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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Fantasy Baseball Week 16

Bobby Miller - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers

Welcome back to The Cut List for Week 16 of the 2024 fantasy baseball season -- July 8 through July 14. This is our weekly article looking at players whom fantasy managers might be considering cutting from their teams and struggling players who need a closer look. We'll look at players who are worthy of a drop, players who are worth monitoring for replacing, and someone on the hot seat who is worth holding on to... for now.

Those of you experienced Cut List readers will know I'm a strong advocate for not making knee-jerk reactions. A bad week or two shouldn't be a reason to push the panic button and dump someone. We're into the fourth full month of the season so cases for dropping players have strengthened. As the season continues to roll on, there will be other reasons to potentially drop underperforming players.

If there's ever someone you want me to take a look at, drop their name on Reddit, the RotoBaller Discord (which you can join by clicking here), or reach out to me on X (@Baseball_Jimbo), and maybe you'll see them included next week. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) reflect when this piece was written.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:


Worth Dropping and Replacing?

Thairo Estrada - 2B/SS, San Francisco Giants - 55% rostered

Like many, I was optimistic we'd see Estrada outperform his average draft position (ADP) this year and be a valuable middle infielder. Not for the first time, I appear to have been wrong. Estrada had back-to-back seasons with 14 homers and at least 20 steals while averaging 130 games. He seemed like a value pick in drafts (ADP of ~133). While he's shown a bit more power in 2024, nothing else has gone as expected.

Estrada currently finds himself on the IL with a wrist sprain. It's his fifth IL stint since the start of the 2022 season and his third with an injury to his left wrist/hand. When Estrada went on the IL last year with a wrist sprain, he missed just under two weeks. It doesn't seem like this will be a lengthy spell on the sidelines. However, Estrada has seemingly been dealing with multiple issues so it is difficult to expect him to be 100% healthy when returning.

When Estrada does return, he'll be looking to improve his numbers. In 77 games, Estrada has 9 homers, 39 RBI, 40 runs, and 1 stolen base with a .231/.264/.376 slash line. Other than the batting average and lack of steals, everything else is productive. Simple math would suggest that Estrada can hit 20 homers with ~80 RBI, and ~80 runs over a full season at that pace. The problem is, how many games will Estrada play and how productive can he be when he returns?

Estrada was only hitting .182/.222/.260 in June (20 games) before he landed on the IL. Although if he were playing through a lot as Bob Melvin said, that would explain his struggles. Estrada also found himself hitting in the bottom half of the lineup during the first half of the season. If that trend continues, it will cap his fantasy potential. There is no shortage of question marks lingering over Estrada when he does get back on the field.

Verdict: In deeper leagues where you have a spare IL spot, it's worth keeping Estrada. He should be back soon so that IL spot won't be clogged up and it's worth giving him a couple of weeks to see how healthy (and productive) he is. As the 46th-ranked middle infielder on Yahoo! (standard 5x5 roto scoring), it's difficult to make a case for Estrada to be rostered in anything but deeper leagues.

Ke'Bryan Hayes - 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates - 38% rostered

Ordinarily, players rostered as low as Hayes won't be included in The Cut List. However, given how often his name crops up as a potential drop, it seems like an ideal time to feature him. Hayes has already had his obligatory IL stint due to the ongoing back pains he has suffered from in recent years. And it's unlikely he'll be able to beat his career-high 136 games played (2022). That already caps Hayes' fantasy value.

When he has been on the field, Hayes hasn't been producing anything like many had hoped. There's no doubting his defensive capabilities. And that alone will help keep Hayes in the Pirates lineup more often than not. That's not a lineup that will help with his fantasy value though. The Pirates rank 22nd in runs scored (360). All-in-all, that's left Hayes with 3 home runs, 20 RBI, 24 runs, and 7 stolen bases (63 games).

His .225/.286/.296 slash line is a career-low and Hayes is not looking like he'll top last year's home runs (15), RBI (61), and runs (65) totals. That will explain why Hayes ranks 47th on Yahoo! among third basemen. It's difficult to make a case for Hayes having a long-awaited breakout given he's now 27 years old and has 443 MLB games under his belt.

Verdict: Hayes doesn't have anything going for him from a fantasy perspective. He's a below-average hitter on a below-average team. He's also found himself hitting in the bottom half of the lineup. As long as Hayes is available to play, he will have plenty of volume. Even in deeper leagues, that volume doesn't amount to much fantasy production. There's no league in which I would be looking to hold on to Hayes if I rostered him.


