Collette Calls: The Homestretch

Collette Calls: The Homestretch

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

The baseball season is roughly two thirds of the way complete as you read this article. I'll pause for a moment to allow you to grieve or to make your next pick in your fantasy football slow draft. If you are reading this article now, that means you are still in contention for a league title, and I both thank you for still reading about baseball in the peak of fantasy football season as well as applaud your success for still being in contention through the dog days of summer. You have come this far in the season with strategy and guile while likely either surviving a rash of injuries or having Aaron Judgian luck across your roster in avoiding injuries. Do not let yourself get distracted with preseason football games or fantasy football drafts to close out this season as you look to plan out the final third of the season. 

As you sit down to plan out this home stretch, it is important to figure out what is realistic and what is improbable when you look for player performance as the season winds down. A curveball to this season is the fact three of the six divisional races are all but over, as the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers have commanding leads in their respective divisions. It would take an utter collapse from those teams to lose their positioning. The Astros and Yankees can continue plugging away for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but the Astros are in the

The baseball season is roughly two thirds of the way complete as you read this article. I'll pause for a moment to allow you to grieve or to make your next pick in your fantasy football slow draft. If you are reading this article now, that means you are still in contention for a league title, and I both thank you for still reading about baseball in the peak of fantasy football season as well as applaud your success for still being in contention through the dog days of summer. You have come this far in the season with strategy and guile while likely either surviving a rash of injuries or having Aaron Judgian luck across your roster in avoiding injuries. Do not let yourself get distracted with preseason football games or fantasy football drafts to close out this season as you look to plan out the final third of the season. 

As you sit down to plan out this home stretch, it is important to figure out what is realistic and what is improbable when you look for player performance as the season winds down. A curveball to this season is the fact three of the six divisional races are all but over, as the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers have commanding leads in their respective divisions. It would take an utter collapse from those teams to lose their positioning. The Astros and Yankees can continue plugging away for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but the Astros are in the driver's seat there with the easier schedule the rest of the way as they play in the weaker division. The Dodgers already have a five-game lead over the Mets for that honor, so they could begin maintenance mode operations earlier in September that could become a threat to the playing time you've grown accustomed to with some of your key contributors. Don't forget that factor as you begin to consider the realm of the possible the rest of the way. To determine the realm of the possible, let's take a look at some of the best runs of statistical production to close out a season in recent years. We'll start with the hitting, looking at the final 50 games for players since 2015. The pitching categories use 12 starts or 20 relief appearances as guidelines. 

Home runs

Player

Season

Homers 

J.D. Martinez

2017

23

Nelson Cruz

2019

22

Josh Donaldson

2017

22

Matt Olson

2017

22

Aaron Judge

2022

21

Brandon Belt

2021

21

Giancarlo Stanton

2015, 2017

21

Luke Voit

2020

20

Eugenio Suarez

2019

20

Mike Trout

2019

20

Brian Dozier

2016

20

Gary Sanchez

2016

20

Edwin Encarnacion

2015

20

Anytime I can get a table with Edwin Encarnacion on it, I'm happy. That is the entire list of players with 20 or more homers to close out a season, but note that just three guys have done it since the elimination of the super happy fun ball of 2019. Martinez, Cruz and Donaldson had their seasons in friendly environments but Olson's run with Oakland in 2017 stands out given his home park. Judge is in the midst of a heater right now as he has more homers (13) in the past 30 days than the entire roster of the Miami Marlins (10). The biggest surprise on this list may just be Dozier because he went on that tremendous run where seemingly everything he hit left the yard down the stretch. A more realistic homer total may be closer to 15-18 given the new baseball environment. There are but two players who have hit 20 homers over any 50-game stretch this season: Judge and Kyle Schwarber. If we expand it just a bit more, only those two plus Austin Riley, Byron Buxton, Mookie Betts, and Yordan Alvarez have hit as many as 18 homers in any 50-game stretch in 2022.

Runs Batted In

Players

Season

RBI

Nelson Cruz

2019

59

Edwin Encarnacion

2018

55

Jose Abreu

2020

53

Jose Ramirez

2019

53

Adrian Beltre

2015

53

Christian Yelich

2018

51

J.D. Martinez

2017

51

Marcell Ozuna

2020

50

Hanley Ramirez

2016

50

That is the entirety of players who averaged an RBI a game over the final 50 games in recent seasons. We can all fondly remember that amazing close to the 2018 season for Yelich, as he won the MVP that season, or how Beltre drove in 53 runs despite hitting just 9 homers in that span as a doubles machine. Expanding the list to 40 RBIs gives us 98 instances of that happening since 2015 and Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Ramirez, Aaron Judge, and Pete Alonso are the only four players with a stretch of 50 RBIs in 50 games at any point this season. There are 12 other players who have driven in as many as 40 runs over a 50-game span this year, so be happy if you get someone who drives in as many as 35 runners the rest of the way and don't get greedy. RBI are a matter of opportunity, so it goes without saying you'll need good hitters in the middle of the lineup on good teams. 

