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One Player From Each Team to Look For This September

National League

NL East

Atlanta Braves- Austin Riley

Having a career year, Riley is batting .305/.375/.536 with a .912 OPS. His contact statistics saw a huge jump from his rookie campaign in 2019, boosting his average by 80 points and his BABIP by 68 points. Paired with a career-high .387 wOBA, his entire offense has greatly improved to heights that many scouts wouldn’t have predicted. If Riley can maintain the same contact numbers he has had all year, his power could be on a trajectory to a much higher slugging rate based on his prior growth.

Washington Nationals- Keibert Ruiz

After being shipped twice between the Orioles and Dodgers, the former top prospect has slowly regressed his way down the ranking charts since his peak outlook in 2018 with the Dodgers. Getting the call in late August, Ruiz finally has the chance to prove what he is capable of doing, which he was not afforded during his time with Los Angeles. With a .310/.377/.616 line in Triple-A, the call was well deserved. Finally on a team with a serious catching problem, expect Ruiz to be a new everyday player for a struggling Nationals team. While they may not be playoff-bound, his performance this month could shape how Washington’s roster grows over the next couple of years.

Philadelphia Phillies- Bryce Harper

Harper’s success this season has been a key component of the Phillies postseason push, batting .301/.417/.586 with 5.1 fWAR. While he is definitely raking in any circumstance, interestingly, Harper has been better this season with runners on base. Batting .324/.395/.585 with the bases occupied, this has been a contributing factor in his overall value to the club. If Bryce is fortunate enough to keep these types of numbers up in September and lead the Phillies to October, expect him to be the frontrunner for the National League MVP award.

New York Mets - Francisco Lindor

Recently being reactivated from the IL in late August, Lindor has most certainly had the worst season of his career. Currently batting about .230, he has obviously struggled to pull his weight for a Mets team that is in desperate need of offensive production. He has not been the only one, with the Mets carrying the 17th overall offense in Major League Baseball. With many crucial members of this team out for the year, such as Jacob deGrom, a healthy and 2017-like Lindor just might be the saving grace for the Mets this September.

Miami Marlins- Edward Cabrera

Arguably, Edward is more well known for his insane card from the popular video game MLB The Show than his baseball talent. Recently making his MLB Debut, Cabrera threw 6.1 innings and gave up 3 Earned runs with just 2 strikeouts in a rough start. However, debuts cannot always be telling of how a player will do in the future. Cabrera has long been expected to be a crucial part of the future of this rebuilding Marlins team, and one start will not likely change that path just yet. While the Marlins are likely looking to come out of their rebuild within the next 2 years, Cabrera might just change that goal based upon how he plays this September and the start of next year.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs- Patrick Wisdom

Without a doubt, the Cub’s glitter of hope for their future has been Patrick Wisdom, the 30-year-old rookie and former Texas Ranger who has hit 28 Home Runs and is in the running for the Rookie of the Year award. Hitting .247/.308/.557 with a 128 wRC+, he has been an unexpected surprise in this disappointing season for the Chicago club. Unfortunately, his performance will not yield any type of reward, as the team is very far out from playoff contention. Wisdom likely will not be a build-around piece for the Cub’s future due to his higher age, but he has been a treat to watch for Chicago fans this year after trading anyone they loved this season.

Cincinnati Reds- Joey Votto

Votto has been quite the surprise for the Reds this year, producing MVP-like numbers despite a very slow start to the season. Votto has seen a drastic improvement in his power numbers the second half of the year, slashing .292/.405/.675 with 17 home runs. Mixed with a career-high strikeout rate of 25.1%, he has made a clearer effort to hit effectively rather than focusing on getting on base. Votto, now 37, is looking to take the Reds to back-to-back playoff appearances in hopes of getting a ring before he retires.

Milwaukee Brewers- Corbin Burnes

Burnes has had a career year in 2021, posting 5.4 fWAR and a 1.57 FIP. In fact, he is currently the Cy Young favorite for the NL. While Burnes' stats were initially plagued with low run support, the pickup of Willy Adames has led to significant improvement in the offense. The Brewers themselves are poised for some underrated playoff damage with this deadly combo.

Pittsburgh Pirates- KeBryan Hayes

Hayes has been the prized possession of the Pirates front office this season and hasn’t performed as well as most of the MLB had expected. After his red hot start to the season, Hayes went on the IL and since lost his power numbers, hitting just one home run since the All-Star break in 151 at-bats. Hayes was likely going to be the Pirate’s build-around piece but that ideal may be in decline soon.

