Fantasy Baseball Risers & Fallers: Adley Rutschman, Nick Gordon, Gleyber Torres (2022)
We have made it through another week in the MLB season, reaching the second week in August, which means we have less than two months of baseball left. As usual, there were some great and rough performances to dig into. This weekly column will help highlight some hot and cold players, risers, and fallers for fantasy purposes. Some players are already rostered in many places, so trades may be in order. Other players may be widely available, making a potential waiver wire claim in the cards. Each week, I will try and highlight some known and lesser-known players. Let’s take a look at some of the risers and fallers for fantasy baseball Week 17 (8/1-8/7).
The top pick in the 2019 draft is starting to play like the top pick in a draft. Things started slow for Rutschman when he was first called up, but he currently appears to be very comfortable at the plate. He entered Sunday, hitting .438 on the week with four doubles and an awe-inspiring 33.3% walk rate while striking out less than 5% of the time.
Since July 16, Rutschman has been hitting .400 with nine extra-base hits (one home run) and has even stolen a base. The plate discipline is outstanding, with a 22.1% walk rate and 11.8% strikeout rate. The power is legit with a .220 ISO, 1.164 OPS, and 230 wRC+. Rutschman has a 48.8% hard-hit rate, and it appears he is the real deal and here to be a fantasy monster for some time.
Consistent playing time has been the biggest issue for Gordon this season. That issue may be gone now with Alex Kirilloff hitting the IL for the rest of the season. This past week, Gordon hit safely in five of six games entering Sunday, suitable for a .526 batting average. He had four extra-base hits, including a home run, while also stealing two bases. Gordon walked 16% of the time while also barreling the ball 17.6% of the time. Gordon should be locked into everyday playing time, maybe sitting versus the occasional lefty, and should be an excellent source of speed, average, and a bit of power for the rest of the season.
McNeil may never return to the 23 home run hitter he was in 2019, but he is doing his best to be a very productive fantasy player for the rest of the season. This past week he hit safely in all six games entering Sunday, suitable for a .423 batting average. In addition, McNeil had three doubles and a home run to go with four runs and four RBI. He is now hitting .304 on the season with six home runs and two stolen bases, proving once again to be a fantasy-winning asset.
After a horrible start to the season, Mateo is turning in a solid fantasy performance. This past week he hit .294 with two home runs and two stolen bases. More impressively, Mateo only struck out 10% of the time while also walking 10%. In addition, he barreled the ball 13.3% of the time with a 40% hard-hit rate and may just become a reliable source of power and speed. Since July 10, Mateo has been hitting .300 with 12 extra-base hits, including four home runs and five stolen bases. Mateo could be a 20/20 asset in the future and should add another 5+ home runs and 5+ stolen bases the rest of the season.
It has been a long time coming, but Bart is getting comfortable at the plate. This past week he entered Sunday hitting .438 with two home runs while only striking out 6.3% of the time. The strikeout rate is the most impressive improvement when it comes to Bart. Since being recalled on July 6, Bart is hitting .282 with five home runs and a stolen base. He is still striking out 31.1% of the time, so last week’s improvement is tremendous. Since the 6th, his ISO has been .239 with a .832 OPS and 133 wRC+. Bart is getting locked in, and the Giants will once again have a fantasy stud at catcher.
Torres had quite a bounce-back season but has hit the skids of late. This past week he only had one hit entering Sunday’s action while striking out 52.9% of the time. Torres had a 59.5% contact rate and 23.8% SwStr, so a heavy strikeout load was sure to follow. Since the all-star break, Torres is only hitting .167 with two home runs and a near 32% strikeout rate. The season was solid for Torres, but things appear to be coming to an end.
Blackmon was moving along throughout the season, being productive enough to have some fantasy relevance. Unfortunately, the relevancy has been slowing down, and this past week was terrible as Blackmon entered Sunday hitting .167 on the week without an extra-base hit. Blackmon stole a base but had no walks and struck out 22% of the time. Since the all-star break, he is hitting .197 with two home runs and a .115 ISO. Unfortunately, father time is undefeated, and Blackmon may be one of the next losers in that battle.
When he was recalled, Taveras was finally showcasing power and speed, but this past week was a move back to poor fantasy production. He entered Sunday, hitting .167 on the week without an extra-base hit or stolen base while also striking out 25% of the time. Since the all-star break, Taveras is only hitting .242 without a home run and only one stolen base. Additionally, he is striking out 28.4% of the time and could lose playing time when Kole Calhoun returns if Bubba Thompson performs well. I was all in on Taveras when he was first called up, but I am very nervous now.
Benintendi was supposed to be an OBP asset for the Yankees, but this past week was far from that. He entered Sunday with one hit and a .176 OBP on the week. He scored a run and stole a base, so not all was lost, but mostly all was lost. Since being traded to the Yankees, Benintendi had two hits entering Sunday for a .080 batting average. The power has been a struggle all season for Benintendi, but the OBP skills and stolen bases have been his calling card. Hopefully, that changes soon, or the trade will be a colossal fail.
Grandal has had a horrible year; this past week was not much better. He hit doubles on Friday and Saturday, but those were his only two hits entering Sunday. He still walked 10% of the time, which is nice but is not as good as what we have come to expect from Grandal. Since returning from the IL on July 22, Grandal is hitting .222, and those two doubles are his only two extra-base hits. He has only scored one run and driven in four while walking 6.3% of the time and striking out 22.9%. Grandal needs to walk more and improve on that .044 ISO quickly, or he will be better left as waiver wire fodder.
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