The Dynasty Baseball Performance Report is a regular series, highlighting each position and providing insight into the risers and fallers of both the major leagues and prospects.
While I typically have focused on second base for this report, moving forward this article will encompass the entire middle infield. I still want to start by flashing back to the third edition of the report and see if any of the early inclusions have seen their value take a detour from their early trend. Each article contains a mix of shortstops and second basemen who are seeing their dynasty values shift over the past month. Keep reading to see who is trending up and who is trending down.
- Trevor Story– Story has returned from his long stay on the IL to the middle of Boston’s lineup. His value is rising again just based on health.
- Bryson Stott-Stott has continued his career season with an excellent second half. His value continues to trend up in dynasty formats.
- Jace Jung– A promotion to Double-A has cooled Jung off at the plate. His value has come back down a bit after his hot stretch a couple of months ago.
- Tsung-Che Cheng– The home runs have slowed down since reaching Double-A, but Cheng is still hitting for a solid average and showing off plus speed. His value has remained fairly steady as of late.
- Brandon Lowe– Lowe has returned from the IL and is hitting a lot of home runs. His value is trending back up in redraft although I am not sure how much his dynasty value has changed.
- Tommy Edman– Edman’s disappointing 2023 season has continued although he has looked better since coming back from the IL. After falling early on, his value has remained fairly steady
- Wenceel Pérez– Perez really turned things around at the plate and earned himself a promotion to Triple-A. His value has risen back up after falling early this year.
- Angel Martinez– Martinez got red-hot in Double-A and earned himself a promotion to Triple-A. His dynasty value has risen back up after his slow start.
Check out my other performance report where I detail which pitchers are rising and which are falling at the link below:
Zack Gelof– OAK
Oakland has called up several players from the Minor Leagues this season to make their Major League debut. Early on this year, few were given the opportunity to consistently start, but this has changed as of late.
Since being promoted from the Minor Leagues, Zack Gelof has been awesome for both real-life and fantasy baseball. So far, he has already hit eight home runs with seven steals to go with them. Prorated for 600 plate appearances, Gelof is on pace for 41 home runs and 36 stolen bases. Gelof’s fantasy value is soaring and his dynasty value has continued to climb.
Since being drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft, Gelof has done nothing but hit. In his first 32 games at Low-A, Gelof came right in and smacked seven home runs with 11 stolen bases.
His 2022 season was a bit of a letdown, but Gelof still hit 18 home runs with 10 stolen bases in just 96 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. He rebounded nicely this year in Triple-A with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases before his promotion to the Major Leagues.
The power and speed are instant eye-catchers for fantasy managers. Gelof is just 23 years old and this kind of production out of a versatile infielder feels like a cornerstone player for dynasty managers. His average exit velocity is over 91 mph, his barrel rate is over 15%, and he has a sprint speed that ranks in the 93rd percentile. No wonder Gelof’s dynasty value is rising fast.
Zack Gelof takes this one DEEP to dead center, 433 feet!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 13, 2023
The issue with Gelof is an incredibly high whiff rate. So far, he is whiffing over 36% of the time and over 53% of the time against breaking balls. He has struggled with strikeouts throughout his Minor League career and early indications are that this will continue.
Regardless of his red flags, Gelof’s value has never been higher. If you are looking to sell high, now is your chance. If you are looking to acquire Gelof, you might already be too late.
J.P. Crawford– SEA
When the Phillies drafted J.P. Crawford 16th overall back in 2013, they envisioned him becoming the centerpiece of their next championship run. Unfortunately for both Crawford and the team, things did not exactly work out that way. Although his glove was always excellent, he could never quite put things together at the plate.
Across two partial seasons with the club, he posted a 90 wRC+ (most of which was fueled by a double-digit walk rate). In an attempt to accelerate their rebuild, Philadelphia sent Crawford to Seattle in exchange for Carlos Santana.
Even with Seattle, Crawford still continued to struggle offensively. As Seattle’s rebuild was ending, many viewed shortstop as a position the team would have to upgrade through free agency. Seattle responded by showing faith in their then 26-year-old shortstop and handed Crawford a five-year contract extension following the 2021 season.
2022 did not look much different than 2021 as Crawford hit just six home runs with a .243 average. Again people called for Seattle to upgrade the position through Free Agency, but the team continued preaching patience and faith in Crawford.
