Nelson Cruz continued to defy father time by hitting his 38th HR of the season yesterday. After a slow May and June, I had written Cruz off as a high risk player to see a big decline this year, but he completely proved me wrong with a very strong second half. At 36, Cruz has basically replicated last year's season with a nearly identical wRC+. He's hit a few less home runs, but has made up for it with more walks and fewer strikeouts. Cruz is still a bit of a risk for 2018 for the simple fact that we don't see many successful 37 year old power hitters, but he's been proving folks wrong for about 4 years now.
Mark Canha hit a walkoff solo shot yesterday, just his fifth of the season. Unfortunately Canha hasn't proven to be able to handle MLB pitching since 2015. In half a season in AAA, he dominated with a 131 wRC+, but sports just a 75 wRC+ in 167 AB in the majors this season. He's always done well in the minors, so there's an outside shot that eventually it will translate to the majors. He could wind up being a deep, deep flier in 2018.
Justin Verlander improved to 15-8 against the Rangers yesterday as he went 6 innings with 2 ER and 11(!) strikeouts. I fully admit to writing off Verlander as a guy you'd never find value in anymore because his name would be bigger than the results. That hasn't been the case at all in Houston, where he's seriously taken things to the next level. He's 5-0 with a miniscule ERA of 0.64 (entering yesterday). In 28 innings, he's somehow posted his highest SwStr% ever. Whether it's adrenaline or some small tweaks to his approach, Verlander is as hot as it gets right now. Heading to next season, I see him as a serviceable back-end arm with K upside, but an ERA that will be around 4.00 when the season is all said and done.
2017 will be a disappointment for Carlos Correa but only because of his lengthy injury. We've missed his incredible production and talent, which we saw yesterday when he went 4-for-5 with 2 HR and a double. Following a "down" 2016, Correa has once against reached new heights on his potential. It's crazy that he's just 22. I expect more big things next season. I don't think injuries will be an ongoing concern; he proved his health last season when he played 153 games.
George Springer was 2-for-4 with 4 RBI and his 34th HR of the year. This career year came somewhat out of nowhere; Springer experienced huge improvements in his K% while increasing his HR/FB rate over the last few years. The combination of those improvements has led to his fantastic results. It will remain to be seen if he can maintain those improvements into next season, but I see no reason he won't. I'm buying.