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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 6

Rhys Hoskins - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Welcome back to The Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who 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.

We're over 20% of the way through the regular season (where has the time gone!) and the more established players are becoming justifiable cuts in some leagues. That being said, it's still dependent on your league and who you are replacing them with. But also, anomalies can occur and it's important to dig into a player's numbers before pulling the trigger on dropping them.

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. As the season 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 or reach out to me on Twitter (@Baseball_Jimbo), and maybe you'll see them included next week. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and weekly lineup resources:

 

Worth Dropping and Replacing?

Mark Melancon - RP, Arizona Diamondbacks - 81% rostered

In 2021, Melancon rolled back the years, tallying 39 saves with the Padres and putting up a 2.23 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. That led the Diamondbacks to give Melancon a two-year contract and it's safe to say, the first year isn't going according to plan.

Through 14 outings (11.2 IP), Melancon has an 0-5 W-L record, seven saves, 8.49 ERA, and 2.14 WHIP with four strikeouts. Melancon missed some time on the IL earlier this month and Ian Kennedy stepped in admirably. Kennedy currently has a 3.00 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and three saves in 15 outings (15.0 IP).

After pitching a clean 1-2-3 inning on Friday to pick up the save, Melancon had a meltdown Saturday. Entering a tie game in the ninth, Melancon gave up two hits and a walk without recording an out, eventually being responsible for three earned runs and the loss.

With Kennedy lurking as the closer-to-be, Melancon will need to turn things around to keep the role but his underlying numbers don't offer much support that he'll be able to. Melancon is sporting a 5.69 xERA, 5.48 xFIP and 5.10 SIERA. His 6.8% K% ranks in the first percentile and is by far a career-low.

The contract the Diamondbacks gave Melancon should provide him a slightly longer-than-normal leash in the closer role. And he has only one blown save to his name so far. But he lacks the swing and miss stuff teams covet in the role and three of his last five outings have seen him allow three or more runs.

Verdict - Doesn't matter the league size; you should never drop a closer. Even one struggling and potentially going to lose the job soon. I'd suggest handcuffing Melancon with Kennedy for the seemingly inevitable switch but you could squeeze out another few saves before a blowup sees Melancon lose the closer role. At worse, try and trade him while he still has the role, although you might be hard-pressed to find someone willing to offer anything in return.

Jesus Sanchez - OF, Miami Marlins - 36% rostered

After a hot start, Sanchez is having a dreadful May in which he's hitting .098/.159/.122 with the five runs scored being the only fantasy stats he's produced (12 games). That's left him with a .214/.279/.357 line on the season and three homers, 12 RBI, 15 runs and no stolen bases.

Sanchez offers little to no speed and the Marlins offense, while better than last year, still only ranks 17th in runs scored (138) this season. After spending most of April as the cleanup hitter in Miami, Sanchez has found himself hitting in the bottom half of the Marlins lineup this week.

Sanchez did hit 24 homers in 101 games across Triple-A and MLB last year and through 105 career MLB games, he has 17 homers. So he's certainly shown the potential to hit ~25 over a full season. But it looks like pitchers are adapting to Sanchez, throwing more breaking pitches and fewer fastballs, as shown below.

Sanchez had a .188 AVG and .267 wOBA against breaking balls last year and a .277 AVG and .368 wOBA against fastballs. This year, Sanchez has a .246 AVG and .324 wOBA against fastballs and .108 AVG and .152 wOBA against breaking balls. It looks like Sanchez will need to make adjustments himself as he faces fewer fastballs.

Verdict - The lack of speed and limited counting stats leaves Sanchez as only a deeper league option given outfielders tend to be more widely available on waivers. In deeper leagues, Sanchez is still worth rostering but he's going to have to improve against breaking balls or change his approach if he's to remain viable in fantasy.

Chris Paddack - SP, Minnesota Twins - 23% rostered

Paddack was off to a solid start in Minnesota, with a 3.15 ERA through his first four starts (20.0 IP), 16 strikeouts and just two walks. Then came his start last weekend against Oakland in which he allowed three earned runs in 2.1 IP.

The reason his outing was so short was due to an injury which was later revealed to be an elbow issue. Paddack was placed on the 60-day IL on Thursday and news broke that he may need a second Tommy John Surgery which would end his season.

Verdict - Even if Paddack avoids surgery, he won't be back until July at the earliest but all things are pointing to Paddack not pitching again this year. All we can do is wish him well and hope for a speedy recovery. He's a drop in fantasy baseball.

 

Hold For Now

Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers - 90% rostered

Max Muncy is doing Max Muncy things. After 31 games, he's hitting .146/.339/.292 with three homers, 12 RBI, 17 runs and zero steals. His 21.8% BB% is the best in baseball (among qualified hitters) and while his batting average is a disappointment, his OBP ranks third among the Dodgers.

