10 Important Stories From 09/25/17 Box Scores: Haniger’s Big Night, Judge Makes History & More

by Ray Kuhn

We are now officially in the last week of the season, and at this point, you either want the season to end immediately, or you are hoping it continues just long enough for you to get into first place. Either way, we have you covered here as we take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a busy Monday around the league:

1) Judge Makes History…

Aaron Judge made sure to avoid any drama, as he both tied and broke the rookie record for home runs on Monday. Judge is now at 50 home runs on the season, as he has proved his power is slump proof. Following the All-Star game, Judge weathered quite the dry spell, but his returned in a big way. It’s not like he lost his power, but Judge batted .185 in August with just three home runs. We know that Judge can handle adversity, as he has followed his worst month up with his best. So far this month, Judge is hitting .307 with 13 home runs and 26 RBI. While you are going to have to live with some slumps as the strikeouts will never go away, it was good to see Judge bounce back strong.

2) Sims Picks up the Win…

After previously being a top pitching prospect, Lucas Sims hit some rough patches in the minor leagues, and was then overtaken by some of the Braves’ new acquisitions. The right-hander though, is still just 23 years old, and in 20 games (19 starts) this season at Triple-A, he had a respectable 3.75 ERA and 1.14 WHIP prior to his promotion. On Monday, Sims took advantage of a struggling Mets team as he picked up his third victory of the season. Sims limited New York to two runs on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. The start dropped Sims’ ERA to 4.85 as he works to solidify his role for next season. Sims needs to work to keep the ball on the ground, only 37.3% ground ball rate, and he only is striking out 6.95 batters per nine innings. The sample size is small, but the results (4.71 FIP) are still not there. I would keep an eye on Sims, but keep your expectations low.

3) Another Young, Victorious, Pitcher…

Pitching for the Nationals, spots generally don’t open up too frequently in the rotation. That is why it is so important for AJ Cole to take advantage of his opportunity. While Cole is considered a prospect, expectations and excitement aren’t through the roof. In his eighth start of the season, Cole held the Phillies to one run on six hits and two walks to pick up his third victory. This is now the third season Cole has spent time with Washington, making eight starts in each of the last two seasons, and at 25, he seems to be settling into that swing role that doesn’t hold much fantasy value. That is what a 4.10 ERA and 1.57 WHIP will do to you.

4) Donaldson Goes Deep…

Yes, Josh Donaldson did miss a chunk of time due to injury. And the third baseman is batting just .266 this season, even after a three hit effort last night. But no, I’m not sure we get to call the season a disappointment. Donaldson hit his 31st home run of the season on Monday, and he went on to drive in three runs which gave him 75 RBI. I know those aren’t the numbers you had penciled in when you drafted Donaldson, but injuries do happen, and he appears to be perfectly healthy to end the season. Donaldson is one of those players who could give you a little value on draft day, especially the earlier you draft.

5) Gonzalez Drives in Three…

Who really thought that Marwin Gonzalez would lead the Astros in RBI this season? At the beginning of the season, the assumption would be, that a lot of things would have to go wrong for that to happen. Instead, Houston is just two games behind Cleveland for the best record in all of baseball, and Gonzalez has 85 RBI. The super utility man, he played three positions last night, drove in three runs on Monday, with one coming on his 23rd home run of the season. Gonzalez is now at .302 on the season, and the 4.10 pitches per plate appearance he is seeing is a career high (3.69 last season). Who said you need a position to be an effective fantasy baseball contributor? In Gonzalez’s case, just have five positions.

6) Shields Has a Strong Outing…

Yes, I know, it is still James Shields. At one point though, Shields was a sought after pitcher who wasn’t just a punchline. Somewhere in the past few years, Shields lost his way, and his fantasy value evolved into someone to target with your bats. On Monday, the right-hander picked up just his fifth victory of the season with seven innings of two run ball. Shields allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. But if you needed any reminder that this was still the Shields you had become accustomed to, the start lowered his ERA to 5.23. In five starts this month, Shields has a 3.94 ERA, and while I’d consider him at arms length in certain situations, he still has a way to go before I’m counting on him in 2018.

7) Bryant Gets Closer to .300…

With three hits last night, Kris Bryant is now sitting at .297 on the season with just a few games left to play. While the third baseman is having a solid season, it is not a performance worth of your first round pick. Bryant’s solo shot last night was his 29th home run of the season and just his 73rd RBI. Even in a down year, it is nice to see Bryant flirt with .300, and most likely finish with 30 home runs, but we are left wanting more. In fact, this will give Bryant a new career high batting average as he looks to bounce back in the power department next season. While you can likely downgrade him by a few picks in next year’s draft, I wouldn’t make any rash decisions.

8) Hundley Drives in Four…

When it comes to that second catcher spot, there aren’t many places fantasy owners don’t look. Stuck behind Buster Posey this season, Nick Hundley managed to put together some solid production in the 274 at bats he was given. Hundley went deep last night, his ninth home run of the season, and drove in four runs. That gave the catcher a .252 batting average with 34 RBI as he begins to look for a job for next season. When he is in the lineup, Hundley does have some power, and the batting average isn’t a complete liability. Keep an eye on where Hundley ends up for the 2018 season.

9) Haniger Goes Deep, Twice…

With two separate injuries, 2016 could have gone better for Mitch Haniger. But when he has been in the lineup, batting second, the outfielder has lived up to the “sleeper” expectations placed on him at the beginning of the season. Haniger went deep twice last night, a solo shot and a two run homer, to give him 16 home runs on the season in 346 at bats. He is hitting a solid .277 with 46 RBI, and the Mariners have to like what they are seeing out of their right fielder for next season. Don’t let the numbers fool you, as he likely would have come closer to 25 home runs had he played a full season.

10) Forsythe Drives in Four…

The Dodgers can afford to cast a wide net when it comes to veteran additions, and so far, it hasn’t quite worked out with Logan Forsythe. He has struggled in Los Angeles and never really got going. Last night, he filled in at third base, and went three for three with a walk while missing the cycle by a triple. It was just the sixth home run of the season for Forsythe, who despite his four RBI, is at just 36 on the season in 348 at bats. Perhaps he is a veteran bounce back candidate next season if he lands a starting role, but for now, he is more of a utility man.

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