St. Louis Cardinals- Dylan Carlson

Carlson was a candidate to win the Rookie of the Year award by many MLB analysts, yet he hasn’t quite reached that level of a player yet in his time in the Big. However, he has still been quite productive for the Cardinals this season. Carrying an OPS+ of 112, ranking just above the league average with his .764, his freshman year has been average. With a change in his game, he just might put the Cardinals over the Reds and Padres for the second Wild Card spot.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers- Blake Treinen

Now heading to the west coast, Blake Treinen is the most reliable bullpen arm that the Dodgers have. He is going to be used a ton to help them win more games and get that first place seeding. The Dodgers, with their seemingly invincible lineup, have a weak spot in their bullpen. While this may be considered the weakest component of the team, they still have a healthy Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen ready for this September as well. Expect Treinen to be used a ton this September to improve his already career year.

San Francisco Giants- Logan Webb

Logan Webb… if you have heard of him, it was likely as or from a Giants fan in the past week. Webb has hurled 32.1 innings in the past month and has given up only 4 earned runs, earning himself 3 wins in that span. He is averaging 10.6 K/9 and is going to be a big piece for the Giants rotation this season, adding much-needed depth to a staff that is admittedly short. With Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood stuck on the IL, Webb adds a layer of support to cover the injured staff. As the Giants are most definitely playoff-bound, expect a big showing from the RHP in September and beyond.

Arizona Diamondbacks- Tyler Gilbert

Since his no-hitter against the Padres, Gilbert has been rocked. Giving up a combined 9 earned runs since his impeccable debut, the 27-year-old may have a big future ahead set up for him if he can overcome his setbacks and go back to original form. All eyes are on the exciting Tyler Gilbert for Dbacks fans, as the team has been absolutely awful on their road to the #1 overall pick in 2022.

Colorado Rockies - C.J. Cron

After just recently being named Player of the Month for August in the National League, Cron has raked his way into validation by MLB fans. With 25 home runs this season after a weak year with Detroit, it looks as if his bat is catching fire. His reliability as a player may be streaky, but when he is hot, he is certainly hard to beat.

San Diego Padres- Fernando Tatis Jr.

The current National League MVP favorite, Tatis Jr. has been nothing short of incredible this season. Hitting .280/.365/.633, the only possible factor that could prevent him from winning this award is the consideration of his injuries. Only playing 103 games of his team's 135, his failure to remain on the field consistently could impede his chances for this great honor. With the Padres postseason on the line, a great September performance could solidify his chances to take home the award. He is definitely one to watch as San Diego battles for their right to October baseball.

American League

AL East

Baltimore Orioles- Ryan Mountcastle

Mountcastle has slashed .269/.318/.502 this season with 25 home runs performing well-above league average, potentially entrenching himself in the Top 3 for the AL Rookie of the Year voting. The 24-year-old will be a nice talent for the future of the Orioles, pairing greatly with Adley Rutschman in the years to come. With Mountcastle on a hot streak this past month, slashing .310/.388/.672, it will be interesting to see if he can not only place in the voting but win the ROY.

Boston Red Sox - Alex Verdugo

After trading their face of the franchise in Mookie Betts, the Red Sox got quite the unexpected return in Alex Verdugo. After being a top Dodgers prospect, his talent was nothing to note in the earlier stage of his career. With the trade to Boston, everything changed. Verdugo has proven to be remarkable, making him a likely contender to be extended by the club based on the joy and wins he has added. If his power numbers increase, he may just be on his way to an MVP in future years.

New York Yankees- Estevan Florial

The former top international MLB prospect that was adored by baseball analysts in 2018 has struggled thus far in his brief time in the Majors. In 26 at-bats, he has collected 7 hits. Florial struggled late in his minor league career and may be considered a bust to some now after his long development time in the minors, however, Florial still might still live up to his billing.

Tampa Bay Rays- Randy Arozarena

The playoff magician shocked the baseball world last fall with his performance in the playoffs hitting 10 home runs in 19 games. Arozarena, along with Mountcastle, finds himself as a Rookie of the Year candidate and has had a similar stat line to Mountcastle batting .270/.351/.455 with 18 home runs. Amongst these two, I expect Mountcastle to come away with the award but Arozarena will be a very close second or third.

Toronto Blue Jays- Vlad Guerrero Jr

My favorite breakout pick this year, his talent is undeniable and he is putting up MVP numbers (we all know someone else who has that award though). Guerrero has had quite the sophomore season that a lot of analysts missed on. After working on himself and engaging himself with strong conditioning programs in the offseason, he lost a ton of weight that held him back from his successful 2019 and 2020 seasons. Expect Guerrero’s name to be heard for many years to come.

AL Central

Detroit Tigers- Tarik Skubal

The Tigers have a handful of players to write about despite their losing record this year. Akil Baddoo lit up the offense for the Tigers earlier in the season, Casey Mize was a former #1 overall pick, and Miggy is currently breaking personal records that will further conclude his hall of Fame career. Skubal this season has been nothing more than or less than average. Posting a 4.26 ERA and 4.99 FIP. Skubal’s most effective pitch in his career has been his slider, thanks to his ¾ pitching motion.

