Marcus Semien (TEX): 3-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Marcus Semien was feeling those Good Vibrations last night, as he posted a 3-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI line in the second game of the Rangers-Marlins doubleheader yesterday, finishing a double shy of the cycle. He also collected a single for his lone hit in the first game of the twin bill.
The Rangers’ second baseman wasted no time getting started in yesterday’s second game, singling against Braxton Garrett in the first inning. Semien then took Bryan Hoeing deep for a 417-foot blast in the fifth inning before tripling off of him in the seventh.
All told, Semien’s big day at the dish improved his season numbers to .245/.302/.421 with 22 home runs, 72 RBI, 86 runs, and 24 stolen bases in his first year in Arlington. After last year’s career-best output of 45 home runs and 102 RBI, this year’s numbers may seem a bit disappointing, but after a dismal start to the campaign, Semien’s recovered quite nicely.
In 207 plate appearances in April and May, Semien slashed just .199/.266/.274 a with a 55 wRC+. Since June, those numbers are up to .263/.316/.480 with a 124 wRC+ over 415 plate appearances prior to yesterday’s games. The power numbers may not be what you were hoping for, but he’s more than made up for it with a new career-best stolen base output.
If you drafted Semien in a fantasy league, things got off to a rocky start. Hopefully you stuck with him, because he’s performed well enough to be a difference-maker and hopefully put your team in a position to vie for a fantasy championship over the season’s remaining three weeks.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Bo Bichette (TOR): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI.
The Blue Jays and Rays opened their crucial five-game series in Toronto last night, and the game was packed with drama. Tempers flared in the sixth after Bichette was hit in the helmet with a pitch, but he’d get the last laugh. With two outs in the eighth inning and the Jays trailing 2-1, Bichette hit a clutch go-ahead two-run home run on a full-count slider from Jason Adam, putting Toronto ahead for good as they went on to win 3-2. Bichette was named the AL Player of the Week earlier on Monday, and his defense of the award got off to a great start with his huge performance. His bat is red hot, and it’ll be fun to watch as the two AL East rivals battle for playoff positioning over the next few days.
Aristides Aquino (CIN): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
It seems like once a year or so Aquino catches my eye with his elite raw power and I’m suckered into seeing if he’s made any adjustments to his swing-and-miss approach. The answer this year is still a no. His strikeout and swinging strike rates are both career-worsts at 38.1% and 19.6% respectively. Through 210 plate appearances this year, Aquino’s slashing .207/.252/.374, and his remarkable late-season power outburst from 2019 seems ever so far away.
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Reynolds started the Pirates off strong in their 6-3 win over the Reds last night, homering against Mike Minor in the first inning for his 22nd big fly of the year. The home run came with Reynolds swinging from the right side where he’s typically been weaker; he entered play yesterday with a 106 wRC+ as a righty and a 119 wRC+ as a lefty. Combined, the Pirates’ centerfielder is up to a .786 OPS on the season, which is a bit disappointing after he posted a .912 mark last year. The main culprits are a rising strikeout rate (18.4% to 22.9%), a declining walk rate (11.6% to 9.3%), and a barrel rate that’s fallen significantly (10.4% to 6.5%).
Rodolfo Castro (PIT): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Castro also homered against Mike Minor last night — a three-run blast in the fifth. Although Castro’s playing nearly every single day and hitting in the middle of Pittsburgh’s lineup, he’s just not worth a fantasy roster spot. He’s hitting .233/.297/.426 to go along with eight home runs and four stolen bases. He may be worth a look in deep leagues next season as he’s still just 23 years old and has plenty of room to improve, but unless he goes on a hot stretch in the next week or two, he’s better left on your waiver wire for now.
Jon Berti (MIA): 1-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB.
Berti collected his league-leading 33rd and 34th stolen bases in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader. Remarkably, he’s done that in just 323 plate appearances. In the month since he returned from the IL on August 12th, Berti has six steals, so his pace has slowed down a bit, but he’s certainly still worth a look if you need a stolen base threat on your roster as the season winds down. Berti’s available in 49% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues and 79% of ESPN leagues. The 32-year-old utilityman has a 101 wRC+ to go along with his incredible speed, so he’s likely played his way into a more prominent role for the Marlins next year
Zach McKinstry (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
It was such a small move you may have missed it at the trade deadline, but McKinstry was sent to the Cubs in exchange for reliever Chris Martin. With Nick Madrigal recently hitting the IL again, McKinstry has been serving as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter against right-handed starters, but even then he hasn’t capitalized much. His home run yesterday was his third of the year and second since moving to Wrigleyville. in 113 plate appearances this year — 99 of which have been with the Cubs — he’s hitting .204/.268/.359 and is only a part-time player. He’s about as far from fantasy relevant as you can get. On the plus side, the Cubs have tinkered with his approach at the plate and gotten him to cut his strikeout rate to 26.3%, the lowest it’s ever been at the MLB level.
Jeremy Peña (HOU): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Peña’s understandably fallen out of the AL Rookie of the Year race as he hasn’t been able to keep pace with budding superstars Julio Rodríguez and Adley Rutschman, but he had Eduardo Rodriguez’s number last night. The Astro’s young shortstop collected all three of his hits against the Tigers’ starter, contributing to three of his team’s seven runs in their shutout win. After Peña struggled to just a .528 OPS in August, it looks like he’s starting to turn things around as he has a hit in 11 of his last 12 games. That stretch has come with just one home run and one stolen base though, so fantasy managers in the heat of a playoff matchup will certainly be hoping for a bit more down the stretch.
Mike Trout (LAA): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
This man cannot be stopped. Monday marked Trout’s seventh straight game with a home run. According to Sarah Langs on Twitter, he’s one game away from tying Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long for the most consecutive games with a home run. Oh, he’s also casually hitting .279/.368/.633 with a .419 wOBA and 177 wRC+. Trout doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, but if he did, he’d have the third-highest wRC+ behind MVP frontrunners Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt. He’s putting up his usual numbers, and also like usual, it’s not being talked about nearly enough.
Josh Jung (TEX): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Leaving a fastball up and over the middle of the plate is a bad idea when you’re facing any MLB hitter, let alone someone with the bat skills that Jung possesses. Unfortunately for Braxton Garrett, he did just that and Jung didn’t miss it. He smashed the pitch 416 feet to leftfield for the second home run of his young career. Through his first 20 career MLB plate appearances, the Rangers’ top prospect is hitting .250/.250/.650 and could be an interesting pickup if your fantasy team needs a power bat in its third base or corner infield slot. He’s available in 77% of Yahoo! leagues and 91% of ESPN leagues.
Max Muncy (LAD): 1-4, 2B, R
Muncy’s one-double, three-strikeout game may not jump out at you when you’re glancing through box scores, but what does jump out is that he hit a ball 423 feet and it didn’t leave the ballpark. Muncy tattooed a ball against Kyle Nelson in the seventh inning, but Chase Field’s monster centerfield wall kept the ball in play, leading to Muncy tying Zach McKinstry for the furthest hit ball of the day and still not earning a home run. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)