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Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 4

Some veteran outfielders are on the rise and probably available.

Welcome back deep leaguers. We are in week four of the 2024 season and hopefully your team(s) are staying afloat amid the rash of injuries.

It’s been an interesting season thus far, with plenty of young talent debuting to varying degrees of success (don’t overreact and drop Jackson Holliday) and the rebirth of Mike Trout, who has reminded the baseball world what he can do when he is healthy. And of course, at this point in the season, we all expected Dylan Cease to be 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA/0.74 WHIP while Blake Snell sits at 0-3 with a 11.57 ERA. That is the fun and the challenge of fantasy baseball, and that is why it is important to keep your eye on the next hot hand or the player you need to move off your roster. Hopefully, you will some get some of these insights from this week’s Deep League Risers and Fallers column.

 

Fallers

 

Jose Siri, Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays
(32
% Rostered)

 

Jose Siri is off to a slow start at the plate this season, but is currently holding on for fantasy dear life because of his speed. He’s already swiped six bags this year, which equals half of his total from last year in just 20% of 2023’s total at-bats.

Over the last two weeks, Siri has gone particularly ice-cold at the dish – hitting just .188 at the plate with two RBI and no home runs. For the season, he’s slashing .188/.288/.290 and leading the American League in strikeouts (only a good statistical category to lead if you’re a pitcher).

Siri is never going to hit for a high average or achieve a high on-base percentage, but there was optimism for him coming into the season as he managed a career-high 25 home runs and 56 RBI in 2023. He also added the aforementioned 12 steals. These totals are more than adequate for a deep league fourth outfielder or someone you plug into your lineup for a few weeks.

To be fair, Siri recently missed a few games due to kidney stones, so he has not been 100% healthy. His xAVG is .246, so he’s also been a bit unlucky early on in the 2024 season.

But if Siri continues his slide and isn’t hitting home runs, he’s not someone that should be starting on your team.

 

Ryan O’Hearn, First Base/Outfielder, Baltimore Orioles (42% Rostered)

 

You may be surprised to see Ryan O’Hearn listed as a faller on this list, as just over a week ago, he was finishing a streak of home runs in three straight games. However, in the Risers and Fallers column, fortunes can change as quickly as the ocean’s tide.

Since that streak, O’Hearn is now 0 for 11, but the big reason he is included as a faller this week is due to projecting Baltimore’s lineup for the rest of the season.

With all the Orioles’ embarrassment of young talent (a topic that has been discussed quite a bit on the Coffee Talk Podcast, check it out if you haven’t!) and the recent callup of Heston Kjerstad, O’Hearn will be squeezed out of playing time. Here is what the current roster picture looks like for Baltimore:

1B:

  • Ryan Mountcastle
  • Ryan O’Hearn
  • Anthony Santander
  • Heston Kjerstad¬†

LF:

  • Colton Cowser
  • Austin Hays
  • Ryan O’Hearn

CF:

  • Cedric Mullins
  • Colton Cowser
  • Austin Hays
  • Jorge Mateo

RF:

  • Anthony Santander
  • Heston Kjerstad
  • Colton Cowser
  • Ryan O’Hearn

DH:

  • Ryan O’Hearn
  • Anthony Santander
  • Ryan Mountcastle
  • Adley Rutschman

You can see that O’Hearn will be battling Kjerstad at first base, along with veterans Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander. At DH, he has to again contend with Santander and Mountcastle, as well as Adley Rutschman. In the outfield, O’Hearn again runs into Kjerstad and Santander, as well as Colton Cowser. This is a bit of burying the lede, but Cowser may be having the best season of all these players, with a slash line of .364/.400/.800, six home runs and 17 RBI. Cowser has earned his playing time, and if Kjerstad continues his scorching pace from Triple-A, he will also carve out some at-bats.

My recommendation is to get ahead of all this and sell high on O’Hearn while his numbers look strong, and before his playing time is greatly affected.

 

Jordan Walker, Outfielder, St. Louis Cardinals
(55
% Rostered)


Jordan Walker
has had a poor season so far in 2024 and his numbers reflect it. Walker is hitting just .164 with six RBI and no home runs for the year. Over the past two weeks, he’s only 3-22, which equals a .136 average, and during this time his OPS is just .473.

Cardinals fans were hoping for more from Walker this season after he finished his rookie season in 2023 with a respectable line of .276/.342/.445 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI in 117 games. He also stole seven bases, which would suggest he could reach a 25/15ish season over a full 162 games. Walker was a first-round draft pick in the 2020 MLB draft, and despite the struggles so far this season, there is no doubt he is a skilled hitter. In the 2022 season at Double-A, Walker hit .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs, 68 RBI, and 22 steals.

Even though he has struggled in the early going of the 2024 season, last year’s numbers and his pedigree suggest that Walker will be just fine this season. Even though they are both fallers, unlike Ryan O’Hearn above, I am going to recommend acquiring Walker. His stock is currently tumbling, and you can probably get him for cheap. Remember, Walker struggled last season and was sent down to the minors and then rebounded after coming back up to the bigs.