Runs

Player

Year

Runs

Brian Dozier

2017

52

Charlie Blackmon

2016

49

Freddie Freeman

2016

48

Trea Turner

2019

47

Juan Soto

2019

46

Mookie Betts

2018, 2019

46

Aaron Judge

2017, 2022

45

Shin-Soo Choo

2015

45

Mookie Betts

2020

44

Alex Bregman

2019

44

Ronald Acuna

2019

44

I would never have guessed Dozier is the only player since 2015 to score 50 or more runs in a 50-game span to close the season, but there it is. We've seen someone score 40 or more runs to close out a season 78 times. 50 players have done so, but just 17 of them have done it multiple times. Betts and Turner are the kings, having done so five times, but then you get surprises like Adam Eaton and Tommy Pham who have done it more times than the likes of Jose Altuve or Juan Soto. This season, we've already seen Tommy Edman score 48 runs in a 50-game stretch earlier this season while only Betts and Judge have been able to top that effort. DJ LeMahieu, Brandon Drury, and Luis Arraez are other surprising names we find on that same list this season. Set your vision on 35+ runs scored from your linchpins and you should not be disappointed. Aiming any higher is going to get you into trouble.

Steals

Player

Year

Steals

Billy Hamilton

2016

39

Jon Berti

2022

22

Trea Turner

2017

28

Adalberto Mondesi

2018

24

Dee Strange-Gordon

2015

24

Adalberto Mondesi

2020

23

Mallex Smith

2018

23

Starling Marte

2021

20

Whit Merrifield

2018

20

Jonathan Villar

2018

20

Dee Strange-Gordon

2016

20

Remember, Mondesi is not around for his typical September magic this season. Berti is the only player this year to have a 50-game span with 20 or more steals, and it's highly unlikely he has another one in him as he nears his return from a groin injury. Only Berti, Ronald Acuna Jr., Julio Rodriguez, and Tommy Edman have had as many as 15 steals in a 50-game span this season. If you can get 10 from a player the rest of the way, you should be happy, but I honestly don't know where that is going to come from.

Wins

Pitcher

Season

Wins

Jake Arrieta

2015

10

James Paxton

2019

10

Gerrit Cole

2019

10

Zack Wheeler

2018

10

Corey Kluber

2017

10

Justin Verlander

2017

10

Zack Greinke

2015

10

Kyle Wright

2022

9

Tony Gonsolin

2022

9

Justin Verlander

2022

9

Adam Wainwright

2021

9

Blake Snell

2018

9

Max Scherzer

2016

9

Corey Kluber

2016

9

Jon Lester

2016

9

David Price

2015

9

That is the complete list of pitchers with more than eight wins down the stretch in recent seasons, lumping in the three active spans from Wright, Gonsolin and Verlander. Given McClanahan's recent struggles, Verlander now appears in the driver's seat for the AL Cy Young with his monster comeback season and could keep this run going given the strength of schedule for Houston the rest of the way. The only other pitchers this season with an impressive run of wins would include the eight wins Dylan Cease has racked up over his previous 12 starts, the similar stretch Julio Urias is in the middle of, and McClanahan's dominant run of eight wins in 12 starts which ended with his final July start in a loss to Cleveland. On the surprising end of the scale, Nick Pivetta won eight of his 12 outings from the middle of May leading into the All-Star break. We all know how finicky wins are and how relievers are picking up a greater share, and that is why I want to point out what a handful of relievers have done down the stretch in recent years:

Reliever

Season

Wins

Chad Green

2021

10

Brent Suter

2021

10

Juan Nicasio

2016

9

Paul Sewald

2021

8

Alex Reyes

2021

8

Devin Williams

2021

8

We're just a season removed from five different relievers winning eight or more games in their final 50 outings. Green got five of his eight wins after August 1st as did Sewald and Suter, but Reyes had an astounding five wins in the final three weeks of last season. Don't forget your high-leverage relievers on good teams down the stretch!

Saves

Reliever

Season

Saves

Edwin Diaz

2018

17

Alex Colome

2017

17

Trevor Rosenthal

2015

17

Corey Knebel

2017

16

Edwin Diaz

2022

14

Brad Hand

2020

14

Archie Bradley

2019

14

Taylor Rogers

2019

14

Ken Giles

2018

14

Sean Doolittle

2017

14

Sam Dyson

2016

14

Francisco Rodriguez

2016

14

Huston Street

2015

14

This is not exactly a list of luminaries as much as a reminder that having the closer's job is a big part of getting saves. This is why we throw our remaining FAAB dollars at the likes of Cionel Perez or Jimmy Herget when they get a vacated closer role because anything can happen. There are over 100 instances of closers getting 10 or more saves in the final 50 games of the season, so don't give up hope in this category and continue to stream whatever you can into the role on your roster.

Strikeouts

Pitcher

Season

Strikeouts

Gerrit Cole

2019

132

Shane Bieber

202

122

Justin Verlander

2019

117

Jacob deGrom

2021

111

Max Scherzer

2018

111

Yu Darvish

2019

110

German Marquez

2018

110

Jacob deGrom

2018

110

Clayton Kershaw

2015

109

Tyler Glasnow

2021

108

Lucas Giolito

2019

108

Chris Sale

2017-2019

108

Studs are gonna stud, with the occasional surprise (Marquez) sneaking in there. We have 27 instances of a pitcher striking out at least 100 batters over his final 12 outings, with Chris Sale doing it five separate times to lead the pack. Gerrit Cole, Dylan Cease, and Carlos Rodon are on current hot streaks but don't sleep on Braxton Garrett or Reid Detmers, as both have strikeout rates greater than 30 percent over the past month.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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