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Fantasy Baseball Risers & Fallers: Salvador Perez, Antonio Senzatela, Daniel Bard, Francisco Lindor

by Jon Mathisen | @eazymath | Featured Writer
Aug 30, 2021
Salvador Perez

Salvador Perez has already slugged a career-best 38 homers and driven in 94 runs with a month of baseball left to play.

Welcome to the Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers article for Week 22 (8/23 – 8/29). I will be covering some of the hottest and coldest players in baseball over the last seven days. This column aims to provide insight into the featured players’ success and/or struggles. We’ll try and discover if their recent performances have any staying power or if it was just a flash in the pan. This will be the season’s final Risers & Fallers column, with the fantasy baseball playoffs underway in some leagues and about to begin the following week in others. I want to thank each of you who took the time to read the column this season, cheers!

The NFL is set to kick off in less than two weeks, which is exciting but also makes it harder and harder to focus on baseball, even with the playoffs around the corner. Laid-back fantasy managers have mostly checked out by now, but if you can’t get enough of this stuff, then you’re probably still reading this article. Experienced and competitive managers (like you) know that this is the time to hunker down and focus on the postseason. This is where we separate the serious from the casual. While most of us may have a set it and forget it lineup by now, some lesser-known players mentioned below could be worth adding to your rosters to help boost your team.

It’s always important to pay attention to which players are “rising” and which ones are “falling.” I’ve tried my best all season to focus on fringe roster-worthy guys that have been flying under the radar. For example, I didn’t always cover superstars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shohei Ohtani, and Fernando Tatis Jr., as they were steadily “rising” throughout the season. They’re obviously all amazing players, but it would have been redundant to cover them on a semi-weekly basis. Their awesomeness was well documented across the fantasy baseball landscape. Anyway, with all of that out of the way, let’s get into the final article of the season.

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Risers

Salvador Perez (C – KC)
How good has Salvador Perez been this season? Well, he’s already slugged a career-best 38 homers and driven in 94 runs with a month of baseball left to play. Overall, he’s slashing .277/.315/.544 with 63 runs scored, which is another career-high, in addition to the HR and RBI. He’s coming off a ridiculous week in which he went 10-for-28 (.357/.455/1.000) with six home runs, 14 RBI, and a 5:5 K/BB ratio. He swatted two grand slams and has now homered in five straight games and 8-of-10 overall. He just set an American League record for home runs by a catcher in a season as well. In all of baseball, only Shohei Ohtani (41) has more runs than Perez. He’s easily been the best catcher in fantasy and has been a top-50 player overall.

It’s been a remarkable run for the 31-year-old backstop who missed all of the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He also missed 23 games during the shortened 2020 campaign due to a left eye central serous chorioretinopathy, which blurred his vision. He’s come back with force this year, posting career-bests in Barrel Rate (15.3%), Hard Hit Rate (55.3%), Average Exit Velocity (92.7 mph), and Max Exit Velocity (114.4 mph). While the Player of The Week award will come out after this article has been published, it would be shocking if Perez didn’t win it for the American League. It was a banner week in what has been a banner season for the backstop.

Antonio Senzatela (SP – COL)
Senzatela made two starts last week against the Cubs and the Dodgers. He allowed just one run while striking out 11 and walking three across 13 innings. He earned the win against Los Angeles on Sunday and should have picked up the victory against the Cubs earlier in the week, but Colorado’s shaky bullpen blew the lead. Rockies pitchers don’t typically attract much attention, especially in the fantasy community. Sure, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland have had their moments. Jon Gray has looked good at times this season as well, but Senzatela, who’s been their most reliable starter over the last month, hasn’t received much fanfare at all.