 

Risers

 

Bryan De La Cruz, Outfielder, Miami Marlins
(47
% Rostered)

 

De La Cruz is someone who has seemed on the verge of fantasy relevance at certain times over the past few seasons. The 6’2″ 175-pound outfielder popped five home runs and slashed .296/.356/.427 in 58 games during his rookie season in 2021.

In the two seasons since then, De La Cruz has shown some decent power and has steadily improved his numbers:

  • 2022: 13 home runs, 43 RBI, .252/.294/.432
  • 2023: 19 home runs, 78 RBI, .257/.304/.411

This season, De La Cruz is hitting .274 with five home runs and 14 RBI and has been particularly hot over the past week. In the five-game span from April 17 – April 21, De La Cruz went deep in three straight games.

In the Marlins victory over the Cubs on April 20, he narrowly missed a grand slam in the 5th inning thanks to the unforgiving winds of Wrigley Field. However, he rebounded by blasting a two-run shot to give Miami the lead in the top of the 9th inning.

 

 

De La Cruz is seeing the ball extremely well currently, and is making strong contact to back that up. His barrel percentage has jumped from 8.4% last season to 14.3% this season, which puts him just outside top-10 percent in all of baseball.

Unfortunately, whiffs continue to be a thorn in his side. Along with the increase in barrels, his K% is also up this year (29.1% in 2024 compared to 22.7% in 2023). So far in 2024, he has racked up 28 strikeouts through 23 games, which puts him ahead of his pace from last season, when he had 142 strikeouts in 153 games.

With all of this considered, he’s likely not someone that will hit for a high average (I would expect a .250-.275 range) nor will he help you in OBP leagues, but if you can look past the strikeouts and are in need of a power boost, take a look at Bryan De La Cruz.

 

Jesse Winker, Outfielder, Washington Nationals
(34
% Rostered)

 

Jesse Winker had a great year for the Reds back in 2021, when he made his first All-Star game and finished the year with a .305 average, 24 home runs and 71 RBI. In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Winker played 197 games and hit a combined .214 with 15 home runs and 76 RBI. This season, he has found some of his old 2021 success and is hitting .328/.439/.507 with two homers and nine RBI.

So which version should we expect from Winker the rest of 2024?

As of right now, I am buying that the 2024 version of Winker will be closer to the 2021 version than what we have seen the last few seasons. He’s being more aggressive this season with swinging at the first pitch, but his K% has actually dropped to 19.5% from 25.9% last season.

He is hitting more ground balls and line drives so far (GB% is up 5.9% and LD% is up 7%) and fewer fly balls (FB% has dropped from 36.2% to 23.1%). This has equaled a better barrel rate and an increase in Ideal Contact Rate (ICR) to 46.2% from 31% last season. Basically, half of his at-bats are ending with good contact compared to one out of three at-bats in 2023.

Winker also tends to get on base at a nice clip and has a lifetime OBP of .372, so he is even more valuable if you include OBP as a statistic in your league. Along with De La Cruz, Winker gives you a second outfielder option you could plug into your lineup this week.

 

Keaton Winn, Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
(11
% Rostered)

 

Winn is the lowest rostered player in this week’s column, but don’t expect that to last too long. After losing his first three outings of the season, Winn has cranked out two wins and two quality starts in his last two appearances. On April 17 against the Marlins, he got his first win by going six innings and giving up four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. In the next start on April 22 against the Mets, Winn again pitched six innings, surrendering four hits and striking out six. For the season, he’s 2-3 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.

Winn maintains a four-pitch mix and his most effective pitch is a splitter, which he uses 43% of the time. It averages 88.9 MPH and through five starts carries a 70.5% Str%, which puts the pitch in the 94th percentile in all of baseball. Winn’s splitter’s HL (total hits – total expected hits by PLV) is -4, which puts him in the 97th percentile.

He is using his splitter to set up his secondary stuff, a four-seamer and a sinker. The four-seamer is his second-most utilized pitch at 24.7%. Interestingly, he doesn’t pound the strike zone with his four-seamer (Zone% of just 38.1%); instead, he uses it to induce chases outside the zone, which has equaled poor contact for opposing hitters. The four-seamer’s GB% sits at 56.3%, which puts it in the 93rd percentile.

The right-hander is not a huge strikeout source, but he has settled into the Giants rotation and could help with your ratios.

Thanks for reading this week’s column. Sam Lutz will be back next week on the Deep League Risers and Fallers front. Good Luck out there deep leaguers!

 

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)

Nate Kosher

Nate Kosher is based in the Twin Cities and is a staff writer for Pitcher List. He grew up watching low-budget Twins teams at the Metrodome before eventually converting to the Arizona Diamondbacks (the power of teal and purple in the 1990s). His goal is to someday visit all 30 MLB ballparks and he believes Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. You can read more of Nate's writing in his newsletter, The Relief Pickle.

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