Muncy has a .167 BABIP, which is second-lowest among qualified hitters and coupled with his expected stats, you can safely say he's been a bit unlucky so far. Muncy's xBA is .209, xSLG is .433 and xwOBA is .362 (actual wOBA is .303) so while not great, they offer reason to believe he can be better than a .200 hitter.

The concern for me moving forward is if Muncy finds himself in a platoon role. Against LHP, Muncy has a .103/.278/.103 slash line (36 plate appearances) and a .164/.364/.373 slash line against RHP. Hanser Alberto started at second base when facing leftie Ranger Suarez last night.

Muncy's career numbers are better versus LHP than RHP so this looks like a case of small sample size bias which will correct itself, assuming the Dodgers don't stop starting Muncy against southpaws.

Excluding the shortened 2020 season, since 2018, Muncy has averaged 141 games, 35 homers, 90 RBI, 90 runs and three stolen bases so I'm prepared to give him more time, wait for the batting average to normalize and although a .220 batting average is more likely than .250 at season's end, he should still provide fantasy value.

Jake Cronenworth - 1B/2B/SS, San Diego Padres - 89% rostered

Cronenworth emerged as a fantasy asset last year, after impressing during the shortened 2020 season. In 152 games last season, Cronenworth hit .266/.340/.460 with 21 homers, 71 RBI, 94 runs and four stolen bases. Through 34 games this year, Cronenworth has two homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs and no steals, with a .213/.315/.331 slash line.

The noticeable difference with Cronenworth this year appears to be his approach as he's being much more patient at the plate. The below table compares his plate disciplines numbers from last year to this year.

Year Swing% Z-swing% O-swing% CStr% K% BB%
2022 36.6% 54.0% 23.0% 24.2% 20.4% 12.2%
2021 42.7% 62.6% 26.9% 20.0% 14.0% 8.6%

The swing% refers to the rate of pitches being swung at, with the 'O' rate being pitches outside of the strike zone and 'Z' rate being inside the strike zone. CStr% is the called strike rate.

This table shows that Cronenworth is swinging at considerably fewer pitches this year and while not swinging at pitches outside of the zone is a good thing and the improved walk rate is a positive, that passivity at the plate isn't translating into better numbers.

While Cronenworth has met expectations so far this year, he's been far from terrible and has actually worked his way up the Padres batting order, going from fourth to start the year to leadoff hitter over the last week. He should still produce solid counting stats and the positional flexibility in deeper leagues is also valuable so I'm going to continue holding Cronenworth for now.

Rhys Hoskins - 1B, Philadelphia Phillies - 84% rostered

Hoskins was the most requested name last week and given his slow start and the fact he'd been dropped in a number of leagues, it made sense to cover him and be more of a feature than for the Reddit Requests section. Below is an example of concern for Hoskins and my response was largely the same; "he's been unlucky so hold Hoskins".

And that seems to have begun to pay off. Hoskins has since hit safely in all seven games since last week, with four homers, eight RBI, seven runs, no steals and a .375/.375/.781 slash line. That's moved his season numbers up to six homers, 17 RBI, 19 runs and no stolen bases with a .236/.312/.455 line. While the season slash line still isn't great, it's a vast improvement and trending in the right direction.

And Hoskins should act as a reminder of the line in the introduction; "it's important to dig into a player's numbers before pulling the trigger on dropping them".

A quick look at his underlying numbers last Sunday showed me Hoskins was in the 90th percentile or better for HardHit% and Average Exit Velocity. He was better than 80th percentile for Barrel% and above the 70th percentile for xSLG.

There's more to it than simply seeing if someone is hitting the ball hard and their expected stats, but it should act as a catalyst to look at what could be causing the concern or even if someone's numbers aren't sustainable.

I'm still not expecting Hoskins to have his best-ever season and even matching his career .240 batting average might not occur this year. But those of you who stayed patient with Hoskins should enjoy the last week and while there will likely be ups-and-downs throughout the season, Hoskins should still finish as a top-12 first baseman in fantasy.

 

On the Hot Seat

Jose Berrios - SP, Toronto Blue Jays - 94% rostered

With an ADP of ~76, Berrios was being drafted as a low-end SP2 in 12-team leagues but he hasn't come close to living up to those expectations so far. Through seven starts (34.0 IP), Berrios has a 5.82 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 24 Ks and 2-2 W-L record.

Entering this season, Berrios had a career 23.5% K% but that's sitting at just 15.3% K% so far. Berrios does have a .316 BABIP, which should correct over time but his underlying numbers don't paint a picture of much optimism for improvement.

Berrios currently has a 7.31 xERA, 4.77 xFIP and 4.72 SIERA and his last two starts have seen him give up 11 earned runs in ten innings. His four starts prior to that totaled 23.2 IP with a 2.66 ERA. A reminder of how quickly a pitcher's ERA can skyrocket from a couple of bad starts at this stage of the season.

