Welcome to the Week 5 LWOS Fantasy Baseball Stock Report. This week we have all new names on both the “risers” and “fallers” lists; some are old veterans that you’ve probably heard of, some are young players trying to make a name for themselves, and some are former greats trying to make a comeback. Let’s get to it.
WEEK 5 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK REPORT
WEEK FIVE PLAYERS’ STOCK ON THE RISE:
Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants
Tim Lincecum is starting to look like his old self again. He has allowed 0 ER and just 6 H over his last 2 starts (14 IP), and aside from a clunker against the Dodgers on April 27, he has looked solid all year. Some of the issues from recent years appear to be lingering though, as his velocity is still down and his walk rate is currently at 9.7%. His ERA will almost certainly go up from his current mark of 2.00, and we shouldn’t expect him to return to his dominant Cy Young form, but perhaps Lincecum has learned to pitch without velocity, as many veteran pitchers do as they age.
Tori Hunter, OF, Minnesota Twins
Since the start of May, Torri Hunter is slashing .462/.500/.821 with 4 HR, 12 RBI, and 12 R. Needless to say, he must feel rejuvenated to be playing with his old team, despite early struggles in April. Hunter has been overlooked thus far in 2015 because he’s 39 years old and is now batting in a much weaker Twins line-up compared to the Tigers lineup he occupied from 2013-2014, but he still looks like an all-around solid fantasy outfielder. He won’t win you any individual stat categories, but he doesn’t hurt you in any, either. He’s a solid mid-tier outfielder that is durable and productive for his age.
Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard has all eyes on him this week. After placing Dillon Gee on the DL, the Mets have called up arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball to make what they are calling a spot start against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Due to his talent compared to that of Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, many believe that Syndergaard will stick around much longer than one spot start.
Syndergaard has dominated the AAA Pacific Coast league, widely considered an extremely hitter-friendly environment, by posting a 1.82 ERA and a 34:8 K:BB ratio in 29.2 IP, prompting the call-up by the Mets after Gee’s injury. There are two reasons why a rookie who has never pitched in the major leagues is now on my “players on the rise” list. The first is because of the league’s general unfamiliarity with him, which is a bigger advantage for young pitchers when they first come into the league than you might realize. The second is because of his tremendous strikeout potential. If he only sticks with the big league club for one game, this is the perfect match-up, as the Cubs strikeout at a higher rate than any other team in the Majors, and it’s not close. In dynasty and keeper leagues, Syndergaard should already be owned. In redraft leagues, he might be worth the call up to your fantasy squad.
Yasmani Grandal, 1B/C, Los Angeles Dodgers
After an off-season trade to the Dodgers from the Padres, Grandal received some sleeper hype in the fantasy community as a young hitter with excellent plate discipline and decent pop from the catcher position. Through 90 PAs, helped by a 4-H, 2-HR, 8-RBI game in Milwaukee, Grandal is slashing .307/.411/.533 with 4 HR, 13 RBI, and 15 R. His batting average probably won’t stay around .307 for long since he strikes out a lot and doesn’t hit lefties very well, but he walks a ton, so his OBP probably won’t drop below .350. With all the injuries to the catcher position, don’t be surprised if Grandal sneaks into the top 5 fantasy backstops by the end of the season.
Also keep an eye on:
Marlon Byrd, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Kelly Johnson, 1B/3B/OF, Atlanta Braves
Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Dan Haren, SP, Miami Marlins
WEEK FIVE PLAYERS’ STOCK ON THE FALL:
Josh Harrison, 3B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Josh Harrison had a career year in 2014 after spending 3+ seasons bouncing back and forth between the Majors and AAA. Many expected regression from the scrappy utility man, but he has been downright unplayable in fantasy so far in 2015. Through 117 PAs, he is slashing .173/.209/.282 with 2 HR, 12 R, 6 RBI, and just 3 BB. This has caused manager Clint Hurdle to occasionally drop him down from his usual lead off spot in the order and as of late has even been benching him in favor of the newly acquired Jung-Ho Kang. His talent and track record (although short) warrant a roster spot, but he should remain on your bench until he figures things out.
Alex Wood, SP, Atlanta Braves
According to research by the great Eno Sarris over at Fangraphs, Alex Wood is pretty much the same pitcher he was last year and in his rookie year– he is just having a little trouble with command in early 2015. This has caused his K% to go down and his BB% to go up, and he has not been as effective as his preseason draft ranking should indicate. Fortunately, he’s recovered from stretches like this before, and he threw his best game in about a month on Sunday. He’s a good buy-low option.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
Considering he was a 20-year-old who had never player higher than AA ball, Rougned Odor performed pretty well in 2014, and showed flashes of 15/15 potential. He was one of my favorite sleeper picks coming into 2015, but he has been so bad so far that the Rangers have demoted him to AAA. Perhaps this will be good for him. The pressure is off and he can now focus on improving his game. For now, he’s not worth a roster spot unless it is a deep AL-only or a dynasty league with minor league spots. I would keep an eye on him though. Track his progress in AAA. If he starts tearing it up, he could get the call to the Majors again.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians
Trevor Bauer was pegged by many as “this year’s Corey Kluber” due to improvements in his mechanics and a grab bag of about a zillion different pitches. He had an impressive month of April, posting a 1.80 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. He still showed the same issues as in the past though, as he also walked 14 batters in the month. He hasn’t been good in May, either, giving up 11 earned runs over two starts and 9.1 innings pitched. His talent is unquestionable, but it appears Bauer has a long way to go before he reaches his potential. For now, play the matchups with him and monitor his progress with the command and BB%.
Also keep an eye on:
Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers
Billy Butler, 1B/DH, Oakland Athletics
Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, New York Mets
Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Jesse Hahn, SP, Oakland Athletics