To tell you the truth, I'm not sure if the theory of the "second half" or "Septembe" player is something real or merely coincidental that fantasy baseball pundits like to talk about. One would need to sift through many years of stats of many players to arrive at an accurate conclusion. While I don't pay a huge amount of attention to this when deciding which players I should target down the stretch via trade or the waiver wire, the "September player" topic does deserve some attention.
Why? Well, the top performers during the season's final month tend to carry an inflated price tag heading into drafts the following spring for the simple reason that many owners have short memories. Taking note of September stats and filing the notes away for future reference could prove to be beneficial.
So, who were some of the September 2016 hitting leaders in the various Roto categories and can we conclude anything regarding the carryover from a hot season's end to the start of the next year?
Ian Kinsler: .386 AVG (1st among players with at least 70 at-bats) - Kinsler could surely use a September boost, as he's in the midst of a largely disappointing 2017 campaign. The veteran second sacker sports career-low numbers in batting average (.242) and OPS (.719), though he is on pace to finish with a solid 93 runs scored. As for 2018, the 35-year-old offers little upside. He's certainly not someone I'll be targeting in drafts.
Justin Upton: 12 HR (1st) - Upton has always been a streaky hitter but he took streakiness to a new level last season. Following an ice-cold start, he clubbed 22 of his 31 homers in the second half with 12 of those 22 longballs coming in September (plus one in October). This season has been a different story, as for the first time in awhile, the Tigers outfielder has provided his fantasy owners with high-end production all year. I hope I didn't just jinx him.
Kendrys Morales: 30 RBI (1st) - After averaging 26 homers and 100 RBI per season in his two years with the Royals, Morales signed a three-year, $33 million deal with Toronto over the winter. The Blue Jays must have been cautiously optimistic that Kendrys would replace most of the offensive production lost by the departure of Edwin Encarnacion. Not quite. But, despite his terrible August (.193 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Morales is still on pace to wrap up the season with 28 home runs and 77 RBI. In other words, we're looking at a fine mixed league contributor, even if he doesn't reward his owners with a repeat of September 2016.
Curtis Granderson: 23 R (Tied for 1st) - In addition to sharing the major league lead in runs scored, Grandy also managed to swat eight home runs while collecting 21 RBI last September. From what we're seeing lately, Granderson could put together an equally impressive encore if he can extend his August surge (9 HR, 20 RBI, 16 R) into September. Moving from the Mets to the contending Dodgers only improves his fantasy outlook.
Kevin Kiermaier: 8 SB (Tied for 5th) - Very quietly, Kiermaier is batting .355 (11-for-31) with three homers, eight RBI, six runs and one steal since returning from his lengthy DL stint. Now that's what I call quality across-the board production. And the strange thing is that this quality across-the-board production can be had for free, as Kiermaier is owned in only 23% of ESPN leagues and 25% of Yahoo leagues.
Make sure he's owned in your league. If not, you know what to do.
Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars champion. Follow him on Twitter @ZachMLB