Lucas Duda: 4 HR, 13 RBI, 3 K (30 points)
A frequent member of the Longball Derby Top 5 Point Earners list this year, Duda is in the midst of a strong month of September that has included four homers, 14 RBI and a .978 OPS heading into the final week of the season. The Mets first baseman is a very streaky hitter, which has undoubtedly frustrated the 10 owners who selected him in the $15K Longball Derby contest. But despite missing some time due to injury, Duda has already secured his second straight 25-plus home run season, and the fact that he’s finishing 2015 on a high note bodes well for his 2016 outlook.
Khris Davis: 6 HR, 11 RBI, 12 K (29 points)
The late-July trades of Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra gave Davis the opportunity for regular at-bats as Milwaukee’s starting left fielder. The 27-year-old has taken full advantage of that opportunity, launching a combined 19 home runs to go along with 43 RBI in August and September. Davis is coming off a 22-home run campaign in 2014, so the power isn’t a big surprise. All he needed was the playing time, and if the Brewers decide to stick with Davis as an everyday player in 2016, a career-high home run total wouldn’t be a big surprise either.
Bryce Harper: 5 HR, 11 RBI, 9 K (27 points)
The favorite to capture NL MVP honors, Harper enters the final week of the season ranked 1st in the Senior Circuit in both runs (117) and batting average (.336) and tied for 1st in homers (41). The 22-year-old was the second-most popular choice in the $15K Longball Derby contest, behind only Paul Goldschmidt, so participants who selected him didn’t gain much of an advantage over the competition. But participants who didn’t select him put themselves at a huge disadvantage.
Jay Bruce: 6 HR, 8 RBI, 15 K (23 points)
Although he cannot be relied upon for a high batting average, Bruce has quietly established himself as one of the more reliable power hitters in the game. His six home runs over the past two weeks brings his season total to 26 and also clinches his fifth 25-plus home run campaign in the last six years. Expect more of the same in 2016.
Jose Bautista: 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 K (23 points)
Along with AL MVP favorite Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, Bautista has anchored a Blue Jays offense that has been by far the best in baseball in 2015. His 39 longballs represent his highest total since 2011 and his 110 RBI was last topped in 2010. What makes Bautista even more appealing from a Longball Derby standpoint is that he doesn’t strike out nearly as much as some of the other top sluggers. The eighth-most owned player in the $15K contest this season should once again be a popular selection next year.
The Week Ahead
After batting just .255 with seven homers and 22 RBI in the first half, Adrian Beltre sports a .304 average with nine home runs and 48 RBI since the All-Star break. The Rangers will play seven home games this week, three against the Tigers followed by four versus the Angels, clubs that rank 30th and 25th respectively in ERA on the road this season. Plus, 11 of Beltre’s 16 homers this year have come at home. Count on a highly productive week from the Rangers third baseman.