It is jarring, as we approach the end of the 2020 regular season, to see just how volatile the ratios statistics continue to be. When I prepare the Batter’s Box, a big night at the plate often boosts a hitter’s ratios by 20-40 points. We don’t see that in the final 10 games of a full season, and it shows just how important a hot day, series, or week can be to fantasy fortunes.
Jean Segura went 4-for-4 last night with a home run, a double, two runs, and an RBI. Entering the game, he was slashing .248/.331/.386 and had a .312 wOBA and a 92 wRC+. His performance yesterday drove his ratios up to .268/.347/.427 and boosted him to a .333 wOBA and a 106 wRC+. One game made his stat line go from poor to respectable. If he continues to hit in the coming days, that can go from respectable to impressive. If he has a hot run to end the season, he is jumping up draft boards in 2021.
David Peralta was hitting .286/.330/.411 entering yesterday’s game against the Angels, but his 3-for-4 game with a home run, three runs, and two RBI jumped him to a .296/.339/.436 line and put him from a 98 to a 106 wRC+. Peralta hasn’t hit for the power fantasy managers had hoped for, but the season is far from over. It wouldn’t be a stretch if he, or any player, went 16-for-40 with six home runs in their team’s final ten games. That would jump him to a .288 average with 10 home runs and would completely change our evaluation of his season.
We have seen players get scorching hot. JD Martinez hit 29 home runs in 62 games when he was traded to Arizona in 2017. Even Martinez could salvage his 2020 season if he has a great final week. He homered and singled on Wednesday, but his 2020 season has been a career outlier, mustering just a .208/.289/.375 slash line and five home runs. A hot end to the season (as described above) would move him to a .222 average, and 11 home runs would still be the worst of his career but would look much better for fantasy managers.
Before that time, these players were hitting:
Fantasy managers were warned about small samples and expected championships to be won thanks to hot players. Quick action to add players who were hitting well has been the key to success in a shortened season.
It isn’t too late to jump wildly in your league standings. In a redraft league, any player can be benched or dropped if they aren’t hitting and players we didn’t expect to play can be thrown into the active lineup. The volatility of the fantasy standings mirrors the volatility of the daily production in this shortened season.
Here are some of Wednesday’s top hitting performances:
Kyle Higashioka (C, New York Yankees)—3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI. Higashioka exploded for 1,211 feet of home runs last night with his three bombs. Sharing time with Erik Kratz as Gary Sánchez’s backup hasn’t provided Higashioka with many opportunities, but he certainly took advantage yesterday. In 36 plate appearance on the season, he has a .250 average with four homers. Don’t expect Higashioka to push Sánchez for playing time, but he could steal some games from Erik Kratz.
Jared Walsh (1B, Los Angeles Angels)—2-5, HR, 2 R, RBI. Daniel Port featured Jared Walsh on Sunday’s Batter’s Box, and he hasn’t slowed down at all since. This is what a league-winning hot stretch from a player looks like. Port was worried about the small sample, but Walsh continues to hit. Since September 6th, Walsh has gone 16 for 37 (.471) with six home runs, to the tune of a 1.604 OPS.
Brandon Lowe (2B, Tampa Bay Rays)—3-4, HR, 2B, R, RBI, BB. On a platoon-heavy team, Brandon Lowe has played in 45 of the Rays’ 49 games. With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Lowe popped a solo shot to tie the game (the Rays would go on to lose the game in the 10th). The home run was his 13th of the season and he has 31 runs and 31 RBI to go along with three stolen bases. Remember these numbers when 2021 drafts come along because most managers will forget Lowe’s production and he can be rostered around pick 200.
Jake Lamb (3B, Oakland Athletics)—2-4, RBI. While it wasn’t a robust game yesterday for Lamb, he has been good since signing in Oakland. Matt Chapman’s season-ending injury has opened up playing time for Lamb and Lamb is seizing the opportunity after getting DFA’d by the Diamondbacks. He has gone 5-for-12 with two doubles and a home run as an Athletic but his numbers in Arizona certainly warranted being cut (.116/.240/.140 in 18 games).
