by Ray Kuhn
As we approach the final week of the season, it’s time to start thinking about the composition of your roster. Despite the fact that the disabled list has ceased to be used in a lot of cases, Lorenzo Cain and Starling Marte haven’t been much help to fantasy owners as of late. With just one week left in the season, their value is now left to dynasty and keeper leagues, so releasing them is perfect reasonable. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from Wednesday’s action as we come down the stretch of the 2016 season.
1) Gary Sanchez Continues to Show His Power
Sanchez hasn’t been scorching hot throughout his entire time in the majors this season, and that is a good thing. It proves that the catcher is in fact human, although based on his power exploits, that still can be debated. Last night, Sanchez hit another milestone, as this time he became the quickest player ever to 19 home runs as he did it in his 45th game. He went 3 for 5 on Wednesday with two home runs and five RBI (38 on the season) while raising his average to .337. While we know that Sanchez won’t be able to keep this pace up, we almost sound like a broken record continuing to repeat it, it is clear that we have a legitimate power threat on our hands and this is a streak a fantasy owner can ride. With a .356 BABIP, the batting average will come down some, but considering his power, anything over .275 truly is a bonus. Sanchez has yet to establish a baseline for major league performance, but a 41.3% home run to fly ball rate is not sustainable. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t hit 25 home runs next season and have a chance to be a top five catcher.
2) Paul Goldschmidt Goes Deep Twice
Not much in Arizona has gone to plan this season, and that includes Goldschmidt. Now that doesn’t mean the first baseman has really struggled, but he has failed to have to impact expecting of him, and his lack of supporting cast deserves some blame. Goldschmidt went deep twice last night, and that brought him to just 23 home runs on the season along with 90 RBI and a .298 average. The first baseman has seen his fly ball rate drop from 35% to 28.8%, but perhaps even more troubling his is infield fly ball rate. He has seen that rise from 5.4% all the way to 14.4%, and correcting that next season should lead to him rebounding.
3) Felix Hernandez Shuts Down the Blue Jays
We have questioned Hernandez this season, as he has not been the dominating ace that we became accustomed to. It wasn’t an incredibly strong start, he struck out just four batters while allowing two hits and three walks, but Hernandez did keep Toronto scoreless through seven innings. On the season, he has a pedestrian 3.61 ERA, but perhaps more shocking, is that he has just 116 strikeouts in 144.2 innings. What stands out to me, is that based on his .258 BABIP, things could be even worse for Hernandez as his FIP is 4.64.
4) Brad Miller Continues to Show His Power
While Sanchez went deep twice, Miller didn’t want to feel left out as he did the same against the Yankees. Both were solo shots, and the infielder is now up to 30 on the season along with 77 RBI. With his positional eligibility, 102 games at shortstop this season, his .249 batting average is quite acceptable considering the power production. Miller has also slumped over his last 30 games hitting .188 in his last 30 games, but he has driven in 20 runs in that span. After hitting 11 home runs last season, Miller has used an increase in fly balls (36.4% compared to 31.4%) and home runs per fly balls (21..9% to 10.3%) to almost triple his home run total.
5) D.J. LeMahieu Drives in Two
After hitting .301 last season, LeMahieu has taken things to the next level this season, as after his two hits on Wednesday, he is hitting .351 on the season. That comes courtesy of a .392 BABIP (it was .362 last season), and it’s hard to expect him to sustain that level next season. However, we haven’t seen anything to the contrary, but it is clear that LeMahieu has a huge advantage playing his home games in Coors Field; .394 home average compared to .303 road average. There isn’t much power here, 65 RBI after his two yesterday, but with his batting average (it also helps that he was elevated to the second spot of the order), that is perfectly alright. LeMahieu is also finishing the season strong with a .398 batting average and 22 RBI in his last 30 games.
6) Clay Buchholz Shuts Down Baltimore
The end of the season makes people do crazy things, and that might include finding a spot for Buchholz on your roster. On Wednesday, the right-hander shut down the Orioles for his eighth victory of the season now that he is back in the rotation. In seven innings of work, Buchholz allowed just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out four. While his ERA on the season is now 5.00, Buchholz’s ERA in his last 15 games, seven starts, is 3.14 with a WHIP of 1.15. The strikeouts aren’t going to be here, but if you are chasing wins, Buchholz warrants a look.
7) Tommy Joseph Goes Deep
Unless something changes during the off-season, and at this point I wouldn’t bank on it, Joseph is slated to go into next season as Philadelphia’s first baseman. The rebuilding Phillies likely won’t do much this winter, so it’s also possible that Joseph remains in the clean-up spot, but it is clear the power hitter profiles as a middle of the order option. On Wednesday, he took Chris Sale deep for his 21st home run of the season, he also added an RBI double (45 on the season), and raised his average to .262. In his last 30 games, Joseph is hitting .300 as he looks to finish the season strong.
8) Christian Yelich Leaves the Park
It has never been a secret that Yelich is a very talented young hitter. But now he becoming a dangerous hitter now that the outfielder has begun driving the ball for power. On Wednesday, he took Max Scherzer deep for his 20th home run of the season which more than doubles his previous career high of nine in 2014. Yelich’s batting average has remained unaffected by his power spike, .299 this season, but with 90 RBI, he has also seen a big jump as a run producer. There is no reason not to expect, at the very least, a repeat of this performance in 2017.
9) Kris Bryant Approaches Round Numbers
It is not a secret, that fantasy owners prefer big, round numbers. After hitting his 38th home run of the season (a two run shot), Bryant is on the cusp of a 40 home run, 100 RBI campaign (he currently has 99). This comes with a .295 batting average from Bryant who has quickly become one of the best hitters in the game. Batting in front of Anthony Rizzo has also allowed Bryant to see quality pitches to hit.
10) Yasiel Puig Has a Big Home Run
Puig got the Dodgers going offensively last night with a three run shot in the first inning as he works to regain his position leading into they playoffs. It’s safe to say that Puig has been a disappointment this season, and he is hitting just .100 in his last seven games and .241 in his last 30 games. The home run was a nice touch last night, but the outfielder is probably too streaky to really count on down the stretch. Although, he certainly warrants a look next season.