Ah, September. It's the time when fantasy titles are won or lost, the time when nightly box score scanning turns into hourly box score scanning if you are fortunate enough to still be in contention. The league trade deadline has passed, so all you can do is set lineups, scour the waiver wire in hopes of adding a true difference maker (good luck with that) and relax (good luck with that).
I've never fully subscribed to the "second half player" theory, that there are certain players who can be relied upon to perform at a higher level during the latter portion of the season. And the "September player" theory is even harder to buy into since the sample size is small. But I wouldn't dismiss the idea entirely, as some players might simply need more time to meet expectations. So, I figured that a fun, and possibly even educational, exercise would be to look at some of the top offensive producers from last September with the goal of determining their chances of enjoying a similar level of success this September.
Justin Bour has been sidelined since early-July due to an ankle sprain, but the Marlins are hopeful that their first baseman can return to action within the next week. This season has certainly been a frustrating one for Bour and his fantasy owners, but perhaps he can close out 2016 on a high note. Keep in mind that the 28-year-old launched nine home runs to go along with 25 RBI last September. Bour could provide a power boost to the patient owners who stashed him on their DL, and he might even reside on the waiver wire in some shallower mixed formats.
Christian Yelich is quietly putting together a stellar season in his age-24 campaign, hitting .307 with 18 homers, 83 RBI and 70 runs scored through 129 games while using his trademark elite batting eye to register a .383 OBP. The Marlins left fielder was tied for 5th in the Majors in runs scored last September (22) and ranked in the top-9 in Hits (36), so it would not be surprising to see him finish the year in impressive fashion.
Eventually, the 37-year-old Adrian Beltre will show signs of decline. But it hasn't happened yet, and at this point it remains to be seen if it will ever happen. With a full month still to play, the Rangers third baseman has already posted his highest home run and RBI totals since 2013, and if last September is any indication (.327 AVG, 29 RBI), his bat is unlikely to cool off down the stretch. As for 2017, I'll continue to shy away from him in drafts because he will eventually show signs of decline. At least I think so.
Starlin Castro has been decent but far from exceptional in his first season with the Yankees. The 19 homers are nice, but outside of the power, he hasn't been much of a fantasy factor (.267 AVG, 4 SB). This is a guy who was once a strong contributor in both the batting average and stolen base departments, so the one-dimensional nature of his current fantasy value is concerning. And this is why I'm not putting too much stock into last season's red-hot September during which he batted .426 with five homers and 20 RBI. Castro is an acceptable starting MI in mixed leagues, and that's about it.
Ender Inciarte is fresh off a month of August that included a .371 batting average, 26 runs scored and two steals. After getting on base at a mediocre .294 clip in the first half, the Braves centerfielder sports a lofty .424 OBP since the All-Star break. Inciarte swiped eight bags (tied for 2nd in the Majors) while batting .317 last September with the Diamondbacks. Aside from the elite speedsters, a player's stolen base production is difficult to predict. But if Inciarte can increase his activity on the basepaths while maintaining his OBP improvement, owners who stuck with the 25-year-old through the rough times will be handsomely rewarded.