Berrios' struggles appear to stem from an increase in fastball usage, which seems strange given it was significantly hit more last year. His velocity is almost identical (94.1 MPH in 2021 and 94.0 MPH in 2022), while the spin rates and movement on the fastball are similar to last year.

Below shows his pitch usage and the numbers for each pitch over the last two years.

Year Pitch Usage BA SLG wOBA Whiff%
2022 Fastball 34.5% .392 .647 .485 18.4
2021 Fastball 26.7% .275 .538 .371 21.3
2022 Curveball 29.4% .167 .306 .244 29.7
2021 Curveball 30.5% .203 .345 .244 26.1
2022 Changeup 11.7% .353 .645 .429 22.6
2021 Changeup 13.2% .152 .266 .204 27.9
2022 Sinker 24.4% .250 .375 .296 8.7
2021 Sinker 29.6% .230 .346 .294 14.8

It's also noticeable that his changeup is being hit considerably more but Berrios is throwing his fastball three times more than the changeup. It may be that some of his sinkers are registering as fastballs if they aren't actually spinning and sinking as they should, which would also make it considerably easier to hit and would give us these numbers.

Regardless of what the reasoning is, Berrios will need to figure things out with his arsenal if he is to remain fantasy relevant. Considering he had a 3.74 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 24.4% K% over the previous five seasons, I'm willing to give Berrios more time before I consider dropping him for what is basically three bad starts after a shortened Spring Training.

 

The Reddit Requests

Here are some names from the readers following last weekend's post on Reddit. If there is anyone who you want to include here on next week's Cut List, drop their names on the Reddit thread and there's a good chance they will feature.

Marcell Ozuna - OF, Atlanta Braves - 78% rostered

The Braves offense hasn't really got going yet, currently ranking tied-12th in runs scored with 143 and their collective 100 wRC+ is 16th in MLB. So it should come as no surprise that Ozuna hasn't performed too well so far and currently has a .205/.246/.356 slash line with five homers, 14 RBI, 12 runs and one stolen base.

Ozuna only played 48 games last year due to his suspension and with the delayed start to this season, it maybe shouldn't come as a surprise he's off to a slow start. I'm not too concerned about Ozuna right now though, given he's got a career-low .216 BABIP and his expected numbers are all considerably better than his actual numbers.

I don't believe Ozuna will top 30 homers again, like he did 2017, with ~25 being my expectation. But Ozuna has hit cleanup in all but one game and I'm confident the Braves offense will start rolling sooner rather than later. Even if he only puts up a .240 batting average, Ozuna should still be a good source of counting stats with solid power.

Eduardo Rodriguez - SP, Detroit Tigers - 71% rostered

Rodriguez should act as another reminder to be patient, especially with pitchers who can see their ERA balloon with one bad start in the early going. Prior to last weekend, he had a 5.33 ERA through his first five starts (25.1 IP) with 23 Ks and an 0-2 W-L record.

Back-to-back quality starts (totaling one earned run in 13.1 IP) have seen Rodriguez lower his ERA to 3.72 and pick up a win with 34 Ks in 38.2 IP this season. His underlying numbers support what he's done too, with a 3.54 xERA, 4.14 xFIP and 4.21 SIERA.

The strikeouts are down, his 21.0% K% being the lowest he's had since his 2015 debut season. And his 9.3% BB% is a career-high, but he's limiting hard contact, as evidenced by his 35.4% HardHit% ranking in the 67th percentile (albeit, also being a career-high).

The difference between Rodriguez's 2021 ERA (4.74) and underlying numbers (3.47 xERA, 3.43 xFIP and 3.65 SIERA) made him a popular draft sleeper, especially moving from Boston to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. And we may see the strange anomaly where a pitcher performs worse than last year but has better numbers.

I'm expecting Rodriguez to finish the season with an ERA in the 3.80 - 4.00 range and with the Tigers struggling offense, double-digit wins might not be a sure thing. The strikeout numbers are also down, leaving Rodriguez more matchup dependent and more of a streamer in shallow leagues. But someone I'd still roster in 12-team leagues or bigger.

Alex Verdugo - OF, Boston Red Sox - 70% rostered

Verdugo felt like he was being over drafted this year, going as an OF3/4 (~164 ADP). And he's failed to justify that ADP so far. But rather than try and claim a victory lap and say he's a bust, I'm actually recommending you hold on to Verdugo right now and even think he's a solid 'buy-low' candidate.

That's despite Verdugo having just three homers, 15 RBI and nine runs with zero steals and a .219/.262/.342 slash line through 31 games. His 6.3% BB% is a career-low, but so too is his 11.9% K% and his Statcast profile suggests positive regression is on the horizon.

