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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 7

bryan reynolds 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 now at a point where season-to-date samples tell more significant stories about players and we have a better idea of what is causing their struggles. We still need to remember that every situation is different both in real-life and in fantasy so there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for your rosters. But we can start formulating better plans on what to do with those struggling stars.

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 lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Worth Dropping and Replacing?

Gavin Lux - 2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers - 53% rostered

Lux was something of a trendy sleeper in drafts, given the tag of a "post-hype prospect". And he hasn't been bad in fantasy or real life but it appears as though expectations may have been set a little too high.

So far, Lux is hitting .262/.344/.346 with one homer, 12 RBI, 22 runs and two steals in 33 games. He ranks tied-33rd in all of baseball for runs scored, somewhat remarkable given Lux has hit exclusively eighth or ninth for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers do lead the league in runs scored (214) which will help in that regard.

The positional flexibility is nice but in shallower leagues, isn't as valuable. And the lack of any other significant counting stats doesn't really lend itself to being a viable fantasy option in anything but deep leagues.

Verdict - Lux is still only 24 years old with just 178 MLB games under his belt. So I'm not looking to drop him in dynasty leagues. But shallow redraft leagues, he lacks the counting stats you will find from others on waivers. If you're in need of runs, he's a solid option but it's hard to imagine he'll continue on a 100+ runs pace over a full season hitting eighth or ninth, even on the Dodgers.

Anthony Bender - RP, Miami Marlins - 42% rostered

Anthony Bender was expected to be the Marlins closer to start the year, with Dylan Floro starting the season on the IL. Well, Floro is back but is yet to pick up a save in six outings (5.1 IP) with a 8.44 ERA. And Bender has six saves, but none since April 30th and is sporting a 4.50 ERA (14.0 IP).

This week, Bender was called upon in the fifth inning on Tuesday and then gave up a run in the eighth inning of a tied game on Wednesday. Yet, only three other pitchers on the Marlins roster have a save this year; Louis Head, Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott.

Sulser had 13 career saves prior to this season, while Scott had one and Head none, so it's not like the bullpen is brimming with experienced closers. Floro entered yesterday's game in the sixth inning with the Marlins trailing by two runs so believing Don Mattingly wants Floro to be the exclusive closer doesn't appear very realistic.

Despite Floro's ugly 8.44 ERA from his 5.1 IP, all five runs came in his first two outings after returning from the IL. Since then, he has had 3.1 IP without allowing an earned run, allowing one walk and three hits. One of the hits allowed an inherited runner to make it 3-0 in last night's game, however.

Verdict - It feels like it's only a matter of time before Bender stops seeing any save opportunities. The Marlins haven't been winning enough games to have a fantasy worthy closer this month and if Floro continues to build on the last seven days, Bender could be relegated to lower leverage work permanently moving forward. He's still rosterable if you're in need of saves, but prepare to drop him pretty soon.

Spencer Torkelson - 1B/3B, Detroit Tigers - 36% rostered

The Tigers no.1 prospect heading into the season has struggled in his rookie year, hitting .179/.290/.321 with four homers, 11 RBI, eight runs and no steals. In truth, the Tigers as a whole have been pretty putrid offensively, scoring the fewest runs in the Majors (106).

 
He has flashed some of the power he displayed in the Minors last year when he hit 30 home runs in 121 games across three levels. But Wednesday's home run was his first since April 23rd and he's only on pace for 15-18 homers by season's end.

Given how bad the Tigers have been, I don't expect them to demote Torkelson, but rather let him adapt and work through his struggles in the Majors. It shouldn't come as a surprise he has a 29.8% K% (11th percentile) but his excellent walk rate in the Minors has been on display with a 12.1% BB% so far (81st percentile).

Verdict - Torkelson is 100% worth holding onto in dynasty and is actually a nice "buy-low" option long-term if his fantasy manager has concerns or is competing now and needs a short-term upgrade. But in redraft, Torkelson doesn't look like providing anywhere near what you want from a corner infielder so is only rosterable in the deepest leagues.

 

Hold For Now

Matt Chapman - 3B, Toronto Blue Jays - 81% rostered

After hitting 36 homers in 2019 and then 10 in 2020 (37 games), last year was a disappointment for Chapman. He ended the year hitting .210/.314/.403 with 27 homers,  72 RBI, 75 runs and three steals.