This season, he got off an unproductive start, compiling a 4.76 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 55:20 K/BB ratio over his first 81 1/3 innings (15 starts). In addition to his lackluster production on the field, he had a few stints on the injured list back in May (strained groin) and July (COVID-19) as well. He’s stepped his game up over the last seven starts, though, putting up a 3.09 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 32:17 K/BB ratio across 43 2/3 innings. He only has a 1-2 record to show for it, but he’s notched quality starts in 6-of-7 games and currently has reeled off four straight. Senzatela won’t blow you away with his stuff. He currently ranks in the 10th percentile or worse in Strikeout Rate, Whiff Rate, xBA allowed, and Chase Rate. However, he’s got a stellar 5.1% Walk Rate (91st percentile) and 53.4% Groundball rate. In addition to that, he’s only allowed nine home runs all season (1.7% HR rate). He lacks the big strikeout upside that fantasy managers covet, which is the main reason he’s rostered in only 9% of Yahoo! leagues. While he may not be a pitcher you’d like to rely on in the fantasy playoffs, his recent run should still be recognized.

Jorge Alfaro (C – MIA)
Alfaro has been raking over the last seven contests and was a big reason why the struggling Marlins went 4-2 last week. The 28-year-old backstop went 11-for-28 (.393/.393/.571) with a home run, nine RBI, and a stolen base over that span. He swatted his first homer since July 5 and is riding a seven-game hitting streak. It’s arguably been his best stretch of the year, but, unfortunately, his season has been a major disappointment overall. He’s got a .248/.286/.357 batting line with four home runs, 29 RBI, and eight stolen bases across 266 at-bats. Alfaro initially showed promise in his first full season with the Marlins after coming over from Philadelphia as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade.

He displayed the rare power/speed combination that is hard to find in regular position players, let alone catchers. He slashed .262/.312/.425 with 18 home runs, 57 RBI, and four stolen bases over 130 games in his first season in Miami but took a step back during the 2020 campaign by missing 29 games due to injury. The fantasy community was hoping for a bounce back and a return to form this season for Alfaro, but it’s been anything but that. He played in just five games between April 21 and June 1 due to a hamstring strain and has seemingly never been able to get going this season. He does have a solid 48.9% Hard Hit Rate (87th percentile), 115.7 Max Exit Velocity (96th percentile), 8.6% Barrel Rate, and his sprint speed is in the 79th percentile. But his 32.1% Strikeout Rate is too high, and his 3.2% Walk rate is too low. He has his fair share of issues at the plate, but the recent hot streak has been noteworthy.

Patrick Wisdom (3B – CHC)
Wisdom is making the “Risers” list for the third and final time this season. He’s also made the “Fallers” list twice before, which shows you how streaky of a hitter he can be. In six games last week, he went just 6-for-21 (.286/.400/1.000), but he smacked five home runs and 10 RBI. He struck out 12 times, in true Wisdom fashion, but also drew four walks. He swatted a pair of majestic home runs in Friday’s 17-13 barn burner loss to the White Sox. He’s now gone deep seven times over his last nine games and is up to 25 home runs on the season, made all the more impressive by the fact he wasn’t even called up until late May. Overall, he’s got a .256/.320/.579 batting line with 25 home runs, 50 RBI, and three stolen bases over 254 at-bats.

He simply crushes the ball, as evidenced by his Statcast batting statistics. He has a ridiculous 17.5% Barrel Rate, 54.5% Hard Hit Rate, and an Average Launch Angle of 18.9 degrees. He also has a Max Exit Velocity of 114.2 mph. However, you typically don’t get prodigious power numbers without a high strikeout rate, and Wisdom’s 39.3% K Rate is just that. While some fantasy managers can look past his swings and misses in exchange for the power, the majority cannot. He’s rostered in just 45% of Yahoo! leagues, which is a bit surprising considering the hot streak that he’s been on. It’s been an incredibly disappointing and emotional season for the Cubs and their fans, but Wisdom has offered a small glimmer of hope and joy. Despite being 30-years-old and having appeared in the majors before this season, he’s still technically a rookie. He’s got a real shot at taking home NL Rookie of The Year honors. He’s also got a legit chance to hit 30-plus home runs in a little over 300 at-bats. Not too shabby.

