Any time somebody has the first three-homer game for their franchise in over a decade, that player is going to get some recognition. Brian Anderson (3B, Miami Marlins) did just that on Friday. After taking an 0-3 in a loss during Game 1, Anderson went 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, and helped the Marlins earn a split with the Washington Nationals in the second game, while tying the Marlins’ franchise record for homers in a single game. Anderson is the first Marlin to accomplish the feat since 2007 and needed only seven innings to do so. The Marlins enter Saturday 26-24 and will be fighting for their postseason lives over the final week of the season.
Anderson started his night off by taking Nationals’ starter Wil Crowe’s 86 mph sinker 408 feet out into left-center for a solo shot in the second inning that tied the game 2-2. When Anderson came up in the fifth inning to face Nationals’ reliever James Bourque with a couple of runners on, he worked a full count before taking a 91 mph four-seamer out over the wall in left field as well to give the Marlins a 9-3 lead. When the Marlins’ third baseman came to the plate with two more runners on in the sixth inning, he completed the hat trick, homering on the third different pitcher as well as the third different type of pitch, this time sending a 76 mph curveball from Aaron Barrett over the wall in left field.
Anderson leads the plucky Marlins with nine homers on the season and has enjoyed 2020’s first 50 games, slashing .273/.366/.491. While Baseball Savant confirms that he is merely an average hitter in terms of Hard Hit % and Barrel %, Anderson’s total is greater than the sum of his parts. In 2020 he’s set a career-high in Zone Swing % at 71.4, and he also has cut down his Chase % from 2019’s 32.0 to 29.0. The 27-year-old continues to improve his game, and if he can continue to swing at more pitches in the zone, and chase less often out of it, Anderson will continue to be a very useful fantasy option in 2020 and beyond.
Let’s go around the rest of the league and see how Friday went:
Salvador Perez (C, Kansas City Royals) — 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB. It was Brewers’ catcher Jacob Nottingham who hit the go-ahead grand slam that would decide this game, but Perez was the catcher who actually enjoyed the better offensive night. Perez racked up four hits, including his seventh homer of the year, while adding his first stolen base of the season. After missing all of 2019 due to injury, Perez has been a force in 2020, compiling a ridiculous .368/.387/.649 line over 28 games. The sample size is small, sure, but the 30-year-old ranks in the top 2% of all hitters in both xBA and xSLG per Baseball Savant, supporting the idea that his dominance has been no fluke.
Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres) — 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB. Machado provided most of the offense for San Diego on Friday, drilling two homers and driving in four runs, while also earning fantasy baseball managers a combo meal by stealing his sixth base of the year. Machado raised his OPS for the season up to 1.003, and has been scorching hot over the last week. Both homers from Machado traveled over 400 feet, and the Padres’ third baseman is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, including multiple hits in consecutive games.
Christian Vazquez (C, Boston Red Sox) — 3-5, 2 2B, R, RBI, BB, 2 SB. The Red Sox couldn’t hold on for the win on Friday night, but their catcher had a stellar offensive performance. Vazquez racked up three hits, including a pair of doubles en route to reaching base four times. He also stole two bases, including a steal of third base off of Yankees’ starter Jordan Montgomery and catcher Gary Sanchez. The 30-year-old backstop is a rare power/speed dual threat at catcher and will continue to provide plenty of value hitting in the middle of Boston’s lineup.
Travis d’Arnaud (C, Atlanta Braves) — 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB. d’Arnaud has been exceptional for the Braves in 2020, and Friday night was no different. The 31-year-old backstop reached base five times, picking up three hits, including his eighth homer of the year, while also drawing two walks. d’Arnaud’s been absolutely scorching hot of late, picking up multiple hits in four of his last five starts. The batted-ball profile for d’Arnaud is quite impressive, as he ranks in the 96th percentile in exit velocity, and in the 98th percentile of Hard Hit % for the season, per Baseball Savant.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) — 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. The Braves’ man at the keystone battled injuries early in the year, hitting a paltry .159 over his first 11 games and being dropped to ninth in the batting order before missing most of August, but has turned it on down the stretch. Since returning on September 9th, Albies has hit four homers and is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak. The way 2020’s season is viewed for Albies is going to be interesting, and likely will be determined over the final week. No matter how he finishes, however, Albies has a real chance to turn what originally looked like a lost season into just another chapter in what has been an excellent career through his first few seasons.
Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves) — 3-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Freeman has been one of the most dialed-in batters on the planet in 2020, as his three-hit effort on Friday elevated his batting average to .359, and his OPS to 1.128, both top-three in baseball among qualified hitters. The Braves’ lefty masher is on a 12-game-hitting streak and picked up two doubles in the Braves’ win. Freeman has also reached base two or more times in nine of his last ten games and is an absurd 29-for-66 with 15 extra-base hits (.439 average) in the month of September.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) — 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. Calhoun wasn’t an especially sexy addition to the Diamondbacks, but the veteran outfielder has proven to be a big part of the team’s offense in 2020. While Calhoun is unlikely to ever win a batting title, his power is legit. After his multi-homer game Friday, Calhoun has 14 dingers in just 47 games this season, proving that 2019’s career-high of 33 homers was no fluke. He turns 33 in less than a month, but if Calhoun continues to receive regular playing time in 2021, he should be an excellent late-round source of power for fantasy managers.
Cody Bellinger (OF, Los Angelos Dodgers) — 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. The 2019 MVP has struggled to reproduce last season’s magical highs, but Bellinger was exceptional Friday night’s win, helping to lead the charge for a Dodgers offense that racked up 15 runs in Colorado against the Rockies. Bellinger’s team-leading three hits included his 11th homer of the year in the second inning, an absolute bomb that traveled an estimated 438 feet. Bellinger would later add an RBI single and a double, as the Dodgers set a season-high in runs scored.
Gary Sánchez (C, New York Yankees) — 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI. One of the biggest surprises in 2020 has been how much Sánchez has struggled, but the Yankees backstop has shown signs of coming around of late. He picked up multiple extra-base hits in his team’s come-from-behind victory over the Boston Red Sox, including his two-out solo shot that tied the game in the ninth inning. It was the 10th homer of the season for Sanchez, and while he is still hitting well under the Mendoza line, he can get his stat line closer to respectability with a strong final week of 2020.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)