Chapman's struggles were put down to his recovery from offseason hip surgery and he was drafted this year with the expectation that one year removed from the surgery should see him return to the 2019 version of himself. Then came the trade to the Blue Jays and Chapman moved up draft boards given the potency of their lineup.

But Chapman is only hitting .191/.275/.368 with six homers, 16 RBI, 14 runs and no stolen bases. And the expectations of the lineup he's now a part of have not materialized either with Toronto ranking 24th in runs scored (145).

But a comparison of Chapman's underlying numbers last year to this year offers hope things will turn around and he'll end the season nearer his 2019 numbers than 2021.

This year, Chapman is making more consistent hard contact, striking out less and has good expected numbers. That shouldn't be surprising given he's healthy this year. The walk rate is down but that's likely due to him being more passive at the plate in 2021 given his hip issue.

I don't see how the Blue Jays offense doesn't get things going in the coming weeks and Chapman will likely be a big part of it. He's still hit six homers (tied-9th among third basemen) so that HardHit% is translating into home runs and I expect him to reach 28-30 home runs with good counting stats by the end of the year.

Eduardo Escobar - 1B/2B/3B, New York Mets - 53% rostered

Escobar hasn't hit the heights in New York that he did last year in Arizona and Milwaukee. So far in 2022, he's hitting .203/.307/.336 with two homers, nine RBI, 17 runs and no steals (39 games). The RBI count is a particular disappointment given Escobar has mainly hit fifth in a Mets lineup that ranks fifth in runs scored (1892).

Being able to plug Escobar into any of three infield positions on your fantasy roster is a benefit. But he still needs to hit to justify a spot and in shallower leagues where the waiver wires tend to have solid hitters at any position, the lack of production can become a black hole in your lineups, regardless of where you start him.

Escobar's underlying numbers aren't supportive of much improvement, ranking in the 14th percentile for xBA, 11th percentile for xSLG and 23rd percentile for xwOBA. His 5.1% Barrel% is his lowest since 2016 and ranks in the 23rd percentile.

Other than in deep leagues where his versatility is useful and waivers are thinner, Escobar is someone I'd have no problems dropping as I'm not optimistic for anything other than league average stats for the remainder of the season, assuming he finds some form at the plate.

Adam Duvall - OF, Atlanta Braves - 43% rostered

Duvall had career highs in home runs (38) and RBI (113) last year between Atlanta and Miami. This year, he's hit two homers, 16 RBI, 15 runs and no steals (39 games) with a .203/.263/.297 slash line. He continues to strike out a lot, with a 32.2% K% ranking in the fifth percentile.

Duvall has career lows in Barrel% (7.9%) and Z-Contact% (79.9%). The Z-Contact% is the rate at which a batter makes contact when swinging at pitches in the strike zone. Hiz Z-Contact% is down almost 5% on his career mark (84.5%).

From that, we can surmise that Duvall is swinging and missing at more pitches in the strike zone and not making as good contact as in previous years. But there are reasons for hope (more so than optimism) that Duvall can turn things around.

Last year, after 39 games, Duvall was hitting .218/.255/.444 with eight homers and 29 RBI, having just had back-to-back three-run homer games. He ended the year with a .228/.281/.491 slash line as the power improved as the season went on.

Duvall is one of the streakier hitters in the league, as many high strikeout hitters are. He could still end the year with 30 home runs but there's little to suggest he will apart from last year's trends so there may be better outfielders available on waivers, especially in shallow leagues.

 

On the Hot Seat

Marcus Semien - 2B/SS, Texas Rangers - 93% rostered

I'm going to try and keep this as simple as possible. If you drafted Semien, you're likely not dropping Semien, but you're not starting Semien.

The non-statistical reasoning for his struggles is the weight of a new multi-million dollar contract with a new team in a new city causing him to push too much and ultimately not hit anywhere near his capabilities. While I believe there to be merit in that argument, there's no numerical evidence to back it up.

Now for a bit of analysis.

Semien came third in the AL MVP voting last year while with the Blue Jays. He hit .265/.334/.538 with 45 homers, 102 RBI, 115 runs and 15 stolen bases. Through 38 games this year, Semien is hitting .180/.242/.233 with no homers, nine RBI, 13 runs and 3 stolen bases.

To give you an idea of how bad he's been so far, of the 170 qualified hitters in MLB, Semien ranks 169th in wRC+ (43) with only Jonathan Schoop ranking lower (32). He ranks 170th in xwOBA (.241) and 164th in ISO (.053). If you compare his Statcast profiles from the last two years, you'd be forgiven for thinking they're from two different hitters.