Verdugo doesn't offer much power (36 homers in 388 MLB games) and he's bounced around the Red Sox lineup hitting anywhere between seventh and second in the order so far. The Red Sox likely won't remain as a bottom-5 offense all season I expect Verdugo to be a solid source of runs and RBI moving forward.

Although I don't see him providing value on his ADP, after such a slow start, if you held him to this point, you should probably consider keeping him on your roster for the inevitable better days ahead.

Trey Mancini - 1B, Baltimore Orioles - 54% rostered

Remember in the offseason when the Orioles announced they were moving the left-field wall back and raising it? I'm pretty sure Mancini's fantasy managers remember.

Mancini is currently hitting a respectable .288/.344/.373 with two homers, 12 RBI, ten runs and no steals in 31 games. But following 35 homers in 2019 and a solid 21 homers in 2021 (after missing the 2020 season while receiving treatment for cancer), Mancini being on track for 10-12 homers this year is a letdown.

Now back to their ballpark. It may come as no surprise that his expected home run total is actually 3.9. Below is Mancini's spray chart at Oriole Park this year and I want you to pay particular attention to left field.

We won't know the extent of how negatively the new field dimensions have impacted hitters until the end of the season when we have a much greater sample from multiple hitters. But even if some homers are taken away from Mancini, he's still hitting well and remains a rosterable corner infielder in all but the shallowest of leagues.



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Kendre Miller - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Dynasty Price Check - Kendre Miller (2024)

The New Orleans Saints offense was supposed to take a step forward in 2023 with Derek Carr under center...until it didn't. Carr was essentially the same quarterback he's always been. It was the running game that held everybody back. The Saints averaged the second-fewest yards per carry (3.6) across the league, tallied just four carries... Read More


Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight: Audric Estimé

We've heard the phrase running backs don't matter before. That's evident in the real-life NFL Draft, with only 12 running backs going in the first round since 2014. That list includes Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Josh Jacobs, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Sony Michel, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Najee Harris, Bijan Robinson, and Jahmyr... Read More


Jaylen Waddle - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

Fantasy Football Dynasty Buys and Sells - Post NFL Draft Edition

When it comes to dynasty fantasy football leagues, one of the most intriguing aspects is the fluctuations in player value in the aftermath of the NFL Draft. Players once thought of as placeholders quickly rise draft boards, while stars who seemed secure become losers in an instant. Dynasty rankings were turned upside down following the... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers: ADP Analysis for 2024

Fantasy football never sleeps at RotoBaller! With early 2024 best ball drafts already taking place, we're digging into the ADP of fantasy football's most impactful players. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan dives into the early ADP of some popular fantasy options. Find out which notable fantasy football contributors are rising up 2024 draft... Read More


UFL RANKINGS, FANTASY FOOTBALL,

UFL Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 8: QB, RB, WR, TE Rankings and Analysis (2024)

Week 7's UFL action did not disappoint, as the game of the week between St. Louis and Birmingham came down to the wire and delivered some impressive fantasy outings. The Renegades grabbed their first win of the season in an explosive 47-point offensive showing, the Panthers featured two new quarterbacks, and the Brahmas won a... Read More


UFL RANKINGS, FANTASY FOOTBALL,

Free UFL Betting Picks - Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Week 8

Another 5-3 week is nothing to be upset about. Plus, that was a fun week to kick back and watch from a results standpoint. The Renegades grab their first win of the season in dominant fashion, the Stallions beat the Battlehawks in a game that lived up to the expectations and gave positive tidings for... Read More


Christian McCaffrey - Fantasy Football Rankings, DFS and Betting Picks, NFL Injury News

Early PPR Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Football Drafts: Justin Jefferson, Josh Jacobs, Stefon Diggs, Trey McBride, Malik Nabers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Hey, RotoBallers! The 2024 NFL Draft is over, and it's an exciting time for football as players are starting to report to offseason workouts. The heart of fantasy football draft season is around the corner. Week 1 will be here before we know it, and it's never too early to start preparing for your fantasy... Read More


Jaylen Wright - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Dynasty League Rookie/Free-Agent Draft Review: FFPC Deeper Targets

In the offseason and preseason, as soon as the NFL Draft is over, I eagerly jump into slow fantasy football drafts. I am a big fan of the slow draft format. It extends the fun over many days and always gives me something to look forward to throughout the day. Waking up to find out... Read More


Chase Brown - Fantasy Football Rankings, Waiver Wire Pickups, Draft Sleepers

Second-Year Fantasy Football Players Who Will Break Out in 2024 - Sophomore Bounce-Back Candidates

For many years, fantasy football players tried their best to avoid rookies in drafts. Recently, it's become more common for rookies to make an impact. We've seen players like Ja’Marr Chase, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley finish in the top five at their positions. Even last year, we saw C.J. Stroud and Puka Nacua emerge... Read More