Going into this season, we were fairly confident Tim Anderson would run. We weren’t sure he would hit, or hit for power, or work the count, but we though the stolen bases were a reasonable bet.
Finally, in September, Anderson is getting around to it.
If you like an aggressive approach at the plate, Anderson is your man. He’s 11th in swing percentage this year and eighth in chase percentage. He never met a pitch he didn’t want to hack away at. It hasn’t been all bad — he’s clocked 16 homers and has a reasonable .254 average. He’s carried legitimate mixed-league value, at least as a utility middle. The key is ignoring that ugly .273 OBP.
But despite an exciting stolen-base profile in the minors — Anderson swiped 49 bags as recently as 2015 — he’s been careful with the running game. Anderson had just six steals on seven attempts when we hit September, with no more than two bags in any month.
Fast forward to the last two weeks, where Anderson is on a roll. He’s hit .405 with a couple of homers, but he’s also stolen four bases in as many attempts. The swipes have all come in the last four days; he pilfered two bags on Sunday, added one Tuesday, and ripped off another Wednesday.
Perhaps Anderson is finally figuring out the running game at the MLB level, and confident enough to turn his raw speed and athleticism into a stealer’s profile. He’s unowned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. Power-speed guys are always welcome on our fantasy rosters, even if the preferred batting eye isn’t prevalent.
• Mike Zunino is another batter with a hacking approach — see ball, swing at ball — and it’s been working for him. Although his walk rate is down a bit this year, and strikeouts are up, Zunino is nonetheless rocking a breakout season. He’s up to a .246 average — less than ideal, but 39 points over last year’s number — with 23 homers in 392 at-bats.
Zunino conked two taters in Wednesday’s win over Texas; one a mammoth shot to left (on a reasonable pitch, too), the second an impressive opposite-field homer. When someone is this locked in at the plate, you almost feel sorry for the pitchers.
Consistency hasn’t come with the Zunino experience; consider he batted under .200 in April and July, and over .300 in June and September (.394, four homers). But variance is part of the game for most hitters. With Zunino standing No. 8 on the overall catcher production board, I’m inclined to cut him some slack.
The best part of Zunino’s game comes in the platoon advantage — he’s slashing .277/.348/.602 against lefties, with eight homers in just 83 at-bats. Seattle faces three southpaws in its next seven games, so the timing is right. Zunino awaits your call in about 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Although non-closing relievers have started to acquire fantasy buzz in recent seasons, Chad Green has remained an underowned commodity for much of 2017. We understand the reluctance to roster Green in some specific formats — in a head-to-head league, perhaps — but he’s been a godsend in standard roto play.
Green’s game is driven by a mid-90s heater that he consistently gets swings and misses on, be it in the zone or outside of it. It’s led to a silly 99 strikeouts over 64.1 innings. Control is never a problem — he’s walked just 15 men all year — and his 1.96 ERA is more than validated by the secondary stats; heck, his FIP is actually lower (1.68).
The Yankees don’t use Green as a late-inning reliever, but they put him in position to affect games (three wins over the last 30 days). He’s been dominant against both lefties and righties, both home and away. His worst ERA in any month is 2.84. Sometimes pitching-staff assembly is as simple as following the strikeouts and the walks, and stocking up on power arms tied to winning teams.