Kelvin Herrera (RP-KC) - Herrera had a shot at winning the KC closer gig back on Thursday, but he blew the save after allowing the Indians to tie the game in the ninth inning before the Tribe came back to win #22 in a row in the tenth inning off the awful Brandon Maurer. Herrera now has a 4.47 ERA and he's allowed eight runs (six earned) in just 3.2 innings over his last five appearances. He's a shell of the guy who recorded a 2.75 ERA, 10.8 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9 last year, as he's posted an 8.6 K/9 this year with a walk rate that's more than doubled. He's still throwing in the 96-98 mph range, but home runs and walks are way up, and he's probably not going to see many/any save chances the rest of the way. Who gets those saves? I'm hoping it's Scott Alexander and his 2.26 ERA, as I grabbed him in a couple leagues last week. Mike Minor could also be part of that committee.
Tim Anderson (SS-CHW) - You don't often see a leadoff hitter with a 146:13 K:BB, but Anderson is leading off for the White Sox because they really have no other options such as Adam Eaton. Thursday Anderson went 3-for-7 with two runs scored and three strikeouts leading off in a 17-7 win over the Tigers. With 16 homers and 11 stolen bases, Anderson has provided a fair amount of value in 5x5 (non-OBP) formats despite the ugly K:BB ratio. Given Anderson posted a 175:21 K:BB last year (AAA/MLB) and a 114:24 (AA) mark the year before, his plate discipline issues are concerning and are nothing new. Whether he can make strides in that category and take a big step forward in the next couple seasons is a big question mark, but the White Sox appear committed to giving him every opportunity to do so.
Jose Ramirez (3B-CLE) - I'd probably lean Jose Altuve if I had to vote for the AL MVP today, but Ramirez would easily place in my top five. The current 2B / former 3B went 4-for-4 Thursday, notching doubles #49 and #50 while scoring the winning run to extend the streak. He's batting a stunning .314/.368/.573 on the year, including 26 homers, 73 RBI, and a whopping 82 extra-base hits. Want more? He's also swiped 15 bases and posted an elite 64:45 K:BB in 140 games. To show you how difficult it is to make projections in February/March, some publications had Ramirez as a 13th or 14th round pick in drafts, likely behind such illustrious players like Curtis Granderson and Joc Pederson. If drafting today, Ramirez doesn't make it out of the top 15-20 picks.
Felix Hernandez (SP-SEA) - King Felix returned to the hill Thursday, pitching in his first game since July 31. On a strict 50+ pitch count, Felix allowed a run on three hits over 3.2 innings, walking none and striking out three in Texas against the Rangers. That has to be considered a success given the length of his absence. Hernandez has a 4.19 ERA and solid 72:21 K:BB In 77.1 innings over 14 starts this season, though he's allowed more hits (82) than innings. It's easy to forget that Hernandez is somehow still only 31 after making his big league debut at the age of 19, but at this point, reversing the steady decline we've seen from him since 2014's 2.14 ERA / 248 K season doesn't seem likely.
Aaron Judge (OF-NYY) - Judge had himself a night Thursday, going 3-for-4 with a pair of three-run home runs. That lifted
his slash line to .277/.412/.589 and left him with 43 homers and 96 RBI. Judge entered Thursday batting just .208 in his last 30 games, as his 31.8% K% continued to allow pitchers to take advantage of the holes in his swing. Still, it was his second multi-HR game in his last four starts, and though the 193 strikeouts are just as notable as the home runs, Judge still has a 1.001 OPS and he's probably still in the AL MVP discussion. Given the propensity for striking out was also there in the minors, Judge isn't going to compete for batting titles, but in OBP leagues, he's easily a first round pick next year given an 18.1% BB%. I'd hesitate to tap him with my first pick in traditional 5x5 formats, but with these numbers, he's in the discussion there too.
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