The end of the baseball season is usually the time most fans get to see their team’s emerging young prospects, the beneficiaries of the expanded September roster looking to impress with their first stint of major-league playing experience.
However, September can be equally as important for players at the opposite end of their professional careers, like soon-to-be free agents auditioning for a contract next year or seasoned pros looking to get their teams into the playoffs.
For seemingly all different motives, a particular trio of slow-starting veterans has turned their games up in the latter stages of this season — giving reason for fantasy owners to shift their focus away from the young pups for a moment.
Miguel Tejada has been playing on a miserable Baltimore Orioles team intent on rebuilding and, as an aging shortstop with a fat $13 million contract, he’s been shopped around as much as any player in the league.
Since returning from an injury on July 27, Tejada has regained the power (and perhaps motivation) that made him an MVP in 2002 and helped him drive in 150 runs in 2004. He has hit 10 of his 17 home runs while racking up 29 RBIs in that 37-game span. For the season, Tejada has raised his average to .304 and, with three weeks left to make a statement that he can still play, expect him to continue to put up big power numbers.
Unlike Tejada, the San Diego Padres’ Brian Giles is still playing for thepostseason, so his increased production lies within a different motivation, but the results are still similar. A former slugger, Giles was a nowhere man all season, hitting just two home runs over 286 at-bats through Aug. 9. But Giles has turned it around since that date; the 36-year-old has blasted eight homers with 18 RBIs over the last 24 games. Giles has also scored 17 times and hit .313 during that span, becoming a valuable fantasy asset for any owner lucky enough to pick up on his resurgence.
For fantasy owners, September is usually all about looking ahead, but these sweet-swinging veterans are a careful reminder that some times it’s best to keep in mind the guys that have been there before.
» Brian Bannister, SP, Royals
» Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates
» Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
» Mike Cameron, OF, Padres
» Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs
» Roger Clemens, SP, Yankees
» Jose Guillen, OF, Mariners
» Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox
» Ross Gload, 1B, Royals
» Kameron Loe, SP, Rangers