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10 Burning Questions: Ronald Acuna Jr., Brent Rooker, Austin Riley (Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Ronald Acuna Jr., Brent Rooker, Austin Riley (Fantasy Baseball)

Happy Memorial Day. It’s a holiday to remember the veterans who lost their lives protecting American freedoms. That is most important.

It is also the two-month point of the baseball season. That means it is time to analyze your rosters to see who isn’t playing up to expectations. By this point in the season, anybody not picked in the top 100 is expendable if they aren’t performing. Some possible drops are included in this week’s 10 burning questions, along with some hot starts and their believability.

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10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

Who benefits from the Ronald Acuna Jr. injury?

This one stinks to even write about. On Sunday afternoon, Ronald Acuna Jr. went down with a non-contact injury to his knee. He was initially optimistic it wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, an MRI revealed he tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

Replacing the production of Acuna is impossible for your fantasy team and the Braves. The Braves will most likely make Adam Duvall an everyday starter. He has struggled this season as a platoon player with four home runs, 11 RBI and a .207 average. It becomes easy to forget that just last season he had 21 home runs in only 92 games. As an everyday player, he can be an asset in the power categories.

Did we underestimate Brent Rooker‘s power?

Underestimate is the wrong word. Underappreciate is a better word. Brent Rooker was one of 26 batters last season with 30+ home runs. Of those 26 batters, he had the lowest average draft position by a substantial margin. With 11 home runs already, Rooker is delivering another useful season in the power categories.

In hindsight, there was never any reason for Rooker to go that late. There was never any question he would have a full-time role with Athletics. His hard-hit and barrel rates fully supported his 30-home run season. Those rates are repeating this season but with a better supporting cast around him to increase his run and RBI numbers.

Why did I draft Thairo Estrada for stolen bases?

The last two seasons have been nearly identical for Thairo Estrada. He had 14 home runs each season with 21 stolen bases in 2022 and 23 in 2023. Include his consistently above-average contributions in batting average, and you see why he was a popular mid-round selection as a middle infielder.

What has been surprising is his lack of stolen bases to this point. He has only attempted two stolen bases and been successful once. His sprint speed shows it isn’t that he has slowed. Instead, it appears to be a team philosophical change under new manager Bob Melvin. The Giants only have 19 stolen bases as a team, last in all of baseball.

Is Vaughn Grissom droppable?

It took extra time for Vaughn Grissom’s Boston Red Sox career to begin as he recovered from a hamstring injury. He has recovered from his injury but has provided mediocre results so far.

Grissom has always been a safe bet for batting average at any level of professional baseball. That is what makes his current .138 batting average so surprising. He has supplemented his poor batting average with five runs scored and three RBI over 17 games. Even with the middle infield being the weakest position, you can move on from Grissom.

What happened to Michael Busch‘s breakout?

In his first 20 games with the Chicago Cubs, it appeared they had found a star in Michael Busch. He had six home runs, 15 RBI and was hitting .309. A prolonged slump has followed.

Busch has played 30 games after his hot start. In those 30 games, he has only one home run, six RBI and is batting merely .178. While the underlying numbers support the early season power production, it may come with an average close to .200. Among qualified batters, he has the fourth-worst strikeout rate in all of baseball at over 35%.

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Where is Austin Riley?

The Austin Riley situation has been one of the most frustrating for fantasy owners over the past few seasons. Riley last played in a game on May 12th. In other words, he has missed 13 consecutive games. The Braves have chosen not to place him on the injured list (IL). That means you can’t either in fantasy, so he has been occupying a bench spot.

The latest update is that Riley should be in the lineup today against the Nationals. That was the information Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker provided on Saturday. While it’s far from a guarantee he will play in all of the team’s games this week, the potential return is too much to take him out of your weekly lineups.

Can Bailey Falter continue his recent stretch of success?

Bailey Falter pitched about 200 major league innings in the previous three seasons. Frankly, they didn’t go well. He had a career ERA of 4.76 and a career FIP of 4.75 before this season. It makes his May all the more surprising.

Falter has made four starts since the calendar turned over to May that have covered 26.1 innings. He has a minuscule 2.73 ERA during that period. However, he has a pedestrian ratio of 10 strikeouts to seven walks. Therefore, his FIP during that time is over five, meaning he is getting lucky. At some point, that luck will run out. You don’t want it to happen on your team.

Do I have to keep rostering Evan Carter?

Being fantasy-viable as a platoon player is difficult. When you are in the starting lineup, you have to be exceptional. That has not been the case with Evan Carter.

Typically, Carter is not going to play against left-handed pitchers. He is 3-for-27 against them this year. The issue is that against right-handed pitchers he is only batting .205 with five home runs and 13 RBI. In leagues where you have to start five outfielders, the upside of Carter in the Rangers’ offense is too much to move on from yet. In three-outfielder leagues, though, you need more production than Carter has offered.

What happened to the breakout season of C.J. Abrams?

C.J. Abrams looked like a first-round bat through April with seven home runs, seven stolen bases and a .295 batting average. Unfortunately, his hot start hasn’t carried over to May.

Abrams has hit only one home run in May. He has just one stolen base and has been caught stealing twice. His batting average in May is only .211 as he has 19 strikeouts to just one walk. He has to show better plate discipline if he is going to maintain a beneficial average for fantasy teams. He should return power and speed, but it will likely come with an average under .240.

Is David Fry‘s performance trustworthy?

David Fry was an afterthought during the fantasy draft season. It made sense why. He looked like a backup utility option on the Cleveland Guardians who was only valuable because he had catcher eligibility. Early this season, he has proven to be so much more.

If you drop the plate appearance threshold to 80, you’ll notice Fry’s name appears at the top of many leaderboards. Among players with 80+ plate appearances, he currently is second in batting average (.344), first in on-base percentage (.487) and first in on-base plus slugging (1.087). That means that when he has played he has essentially been more valuable than sluggers like Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani. There is no longer a playing time concern as his bat has been too useful to be taken out of the lineup. Eventually, his .410 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) will drop, and the average with it. Enjoy it while you can.

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