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Torii Hunter completes strong September

10/1/2012

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter stroked seven hits in nine at-bats in a doubleheader Sunday, knocked in three and scored three, and raised his batting average to .313. While Mike Trout and Albert Pujols attract team headlines, Hunter might finally hit .300 in a season for the first time. Now 37 and a pending free agent, Hunter is a top-20 outfielder, far outperforming his draft-day value.

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn singled, doubled and stole his 40th base Sunday, playing for the first time in eight days. A thumb injury had tripped up Bourn when fantasy owners in head-to-head playoffs really needed him, but he thrived Sunday. A top-10 outfielder who went 10th at his position in ESPN average live drafts, Bourn hit for more power (nine home runs) and ran less than ever before, and his future fantasy value is safe.

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas left Sunday's game prematurely with groin tightness, and his status for Monday's game is unknown. Of course, fantasy owners should sit him anyway; Moustakas hit .207 with one home run in September, after hitting .213 in August. It's been a rough second half. Moustakas has power upside, but certainly brings batting average risk.

Houston Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles threw a four-hit shutout in Milwaukee Sunday (and homered!), earning his fifth win of a trying sophomore season in which his statistics do not show improvement. Lyles, who fanned three Brewers, finishes 2012 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 25 starts. Only 21, the team's pending move to the AL makes it less likely 2013 will be a breakout year.

Miami Marlins right-hander Nate Eovaldi lost to Philadelphia Sunday, though he thrived after a three-run first inning. Eovaldi's season numbers won't entice fantasy owners, but there's upside, as his home ERA in 10 starts was 3.31, and the former Dodgers prospect improved his strikeout rate in September. Eovaldi brings sleeper possibilities in 2013.

Finally, Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson was a 20th-rounder in ESPN ADP, and 28th among relief pitchers. On Sunday, he saved his 50th game of the season. Johnson's low strikeout (and win) total is why he's outside the top five fantasy closers on the Rater, but he's a reminder why owners can wait on saves. The right-hander has allowed one run since July.