Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 5

We turn the Pages from April to May in this week's DLR&F.

Welcome back deep leaguers. We have one entire month of baseball down. We’ve dealt with more than our fair share of early-season injuries, but some of the players who started the season on the IL are nearing returns. We have also started to see the first group of call-ups to The Show, which is always one of the most exciting parts of the year. It’s just so fun to see a player you’ve stashed or won via the waiver war, get their first taste of Major League action.

If you are like me, you should maybe try to be more wary of the siren call to stream rookie pitcher debuts.  Lest you find your pitching ratios in a Jonathan Bowlan-sized hole on a Tuesday morning. But I’m neither here for, nor do I deserve your sympathy. We’ve got Risers and Fallers to discuss.




Chas McCormick, OF, Houston Astros52% Rostered


Chas had a late-career breakout at the age of 28 last season. He slashed .273/.353./.489 with 22 homers and 19 stolen bases over just 403 at-bats. With Dusty Baker gone, McCormick was in line for full-time duty and fantasy managers like myself were looking forward to that 20/20 season and some robust counting stats from Houston’s high-powered offense.

Alas, McCormick is slashing just .236/.325/.278 with zero dingers and two stolen bases. It’s always a bad sign when a player’s on-base percentage eclipses their slugging percentage. Chas did not have very good underlying metrics during his 2023 breakout campaign, posting below-average exit velocities and hard-hit rates. He mostly succeeded thanks to a strong barrel rate.

So far this season, Chas has ranked in the bottom ten percent of MLB batters in barrel rate and exit velocity. His strikeout, chase, and whiff rates have remained largely the same as they were last season, and his walk rate has even improved a bit, but his quality of contact has dropped off dramatically.

The Astros will finish April with the second-worst record in the American League but are not standing pat. They just called up their top-hitting prospect, Joey Loperfido. Loperfido has been playing first base in the minors and will replace José Abreu initially, but McCormick simply has to be more productive and earn his at-bats or risk losing them.


Esteury Ruiz, OF, Oakland Athletics53% Rostered


Ruiz’s .250/.317/.528 triple slash looks pretty good on the surface.  Especially when you compare his .528 slugging percentage to the .345 mark he posted over nearly 500 plate appearances last year. Plus, he has shown improvement in his underlying rates as well. Ruiz was at the absolute bottom of the league in hard-hit rate, barrel rate, and exit velocity in 2023, and has above-average marks in each of those metrics through his first 42 plate appearances of 2024.

However, over the last two weeks, Ruiz is slashing just .179/.281./.322. However, that’s not even our biggest concern as fantasy managers. After leading the AL with 67 steals in 2023, Ruiz has just three stolen bases and has been caught twice this season. None of us are rostering Ruiz for his prowess with the bat. We want those bags.

I don’t expect a ton of runs or any meaningful RBI totals from Ruiz, but right now he’s providing almost nothing and trending in the wrong direction.


Jeimer Candelario 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds41% Rostered


On the bright side, I spelled Cincinnati correctly right away that time. On the less bright side, Candelario is slashing just .174/.273/.337 with a couple of long balls through his first 86 at-bats of the season. The Candy Man was one of the more intriguing signings of this past offseason since he joined what was already a crowded infield. Pundits wondered how the Reds would find playing time for Spencer Steer, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion Strand, and Candelario with just four positions and the DH spot.

Well a PED suspension for Marte and shoulder surgery for McLain cleaned up the playing time concerns, but thus far, Candelario has looked little like the player who slashed .251/.336/.471 with 22 homers last season.

Jeimer did not exactly set the Statcast world on fire last season. His exit velocity and hard-hit rates were in the league’s bottom third and his discipline metrics, (walk rate, chase rate, whiff rate, and strikeout rate) were all right around league average.  But Jeimer has performed worse by every single one of those metrics, except his walk rate.

His exit velocity, whiff, and strikeout rates are all in the bottom tenth of batters, and the Reds dropped him into the bottom third of their lineup over the past week. Candelario also has his highest ground ball rate since 2017 and his BABIP is not even all that bad at .260 (MLB BABIP is .290). I do not see any signs of life right now—not even a flicker. Let’s get to the…




Tyler Freeman, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Cleveland Guardians24% Rostered


Freeman’s season line of .215/.308/.380 doesn’t appear to be anything special. However, over the past two weeks, the Swiss army knife of a hitter has slashed a much more appealing .286/.405/.543 along with two dingers and a stolen base over 35 at-bats.

The right-handed hitter has posted an average exit velocity of 91.3 MPH, which places him in the league’s top 20 percent, and he has a hard-hit rate that places him in the top 10 percent. His barrel, strikeout, and whiff rates also rank in the league’s top third. He’s got plus speed and has slotted sixth in the order most often, but he also batted out of the two-hole a couple of times last week. Plus, he’s been unlucky so far with a .219 BABIP.

Freeman looks like a very good hitter whose slow start during the first couple of weeks is masking a legitimate breakout.  He’s only rostered in a quarter of leagues right now and can play three infield positions and the outfield.  Grab him if he’s available, and I’d try to acquire him via trade before his surface stats catch up to his underlying numbers.


Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels23% Rostered

Adell has been setting fire to the rain over the past two weeks, slashing .375/.444/.719 with 3 dingers and a couple of stolen bases. Now 25 years old with over 600 career plate appearances prior to the start of this season,  the former first-rounder is firmly in the “post-hype” prospect stage. That said, those past few disappointed seasons where Adell posted an aggregate OPS under .700 are water under the bridge, and he is ready to be loved by fantasy managers.

Adell posted well below-average exit velocity and hard-hit rates last season but has been turning the tables in 2024. He’s not only producing hard-hit and barrel rates among the league’s top 10 percent of hitters but he’s slashed his strikeout from over 40% in 2023 to a respectable 23% this season. These are legitimate underlying improvements. If you grabbed Adell before last week, you’re probably rolling in the deep league victory parade right now.

If someone like you needs an outfielder, don’t cry your heart out; Adell is still available in more than 75% of the leagues out there.


Andy Pages, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers28% Rostered


Pages opened some eyes with a 1.571 OPS over seven spring training games this year and then continued to mash AAA pitching to the tune of .371/.452/.694 before getting called up following Jason Heyward’s trip to the IL. Heyward is still not cleared to resume baseball activities and Pages is handling Major League pitching just fine so far.

He’s slashing .298/.314/.532 with two dingers over his first 51 MLB plate appearances. He’s scored ten runs and driven in eight while mostly batting in the bottom third of the Dodger’s potent lineup. His success is supported by an above-average barrel rate and hard-hit rate. He’s also been fantastic at elevating the ball, with just a 2% ground ball rate, and a 98th percentile line drive rate of nearly 36%.

There are a few caveats though.  That ground ball rate will almost certainly increase, and with the talent level of the Dodgers, it will be nearly impossible for Pages to move up in the order without an injury clearing the way. He also has yet to draw a walk. His strikeout rate is very good, coming in at just under 20% thus far, but ideally, you would want to see at least a few free passes.  Overall Pages looks like a solid young player with plenty of upside on a team you want to invest in. Grab him if you can.

And that’s it for week five of DLR&F.  Thank you for reading, and good luck out there deep leaguers!


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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