J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 2-4, 2B, 3B, R, 2 RBI, SB.
J.T. Realmuto has been consistently the consensus first catcher off the board for a few years now. The combination of power, average, some speed, and his playing time has locked him into the top spot. It has even led some drafters to reach beyond other more productive players because he is putting up solid numbers at the catching position. However, the catcher position did not play out as many expected. Sal Pérez broke Bench’s single-season home run record, and he’s still going. Buster Posey, after a season off, had an excellent bounce back with a 140 wRC+. Will Smith has been having an excellent season with 25 dingers and a .268 average. Mike Zunino has over 30 home runs for the first time in his career. Each of these players would have been better picks at their ADP than Realmuto so far. But Realmuto hasn’t been bad, just not the expected superstar.
First of all, where is his power? He has hit only four more home runs this season in over 300 more plate appearances than in 2020. He’s hit slightly fewer fly balls, but his HR/FB rate dropped back to his 2019 levels. 2020 was a major outlier at 23.4%. Despite similar hard-hit rates and average launch angles, as well as fly ball rates, to 2021, his barrel rate in 2020 was 13.6%. That is a major outlier compared to the rest of his career. This is likely an effect of the small sample of 2020 and plenty of other weirdness that year provided. Second of all, the barrel rate dropped, but the strikeout rate did not. He is still striking out more often than he had previously in his career (24%). He is making much less zone contact than in 2019 and earlier. Just more swings and misses. Third of all, his counting stats usually boost his value as he can surpass 140 combined runs and RBIs (and a year with 175 before). He’s going to fight to hit that number this year.
Despite the negatives, he still is having a solid year. A .265/.349/.442 slash is solid but not what many were looking for drafting their catcher in the first five or six rounds. The surprise, though, is his 13 steals, which is a single-season record for him. He will usually swipe a few, but this is by far the most we have seen from him, which is well beyond any total from any other backstop. He’s a good catcher still, but this season may show why taking him in the top 50 or 60 may not be the best move.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
J.P. Crawford (SEA): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Crawford has made some solid strides the past couple of seasons to improve his hitting. He has become much more of a contact hitter, reducing his power even lower than it was before. In 2020 and so far in 2021, his K% is at 16.7%, with an ISO of around .100. He has increased his contact rate across the board. Despite a mediocre OBP, Crawford is still turning his on-base opportunities into runs as the Mariners’ lead-off man. He has scored 82 on the year. However, that looks to be his sole fantasy-relevant stat while everything else has been lackluster.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 2-3, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
Bogaerts has become incredibly consistent. His K rate and BB walk have been around 9% percent and 18%, respectively, for five straight seasons with a .300 average for four straight. Additionally, in each of those four seasons, he has a wRC+ between 130 and 141. His past week has been amazing for the final push to finish this season: .379/.438/.793 slash with three dingers and nine RBIs. He’s a great, consistent fantasy shortstop.
Josh Donaldson (MIN): 3-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
After a blistering end of August, Donaldson has cooled off in September. This month he has a 100 wRC+ with only three home runs, including two on the 17th and 18th. Since those games, it looks like he is picking it back up, adding three more hits yesterday. Donaldson has been a solid option for a while now, and he still is producing at 35 deep into the season with a hard-hit rate over 50%.
Nick Gordon (MIN): 3-5, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
The sole combo meal from yesterday’s games, Gordon stands outs. He’s a rookie this year for the Twins, playing irregularly, bouncing from position to position. He was the Twins 2014 first-round pick but didn’t look to have much prospect clout. Fantasy-wise, he’s been getting more playing time in September while playing only half the team’s games in the earlier months of the season. Gordon’s main weapon for fantasy is his stolen bases, nine in 181 plate appearances, and coupled with his positional versatility; he could help grab a couple of steals in deeper leagues.
Manny Machado (SD): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
After his shouting match with Tatís on Saturday, Machado has put up some solid games. Including that game, he is seven for 13 with two homers that came last night. Speaking of last night, he was hitting lasers everywhere. His home runs were 112.3 MPH and 108.9 MPH, both going over 400 feet. He also added a 106.2 MPH fly-out and a frustrating 112.2 MPH double play. He has put up another stellar fantasy year in the heart of the Padres lineup and added 12 steals which comes as a bit of a surprise.
Starling Marte (OAK): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, RBI, BB.
After an absolute monster second half, Marte cooled off a bit with a two for 22 stretch until yesterday’s game, where he added a 100+ MPH home run and double. This is not the time to slump if you are in the fantasy playoffs, but Marte has been one of the best fantasy players this season, and the short slump looks done with that excellent performance yesterday.
Phil Gosselin (LAA): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
This is Phil’s year. Well, not entirely. But still, this is the most plate appearances he has seen in his long journeyman career. He’s also been hitting either third or fourth in the Angels’ lineup since the All-Star break. I guess that is what happens when you know Trout isn’t returning. You bat a player with a .704 OPS in the third hole every game. But seriously, since the break, he has a 79 wRC+ and has only had 200 plate appearances one other time and finished that year with an 80 wRC+. Good for Gosselin for finally getting some solid starting time after eight seasons but not good for anyone’s fantasy team or if you are an Angels fan.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
This season Judge has put up the most plate appearances in a season since his 2017 rookie campaign. And he’s crushing the ball as expected. Yesterday he launched his 36th of the year and his sixth in his last 11 games. After being sidelined with COVID-19 in July, Judge has been slashing .298/.368/.561 with 15 homers and a 151 wRC+. He’s having a great year and will continue to be a great fantasy player.
Daz Cameron (DET): 3-3, 2 R, BB, SB.
This is Cameron’s second season with some MLB playing time, and he’s still getting his feet under him in the bigs. He’s struggled with strikeouts throughout his time in the minors and continues to in the majors, unsurprisingly. There is a power/speed combo he has shown off at some levels with a 14/32 season in Single-A and a 13/17 season in Double-A. So far, in 27 games this year, he has three homers and five steals, including one from yesterday. He just returned to the team two games ago, but I don’t see him contributing enough for a fantasy roster spot.
Victor Reyes (DET): 4-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB.
It was the Tigers’ day yesterday, and Reyes did his part, contributing three singles and a double alongside a stolen base. Reyes was recalled to the majors back in mid-July, and since that call up he has been on fire. Over those 129 plate appearances, Reyes is slashing .314/.339/.504 with his standard four percent walk rate and 23.3% K rate. Plus, since mid-August, his rolling hard-hit % for his last 50 batted balls has risen from below 30% to 45%. He seems to be settling in and making a case to stick around.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Everyone in the Blue Jays lineup has been unstoppable in the second half. Take Gurriel, for instance. He is consistently batting in the seventh spot in their lineup with a 157 wRC+ in the second half! His slash since July 16th is .321/.388/.576, and he is hitting seventh in the order! His walk rate has been around 10%, with a great 16.5% strikeout rate. He just knocked his 21st homer on the year. It has been quite a first half/second half story for him as his wRC+ is still only 115 on the year. It really has come down to fewer ground balls and more hard hits for him. One last ridiculous stat for Gurriel. His rolling hard-hit % for his last 50 batted balls is 70%.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)