Mookie Betts (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-5, R, 3 SB. Betts has been incredible for the Dodgers to the tune of a .306/.381/.597 line, and his 37 runs are right in line with what we would have expected from the lead-off hitter for the powerhouse Dodgers. What is unusual about Betts as a leadoff hitter is that we might have expected a drop in RBI, but Betts has 35 on the season. That, actually, puts him at a higher pace than the 80 RBI he had in 2019. That is a testament to the strength of the Dodger’s lineup and will be the main selling point in 2021 fantasy drafts. Combine that with the stolen bases (three on Wednesday, nine on the season), and you have a first-overall contender.
Will Smith (C, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI. A spot as the number-five batter in the potent Dodgers’ lineup is a nice place to be, especially if you are a catcher. Smith has been excellent in his 29 games this season slashing .309/.427/.607 and making a case as one of the top catchers in 2021 drafts. With the small-sample-size caveat, Smith has bumped his BB% up from 9.2% to 18.2%, and his K% has plummeted from 25.5% to 13.1%. Even if both level-off to something in the middle, Smith should be an excellent contributor in fantasy next season.
JD Davis (DH/3B/OF, New York Mets)—3-4, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. All of Davis’ hits yesterday were to the opposite field and his spray chart on the season is spread evenly throughout the ballpark. He has dropped his Pull% from 38.4% to 29.2% and upped both his Cent% (37.8% to 43.3%) and his Oppo% (23.8% to 27.5%). This is usually a good thing, but it comes with a drop in Hard-Hit% from 41.3% to 35.8% and has seen him drop the Statcast leaderboards to 98th in Brls/PA, 80th in Max EV, and 85th in Average EV. These were all in the top 41 last season.
Jorge Alfaro (C, Miami Marlins)—2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. Alfaro missed the first half of the season recovering from COVID-19, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he struggled to find his timing. He hit an abysmal .152 in his first 15 games but has come around nicely in his last 8 games, slashing .333/.360/.458. Check your free agent pool to see if Alfaro was dropped because he could be a nice addition for the stretch run, especially if you’ve lost JT Realmuto or have a poor performance from your backstop.
Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees)—2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Clint Frazier has been excellent this season when he was given a chance to play regularly. He has a .303/.421/.596 triple slash in his 121 plate appearances (30 games) and has been one of the team’s steadying forces this season. It will be hard to not get him into the lineup even when the team returns to full strength.
Salvador Pérez (C, Kansas City Royal)—2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB. Pérez hasn’t shown any inability to see the ball despite missing time with a vision problem. Since returning to the Royals on September 11 (after just under a month of missed time), he has gone 10-for-21 and has multi-hit games in each of his last five games. Getting Pérez back and hitting this well for the final 10 days of the fantasy season will make a big difference to the lucky managers who have him rostered.
DJ LeMahieu (2B, New York Yankees)—3-4, 2 HR, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB. LeMahieu now has a .373 average, nine home runs, 35 runs, and 22 RBI in just 164 plate appearances. He was built for Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch, hitting both of his home runs yesterday into the right-field seats.
Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-3, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI. Health is a big concern with Braun as he approaches the end of his career. He has remained on the roster but does not play regularly, often getting rest days or pinch-hitting opportunities. He has just 107 plate appearances but does have six home runs on the season. Last night’s bomb was the 350th of his career.
Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, San Diego Padres)—2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI. Many will be surprised, at the end of the season, to see that Profar has put up some very good numbers. He has a .270/.343/.434 slash line with seven home runs, 50 runs+RBI, and five stolen bases in his 48 games this season. He may not be the superstar that he was expected to be, but 2020 will be the best of his career so far. It is this kind of steady performance from an infielder-outfielder that can be helpful at the end of a fantasy roster.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants)—3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI. Crawford will always be a desperation pick late in deep leagues. We know that he will play every day because of his defense, but he has a respectable .281/.349/.459 line this year, with 40 runs+RBI. He has dropped his Soft-hit% down from 17.8% to 12.8% and is pulling the ball much more, from 38.8% in 2019 to 49% this season. He isn’t going to be a glamorous fantasy player, but it might make him an option in a deep league, especially if players miss time in the final few series of the season.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire.