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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 6

Nolan Jones - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB News

Welcome back to The Cut List for Week 6 of the 2024 fantasy baseball season - April 29 through May 5. 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, especially early in the season. As the year progresses, there will be stronger cases to 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?

Jordan Walker - OF, St. Louis Cardinals - 48% rostered

Walker was already set for inclusion before his demotion to Triple-A earlier this week. It didn't come as much of a surprise and the threat of demotion was part of the reason why he was droppable. That isn't to say I don't believe in his potential and still maintain Walker will have a long and successful MLB career. He has actually made some improvements in his approach this year, without the results coming close to matching last year.

Before his demotion, Walker hit .155/.239/.259 with no homers, four RBI, four runs, and no stolen bases (20 games). Walker got demoted at the same time last season. Except then, he was hitting .274/.321/.397. When he returned to the Majors in 2023, Walker hit .277/.346/.455 with a 120 wRC+ (97 games). That at least provides hope that he can return in the coming weeks and be a productive hitter for the remainder of 2024.

Verdict: In dynasty leagues, Walker is still a hold. In redraft, unless you have deep benches on which you can stash him or Minor League roster spots, Walker can be dropped. I'd ensure he remained on the watchlist with a view to possibly being picked up later in the season, assuming he can work things out.

Bo Naylor - C, Cleveland Guardians - 33% rostered

Regular readers last year will know how often the catcher position came up. There was optimism that wouldn't be the case this year with the position having more depth than it has for years. Unfortunately, Naylor is one of those borderline top-10 catchers yet to pan out in 2024. In 18 games, Naylor has two homers, five RBI, seven runs, and one stolen base, with a .194/.306/.306 slash line. That has left him as the 35th-ranked catcher on Yahoo.

Low-rostered options off to great starts (like Connor Wong) will have already helped fantasy managers decide to drop Naylor in one catcher leagues. And that makes complete sense. In such leagues, you can keep riding the 'hot hand' throughout the season. Your league type will ultimately be the determining factor as to whether or not Naylor is worth holding on to. There has been some good hidden in amongst the bad so far this year.

The good is Naylor's 13.9% BB% (91st percentile), 91.1 mph average exit velocity (86th percentile) and 50.0% HardHit% (83rd percentile). The bad is Naylor's 36.1% K% (fourth percentile), .262 xwOBA (10th percentile), and 32.3% Whiff% (15th percentile). With Austin Hedges and David Fry as the competition behind the plate, at least Naylor should be afforded plenty of time to work through his struggles.

Naylor is also hitting the ball in the air a lot. His 50.0% FB% is tied for 15th highest among the 229 hitters with at least 70 plate appearances. And Naylor's 30.6% GB% is the 21st lowest among that group. Given Naylor is hitting the ball hard and in the air, we should expect more homers. He just needs to make more contact and cut down the strikeouts to make the most of it.

Verdict: Naylor's bat still intrigues me and I expect improvements. He only has 91 MLB games of experience at arguably the most difficult position to learn and play. That being said, in redraft leagues, I completely understand if you drop Naylor and replace him with one of the low-rostered options on a hot streak. If you have done that, monitor Naylor closely and any signs of life should justify picking him up again.


Hold For Now

Paul Goldschmidt - 1B, St. Louis Cardinals - 96% rostered

The veteran first baseman is another example of a player who got off to an ice-cold start but has been showing signs of life lately. He entered last weekend with a .169/.272/.211 slash line and 44 wRC+. Since last Saturday, Goldschmidt has hit .333/.400/.519 with a 160 wRC+. That has left him with a .214/.306/.296 slash line, two homers, 11 RBI, 12 runs, and one stolen base on the season.

The improvements seem to have coincided with a move down the order. After hitting exclusively in the number two spot, Goldschmidt has hit fourth or fifth since last Sunday. It's difficult to know if that has had any impact but at least something has sparked his bat into life. That isn't to say we can expect a vintage Goldschmidt year. His yearly regression will likely continue, but should not reach a point where I'd consider dropping him.

Goldschmidt's 25 homers last year was the first time he failed to reach 30 home runs in a full season since 2016. He also set a career-low in slugging percentage and his RBI and runs totals were the lowest since 2014 (when Goldschmidt only played 109 games). Last year's numbers are far more reasonable to expect this year. Assuming he continues to be on track for a repeat of 2023, Goldschmidt is still worth rostering in any format.

Oneil Cruz - SS, Pittsburgh Pirates - 95% rostered

Fantasy managers salivated over what Cruz could do when drafting him last season. Unfortunately, his 2023 season ended after nine games due to a fractured ankle. He came into this spring healthy. After hitting seven homers in 16 spring games, fantasy managers were excited once more about the prospect of rostering Cruz. So far this year, Cruz has two homers, eight RBI, eight runs, and two stolen bases with a .240/.295/.356 slash line.

We shouldn't put too much emphasis on a player's Statcast profile, especially this early in the season. However, Cruz's Statcast page seems to be an almost perfect encapsulation of him as a hitter. He has lots of power when he connects with the ball, but not enough contact to maximize that power.

Part of why Cruz hasn't been able to make the most of his power is the number of groundballs he's been hitting. His 55.6% GB% is the 13th highest among the 182 qualified hitters. While he has good speed and can leg out infield hits, the groundballs aren't ideal. They certainly won't help Cruz reach his home runs potential.

Cruz has also struggled mightily against left-handed pitching (LHP). He's only had 33 plate appearances against lefties this year but is hitting .094/.121/.094 against them. He has a career .155/.219/.261 slash line versus LHP (155 plate appearances), so this isn't anything new. Despite all of this, Cruz is still someone I'd be holding on to. Very few players carry the power/speed potential that Cruz possesses.

And it's easy to forget, but we're looking at a player with little MLB experience. Cruz only played 87 games in 2022 and has a total of 126 games in the Majors on his resumé. We almost have to treat him as a rookie, with growing pains to be expected. Cruz did 'tweak' his ankle on Friday but was able to pinch hit yesterday. Something still worth monitoring. Assuming it's nothing serious, Cruz is someone with enough upside to warrant holding.


On the Hot Seat

Nolan Jones - 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies - 86% rostered

A move to Colorado looked like it had unlocked Jones' potential. In 106 games last year, he hit .297/.389/.542 with 20 homers, 62 RBI, 60 runs and 20 stolen bases. A 20/20 season in two-thirds of a season naturally led to people hopeful for a 30/30 season in 2024. Jones could not be much further from that so far. After 25 games, Jones is hitting .163/.238/.261 with one home run, seven RBI, 10 runs and two stolen bases.

A 2-for-4 performance yesterday saw his batting average improve by 15 points. This is another reminder that things can still turn around quickly. It would be easy to just dismiss last year as a product of Coors Field. While there's no doubting that the Rockies ballpark helps hitters, Jones was equally as impressive on the road. The table below shows his home/road splits in 2023.

Home 211 10 .306 .530 23.7% 12.8% .397 .224 122
Away 213 10 .288 .554 35.7% 12.2% .393 .266 148

Jones' only home run this year came on the road and he also has a negative wRC+ at home so far. Maybe Colorado just needs to warm up to get Jones' bat hot. It may be clutching at straws, but this is the first time we've seen Jones having at-bats in April as a Major Leaguer.

Fantasy managers' belief and faith in Jones boils down to how much they feel last year was a fluke. His .249 xBA and .499 xSLG suggest there was some luck involved in his numbers. But it's difficult to dispute the power. Jones had a 94th percentile Barrel% and although his xSLG was more than 40 points lower than his SLG, it still ranked in the 88th percentile.

An explanation of Jones' early season struggles may have come to light earlier this week. He missed a couple of games due to a sore back. Rockies manager Bud Black seemed to suggest it's an issue Jones has been dealing with for a while. Maybe that too will improve with warmer weather.

Regular Cut List readers will know that back issues worry me more than almost anything else. Maybe it's an age thing, but anyone who has experienced a sore back will know the difficulties you face. Baseball is hard enough without having a stiff and sore back. Jones returned to the Rockies lineup on Saturday so that should allay fears of a possible IL stint. But it's also something that is unlikely to just disappear.

Jones would have cost an early-round pick and given what he did last year, he does deserve more time. Lingering back issues aren't going to help and whether or not that has been a factor in Jones' struggles remains to be seen. For now, hanging on to Jones seems like the best course of action. If we're still looking at a sub-.200 hitter who is on pace for 10-12 homers and steals in mid-late May, then a tough decision will need to be made.


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 or over on the RotoBaller Discord. Alternatively, you can reach out to me on X and we'll endeavor to cover as many requests as we can each week.

Randy Arozarena - OF, Tampa Bay Rays - 97% rostered

It's fair to say Arozarena has been the most popular request so far this year. Pretty understandable given you'd have used a top-50 pick to draft him. And so far, he's not been able to justify that. After 27 games, Arozarena is hitting .154/.228/.260 with three homers, nine RBI, 12 runs and four stolen bases. The good news is that he's still almost on pace for a fourth consecutive 20/20 season.  The obvious concern is Arozarena's batting average.

A 1-for-6 performance yesterday actually improved his batting average. There is some good news with that too. Before this season, Arozarena had a career .265 batting average and .331 BABIP. So far this year, Arozarena has a .188 BABIP. That simply won't continue for long. His 44.4% GB% this year is slightly lower than his career mark (47.5% GB%) so it's not like Arozarena is just hitting more groundballs. Below are some yearly comparisons.