Kansas City Royals- Adalberto Mondesi

Mondesi in just his first 12 games of the year has already 5 home runs and a .356 batting average and a .440 BABIP. At the age of 26, Mondesi has always been known as a speed demon in the Majors therefore it is more than surprising to see him produce the type of power numbers that he has so far this season. Although the Royals are out of the Playoff hunt. Mondesi is going to be interesting as to where they will put him if he keeps producing, with a young Bobby Witt Jr. coming up through the Minors, Mondesi will have to find a new position to play or get traded this offseason.

Cleveland Indians- Triston McKenzie

McKenzie has been dominant for the Indians in August and is averaging a 1.11 whip this season but just a 0.44 whip in August. After pitching a near-complete game shutout with 11 K’s he has started to pop up on fans’ radars. McKenzie is very young and seems to be on pace for success with the Cleveland pitching developmental system that is one of the best in baseball every year. It will be exciting to see how McKenzie finishes his season and get a sneak peek into the potential superstar pitcher he may be in the future.

Chicago White Sox- Gavin Sheets

Only being in the Majors for a total of 1 month, Sheets’ .240 batting average is not defining him as a player. He has blasted 8 home runs with a wRC+ of 129, proving him to be an above-average player during his service time. The large downside with Sheets is his age, much like Patrick Wisdom, at the age of 25 as a rookie likely means his second contract after his rookie deal will not be any large sum of money at all. Sheets this September might be LaRussa's key to being a deep playoff team.

Minnesota Twins- Bailey Ober

As things stand right now, Bailey Ober is likely the 2022 Opening Day starter for the Minnesota Twins. Despite probably not being a name you know, the 6’9” North Carolina product is making a very strong case for himself to be a mainstay in the Twins rotation for years to come. In eight starts since July 19, Ober has been very effective, posting a 2.81 ERA along with a 1.08 WHIP and a 6.67 K/BB. Ober’s signature pitch is his fastball, which has increased over a full mile per hour in velocity since his debut. His lanky frame creates a visual challenge for opponents and allows him to tunnel his changeup very effectively. I look forward to seeing Ober’s finish to the 2021 season and his first full season in 2022.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels- ShoTime

With Ohtani recording his 9th win of the season early this month, he will be looking to record his 10th victory sometime within his last 2 or 3 starts of the season. It will also be interesting to see if he will be able to turn it around at the plate after a down month of August. Ohtani will also be aiming for his 50th home run of the season. He would need 8 home runs in this month, which he has already accomplished in 3 out of the 5 months this year. Ohtani has already put together a historic season in 2021 and all of baseball is looking forward to seeing his finish.

Oakland Athletics- Starling Marte

After the season-ending suspension of Ramon Laureano, and the Athletics, David Forst felt the need to make a trade for another outfielder (Assuming the organization knew of this impending suspension before it was handed down). The former Pittsburgh Pirate and Miami Marlin have batted much better this season with the Athletics than he had done with the Marlins. Reaching a total of 5.1 WAR and is on pace for one of his best seasons yet. Marte is playing great for the organization, the only question is, where will he be next year?

Seattle Mariners- Jarred Kelenic

There is a lot to say about this former top prospect, ranging from having the worst season ever in the MLB and then being compared to Bryce Harper when he was called up. Everyone knows about Kelenic’s awful offensive year, so let’s take a look into his defensive metrics to see if they are any better, spoiler alert, they aren’t. Kelenic’s UZR is -2.1, an interesting statistic that is that Kelenic is best at hitting the ball against cutters and split-finger fastballs but not regular fastballs. It’s almost like he is expecting every pitch he sees to have vast movement on it whether or not he is or isn’t. The Mariners are likely to fall short of the playoffs this season but maybe Kelenic can save himself this year by playing well in September.

Texas Rangers- Glenn Otto

Acquired by the Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, Otto has done surprisingly well for the Rangers in his short stint with them. Otto only pitching 9.2 innings with a 1.86 ERA is going to be a sleeper piece for the future rebuild of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers do have some pitchers coming up in the minors soon and Otto might be the first one to pan out for them and be a leader for this club. Otto was never a top prospect and throws in the low to mid 90’s but his biggest struggle has been his command. If Otto can keep his walk rate down this September he will earn a spot on the team for next year and years to come.

Houston Astros- Carlos Correa

Entering a contract month, Correa’s last chance to prove himself is this September. The difference that he makes for the Astros and this month, in general, may mean the difference in several million dollars. Correa has batted well this year with a .309 batting average and a wRC+ of 138. Correa is going to get himself paid by a ballclub this offseason now whether or not that it is by the Astros again is questionable.


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