Bo Bichette (TOR): 6-10, 3 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI.
Raise your hand if before the season started you thought a September series between the Orioles and Blue Jays would carry playoff implications for both teams…. No one?
I think we can all agree the Orioles’ surge into postseason contention is shocking everyone, and that made yesterday’s doubleheader pivotal as the Blue Jays were holding onto the final AL Wild Card spot with just a two-and-a-half-game lead over Baltimore.
In a situation that had to have felt like a playoff matchup for both teams, Bo Bichette came up huge and delivered the Blue Jays a doubleheader sweep. In the first game, Bichette collected three singles and two RBI as Toronto won 7-3. In the second game he collected three more hits, but this time, they all left the park and earned him five RBI. That’s right, Bichette hit three home runs, one off of Nick Vespi and two off of Bruce Zimmermann as the Blue Jays won again, this time 8-4. Altogether, Bichette’s final line for Monday came out to 6-10, 3 HR, 3 R, and 7 RBI.
After yesterday’s fantastic showing, Bichette’s season numbers are up to .272/.315/.451 with 21 home runs, 78 RBI, 73 runs, and nine stolen bases. If you selected Bichette in your fantasy draft this spring, those numbers are probably feeling awfully light, and rightfully so.
Bichette was a first-round draft pick and has taken a step back in production from last year’s stellar numbers: .298/.343/.484 with 29 home runs, 102 RBI, 121 runs, and 25 stolen bases.
The downturn for Bichette, while not enormous, is still disappointing. There are two big culprits. First, his stolen base success rate has plummeted. In 2021 he swiped 25 bags in 26 attempts. This year, he’s been successful just nine of 16 times. Second is his rising strikeout rate. It was 19.9% last year and is up to 23.9% this year.
Opposing pitchers have been attacking Bichette with breaking pitches more often than ever. In particular, he’s seeing sliders 24.6% of the time and has struggled mightily against them, posting a .307 wOBA and 31.7% whiff rate against the pitch.
Bichette will be an interesting player to watch in drafts next spring. He’ll surely fall at least a few rounds from this year’s preseason rankings, but he’ll still carry first-round upside.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Anthony Santander (BAL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Santander’s career-best season just keeps on rolling. The Orioles’ switch-hitting outfielder is now up to a .257/.335/.472 batting line with 27 home runs and 77 RBI. Those numbers come out to a 131 wRC+ which now bests his excellent pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the only other year he’s been better than league average in terms of wRC+. His two-homer showing came in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader. He went 0-for-5 in the second game. Santander’s a big reason the Orioles find themselves battling for a postseason spot for the first time in years.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Judge’s 54th home run of the season was a 109.4 mph bullet that quickly cleared the left field wall in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ 5-2 win in Minnesota. It was Judge’s third home run in as many days and his eighth in the past 13 games. He’s just eight homers away from setting the new American League single-season record.
Mike Trout (LAA): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI.
The Angels routed the Tigers 10-0 last night, and as you’d expect, Trout played a big part in the win. His fifth-inning home run off of Tyler Alexander was his sixth since returning from the IL on August 19th. Trout’s having his typical phenomenal season that totally flies under the radar. He’s hitting .275/.365/.603 with 30 home runs. His 169 wRC+ would be the fourth highest in baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Victor Caratini (MIL): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Caratini was clearly very excited about the Brewers’ trip to Coors Field this week. In the first game of the series, he hit three balls with exit velocities over 100 mph, including a 413-foot home run against Justin Lawrence in Milwaukee’s comeback effort in the sixth inning. Caratini’s been solid yet again as a backup catcher. Although his batting average is just .207, his 10.4% walk rate has his OBP at .317 and is keeping him near league average production; he has a 94 wRC+.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
Ohtani’s doing all he can to keep the AL MVP discussion interesting. His three extra-base hit night has him up to a .270/.360/.537 slash line with 32 home runs. Oh, and he also has a 2.58 ERA and 33% strikeout rate over 136 innings pitched. Enjoy watching this otherworldly talent while you can, because it’s likely there’ll never be another player this dominant on both sides of the ball.
Keibert Ruiz (WSH): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB.
