That New Carlson Smell

Adam Howe breaks down last night's hitting performances.

Dylan Carlson (STL): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Dylan Carlson may not be the biggest reason for the Cardinal’s recent surge, but he sure hasn’t been hurting with games like Thursday’s where he finished two for three with a walk, a pair of home runs, two runs scored, and three RBI. Carlson finishes his September with a .280/.317/.516 slash through 102 plate appearances, forcing his way into the top third of the St. Louis lineup in the process. Thursday marked his second two-homer game of the month and now will attempt to join the 2021 20-homer club, needing just two more through his final three games. With a strong second half that has seen Carlson keep his strikeout rate under 25% and his wRC+ at 124, the St. Louis right fielder should be a popular third or fourth outfielder option next season in the same range that we saw the likes of Jesse Winker go in 2021 drafts.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday

Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The best first baseman in New York continues to impress even as his team plays for 2022. Alonso’s pair of bombs Thursday brings him up to 37 on the season, and if he can go the weekend without being put down by way of the K, he has the opportunity to finish the season with a strikeout rate under 20%, a drastic dip from his 26.2% rate across his previous 932 plate appearances in the two previous seasons.

Niko Goodrum (DET): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Goodrum’s double homer day came as a welcome surprise for the Tigers’ shortstop, though it can safely be assumed it came on the bench (at best) in most fantasy leagues. After missing most of July and August, Goodrum returned to the Tigers at the start of September and despite his impressive line on Thursday, finds himself hitting .194/.275/.417 through his last 80 plate appearances. Not exactly the way any player would like to end the season as he’s set to enter his first year of arbitration this offseason.

Jonathan Schoop (DET): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Don’t look now, but Jonathan Schoop is in the middle of an 11 game hit streak and has recorded a season-long strikeout rate under 20% for the first time since his debut season in 2013, where he only played five games. The soon-to-be 30-year-old second baseman is locked in Detroit at least through the 2022 season and should be a sneaky middle infield play later in 2022 drafts that will provide some batting average stability and 20 plus home run pop.

Byron Buxton (MIN): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

I really wanted to go with a “Buxton Stops Here” title pun for this one, but Ben Palmer beat me to it….in 2017! Perhaps not coincidentally, the same season that is still Buxton’s only year in which he’s been able to eclipse the 100 game mark. The once obvious MVP contender isn’t going to make it any easier for fantasy baseball drafters next season as he’ll come close to finishing the season with 20 home runs and 10 steals despite roughly 250 plate appearances. It may be too difficult for some to stop themselves from extrapolating that into a “what could have been” 500-plate appearance pace, but those who have been hurt before should have no issue staying away.

Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Judge, jury, executioner. The Yankees’ outfielder has been playing all three positions during their recent surge to the top of the AL Wild Card standings, now ending the month of September with double-digit bombs and 23 RBI, including 12 in his last 9 games, undoubtedly helping roto league fantasy managers make up ground in the category in the final days of the season.

Corey Seager (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Despite missing the first half of the summer, Corey Seager should have little issue finding work in his first offseason as a free agent, especially if his recent play carries over into October and can be displayed deep into the postseason. The two-homer day Thursday was his second such performance in the past four games, giving him eight for September – over half of his 15 on the season. The “injury-prone” tag will undoubtedly be placed on the 27-year-old free agent once again as we approach 2022 drafts, which could end up making the younger Seager brother a steal in some drafts, depending on where he ends up signing.

DJ Peters (TEX): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

DJ Peters is filling in the hole left by the departure of Joey Gallo the best he can, albeit with not nearly as many walks as Gallo was able to collect. Still, most of the other aspects of Gallo’s game can be seen in Peters’ production. High strikeout rate? Check (34%). Good power? Check (13 HR through 233 plate appearances). Low batting average? Check (.204). Peters does fair better against same-handed pitchers, albeit a pretty small sample size, so with Texas facing three right-handed starters in Cleveland to end their season, Peters could finish on a somewhat strong note; but I wouldn’t stake your fantasy championship on it if you can help it.

Adolis García (TEX): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.

Adolis García is back to ordering combo meals as he collects his fourth of the season, but first since early May. It hasn’t come from lack of trying as Texas has allowed García to run rampant in the last month, sending the rookie eight times this month and seeing him succeed all but once. Six of the eight attempts have come in the past eight games. Despite putting himself in a better position to score, the rest of his team has not been able to take advantage, with García only being knocked in nine times through September.

Sergio Alcántara (CHC): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Alcántara took over pretty much everyday shortstop duties for the Cubs with the departure of Javier Baez at the trade deadline and has been, well, fine. Stuck near or at the bottom of the lineup, despite the .329 OBP he’s put up since June 30th, Alcántara has been forced to find ways to make himself seen in what surely could be seen as an audition to sticking as a starter in 2022. Through September he’s hit .254/.354/.366, and though it comes without any sort of real power, the slash line is a strong improvement over his season-long totals.

Rafael Ortega (CHC): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 SB.

Perhaps the biggest target in deeper fantasy circles after the trade deadline was Chicago’s new leadoff hitter Rafael Ortega. He hasn’t disappointed, now having hit .300/.371/.493 since June 21st. Thursday’s combo meal with extra fries gives him an equal number of home runs and stolen bases (9) and puts him in a prime position to join the 10-10 club in limited play as he tries to pass the 250 plate appearance mark over the weekend. Regardless of age, with a strong spring training, Ortega should easily hold onto his leadoff position going into 2022, making him viable in most formats especially after his strong second half of 2021.


Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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