Hold For Now

Brady Singer - SP, Kansas City Royals - 74% rostered

Singer's fantasy stock was at its lowest coming into 2024. After putting up a 5.52 ERA and career-low 18.9% K% in 2023, a rebound didn't seem likely. However, that's exactly what we've seen. In 17 starts, Singer has a 4-5 W-L record, 3.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 89 Ks (94.1 IP). With those numbers, it might come as a surprise to see Singer featured on The Cut List. And seeing him available in around a quarter of leagues.

That's down to Singer's below-par June. After an outstanding first two months of the season, Singer struggled last month. A breakdown of his monthly numbers highlights how good he was to start the season, and how things turned south in June. All we've seen is some regression after outperforming his underlying numbers during the first two months.

April 34.1 2.62 1.02 24.5% 9.4% 3.54 3.71 .275
May 27.1 2.63 1.24 25.6% 5.1% 3.17 3.27 .315
June 27.2 4.23 1.30 17.5% 5.8% 4.03 4.18 .337

A big part of Singer's success this year has been down to reducing his sinker usage. In 2023, it was Singer's most-thrown pitch (51.0%). However, it had a .406 wOBA against it. This year, the sinker has been better with a .345 wOBA against it. And he's throwing it 38.7% of the time. It's been replaced by his four-seam fastball which he's thrown 13.1% of the time (having thrown a total of five four-seam fastballs last year).

The four-seamer has similar results to his sinker, with a .344 wOBA against it. Still better than last year's sinker. In April and May, Singer's sinker had better numbers than expected stats against it. That was not the case in June. The regression we saw in June was expected and we'll likely see a bit more over the remainder of the season. But as long as he limits the sinker usage, Singer should still be able to provide fantasy value.

Alex Verdugo - OF, New York Yankees - 62% rostered

The Yankees were arguably the hottest team in baseball up until early June. It should come as no surprise that their dip in form has coincided with many of their players performing worse than they did in the early goings. Verdugo is no exception. After hitting .256/.319/.429 with a 112 wRC+ across the first two months of the season, Verdugo hit .219/.265/.324 with a 68 wRC+ in June.

Verdugo is the Yankees' predominant cleanup hitter against right-handed pitching (RHP). That means hitting behind Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. You won't find a better spot in a lineup than that. It's helped Verdugo put up solid numbers to this point, with 10 homers, 45 RBI, 42 runs, and 1 stolen base along with a .246/.302/.401 slash line. It also means he will come to the plate with the bases empty more than most cleanup hitters would like.

The Yankees' struggles have largely come down to their pitching getting lit up. Offensively, they've still been better than the league average since June 1. Verdugo has never been an elite option and ranks 46th on Yahoo! at the position. That makes him a borderline option in leagues rostering more than three outfielders. His role offers plenty of chances to accumulate counting stats. As long as we see no further regression, Verdugo is worth holding in most formats.


On the Hot Seat

Bobby Miller - SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - 88% rostered

At this stage of the season, it's safe to say that fantasy managers won't get value on this draft pick. Miller had an ADP of ~76 and made just three starts before a shoulder injury sent him to the IL. Miller has made three more starts since returning from the IL, but the results haven't improved. Miller has a 1-1 W-L record, 6.12 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and 25 Ks (25.0 IP).

The reality is that there's not a whole lot of point in analyzing Miller's numbers. He does have a 4.29 xFIP and 4.66 SIERA. So he has been a bit unlucky, but still not impressive. Six starts split by a two-month absence makes it very difficult to know exactly what we should expect from Miller over the remainder of 2024. That isn't to say we shouldn't be concerned by Miller's performances. Just take them in the context that it is a small sample.

As we can see from the above chart, Miller's fastball velocity has diminished since his shoulder injury. It averaged 96.5 mph in his last start on Tuesday. It averaged 98.8 mph in his season debut when Miller struck out 11 in six shutout innings. Given his fastball averaged 99.0 mph last year, a 2.5 mph drop-off is significant. It may just be a case of Miller needing to build up again after such a lengthy layoff.

The last three starts have also seen Miller walk nine batters while striking out only seven. He showed his ability on the mound last year and it's too soon to rule out a repeat during the second half of the season. However, there's enough to remain concerned about from Miller's outings so far.

I generally like giving players more time to "get right" after an injury. Especially someone as talented as Miller. Three starts after a two-month injury layoff isn't enough to make me consider dropping him. That being said, I wouldn't be too keen on starting Miller next week. At this stage, I'd bench him but not drop him. If Miller is still really struggling in late July, then it might be time to cut our losses and move on.


Reader Requests

As in previous years, we're keen to hear who you want us to analyze. If there is anyone who you want to include here on next week's Cut List, drop their names on the Reddit thread. Alternatively, you can reach out to me on X and we'll endeavor to cover as many requests as we can each week.

