The NL Central loves Max Schrock. He spent the majority of 2020 in the St. Louis Cardinal’s organization with a minimal presence on the MLB roster. By minimal, I mean 11 games and 17 total plate appearances. The future would not be in St Louis, and the Chicago Cubs claimed him in late October. After being kept on the MLB roster all winter, the Cubs designated him for assignment in February. Although, the Cincinnati Reds were lacking in depth and claimed Shrock from shortly after the designation. Since winding up with the Reds, he’s been optioned and recalled nearly every month this season.
The yo-yo effect didn’t stop Schrock from having himself a night yesterday. His 380-foot blast in the third inning was only his third HR of the season but a testament to a player trying to jockey for playing time. At the same time, he will not dazzle the Statcast metrics bright red max exit velocities or showcase Ohatnian barrel rates. By putting up a 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI night, he’s done more than many would have expected, given the road he’s taken in the last 12 months.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday.
Kolten Wong (MIL): 1-2, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Wong decided to start the Brewers scoring by planting his 14th HR into the right-center field stands. This was a much-needed night for Wong as September has not been kind to him. His .239/.299/.437 slash line is well below his production line before the month began. Wong and the Brew Crew hope he can get right during the remainder of the season as they make a push in the playoffs.
Elvis Andrus (OAK): 1-3, 2 R, BB.
It’s been a year of signing the blues for Elvis, as he is 30 points behind the curve in terms of wRC+. However, Oakland has decided to stick with Andrus through the offense woes as the defense is serviceable. He’s been banished to the ninth spot in the Athletics lineup, which greatly hindered his production. Let him be someone else’s problem for the remainder of 2021’s fantasy season.
Kole Calhoun (ARI): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Calhoun missed all of May and June before returning mid-July. The layoff has severely stunted his production, and he’s never been able to get right. Perhaps injury is lingering because the barrel rate is nearly five points lower than his previous two seasons. More specifically, there has been a lack of power on opposite-field hits. Let’s give him a pass on this season and remember him late in next season’s draft as a sneaky source of power.
AJ Pollock (LAD): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Since returning from the IL on Wednesday, Pollock has collected three hits and a 430-foot shot from last night. Injuries have plagued him for the majority of his career, and this season has been no different. The Dodgers will utilize Pollock as a swing outfielder with random nights off to keep him fresh as the season closes. If you’re still chasing down your fantasy title, he’s available in 46% of Yahoo leagues and remains a good source of power+speed in a very potent lineup.
Kevin Kiermaier (TB): 3-3, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, BB.
The speed has always been a significant contributor to Kiermaier’s game. He showcased the 29.1 ft/second sprint speed by wreaking havoc on the basepaths. However, in the second half, Kiermaier has been far more productive at the dish as well. His OPS is 180 points better post-AB, and he is striking out far less. Given his massive diurnal shifts in splits vs. pitching handedness, I would not expect him in the lineup very much against any southpaws.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT): 1-5, SB.
Pittsburgh hasn’t had much to write home about this year. However, they may have found their third basemen of the future in Hayes. Sure, the offensive production is not what many anticipated, as shown by the .694 OPS, but his defense is elite as only eight 3B have a higher defensive WAR. At only 24 years old, there’s still plenty of time for him to blossom into something special.
Alcides Escobar (WSH): 2-6, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Escobar helped extend the Nationals lead to three in the top of the third inning with a blast to centerfield. The dinger is rarified air for him as this is only his 44th HR since his debut in 2008. We’ve become accustomed to his slap-hitter ways that sports a K-rate under 20% while walking 5% of the time. Let’s call it what this is, an outlier night for the veteran infielder.
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
The longest batted ball event of the night belonged to Lowe’s 414-foot HR. While it was only Lowe’s 16th HR of the season, he’s also managed to chip in seven stolen bases this season. When you consider this is his first MLB season, there is a lot to build upon. He will finish with a walk rate of over 10%, a near 10% barrel rate, and 114 wRC+. If he can take another step by decreasing his 25% K-rate, we could see a massive boost in production for 2022.
Gleyber Torres (NYY): 3-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
We are two years removed from his 38 HR season in 2019. Since that time, Torres has only his 11 dingers and has seen massive drops in overall production. The groundball rate has jumped up, and the flyball rate is a career-low 36%. Even worse, the hard-hit rate is under 25%. The offseason can’t come quick enough for Torres, who has some re-tooling to work on for his swing if he wants to return to power-hitting ways.
Brendan Rodgers (COL): 3-5, 2B, R.
Rodgers has been white-hot at the dish by batting .340 with four HRs over the last two weeks. While the late surge for Rookie of the Year likely won’t be enough to overtake the others, it’s a tremendous sign for the Rockies organization that hasn’t churned out too much homegrown talent in recent years. If your league finishes with the MLB season, Rodgers will play five of his next eight games in Coors Field for fantasy purposes.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)