Year PA AVG BABIP K% HardHit% Avg exit velo xwOBACON
2021 604 .274 .363 28.1% 42.3% 89.9 MPH .375
2022 645 .263 .325 24.3% 41.0% 89.9 MPH .360
2023 654 .254 .310 23.9% 48.3% 91.7 MPH .403
2024 114 .154 .188 28.1% 40.3% 90.4 MPH .365

This isn't to say there aren't one or two issues worth monitoring. Arozarena's 27.7 ft/sec sprint speed is a career-low but still ranks in the 69th percentile. His 28.1% K% is up over four percentage points from the last two years. And his expected numbers (.218 xBA and .369 xSLG) are better than his actual numbers, but still disappointing.

All-in-all, it looks like Arozarena's numbers will pick up. But the trend of a declining batting average is set to continue and a ~.230 batting average this year is probable. We can expect this to be a down season, but Arozarena will still more than likely end the year as a top-40 outfielder in fantasy.

Xander Bogaerts - 2B/SS, San Diego Padres - 96% rostered

If you weren't bored of hearing it last week, Bogaerts can act as a reminder this week; it's still early enough that one good series can have a big impact on a player's numbers. Heading into last Sunday, Bogaerts was hitting .191/.258/.247 with one home run and one stolen base (22 games). Fast forward a week and Bogaerts is hitting .212/.279/.288 with two homers, 11 RBI, 17 runs, and two steals.

The improvement in his slash line is despite going 0-for-8 over his last two games. The reason for the better numbers was the four-game series at Coors Field. Bogaerts went 6-for-17 in Colorado with a double but didn't homer. While the improvement in his numbers might be seen as a result of playing in one of the best hitters' parks, it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Bogaerts has a .285 xBA, .395 xSLG and .329 xwOBA (.261 wOBA).

Those numbers are much more in line with what we would expect from him. After missing out on a 20/20 season by one homer and one steal last year, Bogaerts will need to up his pace if he wants to repeat that. But a ~.280 batting average, 80+ runs, and 70+ RBI still look within reach. There's not enough to be concerned with to drop Bogaerts.

Nolan Gorman - 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals - 67% rostered

Gorman was featured in my Bold Predictions piece back in March. At that time, I said Gorman would hit 40 home runs. After hitting 27 homers in 119 games last year, it was certainly feasible. Unfortunately, it's not looking likely. After 25 games, Gorman is hitting .204/.260/.387 with four homers, 12 RBI, seven runs and no stolen bases. Despite that, I remain optimistic.

Gorman hit a walk-off homer as a pinch hitter on Monday and then went 3-for-8 with a double in his next two games. He doubled again last night in a 2-for-4 effort. Modest numbers, but this could be a sign of things to come. When hitting the home run on Monday, Gorman looked different at the plate. I then found this post on X which perfectly highlights the difference in his swing on Monday compared to earlier in the season. Shoutout to Jacob for the clip.

Gorman takes a much smaller stride, getting his front foot down quicker which should help him maximize his power. Even a small and subtle change in a player's swing isn't easy for players to make, especially in-season. It remains to be seen if he can keep it up and if it does help him longer-term. Given Gorman's propensity to strikeout (career 32.8% K%), a tweak to his swing can only be seen as a good thing.

The Cardinals offense as a whole has struggled, ranking tied-26th in runs scored (98) this season. RBI and runs might not be in abundance and Gorman offers little speed. But if you have held him to this point, it's probably worth giving him more time to see if this change can maintain some success. The power is still very much there so while my 40 home run season might be a pipe dream, I'm not ruling it out just yet.

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We're preparing for football around the clock here at RotoBaller! With early 2024 best ball drafts already underway, we're evaluating fantasy football's most impactful players. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan Jones digs into the potential impact of fantasy football options in 2024. Are these wide receivers being undervalued? Check out some of our... Read More


UFL DFS Value Plays: Championship Game Bargain Bin for DraftKings Including Anthony McFarland, C.J. Marable, More

Welcome to the Championship Game edition of RotoBaller's UFL DFS Bargain Bin, where the goal is to touch on some potentially mispriced players in DraftKings' Conference Championships UFL contests. Each week during the UFL 2024 season and postseason, I’ll give you my thoughts on where there may be some value spots to exploit for DraftKings'... Read More

Garrett Wilson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups - rotoballer icon

Five Fantasy Football Players You Must Have in 2024 Dynasty Startup Drafts

Dynasty has quickly become my favorite format and is easily my preferred way to play fantasy football. When you partake in a startup draft, you are locked into your team for the long haul, strapped into the roller coaster of ups and downs that your particular roster construction is fated for. Dynasty is a bit... Read More