Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 12

Find out for whom the Bell tolls in this week's DLR&F.

Welcome back to DLR&F.  I want to open this week’s article with a victory lap.  I recommended Julio Teheran a couple weeks ago and he’s looked great in both of his starts since then.  The new Brewer notched 10 strikeouts over 13 innings and allowed just three runs.  Sadly, he came away with just one win, as Milwaukee could only muster a single run against the surging Athletics.  His next start lines up versus Arizona, and I see no reason not to keep starting him.

Andrew Abbott was the other pitching add I suggested and the Red rookie still has yet to allow a run through three starts.  He earned the W in each outing, which includes six shutout innings in Houston.  Abbott’s nine walks in just under 18 frames are concerning, but with a home date against Colorado (Rocky Roadif we are using Pollack-isms) I see no reason to doubt Abbott yet.

I also want to thank Lucas Spence for taking on the difficult task of disparaging Rowdy Tellez. I love the big man, but his spot on the Fallers list was well deserved and maybe even a few weeks overdue.




Josh Bell, First Base, Cleveland Guardians

(39% Rostered)


I thought the Guardian’s offseason signing of Josh Bell was a brilliant move.  The switch-hitting slugger posted a robust .301/.384./.493 line over 437 plate appearances for the Nats before being dealt to the Pads along with Juan Soto at last year’s trade deadline.  Sure, he struggled to a .192/.316/.271 mark after that trade, but it was a much smaller sample size than his Washington line, and the plate discipline was at least still elite.  I thought a bounce-back season hitting behind José Ramírez was imminent.

Not the case.  Bell has hit just .231/.327./.373 over his first 260 plate appearances in Cleveland.  He has just six home runs, 31 RBI, and only 14 runs scored.  I had hoped that Bell would gain some Dad Strength after his return from paternity leave and he did go yard in back-to-back games on June 11th and 13th.  But he followed that with a 1-13 stretch over his next four games and didn’t even start on Father’s Day.

On the brighter side of things, Bell has been a bit better in June than he was in April and May.  Still, his .787 OPS for the month comes in lower than his career mark of .802.  His plate discipline has not diminished.  Bell still ranks in the top sixth of all batters in walk rate, but with a lackluster offense around him, his run total is still terrible.  Unless Bell starts hitting the ball harder than average, I do not see much reason to expect a turnaround.


Jarred Kelenic, Outfield, Seattle Mariners

(73% Rostered)


Jarred Kelenic is fast and strong and looked like he might have broken out for real back at the onset of May.  His average exit velocity, and hard hit percentage both sit right around the top fifth of the league’s hitters. He’s provided 11 homers and 8 stolen bases for his fantasy managers thus far.  He’s rocking a very respectable .258/.327./.479 triple slash on the season.  So why does the former 6th overall pick find himself in the Fallers section?  Because most of those homers and steals came in March and April.

Jarred Kelenic Monthly Splits


Jeff McNeil, Second Base, New York Mets

(70% Rostered)


No one expected the 23 home run-hitting 2019 version of Jeff McNeil when they drafted him back in March.  They probably expected a solid batting average boost from the reigning NL batting champ with a career .303/.367/.444 line.  Instead, they’ve had to stomach a .272/.353./.346 triple slash with few enough homers and stolen bases, that Count Rugen could count them on one hand.

McNeil is on the wrong side of 30 now, and father time remains undefeated, but his underlying rates don’t really support this slide.  Sure, his average exit velocity (bottom 15%), hard hit percentage (bottom 21%), and barrel rates (bottom 4%) are bad, but none of that is new for McNeil.  In fact, his exit velocity and hard-hit percentage are better than they were last season when he led the NL in batting average.

His strikeout rate is still absolutely elite, and his already stellar whiff rate is even better than it was last year.  Even his chase rates and walk rates are better than they were last season.  It would be great if the takeaway from this was that McNeil was just getting unlucky this season.  Alas, the opposite looks to be the case.  McNeil benefitted from a ludicrous .353 batting average on balls in play last season.  This year his BABIP sits at a more reasonable .291 which is almost dead on to the league average of .295.

