September results are often cited by fantasy owners looking for young breakout players who flash power, speed, or both. Isolating one month’s stats can be risky due to the small sample size of any one-month performance and the roster expansion in September can lead to inflated numbers against poor competition.
Given these conditions, it’s important to take September results with a grain of salt, but that doesn’t mean they need to be entirely dismissed. Vaulting a 10th found player to the sixth round is unadvisable absent other circumstances but using September stats to take a second look at borderline fantasy relevant players is a viable use of the split. Plenty of September surgers have garnered a lot of attention this winter and spring so this article will aim to dig deeper and look at a few other September surgers who are flying under the radar.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
September Surgers Bound for a Breakout
Santana was able to amass an impressive seven home runs in the last month of the season, flashing his massive power potential. His 29.2 percent HR/FB rate will jump out to most, but a more sustainable improvement was the 36.4 percent flyball rate he posted. Santana has a 27.1 percent flyball rate for his career, which holds back a hitter with a powerful swing like Santana. If he is able to maintain a 36 percent flyball rate, he won’t need a 29.2 percent HR/FB rate to challenge for a 30 home run season.
Some concerns do remain, and one is playing time. Santana enters the season as the starting right fielder for the Brewers, but the team has a lot of young outfield talent in their farm system, most notable of which is Lewis Brinson. If Santana stumbles out of the gate he could be in jeopardy of losing playing time. This concern is limited by the potential that Ryan Braun remains a trade candidate, and despite the plentiful young talent, the Brewers don’t have proven commodities in the outfield outside of Braun.
One thing that seems unlikely to improve is Santana’s propensity to strikeout. Even with his impressive performance in September, Santana’s strikeout rate remained at 29.5 percent and his swinging strike rate was higher than his rate for the entire season. This issue has a clear limiting effect on his average will hurt his fantasy value in batting average leagues. That leaves Santana mainly as a power only option but his increased fly ball rate in September makes him an interesting bat who could provide plenty of power and counting stats.
Drury also managed to end the season with a power surge, posting a .357 average with 22 runs, 19 RBI, and six home runs in the final month of the season. However, he and Santana have a different profile as Drury surrenders some power in favor of a more well-rounded stat-line.
Drury started the season hot with eight home runs in his first two months of the 2016 season but hit only two home runs between June, July, and August. If the season had ended in August, the narrative entering the 2017 season would have been that major league pitching figured him out. Instead, he belted six home runs and ended the season on a high note. While some of his home runs did come off some questionable pitching, Bud Norris and Carlos Estevez are examples, he also teed off against established major-league pitchers like Madison Bumgarner, Jake McGee, and Brad Hand.
This stretch not only flickered some hope for fantasy owners but it may have done enough to preserve playing time for Drury. The return of A.J. Pollock and David Peralta crowds the Diamondbacks outfield, but offseason indications are that Drury has the second base job to lose this spring. Given that, his September power surge makes it worth giving him a second look this draft season.
Kiermaier is a player known mostly for his defense and doesn’t have one carrying fantasy stat, but he can contribute in all categories. That makes him an interesting player to target this year. His September line of eight stolen bases, five home runs, 17 runs scored, and a .296 average illustrates what he is capable of bringing to a fantasy team.
While Kiermaier isn’t going to be confused with Starling Marte, Jonathan Villar or Trea Turner, he attempted nine stolen bases in September after attempting just 15 throughout the rest of the season. His efficiency was also excellent, as he was successful on eight of those nine attempts. That should mean he continues to receive a green light from the team, however, the Rays are not normally an aggressive team on the basepaths. It remains to be seen if September was an aberration or the start of a trend.
A high infield flyball rate has held Kiermaier back from maintaining a strong batting average in the past, and that wasn’t something he corrected in September. As long as he is unable to do se he will not approach a .300 average. However, thanks to his defense, we know Kiermaier will remain in the lineup every day and if things fall right he could post a 15 home run, 30 stolen base season with a .260 average.