The impact of fantasy football on the fantasy baseball landscape is undeniable. Every year in September, many managers divert their attention to the gridiron, especially those who have already fallen behind in their baseball leagues.
For those who gave only a passing glance to September MLB statistics, here are some key players who performed well enough in the final weeks to alter their 2023 fantasy draft value.
Fantasy managers who saw Rodriguez hit the proverbial rookie wall in August (.701 OPS) before shifting focus to their fantasy football leagues are likely wondering why the youngster is a top-five pick in many drafts this year. His 1.202 OPS after Sept. 1 left managers with plenty of confidence that any rough patches in Rodriguez’s development will be minor ones.
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)
Alvarez dealt with a hand injury while posting a .638 OPS in August before surging in September by logging his third 1.100+ OPS (1.176) in the final four months of 2022. One of the best pure hitters in baseball, Alvarez is a fine option near the end of Round 1.
Ward was a waiver-wire gem across April and May (.347 BA, 10 HR) before he was slowed by nagging injuries while hitting .222 with seven long balls in the subsequent three months. Those who fled to fantasy football on Sept. 1 need to know that Ward got back on track from that point forward (.345 BA, 6 HR) and is now a solid option at his Yahoo ADP in the 150s.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Who is Bryan De La Cruz”? Well, for five months of the 2022 season, the answer was, “Someone buried on your waiver wire.” But the answer at the end of the season was, “Someone who hit .388 with six homers and 22 RBIs after Sept. 1.” Cruz has a path to an every-day role and warrants consideration as a late-round pick in 12-team leagues.
Cal Raleigh (C, Seattle Mariners)
An all-or-nothing catcher option across the initial five months of 2022 (.201 BA, 19 HR), Raleigh produced a more balanced stat line when he hit .254 with eight long balls after Sept. 1. The late-season surge came with a reasonable .250 BABIP, which provides optimism that the slugger could be less of a batting average drain this year. With a Yahoo ADP of pick 205, Raleigh is worth the late-round investment.
Jansen thrived after Sept. 1 for the second straight season, this time hitting .333 with a 1.007 OPS. With an ADP in the 250s and an .817 OPS across the past two campaigns, Jansen is one of the best late-round catcher options, with his inability to stay healthy the only deterrent.
Joey Meneses (1B/OF, Washington Nationals)
Managers who watched Meneses come up from the minors and post a .959 OPS in August should know that the late bloomer stayed hot after Sept. 1 by hitting .318 with seven homers and 23 RBIs. The 30-year-old could fall flat on his face this year (similar to Frank Schwindel a year ago), but he is currently locked into a premium lineup spot for the rebuilding Nats.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)
A top-five pick in most 2022 drafts, Bichette was disappointing for the initial five months of the season (.260 average, 17 HR) before altering his approach down the stretch and hitting .406 with seven homers, 27 RBIs and 24 runs scored after Sept. 1. Bichette’s current Yahoo ADP (hovering around pick 20) feels low for a young player with this skill set.
Eduardo Escobar (3B, New York Mets)
Escobar struggled for most of 2022 before heating up after Sept. 1 (.321 BA, 8 HR, 25 RBIs). His stretch-run success came with a .355 BABIP, which is a little bit high but not enough to raise alarm bells, and he has a track record of success that includes homer totals of 28 in 2021 and 35 in 2019. Escobar is also part of a talented lineup and could be more productive than many of the trendy youngsters who accompany him in the late rounds of 2023 drafts.
Hunter Greene (SP, Cincinnati Reds)
During the initial five months of 2022, Greene was all skills (99 mph average fastball velocity) and no production (5.26 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.0 HR/9 rate). However, the rookie was dominant in his final four starts of the campaign (0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 37:3 K:BB ratio), which left fantasy managers dreaming about the stats he could produce in his sophomore season.
Nick Lodolo (SP, Cincinnati Reds)
Greene wasn’t the only Reds rookie starter who tantalized fans down the stretch, as Lodolo logged a 2.48 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 49:6 K:BB ratio across five starts after Sept. 1. A gutsy fantasy manager could create a boom-or-bust 2023 pitching staff by grabbing both Greene and Lodolo around pick 150.
Hunter Brown (RP, Houston Astros)
The Astros' best prospect, Brown was recalled Sept. 1 and logged a 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 22:7 K:BB ratio across 20.1 innings down the stretch. The 24-year-old currently has only relief pitcher eligibility on Yahoo but sits sixth on the Astros SP depth chart and is worth stashing until an established starter goes down with an injury.
Dylan Floro (RP, Miami Marlins)
Floro was a fantasy afterthought heading into September, having earned zero wins and three saves in the initial five months of the season. But the right-hander took over the Marlins closing gig in September and tallied seven saves, a 1.17 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in the final weeks of the campaign. Miami did little to improve its bullpen this winter, which could lead to Floro retaining the ninth-inning role.