If he played a different position, Manny Machado (Yahoo! 29%, ESPN 38%, CBS 67%) would be an easy departure. Shortstop is a wretched offensive position this year, though, earning Machado a bit more leash as the season winds down. He recorded zero extra base hits this past week but did manage to steal a base. His strikeout rate is down this month, and his line drive rate is up. He has enough thump in the bat to put a charge into the ball, so deep mixed leaguers and AL-only owners should refrain from dumping Machado.
It was a tough week for Chris Iannetta (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 1%, CBS 20%), but he's healthy and his profile remains the same. He was bound to cool off, and the batting average was gravy anyway. Iannetta is ownable for his power, and that didn't disappear overnight. That power won't be aided playing three straight series at home and the last series of the year at Safeco, but he does still have three games in Texas. He remains a deep league option.
Ever the poster boy for hollow average, Jeff Keppinger (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 15%, CBS 20%) continues to provide batting average help with little else. Owners in roto leagues who are locked into their position in batting average are free to look for counting stat help elsewhere.
He got a day off on Sunday, but prior to that Wilin Rosario (Yahoo! 40%, ESPN 33%, CBS 67%) had tallied multiple hits in four straight contests. He has also crossed home plate in six consecutive games. He's dialed in right now. Over the Rockies’ final 17 games, they play seven at home (he has 16 home runs and an .883 OPS at Coors) and three more at Chase Field, which could accentuate Rosario's most tantalizing fantasy tool: his power.
The power was non-existent playing at PETCO all week, but Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 2%, CBS 35%) was able to rack up five singles in 14 at-bats. He'll get a break from his home digs this week, heading to Arizona's Chase Field for a three game series followed by three games at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The sample is miniscule, but his OPS is over 300 points higher on the road than at home, and five of his seven home runs have come away from San Diego. Grandal's on-base skills are outstanding (.348 OBP and near 15 percent walk rate) and will help him maximize his run scoring potential.
Everth Cabrera (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 7%, CBS 19%) was billed as a one-trick pony last week, and he delivered on that trick by swiping four bags. He is now up to 33 stolen bases in 35 chances for the Padres this year, and he'll look to add to that total against the Diamondbacks and Giants this week. The matchup is unlikely to result in an Unfiltered piece, but Cabrera versus Miguel Montero is intriguing. Amongst qualifying catchers, Montero trails only Yadier Molina in stolen bases allowed this season. Montero has thrown out 31 of 72 would be base stealers; in other words, he has thrown out 43 percent of the baserunners foolish enough to run on him (Molina has thrown out 45 percent of his attempted base-stealers). This isn't ideal for Cabrera’s prospects of running wild on the bases, but his owners can take solace in knowing that he faces the league’s most favorable catcher at the end of the week. For all of Buster Posey's accolades that make him an MVP candidate (if not the favorite), controlling the running game isn't at the top of the list. Baserunners have stolen 80 bases in 113 chances this year, good for a 71 percent success rate. If Cabrera can get on base against the Giants late next week, look for him to get the green light.
Streaky Gordon Beckham (Yahoo! 10%, ESPN 15%, CBS 39%) is back. Beckham had at least one hit in all five games he played in last week, including two home runs. Overall, he went 7-for-17 with five runs scored and four RBI. Over the last 30 days (headed into Sunday) he was hitting a robust .316/.372/.532 thanks in large part to a high line drive rate (23 percent) and an acceptable pop-up rate (7 percent). Get him while he's hot.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: shortstop stinks. For that reason, Jed Lowrie (Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 19%, CBS 50%) is a viable option in large mixed leagues that start a middle infielder and all NL-only leagues. He's not playing every day (he started three of the Astros’ last five games and appeared as a pinch hitter in another), so he's a better play in daily formats than weekly ones. At his best, Lowrie offers above-average home-run pop from the shortstop position. He's probably not “at his best,” coming back from a lengthy disabled list stint, but the potential for him clearing the fences a few times is worth gambling on.
Pickings are slim for an alternative to spell Johnny Giavotella (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 5%) this week. He scored four runs last week, but that's basically where the positive contributions end. Still, a quarter of Giavotella's batted balls in September have been line drives, which has helped him hit .279 over the course of the month. If he can keep hitting at that clip and tap into his modest power and speed, that will be enough to warrant ownership in AL-only leagues.
Welington Castillo (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 4%) started four of six games for the Cubs last week and appeared as a pinch hitter in another. He had a hit in every game he played in, but he hasn't hit a home run since August 24. Castillo's 33 percent line drive rate in September is helping offset his high strikeout rate and is allowing him to hit for a high average. Steady playing time and above-average power for the position make him a fine catching option in NL-only leagues for the rest of the year.
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