September is Head-to-Head playoffs month. Just like the major league postseason, a lot is riding on tiny little samples of performance. If your team was anchored by players like Bryce Harper, Gregory Polanco, Sandy Leon, Travis Jankowski, and Michael Saunders, you likely suffered an ignominious defeat. That quintet would have gotten you to the playoffs, but they were conspicuously absent for the month of September.
Let’s talk about the players who played hero in the final month. There’s no analytical angle here. These guys simply stepped up (for your fantasy teams) when it counted.
First, I’d like to give an honorable mention to Joey Votto, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Santana, Trea Turner, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and Jean Segura. Also a whole slew of pitchers. They were fantastic in September and contributed to many H2H titles. They also did it all season long. Or in the case of Turner, ever since he was activated. Why don’t we focus on some guys we didn’t see coming, like…
The Grandy Man Can
After posting a 63/22/38/3/.223 5×5 slash through August 31, Curtis Granderson was straining for fantasy relevance. He could be found on countless waiver wires. His final month was epic – 25/8/21/1/.302. Much of the surge can be attributed to a stint in the cleanup spot. His season line of 88/30/59/4/.237 looks a lot more viable with the final month included.
Same exercise – Justin Upton slashed a measly 62/18/59/9/.236 through the first five months of the season. He finished out the campaign with a 19/13/28/0/.292 month. Upton has always been a streaky hitter, and he got hot at just the right moment for H2H owners. Unfortunately, Roto players got less of a bump from his hot hitting. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s priced next spring. I know I want some discount shares.
That’s a movie reference, not a religiously insensitive comment. Or maybe it’s both. Then again, it’s from a Mel Brooks movie so it probably isn’t insensitive.
Anywho…how about that Brandon Drury? He was really good early in the season, then he was terrible, then he was in the minors, then he was terrible in the majors again. Finally, September rolled around and he fantasy slashed a 22/6/19/1/.357 line. All for free.
HanRam Thank You Ma’am
Hanley Ramirez turned his season around starting in August. His 53/13/61/7/.275 line from the first four months was easily eclipsed by the 28/17/50/2/.306 he posted over the final two months. The hot finish will surely lead to a spike in his 2017 draft value.
Elvis In Da House
Elvis Andrus personally carried me to victory in the semi-final week, and he did his best to fuel my championship run too. It’s not that he was bad this season. His 56/4/56/20/.293 line from the first five months is about as much as we can expect from him. He upped the ante when it counted by matching his previous home run output. Overall, he contributed a balanced 19/4/13/4/.349 line in September.
Here’s the tally for Kevin Kiermaier from the first five months (302 plate appearances): 38/7/26/13/.228. And September (112 plate appearances): 17/5/11/8/.296. Nobody provided a more well-rounded performance over the final month. However, that statement is a little deceptive. His last home run was hit on September 14. He disappeared completely for the final two weeks with just two steals, three runs, and one RBI. What a wiener.
We’ve been waiting on this Byron Buxton fella for a couple years now. Once touted as the next Mike Trout, most analysts are now hoping he isn’t the next Dominic Brown. The Brown comp could be poignant. A feisty September included 24/9/22/1/.287. He needed the aid of a .370 BABIP and .366 ISO thanks to a still ugly 33.6 percent strikeout rate. Brown was once the player of the month due to a power outburst. And he was terrible ever after.
The lack of contact still worries me. The power spike is a nice to have, but the whiffs need to stop. Otherwise, his ceiling is something like an athletic Chris Carter.
Let’s switch gears to pitchers for the final trio. Ricky Nolasco had another mediocre season on the mound. For once, he pitched to his peripherals thanks to an extremely lucky September. In five starts, he nabbed three wins to go with 24 strikeouts (6.35 K/9), a 1.85 ERA (4.14 xFIP), and a 0.91 WHIP (.237 BABIP). Yea, he was lucky. He also helped to save some very desperate fantasy owners.
Jeff Samardzija struggled through large swaths of the season, but his final six starts were masterful. Although he tallied only one win, he sat down 42 hitters (10.31 K/9) to go with a 2.95 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. His final two starts were particularly valuable – 20 strikeouts and two runs allowed in 13 innings.
Robert Gsellman didn’t have a long season – at least not in the majors. He was called upon in August by a desperate Mets roster, and he delivered gold. Like Nolasco, he furnished three victories in September. Like Shark, Gsellman posted a strong strikeout rate – 35 punch outs in 35 innings. He also sported a 2.06 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
Before we start glorifying him as the next great Mets pitcher, let’s remember he twice faced the Phillies, Braves, and Nationals. Philadelphia was awful, the Braves posted good numbers in the second half but weren’t actually talented, and the Nationals were cruising to an easy division title.
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