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September HR Surgers Who Could Power Up in 2021

In what was the most unique baseball season of our lifetimes, it is important to remember that it may have taken some players longer to get into the full swing of things after such a long layoff. As it turns out, there were many hitters that performed better in the final month of the season as compared to the first month, especially in the power department.

A bad month in a short season can do a lot to affect the outlook of a player, but not each player's stats and slash line should be viewed equally, considering the circumstances.

With that in mind, let's take a look at four hitters, all of which underperformed in the power department to start the season but appeared to get things together down the stretch.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

AJ Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers

Maybe it's hard to get excited about a player such as Pollock at this stage of his career, considering he's now more in the "boring veteran" category of players and he's surrounded by a ton of star power in the Dodger lineup, but Pollock had a strong season last year, that perhaps got a bit overlooked.

In the month of August, Pollock slashed just .228/.273/.446, far from a productive player or the type of player we would expect him to be. In September however, Pollock really turned it on and did a lot more damage. He slashed .294/.322/.659, good for a 157 wRC+ and a .365 ISO. That was the eighth-highest slugging percentage and the tenth-highest ISO mark in all of baseball for the month, as he showed he can still be a force at the plate. In terms of his season as a whole, even with a slower start, Pollock set a career-best in hard-hit rate (43.1%), barrel rate (10.5), and sweet spot rate (37.9), as well as each of the expected stats from Statcast: xSLG, xwOBA, and xwOBACON.

Clearly, Pollock was doing a lot of things right at the plate last season, yet his draft price so far this year has been relatively low for a hitter that did what he did. Since February 1st, his ADP has been around pick 190, and the 50th outfielder off the board. Pollock is definitely a sleeper and should be an outfield target in the later rounds of drafts.

 

Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays

Power has always been the calling card as a player for Tellez, but he had previously been too inconsistent at the plate and never truly showed it off for an extended stretch in the Majors. The same was looking true at the start of the 2020 season, as Tellez was slashing just .227/.288/.455 through the first half of the season. In September though, Tellez really turned it on, and became one of the most feared hitters in a potent Blue Jays lineup, as he slashed .387/.444/.613 in September.

While that September slash line is definitely inflated, Tellez hit the ball extremely well, which drove those super strong results. He's always been a hard-hitter in the Majors, and he continued that trend in 2020, as he set a new best in hard-hit rate at 45.3%, ten percent better than league-average. What made the biggest difference in September though, is that Tellez cut down on the whiffs. In what was an incredible turnaround, Tellez whiffed just 12.9% in September compared to 31.5% in August. Fewer whiffs led to more balls in play, and with Tellez's profile, that means more hard-hit balls in play, which helped drive his outstanding month.

While it does remain to be seen if Tellez can continue to keep the whiff rate down in the future, it is being baked into his draft cost, as well as his less certain role on the Blue Jays with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. moving to first base this season. Tellez is expected to be the team's primary designated hitter, but the team has a lot of good bats, so it could be a fluid situation. That is, however, leading to an opportunity in fantasy to land a solid player at a low draft price as his current ADP is way down at pick 290, making him a nice sleeper option at first base this season.

 

Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins

Long an underrated player, Anderson has quietly been transforming at the plate the last couple of seasons into more of a power hitter, rather than the light-hitting player we saw during his first full season back in 2018. However, it was easy to miss, as slow starts have shadowed just how good a hitter he has been. Going back to 2019, Anderson had just a .421 slugging percentage in the first half, which was dwarfed in the second half by a .568 slugging. He couldn't avoid a similar fate in a shortened season, as he had a paltry .404 slugging mark in August, but saw it skyrocket to .505 in September.

Anderson has accomplished these new feats by going more to the pull side. Most of the pop he showed during his power-filled second half of 2019, was to the pull side and he seemed to take a more pull-side approach in 2020, as he set a new career-high in pull rate at 43%, while also posting his best barrel rate at 9.6%. The one downside of this approach was that it came with more strikeouts and whiffs, as Anderson set new career-highs in both (28.8%, and 34.4%, respectively).

Those wrinkles do create some limitations for Anderson as a player, and ultimately why his ADP is in the 200's. However, Anderson has shown to be an extremely solid and dependable Major League hitter throughout his career, and with a new shift to more power, there's 20+ home run potential here, which makes him a nice sleeper option for later on in drafts.

 

DJ Stewart, Baltimore Orioles

While Stewart doesn't have the most pedigree of the Orioles' young hitters, the former first-round pick did show some nice pop with the bat late in the season, and with little fanfare.

Stewart couldn't even crack a bad Orioles' lineup to start the year, as he received a whole 14 plate appearances through the end of August, in which he didn't register a hit. He got more opportunities in September though and was playing nearly every day at the end of the year, in which he simply went off, with a .230/.367/.541 triple slash. The average is still ugly and the power will regress, but a performance like that is definitely worthy of a closer look. Stewart doesn't have much Major League playing time, but he has shown in small samples the ability to consistently barrel up the ball (10.4% career rate) and hit it hard (37.4% career hard-hit rate). He also has a 49.5% career pull rate, which is encouraging from a power perspective and he doesn't have a super-high groundball rate, all with decent plate discipline as he sports a career 12.6% walk rate.

Stewart's role, however, is not quite set this year, which ultimately makes him more of a deep sleeper. He does figure to get a good amount of playing time as the Orioles are still rebuilding, but that lack of a role has his current ADP at close to pick 600, meaning undrafted in pretty much all formats. Keep him in mind for later on in the year though, should his playing time increase, as he can a nice option sitting freely available in free agency.



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