You'd also be forgiven for thinking Semien was a little lucky to have had such a big year in 2021. And you'd be partly right as his expected stats were better than his actual numbers but not by much. Even his expected home run total was 41 so it's not like he was a 25-homer hitter that got all the luck.

But Semien did benefit from playing in more hitter-friendly ballparks last year. Below is a comparison of how the ballparks in Toronto, Dunedin (where Toronto started the season) and Arlington ranked for hitting in 2021. The numbers are taken from ESPN's Ballpark Factors where first is the most hitter-friendly.

Team ballpark Runs rank HR rank Hits rank
Rogers Centre (Toronto) 9th 12th 10th
TD Ballpark (Dunedin) 1st 2nd 2nd
Globe Life Field (Arlington) 21st 22nd 15th

I don't think you can base all of last year's success and this year's struggles on the ballparks. But it's certainly another wrinkle into his struggles.

I spoke to Jon Anderson (@JonPgh) on his podcast earlier this week about Semien (Another Fantasy Baseball Podcast which you can find clicking here) and we came to the same conclusion.

He's doing nothing with the bat but is still running with elite speed. However, that's neutralized if he can't get on base. But you can't really drop him in May after using a second or third round pick on him. And you can't really start him right now so he's just someone you stick on the bench and wait for a recovery.

The saving grace is he's not striking out much with a 17.6% K%, which is lower than last year (20.2% K%). And given the Rangers aren't likely to be in the postseason hunt the way things are going, they won't be benching him any time soon. Maybe a drop down the lineup but that's as far as they'll go.

I'll go back to what I said ad nauseam last year about Cody Bellinger. Given we've seen what Semien can do, will you be happier with him sitting on your roster and continuing as he has been, or dropping him and seeing him on another team's roster putting up similar numbers to 2021? It comes down to personal tolerance.

 

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.

Trevor Story - 2B/SS, Boston Red Sox - 97% rostered

Let me take you back in time to last Sunday, when Story was hitting .196/.276/.286 with one homer, 15 RBI, 11 runs and 3 steals (29 games). That was a 162-game pace of six homers, 84 RBI, 61 runs and 17 stolen bases. That would be his worse full season in the Majors.

Fast forward to this Sunday and Story is hitting .226/.307/.421 with six homers, 28 RBI, 20 runs and five steals (35 games). He's now got a 162-game pace of 28 homers, 130 RBI, 93 runs and 23 stolen bases. That's better than last year and would make him a top-3 shortstop in fantasy at the end of the year.

Story has become a poster boy for why you should hold your studs for as long as possible and not just discard them to waivers because of a slow start, especially when they're on a new team. He won't have many three-homer games but he's begun to reward fantasy managers' patience.

Jose Abreu - 1B, Chicago White Sox - 96% rostered

We've already gone back in time one week, so let's go back two weeks this time. Back then, people were worried about Rhys Hoskins and asking if he should be dropped. Before I dug into his numbers, a quick glance at his Statcast profile told me Hoskins will come good. And he did. The same can be said about Abreu.

Of course, looking at this alone doesn't tell us the full story, but the fact Abreu is hitting the ball hard, not striking out much, taking plenty of walks and his expected numbers are better than his .207/.296/.343 slash line leads me to believe he should still be rostered in all fantasy leagues.

His four homers, 17 RBI and 17 runs are disappointing but the White Sox have struggled offensively (in part due to injuries) and rank 25th in runs scored (140). The only difference in Abreu's hit profile is fewer line drives with more flyballs and groundballs.

With a lack of speed and a deadened ball, that probably won't translate into 30+ homers if it maintains. But his .274 xBA, a career-low 17.6% K% and a career-high 10.7% BB% make me confident that Abreu's numbers will start to resemble his career season average and he'll get back to hitting fewer groundballs.

Javier Baez - 2B/SS, Detroit Tigers - 93% rostered

The third and final middle infielder struggling after signing a big contract with a new team this offseason. Baez is hitting just .205/.244/.308 with two homers, 11 RBI, nine runs and no steals (30 games). He did miss a little more than a week in April due to a thumb injury but there haven't been any stories about a lingering problem.

