359/.496 with seven home runs. He’s got a strikeout rate under 20% and a walk rate at nearly 10%. All seven home runs have come over the past 30 days, where he’s putting up a 153 wRC+. It’s hard to truly bet on a 29-year-old rookie but it’s hard to argue with the current results. If nothing else, he should continue to get playing time and you may as well ride the hot hand if you’re desperate for a fill-in—after all, he plays half of his games in Coors.
Bradley Zimmer (CLE): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
The former first-round pick has struggled in his limited MLB experience but appears to be settling in a bit this year. The 28-year-old has a 107 wRC+ on the year and perhaps more importantly has the second-most plate appearances of his career. Perhaps with regular at-bats, Zimmer will continue to improve. At the moment, though, even with a hot streak (slashing .294/.385/.618 over his last 10 games), I’d look at Zimmer as a 2022 option, at best.
Luis Robert (CWS): 3-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, SB.
Robert seems fully recovered, showing off that tantalizing power/speed combo with a home run and a stolen base against the A’s. He will probably continue to stumble from time to time, but the upside is sky-high. He could be a league-winner over the final months of the fantasy season.
Jonathan Villar (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Villar falls more on the speed end of the power/speed spectrum, but he can chip in the occasional long ball, as well. He’s up to 14 HR and 10 SB on the season, and while he’s in the lineup he can provide some fantasy value. Once Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez return, however, Villar is going to find it difficult to find playing time. He’s a fill-in, at best.
Kris Bryant (SF): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
As a recovering Cubs fan, it simultaneously kills me and fills me with joy to see KB have this success in San Francisco. Since joining the Giants, he’s slashing .304/.361/.554 with just an 11% strikeout rate. He’ll accrue even better counting stats in that formidable Giants’ lineup, and is making his case to be quite well-paid during the offseason.
Brandon Crawford (SF): 4-4, 3B, RBI.
The 34-year-old’s renaissance season continues. Since returning from injury at the end of July, Crawford is slashing .388/.403/.552. As I touched on back in June, it seems legit thanks to some swing adjustments last year. Crawford will be a great shortstop option for the rest of the season, but what I really want to know is where his ADP lands in 2022 drafts. I think he could end up being a steal in 2022.
Freddie Freeman (ATL): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
He’s not putting up a ridiculous 187 wRC+ like he did last year while winning the NL MVP, but after a slow start to the season Freeman has been reminding us why he’s one of the most consistent and reliable fantasy powerhouses out there. Since June 1st, Freeman is slashing .335/.416/.529 with 14 home runs. His walk rate is just a few ticks lower than his strikeout rate. At age 31, Freeman has continued to improve each year and shows absolutely zero signs of slowing down.
Aristides Aquino (CIN): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.
In full Brandon Lowe fashion, Aquino is hitting just over .200 with a brutal strikeout rate, but pairs it with clear power and a high walk rate. Unfortunately for Aquino, the Reds’ lineup is crowded and he hasn’t been able to get consistent playing time. Without a full-time job, he’s not worth rostering, and even if he gets one you’ll have to stomach a strikeout rate over 36%. He’ll get you some home runs, but at what cost?
Aledmys Díaz (HOU): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Díaz has been making his opportunity count while filling in for the injured Alex Bregman at third base. The 31-year-old has a hit in all but two of the 17 games since he re-entered the starting lineup and is slashing .347/.373/.583 during that stretch. It gets murky once Bregman returns, though, and while the Astros will likely try to get his bat in the lineup even once Bregman is back, his playing time is unlikely to be sufficient. If he keeps hitting like this, though, it’ll be hard for the Astros to keep him out of the lineup.
Nicky Lopez (KC): 1-3, 2 R, BB, 3 SB.
Lopez fits the “better in real life than fantasy” mold pretty well with a limited power stroke and a lot of emphasis placed on defense, but if he has too many more nights like this that might change. He’s slashing .270/.343/.340 on the season with fantastic plate discipline, but he doesn’t have enough power to produce for fantasy managers. He’s never been much of a threat along the basepaths, so I wouldn’t get too excited, but if he can add stolen bases to his repertoire, he’d become immediately fantasy-relevant.
Jonathan India (CIN): 3-6, 2B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
One of the top contenders for NL Rookie of the Year, India has been dominant from the leadoff spot for the Reds, solidifying his role as the everyday second baseman even with Mike Moustakas back. Since June 1st, India is slashing .310/.428/.540 with a 158 wRC+ and a high walk rate. He’ll continue to score a ton of runs for the Reds and has been one of the breakout fantasy stories of the year.
Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)