It's that time again. The time where MLB teams and fantasy teams alike are prepping for their respective playoffs.
Just about all of the MLB teams making their postseason push have their rosters set and in order. But in case you fantasy owners need a little help in the offensive area of your playoff preparations, I offer you the hottest hitters going right now.
For the most part, we are looking at the hitters who are red hot in September, the final month of the regular season. These men are doing their part to end the season on a good note, and they will be of great value to their owners in fantasy land.
Good luck to all you fantasy participants out there!
The Washington Nationals have to be asking themselves, "Where has this Ryan Zimmerman been all year?" The Nats' star third baseman has had a pretty disappointing season, but September has been a whole different story.
Zimmerman has clubbed 10 home runs and driven in 13 runs in 16 September ballgames, and no surprise that the Nationals are 13-3 during this stretch. One has to wonder if the Nationals would be fending off other teams for a playoff spot, rather than chasing from behind right now if Zimmerman had provided this kind of production all season long.
Make sure Zimm is present in your lineups heading towards your fantasy playoffs—there's none hotter right now.
You could say that Hunter Pence is on fire right now. The right fielder for the San Francisco Giants was named National League Player of the Week for the period ending September 15. He belted six home runs over that span and drove in 19 runs. Of course six of those came in one game, and seven in another.
Still, Pence has been a machine for the G-Men this month. In 16 September games, the 30-year-old is slashing .410/.486/.918 with a 1.404 OPS.
The Giants aren't playing for much these days, with their playoff chances all but gone. But Pence is playing for a contract, so you can expect his hot-hitting ways to continue throughout the rest of the season.
Denard Span, Zimmerman's teammate on the Nationals, is in the midst of a very impressive 28-game hitting streak. During the streak, which started with a three-hit performance on August 17, Span is hitting .378 with two home runs, 19 runs scored and seven stolen bases.
And Span's hitting streak isn't just helping his own stats. The Nationals have gained a lot of ground in the hunt for the playoffs during his 28-game stretch. They have gone from 9.5 games out of the Wild Card to just 4 1/2 games behind the Reds. They have gone from being on life support to playoff-relevant over the past month. Span is certainly a key reason why.
After enduring two separate stints on the disabled list this year, Wilson Ramos is certainly making up for lost time.
Since returning from his most recent (and longest) stay on the DL on July 4, Ramos has slugged 13 of his 15 total home runs on the season. Narrowing the scope even further, the Nationals' backstop is slashing .328/.371/.638 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 15 September contests.
He's entrenched as the Nats' starting catcher for the duration of the season, and there's no reason he shouldn't be in your lineups as well.
Mike Napoli's first (and possibly only) season in Boston has certainly been a curious one. He's been hot and cold, up and down all season long, and endured a huge slump in August when he hit just .208 with only three home runs.
But he's closing the season with an exclamation point, putting behind any woes of the past five months. In 13 September games, Napoli is hitting a robust .417 with five home runs and 13 RBI. Perhaps just as impressive is his K/BB ratio—12 strikeouts to 11 walks (for the season, he's at 178 strikeouts and 65 free passes.
The Red Sox are just about guaranteed a playoff spot, but they are still aiming towards the best record in the American League. If Napoli can keep his hot bat going, he'll be a valuable asset to the Sox and to fantasy owners everywhere. His dual eligibility at first base and catcher (in most leagues) is an added bonus.
The New York Yankees are fighting for their season right now, sitting just a game-and-a-half out of the AL Wild Card. But just imagine where they would be if Robinson Cano hadn't been as steady of a hitter as he's been all year. With injuries to key players like Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, Cano has carried this team all year long.
And the second baseman is showing no signs of slowing with the Yankees battling for a playoff spot. So far in 16 September games, Cano is batting .313 with 14 RBI. He's certainly doing his part to help the Yankees, and he'll continue to help your fantasy team the rest of the way as well.
In case you haven't heard, the Oakland A's are reigning as kings of the AL West division. And in case you haven't heard of Josh Donaldson, he's been a big part of the team's impressive success this season.
In 2013, his third big league season, he's already established new career highs in every offensive category. And just as his A's ballclub is rolling in September, the third baseman is on fire right now.
In 15 games this month, the 27-year-old is hitting an incredible .396 with a .500 OBP. He was left off the roster for the American League All-Stars this year, but he is clearly enjoying a breakout season in 2013 and should continue to get on base routinely for the rest of the year.
Since Allen Craig, the St. Louis Cardinals' main RBI man in 2013, sprained his left foot earlier this month, Matt Holliday has really picked up the slack with some enormous September play.
The steady outfielder has 16 RBI through 16 September contests and is hitting .328 over that span. Holliday has plenty of postseason experience and is well-accustomed to playing hard down the stretch. He should continue to provide the Cardinals, and fantasy owners, with plenty of RBI opportunities in a stacked Cardinals lineup.
Already, the 2013 season has been a historical one for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they've clinched their first winning season in two decades.
Now, the Pirates are in a dog fight with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central crown. And as the season winds down, their star outfielder Andrew McCutchen has been shining brighter than ever.
Through 15 games this month, McCutchen is hitting a robust .412 and has been just a constant force for the Pirates offense. His steady bat should help keep the Pirates in the hunt and will help fantasy owners in the hunt of their own playoffs.
After having a breakout campaign in 2012, Jose Altuve has taken a small step backwards in 2013. The Houston Astros' second baseman is currently slashing .286/.317/.368, down from his .290/.340/.399 a year ago.
Still the 5'5" 23-year-old already eclipsed his stolen-base mark from last year with 35 and has almost doubled his RBI total as well (37 in 2012, 52 so far in 2013). And, as the season is winding down, Altuve is getting hotter.
So far during the month of September, Altuve is hitting .429 and has collected 10 RBI in 16 games. He's getting on base for the Astros, and you could do far worse at the second base position than the small-statured but big-hearted Altuve.
The Minnesota Twins are out of any kind of contention in 2013. But don't tell that to young catcher Josmil Pinto. The 24-year-old made his Major League debut on September 1 and has proceeded to hit the cover off the ball.
It's a small sample size (just 45 at-bats), but he's hitting .356 and has two home runs already—including a big go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning on Sunday. With Joe Mauer out of the lineup with concussion symptoms, Pinto has taken over everyday catching duties for the Twins, a role which he could assume in 2014.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for some catching depth down the stretch, you could do a lot worse than Pinto.