Fallers

Daniel Bard (RP – COL)
It was a rough week for Colorado closer Daniel Bard. He only pitched 1 2/3 innings over four games, recording just one out in two contests and zero outs in another. He took two losses, blew one save, and put up a hideous 43.20 ERA and 7.52 WHIP. This recent snag shouldn’t come as a surprise as Bard has largely been ineffective over the last month. He’s got an 11.57 ERA over his last 11 2/3 innings (15 earned runs allowed) going back to July 23. To add insult to injury, he lost his closer job to teammate Carlos Estevez over the weekend. While that move may be temporary, he forced manager Bud Black’s hand with his poor play. Overall, the 36-year-old owns a 5.61 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, and 65:24 K/BB ratio over 51 1/3 innings. He’s 20-for-28 on save chances and holds a 7-7 record on the year.

Bard was a feel-good story last season, earning six saves over the final 23 games for the Rockies. He went on to win the NL Comeback Player of The Year award since he hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. This season has been far from a fairytale for the hard-throwing right-hander, though. His roster shares have dropped off significantly over the last month, and now that he’s no longer the leading candidate to close games, he’s pretty much lost all of his fantasy value.

Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)
Lindor’s debut season with the Mets has not gone according to plan, to say the least. He got off to a sluggish start to the year, which wasn’t all that surprising considering his “underwhelming” 2020 season. He also had a lot of pressure after signing a massive extension with a new team (with a new owner) in a new league. Many hopes and expectations come along with that, and Lindor appeared to be pressing early on in the season. In June, he started to pick things up, slashing .288/.405/.470 with three homers, 15 RBI, three stolen bases, and a 16:11 K/BB ratio over 20 games from June 23 – July 16. Unfortunately, as (bad) luck would have it, Lindor’s early summer hot streak ended when he strained his right oblique and was placed on the IL on July 17. That’s the kind of season it’s been for him and the Mets. He was activated from the injured list just last week and has gone 4-for-24 (.167/.167/.292) with a pair of extra-base hits, two RBI, and two stolen bases over the last six games. New York went 2-4 over that six-game stretch and now find themselves 7.5 games back of the Braves in the NL East and seven games out of the second Wild Card spot.

There’s no denying that he’s having the worst season of his career. He’s got a .224/.316/.370 batting line with 11 home runs, 38 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 50 runs scored over 335 at-bats. There isn’t much hope in his expected stats either with a .241 xBA, .324 xwOBA, and .397 xSLG. He’s posting a career-low 16.7% Strikeout Rate, which has been somewhat mitigated by his career-best 10.7% Walk Rate. Considering where he was drafted and how he was expected to perform, he’s been one of the bigger busts in the fantasy baseball season. This will likely go down as a lost season for the 27-year-old shortstop, but he’s in the first year of a 10-year contract with the Mets, and it’s a near certainty that he will be better than this moving forward.

James Karinchak (RP – CLE)
Karinchak looked unhittable at times earlier this season. He punched out 22 batters over his 10 1/3 innings and split closer duties with teammate Emmanuel Clase for a good portion of the first half. He compiled a 6-2 record, 2.52 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 68:22 K/BB ratio over 39 1/3 innings before the All-Star break. He notched nine saves and eight holds over that same span as well. He’s looked like a different pitcher since July 16, however, going 1-2 with three blown saves, an 840 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and 9:10 K/BB ratio over 15 innings pitched. It’s been quite a struggle for the 25-year-old reliever.

Last Friday was the final straw as he served up a go-ahead three-run homer to Boston’s Jonathan Araúz in the eighth inning. Cleveland would lose that ball game, and Karinchak was optioned to Triple-A Columbus the next day. He just seems to have temporarily lost command of his pitches, and batters are either sitting on his fastball or not swinging at his curve. His funky delivery can be both a gift and a curse. Hitters can struggle to pick the ball up once it leaves his hand, but he also tends to lack control. He has a career 38% Strikeout Rate, which is a solid mark, but that goes along with a 13.5% Walk Rate. There’s a good chance that Cleveland will call him back up towards the end of the season if he can get right in the minors, but this has to be a blow to his confidence, to say the least.

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