Dozier continued his scorching hot second half, stealing a base and collecting two more RBI in the Twins win over the Tigers. The steal was Dozier's 15th of the season, giving him 56 combined HR+SB. Only Billy Hamilton (nearly all thanks to steals) and Jonathan Villar (16 HR, 54 SB) have more combined HR+SB this season. Dozier is an interesting case heading into 2017. On the one hand, he hasn't yet hit 30 years old, and he has increased his home run total each and every season in the major leagues. On the other hand, there simply has to be some regression at some point, right? This is a guy who barely reached double-digit home runs in the minors leagues, and never sported an ISO over .200 at any, single stop in the minor. His MLB ISO this year is .300. Dozier's BABIP is a bit higher than his career rate, and .260 seems more likely than .280 next year. His HR/FB rate is nearly 20 percent, despite a career rate below 13 percent. Dozier has indeed hit the ball harder in 2016 (35.2 percent hard hit ball rate), but that's still not enough to explain the crazy power burst that has him second in the entirety of baseball in home runs. If the owners in your league draft him expecting another 40 home runs and .280 BA, let him be. But if they are overly skeptical, drafting him instead as a 25 home run, .250 BA second baseman, he should do better than that. Overall, with the power burst across the infield this season, I'm OK missing out on Dozier in 2017, and finding someone like Ryan Schimpf 15 rounds later.
Robertson picked up his fourth win of the season Thursday, and didn't even have to come at the hands of a blown save, as Robertson came into the game in the top of the ninth on the road, and when Carlos Sanchez and the White Sox walked off in the bottom of the ninth, Robertson improved to 4-3 and picked up what might well be a very important win in head-to-head playoff matchups. However, the 2017 prognosis for Robertson if far from peachy. Robertson gave up a hit and a walk in his one inning Thursday, and that is very indicative of how he has pitched all season. Robertson has allowed multiple runners in five of his last six one inning appearances, and is sporting a 1.41 WHIP on the season. He has a 3.62 ERA, 3.74 FIP and 4.19 xFIP. If it wasn't for his massive contract, he likely would be out of the closer's role in Chicago, with his seven blown saves in 42 opportunities this season. As is, he still has value, as his 35 saves are eighth in the majors this season. I'm staying away full-stop in 2017, though, as the control just hasn't been there at all this season, with his 4.83 walks per nine just terrifying, especially with his strikeout rate dropping for the third straight season. Hard pass.
Longoria had another big night, going 2-for-5 with a home run and five RBI, continuing what has been an excellent bounceback season for the Rays third baseman. Longoria now has 33 homers, 74 runs, 91 RBI,, to go with a .274 batting average. This comes on the heels of two straight seasons in the low 20s for home runs, and this year's 33 long balls are actually tied for a career high. So has Longoria figured out a way to stop his aging curve (he'll be 31 in less than a month), or was this simply a fluky season? Let's start with the power. Longoria's HR/FB rate (15.4 percent before Thursday's homer), is a hair above his career rate (14.8 percent), but nothing too fluky, especially considering his hard hit ball rate is also up this season. Longoria is sporting the highest fly ball rate of his career in 2016, and that extra elevation on his swing is treating him well. If he stays healthy in 2017 (always a big if), there's no reason he shouldn't be in the 30-35 home run range again. The average is where it gets a little sketchier. His walk rate is down for the sixth consecutive season, a career-low 6.9 percent. On top of that, his strikeout rate is up for the third straight season, coming in at 21.5 percent. Longoria has made it work this season, but it's unlikely he'll sport as nice a BA in 2017 as 2016. Overall, though, the biggest thing is health. Folks in your 2017 draft may see Longoria and believe 2016 to be a complete fluke which is certainly isn't. That being said, don't take him too early, as the risk of 50+ games being missed to injury is certainly possible.
Stephen Vogt has been a bit of a disappointment for those who drafted him in hopes of a season like 2015, but he had a big night Thursday, for those patient owners who held onto him. Vogt went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI. Vogt has had a nice last week, with three multi-hit games in his last five, and 12 RuBIns in those five games. Still, Vogt's season-long stats (12 HR 48 R 48 RBI .261 BA) are a definite let down from his 18 HR 58 R 71 RBI .259 BA in 2015. With the catcher position ice cold for four months before a August breakout, Vogt drafters were likely left feeling high-and-dry while the A's backstop struggled through much of 2016. One thing that jumps out with Vogt in 2016, is it looks like he may have been pressing to follow up his 2015 campaign. His swing rate on pitches outside the zone went from 30.8 percent last season to 34.1 this season, and his overall swing rate went from 41.5 to 45.2 percent. That also explains the big drop in both walk and strikeout rate for Vogt, with the walk rate really dropping off, and hurting him a lot in OBP leagues. If Vogt can get off to a better start in 2017, that might alleviate some of the pressure he seems to have put on himself, and with a HR/FB rate that looks due for some positive regression, that could certainly happen. I wouldn't slot Vogt into my top ten catchers to start this season (he'd be around 15), but I wouldn't be surprised if he bounces back to around that 10-12 range. There's just not a high enough ceiling to draft him in that 10-12 range, though.
Semien went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in the A's rout of the Royals Thursday. Semien finds himself in an interesting position as the 2016 season winds down. On the one hand, Semien has had himself a pretty productive season, now with 65 R 25 HR 66 RBI and 9 SB. For a middle infielder in years past, that would guarantee a ten-team mixed roster spot, but given his .235 BA, and the fact that there is more power than ever at the middle infield spots, his ownership is just at 21.8 percent in ESPN, and it's not even that crazy. If you go by ESPN's Player Rater, before last night's stats, he was the 24th-ranked shortstop in 2016, despite the 34 HR+SB and 131 RuBIns. Just look at some of the names with shortstop eligibility. The tenth-rated shortstop right now is Carlos Correa! He went in the first round, and hasn't even been that big a disappointment. Brad Miller is outside the top ten with 28 home runs. Marcus Semien should be about even production-wise in 2017, making him a great option in AL-Only leagues, but weirdly irrelevant in 12 and 10-team mixed leagues. Such is the status of the middle infield in baseball right now.
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