McNeil does own a career BABIP of .327, thanks to two seasons (2018 and 2022) in which he eclipsed the .350 mark.  I do think he’ll continue to be a moderate plus in batting average, but without much in the way of counting stats, he’s providing just a small boost to a single category.  Unless McNeil can bat over .300, he’s probably better left in the pit of despair.




Henry “Crash” Davis, Catcher, Pittsburgh Pirates.  

(40% Rostered)


It’s a shame these articles drop on Wednesdays.  Davis was mass-added on Tuesday and saw his roster percentage jump from 2% to 40%.  Davis, as the first overall pick in the 2021 draft made his debut on Monday.  He played right field, batted seventh, and smacked a double in his first big league at bat.  The plan for now seems to be deploying Davis in the outfield during live games, while letting him continue to develop as a catcher in practice.  That is a great situation for fantasy managers in need of a catcher.  We get the hitter, and he plays a less demanding and punishing position.

And Davis could be quite an offensive asset for the rest of this season and beyond.  He hit .284/.433/.547 over 187 plate appearances in AA and then .286/.432/.514 in a brief stop at AAA before his promotion.  His .927 OPS in his minor league career (assuming his minor league career may be over) compares favorably to Adley Rutschman’s .877 career minor league OPS.

Also, I really want to get the “Crash” Davis nickname going because Bull Durham is the best baseball movie.

(12% Rostered)


Yes, Joey Votto is 39 years old.  Sure, he hit .205/.319/.370 over 90 games in 2022 before injuries derailed his season.  But he also hit 36 homers and posted a .938 OPS just one season prior.  Maybe his injuries, and not his age were hindering his production last year.  Maybe we just lost Vinnie Pasquantino for the remainder of the year and we need a potential power bat with elite on-base skills.  Maybe we just want a piece of the hottest, most fun team in baseball right now.

Votto made his long-awaited season debut on Monday and promptly homered, ripped a run-scoring single, and of course, walked.  That’s it.  That was all I needed to hop directly on the Votto train (or school bus).  The Reds have won nine straight and are in the midst of a home stand.  This is one of those chances to add some offense to your squad and be romantic about baseball at the same time.


Ryan O’Hearn, First Base and Outfield, Baltimore Orioles

(15% Rostered)

O’Hearn was primarily a bench bat for the Orioles through the first two months of the season.  But Ryan Mountcastle’s batting average and on-base struggles as well as an IL stint have opened the door for O’Hearn to get regular at-bats.  The 29-year-old has excelled so far, slashing .349/.389/.614 with five homers over 90 plate appearances.  He does get platooned, as 86 of those appearances have come against righties with the remaining four against lefties.

Skeptics may point out that O’Hearn has a career OPS of just .708, a far cry from the 1.003 mark he currently sports.  They may try to tell you that he has not had an OPS over .650 since his 44-game rookie season back in 2018.  They may point to his .414 BABIP as “unsustainable”.  Ok, that last one is a big red flag.  These “skeptics” may have some good points.

But, O’Hearn has been hitting the ball extremely hard.  His 93.8 MPH average exit velocity would rank in the league’s top three percent if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Likewise, his barrel rate would rank in the league’s top quartile, and his hard contact rate in the league’s top two percent. His 23.3% strikeout rate is the best mark of his career.

Yes, that BABIP screams batting average regression, but no one expects O’Hearn to hit .350 the rest of the way.  He’s raking for now, with an 1.177 June OPS and bats in the middle of the order for a team with a top-10 offense.  I think O’Hearn is worth a shot and recommend him just a bit more than Joey Votto for managers looking for a first baseman.



Sam Lutz

A Pittsburgh native and long suffering Pirate fan, Sam turned to fantasy baseball to give him a reason to follow the sport after July.

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