Ruiz was a popular catcher breakout candidate back in fantasy draft season, but he hasn’t been able to deliver on the hype. He did homer in the Nationals’ 6-0 win over the Cardinals yesterday, but it was just his seventh of the season as he’s hitting .253/.315/.364. Ruiz is now up to 525 career plate appearances, and unless he can start raising his 3.6% barrel rate, it seems like the shine is wearing off this former top prospect.
Elvis Andrus (CWS): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Andrus got the better of Marco Gonzales yesterday, homering and doubling against the Mariners’ starter in the White Sox’s 3-2 win. Since debuting with Chicago on August 19th, Andrus has been on an absolute tear, hitting .290/.323/.500 with seven of his 20 hits going for extra bases. Andrus should remain the everyday shortstop for the next couple of weeks as the team awaits Tim Anderson’s return from injury.
David Villar (SF): 2-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
A 27 homer and 1.022 OPS power display in Triple-A earned Villar a shot at the MLB level, but the minor-league success hasn’t translated to the show just yet. Villar was first called up in early July but struggled to the tune of a .175/.338/.286 slash line and was eventually demoted in early August. When rosters expanded in September, Villar was given another shot with Monday marking his third straight start. The Giants are out of playoff contention, so they have no reason to not run Villar out there every day to see if he could be a useful piece for them next year. Until he chains a few good performances together, I wouldn’t bother rostering him in fantasy.
Drew Waters (KC): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Waters hit his first career home run yesterday, a 400-foot fly ball that cleared the right field wall in Kauffman Stadium. The former top prospect got his call to the show on August 22nd, and since debuting has started 13 of the Royals’ 15 games while hitting .237/.326/.395. Power has never been Waters’ calling card, so don’t expect many more homers from the 23-year-old. He did collect 18 stolen bases across 353 minor league plate appearances, so if your fantasy team is desperate for speed, you could add him and hope for a few swipes over the next four weeks, but there are likely better options on your wire.
Stone Garrett (ARI): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Garrett is a slash line scout’s dream. He put on a clinic in Triple-A this year, hitting .275/.332/.568 with 28 home runs and 15 stolen bases. In his first 36 MLB plate appearances, he’s kept his hot season going by hitting .424 with three home runs and a stolen base. Unfortunately, with Arizona’s suddenly crowded outfield situation, Garrett’s only cracked the starting lineup nine times in the 18 games he’s been on the MLB roster. Unless he starts seeing more consistent playing time, he’s better left on your waiver wire.
CJ Abrams (WSH): 4-5, 3B, 2 R.
Abrams’ first season in the big leagues hasn’t been a dream come true. He struggled during his time in San Diego, hitting .232/.285/.320 over 139 plate appearances. He was then the centerpiece of the blockbuster Juan Soto trade, but his time in the nation’s capital hasn’t gone any better. Through 70 plate appearances, his slash line is actually down to .224/.257/.269. His four-hit showing yesterday was a welcome sight, especially his three hits with a 100+ mph exit velocity. He now has hits in five of his last seven games, so hopefully, he’ll start turning things around over the season’s final months. The Nationals certainly will give him every opportunity to find his way.
Gary Sánchez (MIN): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Sánchez’s lone hit yesterday was an absolute bomb. He sent a Jameson Taillon sinker for a ride, blasting it 473 feet at 115.1 mph – it was easily both the hardest and furthest hit ball of the day. Sánchez’s first year in Minnesota is going about as you’d expect: .214/.284/.398 with 14 home runs and a 27.9% strikeout rate.
C.J. Cron (COL): 1-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Cron swatted his 26th home run of the year yesterday, taking Taylor Rogers deep in the eighth inning of the Brewers’ 6-4 win in Colorado. It’s been a great year for Cron, especially if you’re exclusively starting him in his home games. At Coors Field, he has 19 home runs and a .946 OPS. On the road, those numbers plummet to just 7 homers and a .672 OPS.
Manuel Margot (TB): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI.
Injuries have limited Margot to just 260 plate appearances this year, but they haven’t stopped him from putting up the best numbers of his career. His counting stats are a bit limited with just three home runs and six stolen bases, but his rate stats look great – .298/.354/.412 with a 126 wRC+. It’s hard to believe, but the notoriously platoon-heavy Rays are starting Margot nearly every day, so he may be worth a look if you need outfield help in 12 or 15 teams leagues. He’s available in 81% and 84% of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, respectively.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)