Brent Morel (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 12 percent owned)
Brett Lawrie’s season is done after breaking a finger on Wednesday, which isn’t a terrible loss for the Blue Jays, who are simply playing out the string, and close the season with six games away from Rogers Centre. Lawrie’s injury may, however, leave a few AL-only and mixed owners in the lurch. Morel may not be the most exciting replacement option, but he’s widely available and playing well of late.
For the season, Morel hit an unexciting .254/.295/.375, but for the month of September he’s up to .279/.405/.689. In addition to the obvious power increase, he has apparently finally learned how to draw a walk; he has 13 walks in 77 PAs since Sept. 1 compared to just 7 in his previous 341 PAs. His OBP alone makes him a decent option — provided your league counts such things — but his power is what makes him especially intriguing for the last few days of the season. After hitting just 2 HR in the first five months of the season, he has 7 this month, including a pair of games in which he hit a pair of bombs.
After Thursday night’s game in Cleveland, the Sox close out the season with six at home. Morel faces the Royals and Blue Jays in one of baseball’s five most home run-friendly parks, so things seem to set up well for him to continue his fine month. Looking past next week, his power still looks more episodic than consistent, but if he can keep his newfound plate discipline around, he’ll be a much better player for it.
Robert Andino (Yahoo: 11 percent owned, ESPN: 12 percent owned)
Is it surprising that an Orioles second baseman could make an impact on fantasy leagues at the end of a season? Not particularly. Is it a surprise that the player in question isn’t Brian Roberts, but Robert Andino? I’m sure someone out there is thumping his or her chest over predicting Andino’s hot month, but don’t feel bad if it wasn’t you. Andino hit .243/.297/.320 in August, so it isn’t as though we all should have seen his September line — .309/.349/.444 — on the horizon.
Despite being a thorn in the side of the Red Sox, Andino hasn’t been spectacular in any one category; he has just 2 HR and 3 SB this month to go with his .316 average. However, he has benefited from the Orioles’ highest team OBP since June, as his 11 RBI are fifth best among second baseman this month. If you just need steals, check out Eno’s suggestions from Wednesday; if what you really need is power, I’d rather grab Morel. If you’re just looking for an all-around improvement from a disappointing or recently injured infielder, you could do worse than Andino.
While his remaining match ups don’t look great on paper — four games against the Tigers and three against the Red Sox — there’s reason for hope. While he doesn’t avoid Justin Verlander, Andino does miss both Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, facing Jacob Turner and Brad Penny instead. Obviously this doesn’t guarantee success, but it does portend better things than having to face Detroit’s entire playoff rotation. As far as Boston is concerned, Andino has actually hit the Red Sox as well or better than he’s hit anyone this year; he has posted the second highest OPS of any team he faced more than twice against the Red Sox, including going 6-for-17 with a HR, 5 RBI and 3 SB in their most recent four game series.