The lack of any stolen base attempts is troublesome after he tallied 18 steals last year as he ranks in the 64th percentile for sprint speed. His 27.6 ft/s is a career-low, however. The Tigers have only totaled 11 stolen base attempts (30th in MLB) so don't seem to be interested in running much.

And the Tigers offense has been collectively dreadful, ranking last in runs scored (105), 29th in wOBA (273) and 29th in wRC+ (79). It's unlikely Baez reaches 80+ RBI or runs this year, which will be the first time he's failed to do so in a full season since 2017 unless the Tigers can somehow get going at the plate.

On the positive side, Baez's 25.2% K% is the lowest he's had since 2016 despite being in the 31st percentile. But I think we need to adjust our expectations for Baez, especially if he's not running.

I'm still not prepared to drop Baez but I don't foresee him putting up numbers similar to what we know he can do. His upside is too much that he's simply droppable and his stock is so low, trading him won't get you much in return. Baez is someone I'm riding out the struggles with for now.

Bryan Reynolds - OF, Pittsburgh Pirates - 88% rostered

Reynolds must've heard he's going to feature on this week's Cut List as he's gone 7-for-18 this week, raising his season slash line to .231/.322/.388. He's got five homers, nine RBI, 13 runs and one stolen base in 36 games. That's a 162-game pace of 23 homers, 41 RBI, 59 runs and five steals. If Reynolds hits 23 homers, I'm 99% certain he'll have more than 50 RBI!

That's still a far cry from his 2021 season, in which Reynolds had 24 home runs, 90 RBI, 93 runs and five steals while hitting .302/.390/.354. The Pirates rank 29th in runs scored (129) and 27th in wRC+ (85) so you shouldn't be shocked that the runs and RBI have been lacking. But the Pirates ranked 30th in both categories last year and Reynolds still managed a combined 183 runs scored and batted in.

Given Reynolds had an ADP of ~92, more was expected and it's understandable that fantasy managers are wondering what to do with him. And while his expected stats are better than his actual numbers, they are all lower than the 50th percentile.

I can't put this down to Reynolds being a slow starter, given he was hitting .286/.387/.489 at the end of May last year. Nor has there been any news or details or a possible injury attributing to his struggles. This just looks like the makings of being a down year after a sluggish start.

Reynolds does have a career-high 33.2% O-Swing% (swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone) while his 50.8% O-Contact% (contact on pitches outside of the strike zone) is a career-low. Despite that, he has an 11.2% BB% which is in the 78th percentile and only marginally lower than last year's 11.6% BB%.

Reynolds' career numbers prior to this season aren't something I'm willing to ignore and I'm not going to cast him off to waivers based on six weeks of struggles. But we should be lowering our expectations of Reynolds for 2022 and just hope he picks things up in the coming weeks so we can still get 75% of his 2021 numbers.

Eugenio Suarez - 3B/SS, Seattle Mariners - 70% rostered

Suarez is hitting .224/.317/.442 with seven homers, 20 RBI, 23 runs and no steals. Ordinarily, that's nothing much to warrant rostering in anything but shallower leagues given the perceived batting average drain he gives your teams.

But in a year when offensive numbers are down across baseball, comparatively, Suarez is actually still one of the best fantasy options at both of his eligible positions.

Position rank HR RBI R SB AVG*
Third base Tied-7th 14th Tied-3rd Tied-44th 27th
Shortstop Tied-3rd Tied-8th Tied-3rd Tied-58th 26th

* Batting average is ranked for those with 100+ at-bats.

In terms of homers, RBI and runs, Suarez is a starter at either position. He offers little to no speed but the same can be said for so many other hitters. The league-wide batting average is a historically low .236 so hitting .224 is barely below league average right now.

Suarez ranks in the 93rd percentile for Barrel% (15.4%) which is a career-high and I'm still looking at Suarez as a rosterable at least as a corner or middle infielder. You should be able to offset his lack of stolen bases and his batting average isn't the drain on your team it once would have been.



