Well, here we go — it’s September. The final month of the fantasy season is upon us, and the pressure is very real right now for the few gamers who are sitting at or near the top of their standings.
Before we let go of August, here is a look at the advanced stats for some of the luckiest and unluckiest players from the past month.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Phillies
Hoskins was among the unluckiest hitters in baseball last month, enduring a .197 BABIP and a 5.6 percent HR/FB rate despite logging a solid 41.2 percent hard-contact rate. The 26 year old hasn’t enjoyed the monster season that many gamers hoped for, but he went into August on pace for some pretty solid numbers in the counting-stat categories. Unless I have unearthed some really great waiver-wire gems, I’m keeping Hoskins active in all leagues.
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B, Mariners
Vogelbach suffered through the lowest BABIP of any qualified August hitter (.149), but his struggles were equally rooted in skill as well as bad luck. The slugger produced plenty of fly balls (38.0%) but little hard contact (22.0%). Softly hit fly balls are cans of corn, and Vogelbach doesn’t have the foot speed (to put it mildly) to generate hits without flashing some serious power. Gamers in leagues of 12 teams or less can likely find better September options.
Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B/SS, D-backs
Escobar’s monster season took a dip in the batting average department when he dealt with a .174 BABIP in August. However, his HR/FB rate remained strong (21.3%), and he produced oodles of hard contact (46.9%). In fact, he ranked sixth in baseball with 28 August RBI. Gamers should expect Escobar to continue to hit for power while also enjoying a batting-average uptick.
Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, Orioles
Villar is having a spectacular season, and he was one of the best value picks for those who chased steals during their 2019 drafts. But the speedster was way over his skis while batting .333 with seven homers and nine steals last month. Villar enjoyed a .406 BABIP and a 30.4% HR/FB rate, despite posting a mediocre 32.9% hard-contact rate and few line drives (17.1%). There is no need to bench Villar, but we have likely already seen his best stretch of 2019.
Jalen Beeks, SP/RP, Rays
I typically enjoy rostering Beeks for his role as a bulk reliever in the Rays staff, but he fell way short of expectations (6.66 ERA, 1.87 WHIP) during August. The good news is that he endured a .407 BABIP that would have led all hurlers if he had enough innings to qualify. He has also dealt with a 23.1% HR/FB rate since the All-Star break. Those in 15-team leagues shouldn’t write off Beeks as a possible September asset.
Joe Musgrove, SP, Pirates
The 2019 roller-coaster ride that is Joe Musgrove continued during August. But beneath the dismal surface of a 6.27 ERA, the right-hander actually handcuffed hitters to the tune of a 26.9% hard-contact rate and a 24.0% soft-contact rate. And do you know what he got for his solid effort? A .354 BABIP that was seventh among qualified pitchers. Musgrove’s luck could still turn around in September.
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Braves
Keuchel gave up a handful of homers last month, but his advanced stats were stellar. The southpaw induced grounders at an elite rate of 65.4%, and he kept his average exit velocity down (23.6% soft-contact rate). Keuchel’s final four starts of August (three runs across 25 innings) are indicative of someone who should be trusted in September.
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
Flaherty was amazing in August (0.71 ERA), but he was definitely pitching over his head. The budding ace benefited from insane batted-ball luck (.205 BABIP, 5.7% HR/FB rate) despite giving up plenty of hard contact (36.5%) and fly balls (41.2%). Flaherty should obviously stay in every lineup, but he has likely peaked for this season already.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, Giants
Samardzija has been great all summer, peaking in August when he logged a 1.84 ERA. But even for someone with a pitcher-friendly home park, Shark was extremely fortunate to enjoy a .154 BABIP and an 8.8% HR/FB rate last month. He surrendered his share of fly balls (42.0%) and hard contact (37.0%) in August, which indicates that some regression is on the horizon.
Jordan Lyles, SP/RP, Brewers
Lyles has turned his season around since joining the Brewers at the trade deadline, right? Well, not so fast. That convenient narrative reflects his 2.51 ERA with Milwaukee but does not consider that the right-hander enjoyed the third-lowest BABIP (.200) of any qualified starter during August. Lyles allowed plenty of hard contact (41.4%) and fly balls (52.9%) last month, and his hitter-friendly home park knows what to do with well-hit fly balls. Gamers should continue to handle Lyles with kid gloves.