Trying to figure out Brandon Lowe is like a day trader trying to figure out when to buy or sell a stock. At the beginning of the season, everyone should have been selling Lowe stock. But based on past performance, they were still buying.
Once they were convinced he was a failed commodity, Lowe stock was being sold and he could be a cheap buy, but he likely cost you a lot while you held on to him. However, if you are the type of investor who plays the long game and doesn’t get caught up in the day-to-day highs and lows or if you were able to get Lowe when his price had bottomed out, then congratulations! Because right now, Lowe is carrying your team.
Throughout the season Lowe has produced home runs and RBI. Through June, he had 16 homers and 38 RBI. But he also had slash lines of .182-.301-.364 in April, .196-.312-.380 in May, and .241-.337-.542 in June. Lowe also racked up 97 strikeouts in 263 at-bats – a strikeout percentage of 37 percent! But over the last two months, Lowe has been a beast at the plate. In July he slashed .288-.416-.616 with six homers, six doubles, and 14 RBI in 22 games. Last month he hit nine double, nine homers, and drove in 26 runs in 27 games while slashing .262-.328-.598.
Why the turnaround at the plate, at least when it comes to his slash line? The answer is pretty easy – his strikeout rate. In 180 at-bats in July and August, Lowe struck out only 48 times, a strikeout percentage of 27 percent. That is a 10 percent improvement compared to the first three months of the season. Yes, today’s game doesn’t penalize players for striking out. The easiest way to beat shifts and score runs is to just hit balls over the fence.
But putting the ball into play still matters, and Lowe is showing what happens when you put the ball in play. In the games Lowe has played this season, Tampa Bay is 79-48, and in those 79 wins, Lowe’s slash line is .248-.366-.520 with a strikeout percentage of 30 percent and BABIP of .283. But in the games the Rays lost, his slash line is .190-.256-.430 with a strikeout percentage of 38 percent and a BABIP of .218. The Rays – and your fantasy team – are at their best when Lowe puts the ball in play.
Now, on to the rankings.
This week is a little different as the bottom tier is basically a list of who’s hot and should be picked up from the waiver wire if possible.
If you roster Jose Altuve and don’t have an option to start someone else at second base right now, I’m sorry. In May, June, and July, Altuve slugged .509, .584, and .550. But the month of August was brutal for Altuve. Not only did he hit only .245, but he had a slugging percentage of only .318 and drove in only three runs in 26 games. So even when he did get a hit, it was usually only a single. At the end of July, Altuve had 25 homers. Want to know how many he has now? Twenty-five.
Javier Baez moves into the rankings for second basemen has he now has the required number of starts and appearances at the position. For fantasy owners this is great news as he can now play any of the middle infield spots the rest of this season and next. He is not readily available on the waiver wire, of course, but he has been helping his fantasy owners the last two weeks with three homers and five RBI with slugging .610.
We will start the Who’s Hot section early by talking about Tommy Edman, who has been the opposite of Altuve the last month. I had him out of my rankings two weeks ago thanks to a stretch of mediocre play. Over the last 30 days, however, Edman has been great at the plate for the Cardinals, slashing .311-.373-.519 with four homers and 16 RBI while also collecting three steals.
Tier 5 – Who’s Hot
I’ve talked a lot about Ketel Marte, and basically, his season can be summed up in one easy thought – WHEN healthy, he has been outstanding. The word “when” is the key problem with Marte this season. He has played in only 66 games this season. But he has been great in those 66 games, slashing .339-.391-.540 with nine homers and 38 RBI. In the last 30 days, he has five home runs and 17 RBI while slashing .300-.364-.550 and that line is .364-.429-.727 the last two weeks with three home runs and 10 RBI.
Marte is owned in 94 percent of Yahoo leagues and 98 percent of ESPN leagues, so if you don’t have him now, you aren’t going to get him. But someone who is readily available is Jonathan Villar. Rostered in only 30 percent of ESPN leagues and 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, Villar is slashing .366-.410-.613 over the last month for the Mets with six homers, 14 RBI, 14 runs scored, and two steals. He is about the player on the team who has been producing lately.
I’ve always liked Ian Happ and push fantasy owners to add him to their roster earlier this year when he came off the injured list. Happ, however, didn’t produce as expected until recently. Happ is not eligible as a second baseman in ESPN but he is in Yahoo and owned in only 58 percent of leagues. In the last month, he has smashed seven homers and driving in 17 while slashing .296-.337-.582. If you need middle infield help and play in Yahoo, Happ would be a great addition to your team.
I talked about Nicky Lopez last week in the shortstop rankings. If you don’t have Lopez, get him. Owned in only 46 percent of Yahoo leagues and 39 percent of ESPN leagues, Lopez is slashing .308-.374-.365 over the past month with 10 steals. Steals are such a valuable commodity, Lopez is a relatively easy add who can provide you those valuable steals.
Finally, we get to Odubel Herrera. For the season he doesn’t have great stats, slashing .265-.322-.440 with 12 homers and 42 RBI in 343 at-bats. But over the past month, Herrera has a slash line of .366-.438-.662 with 12 runs scored, five home runs, 12 RBI, and one steal. ESPN doesn’t list Herrera as a second baseman, but Yahoo does and he owned in only 14 percent of its leagues.
|Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||TOR||25|