Potential Playoff Risers – American League

The playoffs are a great time for all of us to collectively watch the best the game has to offer and when they have major performances, it can stick with us. Those memorable moments are fun, but they can result in a Playoff Tax for us as the fantasy draft table the following year. This isn’t inherently bad as there are plenty of times when these showcases make us look deeper into a player and realize he’s someone we want on our team.

I remember seeing the exact moment that Walker Buehler skyrocketed up draft boards in October 2018:

He ended up going 12th among starters in Main Event drafts, so I was pretty close.

Here’s one player from each American League team who could make a big move with a strong October performance (ranging from studs to low/mid-tier options for deeper leagues):

Note: I’ll have a National League companion piece on Thursday


The Lamb-aissance quietly got going late in the season when he joined the A’s and posted a 140 wRC+ in 49 PA, but it probably won’t do much to push his price much as it didn’t resonate with everyone. If he continues to look more like the Rake Lamb who dropped 59 HR across 2016-17 with a 120 or better wRC+ and a few homers, he’ll earn back a bunch of his believers.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX: Matt Foster/Garrett Crochet

Foster was already awesome in 2020, slotting 22nd among SPs on Razzball’s Player Rater thanks to a 6-1 record, 2.20 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 28% K rate in 28.7 innings. But unless you play in a deep league that brings non-closing relievers into the picture, you likely missed his brilliant campaign so October will be your chance to see him shine.

Crochet is an electric lefty who was just drafted this past June and threw six impressive innings pumping rocket after rocket at 100+ mph (averaged 100.2 mph with an 85% fastball rate). He fanned eight while walking nobody and will be instrumental in Josh Hader-esque role for the Sox.

Both of these studs as well as Codi Heuer (98 mph fastball, 1.52 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 27% K) will essentially be auditioning for the closer’s role in 2021 as Alex Colomé is a free agent and there’s no real reason for the White Sox to bring him back. There is talk that Crochet will still get an opportunity to start meaning he’ll head to the minors and start that path, but as Eno Sarris loved to point out when we podcasted together, the bullpen can be sticky, particularly when you’re instantly a stud.


Reyes is already a known and well-regarded entity on the fantasy landscape as he went 116th overall in Summer Main Event drafts, however (*Stephen A. Smithism intensifies*) his solid-but-unspectacular 9-homer, 112 wRC+ output almost certainly moved him down the outfield ranks heading into 2021 (I’d guess 45-60 range at the position). A well-timed home run barrage in the playoffs will push him back up into the top 35 outfielders and top 140 overall.

NEW YORK YANKEES: Gleyber Torres

I considered changing this one since it looks like I’m just doing it because he went 4-for-4 on Tuesday night, but you’ll just have to trust me that I had him on my list on Sunday night when I first made it. I wanted to post this article on Tuesday before first pitch, but I was finishing my first run SP ranks and they took a bit longer than expected.

Torres was drafted very highly in 2020 so this potential rise isn’t in relation to that, but rather his recovering the lost stock from his remarkably disappointing season: .243/.356/.368, 3 HR, 1 SB in 160 PA. He’s off to a great start with the aforementioned 4-for-4 effort that included a homer, 3 RBIs, and 3 runs. Torres is no stranger to big Octobers as the “Gleyber Torres is only 22 years old” meme was born last postseason when he hit .324/.375/.703 with 3 HR, 2 SB, 10 RBIs, and 8 R in 40 PA.

TAMPA BAY RAYS: Randy Arozarena

If you didn’t scoop him off the waiver wire, you might’ve missed Arozarena’s excellent 23-game run with the Rays this year during which he posted a 176 wRC+ with 7 HR and 4 SB in 76 PA so if you are already a fan, you might not want him to stay this hot in October as it will definitely drive his price up for 2021. He will be entering his age-26 season and should have a bead on a full-time role – well as full-time as Tampa Bay allows with just 7 seasons of 600+ PA since 2016 and only one since 2018. A big postseason will make him what I like to call a Wide-Awake Sleeper.


The power-hitting 1B/DH had a strong season with a 136 wRC+ that included 8 HR, 23 RBIs, and 20 R in 127 PA, but Teoscar Hernández (146 wRC+), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (138), and even Bo Bichette (125) were getting most of the shine in the regular season, leaving Tellez a bit off the radar. And I only say “even” with Bichette because he is already well regarded, but I think he added to that love and will surge even higher in 2021 drafts.

Tellez wasn’t a lock to make the wildcard roster as a knee injury put his status in doubt, but he made it back and already kicked off his postseason with a pinch-hit single and run scored (didn’t draw the start because of lefty Blake Snell on the mound). First base isn’t terribly deep and while he already raised his 400+ ADP from ’20 with his season, he could send it substantially higher with a big run in the playoffs (120 or higher wRC+ and 3+ HR depending how far they go).


I loved Urquidy coming into the season, but he was limited to just five starts after a lengthy bout with COVID left him sidelined until September. Err… I mean, he had an undisclosed injury/ailment that I couldn’t possibly figure out. He put up a quality 2.73 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his 29.7 innings despite a paltry 8% K-BB rate. That could’ve easily slipped your radar entirely if you didn’t roster him, especially because it came with the ugly 15% strikeout rate.

The Astros had enough confidence in him paired with a severe left-handed need in the bullpen to choose him over Framber Valdez at least for the wildcard round… well, maybe. He was available out of the pen in game 1, but Valdez threw five brilliant innings after Zack Greinke’s solid four leaving them pretty loaded for the final two games so while Urquidy is expected to start one of the two remaining games in the series against Minnesota, they could go Lance McCullers Jr. and Cristian Javier. Or if they win game 2, we just won’t know anything until the divisional series.

At any rate, whether Urquidy is starting or getting lengthy relief opportunities similar to what we saw from Valdez in game 1, he has a chance to really boost his ’21 stock. The Astros as a whole are down in the market after limping into the playoffs under .500 so a lower tier starter who missed half the season definitely has some major growth potential in his 2021 draft stock if he goes off in October. If not, I can just quietly recommend him all offseason without fears of getting snaked in all my drafts.


Oh sure, the 8-homer, 1.022 OPS September will do enough to drive his price up to obscene levels in ’21, but if the Twins come back against Houston and make a run spurred by Buxton excellence from the 2-spot in the lineup, he’ll go in the first three rounds of most drafts next year. It will happen. Also, if he draws two walks in the postseason, he will match his regular season total… so there’s that, too.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and Content Director for OOTP Perfect Team. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Mario Mendozamember
3 years ago

Maybe TB’s McClanahan could dazzle as he makes *MLB debut* in playoffs and become a hot 2021 prospect overnight