The 2021 Fantasy Baseball season is nearing its end, but we're headed for a wild weekend of action that will likely determine the fate of your league. It's Dan Schneier here this morning to get you updated on all of the action you missed from Thursday night if you happened to be watching Thursday Night Football.
Today, we'll talk about a 2020 first-round draft pick who struggled somewhat in the first half before going on an absolute tear in the second half and now we're talking about him as the Fantasy MVP. We'll also talk about a breakout outfielder from a roster that rarely gets a lot of pub. Finally, we'll dive into Scott White's Dynasty stockwatch to get you up to date on everything you need to know for your Dynasty leagues moving forward.
Soto for Fantasy MVP?
Remember when Fantasy managers were panicking about Nationals OF Juan Soto in the first half? That seems to be a distant memory now as he continues to absolutely tear up the second half of the season since the All-Star and that continued on Thursday night against the Reds. Soto went 3 for 3 with two solo bombs that made the difference in a 3-2 win.
At this point it's fair to ask if Soto is deserving of the Fantasy MVP title. The 22-year-old star has been an on-base demon in the second half and he's now batting .325 with a .325/.470/.599. Despite playing for Washington, the counting stats are great with 106 runs and 92 RBI to go along with his 29 homers and nine stolen bases. This is what managers were expecting when they dropped the first-round pick on Soto.
Mountcastle continues breakout second half
Orioles OF Ryan Mountcastle was more of a deep sleeper this past March, and it wasn't easy to get excited about a hitter in that Baltimore lineup. But after a torrid second half of the 2021 season, he's positioning himself as a buzzworthy player for Fantasy drafts next March. Mountcastle continued to smash on Thursday night when he went 2 for 4 with a solo homer against the Rangers.
This was the 31st home run for the breakout 24-year-old has been on an absolute tear since the All-Star break. He has now hit 17 home runs in 52 games since the break and is sure to be on a lot of target lists come draft season in 2022.
Hernandez joins the 30-10 club
Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernandez made more than a few avoid lists this past March during draft season, but it turns out his production is here to stay. On Thursday, Hernandez went 2 for 4 with his 30th home run against the Twins. With that shot he now joins the 30-10 club -- 30 homers and 10 steals. The 28-year-old is one of only 10 batters this season in the 30-10 club.
Scott White took a spin into Dynasty Fantasy Baseball on Thursday and delivered his Stockwatch piece. The focus was on players and prospects he has moved up his rankings including Sandy Alcantara and Nick Yorke. He featured 15 players who have seen their value change for the long haul and broke down why. You might want to consider making a move for them in your leagues. Let's break down a few that caught our attention below:
- Marlins SP Sandy Alcantara: While Sandy Alcantara has been a success basically since he first arrived in the majors, the knock on him had always been that, for all his mind-bending stuff, he didn't miss enough bats. Well, that's out the window now. He's currently enjoying an eight-start stretch with a 16.3 percent swinging-strike rate that would rank second among all qualifiers. It hasn't come at the expense of his usual workload either. Six of those eight starts have been seven innings or more, and three have been eight or more. If the transformation is legitimate -- and it would be awfully difficult to fake -- he's become everything you could want in an ace. Now, it's just a matter of the Marlins supporting cast catching up.
- A's SP Frankie Montas: If there's any pitcher who's managed to hang with Sandy Alcantara over the past two months, it's Frankie Montas. But actually, his transformation goes back further, to when he doubled up his splitter use in July. It's the pitch that put him on the map in 2019, and it's led to a 2.34 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 over his past 13 starts. Hard to say why he wasn't emphasizing the pitch previously. Perhaps it's one he'll occasionally lose and have to regain the feel for, making his full-season statistics more indicative than this latest stretch. Still, we know now that the 2019 breakthrough was legitimate, which wasn't so clear given his struggles last year and early this year.
- Cardinals OF Tyler O'Neill: It's a weird profile that Tyler O'Neill brings to the table -- particularly with the 32.1 percent strikeout rate -- but he's made it work all season and especially since the start of August, a stretch that has seen him hit .311 (47 for 151) with 11 homers, four steals and a .984 OPS. The 26-year-old has long tantalized Fantasy Baseballers with his Popeye physique and surprising athleticism, but only this year have the Cardinals committed to playing him every day -- and you see the results. His average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are both at the top of the scale, which is how to make a strikeout rate like his work.
- Red Sox 2B Nick Yorke: The Red Sox went off the board in taking Yorke 17th overall two years ago, presumably so they could pay some of their later picks more, but their faith in him has been handsomely rewarded in his first full professional season. He was actually slow out of the gate, too. Take out the first month, and he'd have hit .361 with all 14 of his home runs and a 1.048 OPS. The contact hitting was expected, but the power was a pleasant surprise. He's only 19, too, so it's not like he was beating up on younger competition.