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Joe Burrow - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS and Betting Picks

Fantasy Football Injury Reports (Offseason Updates): Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Breece Hall, Jonathon Brooks, Gus Edwards, Josh Jacobs, and more

Fantasy football drafts happen all year long, but the thick of draft season is ahead. That said, it's important to start monitoring the latest injury news around the NFL. Our offseason injury updates and reports as of Tuesday, June 18, 2024, will give you the latest updates on key guys. In the thick of mandatory... Read More


Cooper Kupp - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

Fantasy Football Preview - Los Angeles Rams Edition

Welcome to my 2024 fantasy football preview for the Los Angeles Rams, as part of my team-by-team fantasy football outlooks series. We are starting with the NFC West before moving to the AFC West and then down to the NFC/AFC South divisions. Our first entry focused on the Seattle Seahawks. For this second entry, we'll... Read More


Noah Fant - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Tight Ends, NFL Injury News

2024 Fantasy Football Deep Sleepers: Tight End

I know we say it every year, but this year, tight end is deep. I mean, Kyle Pitts is TE6, and George Kittle is TE7. Either one of those guys can finish as the overall TE1 this season. Then you’ve got guys like Evan Engram, Jake Ferguson, and Brock Bowers just behind them. The position... Read More


Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight: Cody Schrader

Cody Schrader took an unconventional path to the NFL, beginning his career at the Division II level before walking on at Missouri. He wasn't drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft. Schrader landed as a UDFA with the 49ers, where he'll look to carve out a role behind Christian McCaffrey. What will the 24-year-old running back... Read More


Jaleel McLaughlin - Fantasy Football Rankings, DFS and Betting Picks, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football RB Stat Busts/Sleepers - Missed Tackles Forced Per Attempt

With the steady increase of committees over the years, running back has become one of the most frustrating positions for fantasy football managers. The days of endless bell-cow backs are gone. Despite the rise of committees, running back remains one of the most important positions in fantasy football. Gamers still need to pay sharp attention... Read More


Late-Round Sleepers and Undervalued Picks for 2024 Fantasy Football

In every fantasy draft, managers focus heavily on their early-round picks. After all, these are the players who are going to lead your fantasy team. However, the late-round picks are just as important, especially if those "sleepers" turn out to be consistent fantasy options. Just look at the 2023 fantasy season, as several sleepers helped... Read More


Jaxon Smith-Njigba Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Ladd McConkey vs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba - Who Should I Draft in 2024 Fantasy Football?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Ladd McConkey are young wide receivers with unlimited upside. With Smith-Njigba playing in his second season and McConkey about to get his first taste of NFL action, they should have a long way to go in building successful pro football careers. Luckily, some great offensive minds can help them succeed. Smith-Njigba will... Read More


James Cook - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Players To Fade for Fantasy Football Best Ball Drafts Include Josh Jacobs, James Cook, Chris Olave, David Njoku, more

Fantasy football best ball drafts and contests continue to grow and grow each year. The number of tournaments and strategies deployed surrounding the format is exploding, which means we must stay sharp! Social media is filled with best ball builds and screenshots of different approaches. It's everywhere! But before you can win these leagues, you... Read More


Drake London - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Targets and Fades - FFPC Main Event Contest

Even though the calendar still shows it's the first half of June, fantasy football drafts are back in full swing in many best ball leagues, tournaments, and high-stakes contests. These early drafts can help all fantasy football managers get a feel for how the market perceives players and where they will end up in drafts... Read More


Geno Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

Fantasy Football Preview - Seattle Seahawks Edition

This new 32-part series will dissect each NFL team through a fantasy football lens. We'll look at each of the four primary positions—quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end—and identify each player's value at their current ADP. Through this series, we'll also recognize players fantasy managers should avoid and target at their current ADP.... Read More


Ricky Pearsall - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Five Fantasy Football Rookies That Will Fail To Make An Instant Impact In 2024

In recent years, we have seen more rookies than ever before provide immediate fantasy football results. Just last year, we watched Puka Nacua and C.J. Stroud have impressive debut seasons. However, not every rookie can make an immediate impact. Whether it’s due to circumstances or lack of experience, there are times when first-year players disappoint.... Read More


UFL RANKINGS, FANTASY FOOTBALL,

Free UFL Betting Picks - Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for the UFL Championship

Sadly and sweetly, we have reached the conclusory game of the 2024 UFL season. I am already yearning for the start of the 2025 season and eager to follow along as the draft happens, the rosters change, and 2024 stars get their NFL opportunities. There is plenty to reflect on: the great attendance numbers for... Read More


Sneaky QB1 Candidates? 2024 Fantasy Football Quarterback Sleepers

The NFL season is right around the corner, which means that fantasy football drafts will soon take place. Drafting your fantasy team is one of the most exciting times for managers. But it also is one of the most stressful times, especially when making certain decisions like when is the best time to draft a... Read More