Julio Rodriguez - OF, Seattle Mariners - 99% rostered

Rodriguez has been a popular request for inclusion on The Cut List for many weeks. In reality, no one is dropping Rodriguez. But, it is prudent to look at why he's failed to live up to his first-round ADP. With 60 home runs and 62 stolen bases in 287 games coming into this season, it was easy to see why Rodriguez was taken so early in drafts. After 90 games this year, Rodriguez has 8 homers, 30 RBI, 40 runs, and 18 steals while hitting .247/.295/.335.

The first reason I'm not overly concerned by Rodriguez is that we saw similar stats last year. In the first half of 2023, Rodriguez hit .249/.310/.411 with 13 homers and had a 103 wRC+ (87 games). In the second half of the season, Rodriguez hit .308/.363/.578 with 19 homers and had a 156 wRC+ in 68 games. The second reason is that Rodriguez's expected numbers are quite a bit better than his actual numbers.

Rodriguez's quality of contact has dropped compared to last year. But it's still excellent. He is striking out more. But he struck out a lot last year. When comparing his expected slugging percentage with his actual slugging percentage, Rodriguez has the third-biggest differential out of the 255 qualified hitters. I'm bullish on Rodriguez having a similarly big second half of the season this year, as he did last year.

Matt Olson - 1B, Atlanta Braves - 99% rostered

In a similar vein to Rodriguez, Olson is regularly requested. Yet, he is not someone being dropped and is unlikely to be dropped. Again though, it is worth taking a look at Olson's numbers so we can at least ascertain what to expect moving forward. Last year's 54 homers were a career-high. By a lot. Olson hadn't reached 40 homers in a season before so banking on a repeat was unlikely to pan out.

Olson averaged 36 homers in the three previous full seasons. Expecting at least 30 home runs this season was certainly reasonable. That might be a stretch at this point. Olson has 12 homers, 41 RBI, 38 runs, and no stolen bases with a .239/.321/.419 slash line (87 games). He's not been helped by the Braves disappointing offense, which ranks 18th in runs scored (373).

Olson's .239 batting average isn't much of a surprise. He was a career .250 hitter before hitting .283 last year. And his .243 xBA suggests he hasn't been unlucky either. Olson ranks as the 26th first baseman on Yahoo! but ranks 120th among all hitters. It feels like Olson was slightly overvalued in drafts, especially if people expected a repeat of last year. That's not to say he was a bad pick as his consistency alone was worth rostering.

At this stage of the season, we just need to temper expectations. We're not going to see anything close to the 2023 version of Olson. He should still provide enough power to justify rostering over the remainder of 2024. There's no doubt he hasn't come close to providing value on his ADP (~15). But, Olson is still not someone you should be dropping. In any format.

Bo Bichette - SS, Toronto Blue Jays - 93% rostered

Bichette rounds off our trio of star players you have requested. And Bichette is the one I am truly concerned about. He's been dealing with a right forearm contusion in recent days. But he only sat out one game and it doesn't look like he's missing more. And it's not something we can point to as an explanation for his struggles. After 76 games, Bichette has 4 homers, 30 RBI, 28 runs, and 5 steals while hitting .224/.277/.323.

Bichette came into the season averaging 24 home runs, 89 RBI, 94 runs, and 12 stolen bases over the previous three seasons. He also had a career .299/.340/.487 slash line. There is no sugar-coating it. Bichette has been a complete bust. He did offer fantasy managers some hope in May when he hit .280/.321/.410. As we can see below, it didn't carry into June when Bichette hit .194/.260/.269.

There's not much hope being provided in Bichette's expected numbers. They are better, but still not great. His .264 xBA is in the 65th percentile, his .390 xSLG is in the 36th percentile, and his .310 xwOBA (.266 wOBA) is in the 37th percentile. The Blue Jays have been a disappointment too. They rank 26th in runs scored (354). That's down to the likes of Bichette struggling and without much help around him, it will cap the RBI and runs he can tally.

All-in-all, it's left Bichette as the 43rd-ranked shortstop and the 219th-ranked hitter (on Yahoo!). That wouldn't make him worthwhile rostering in 14-team leagues with 15 hitters rostered. Bichette in 2024 reminds me a lot of Cody Bellinger after his MVP season. The reality is that Bichette is droppable. However, we know what he's capable of.

Would you rather see him continue to stink on your team or get picked up and perform like he can on another team? What to do with Bichette depends on your tolerance of those two outcomes. Other than a good track record, there's been nothing offered to suggest he can turn things around. That's not to say Bichette won't. But at this point, it's more blind faith than anything else.

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