Now in 2023, Crawford has responded in a big way. Crawford has already set a career high in home runs with ten and his wRC+ is 25 points higher than his previous career highs. Crawford has always had one of the smoothest swings in baseball (consistently posting line drive rates above 23%) but has never been able to tap into much power.
He went to work this off-season with Driveline focusing on increasing his bat speed. This work has paid off as his average exit velocity is over three mph higher than his previous career average. Seattle has also moved Crawford into the leadoff spot and he would be on pace for 98 runs scored over a 600 plate appearance season.
The biggest thing still missing from Crawford’s profile was his barrel rate. Although Crawford’s exit velocity was up early this season, his barrel rate through June 16th was still just 2.2%. Since that date, Crawford’s barrel rate is 6.5%. Although this is still below the league average, it marks a massive improvement for Crawford and is part of the reason he is slugging over .500 since that time.
In fact, since July 15th Crawford is slashing an incredible .321/.442/.488. The second-highest OBP from a shortstop over that period is Francisco Lindor whose OBP is 44 points lower than Crawford’s.
Crawford is never going to post the highest home run totals or the flashiest stat lines, but he is showing significant improvements in all areas of the game this season. Not only is he perhaps the most underrated fantasy asset for those in OBP leagues, but he is turning into a relevant player for all formats.
Runs and batting average are important and now Crawford is developing the power to at least be considered close to the league average. His dynasty value is on the rise and he is somebody that you need to be paying attention to.
Jeremy Peña– HOU
Entering 2022, one of the biggest questions around baseball was how the Astros were going to replace Carlos Correa. The name Jeremy Peña started to generate some buzz throughout the fantasy community during draft season, but I am not sure anybody really expected him to have the success that he did. Or, should I say, the perceived success that he had?
Overall on the year, Pena slugged 22 home runs with 11 stolen bases and finished as the 13th shortstop overall according to FanGraphs Auction Calculator. While a finish of 13th is solid, it is nothing that should have dynasty managers fighting to get him on their teams. This entire article series is about value.
As mentioned previously, value can sometimes be earned through on-field production, and other times it can come via social media buzz or perceived projections. In the case of Pena, it was a little bit of both.
Baseball is a long season. There are 162 games and it is difficult to track the performance of every player on every team throughout every game. For a lot of fantasy baseball managers, the moments that stick out are the very beginning of the season and the very end of the season.
In Pena’s case, he was excellent for both of those stretches. Through May of 2022, Pena was slashing .281/.329/.490 with a 132 wRC+. Then, when the lights were the brightest, Pena brought home World Series MVP honors after going on an absolute tear in the playoffs with four home runs and a .345 batting average. Pena’s value peaked at all-time heights.
Pena’s strong beginning and thrilling end resulted in many managers forgetting that his offensive performance was actually rather bad for much of the 2022 season. Looking at his rolling hitter performance chart on PLV, you can see that he was a below-average hitter for most of the season.
Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Pena’s 2022 postseason success has not rolled over into 2023. The biggest issue this season has been the lack of power. Pena’s barrel rate has dropped from 9.6% last season to 4.7% this year.
One of the other big issues leading to Pena’s power outage is an increased ground ball rate. His average launch angle has dropped from 8.7 degrees down to 5.4 degrees and his ground ball rate has increased by nearly eight percent. His PLV power chart shows just how disappointing this season has been:
Pena’s value has continued to decrease as the season has moved along. Since the All-Star Break, Pena is slashing .250/.331/.287 and he has not hit a home run since July 5. Pena was originally viewed as Houston’s shortstop of the future, but it is fair to question if they will look to replace him after this season. His dynasty value is trending in the wrong direction.
Ezequiel Duran– TEX
The Rangers have been one of the most exciting teams in baseball all season. While the performances of veterans such as Corey Seager and Adolis García have been important, the biggest reason for their success has been the performances of young players.
Duran, who was originally signed by the Yankees before being dealt to Texas, entered the season without an everyday role on the club. Injuries combined with his positional versatility gave Duran an opportunity and he ran with it.
Duran really got his first opportunity to start consistently on April 21st. From then through the All-Star Break, Duran was incredible. He slashed .316/.354/.550 with 12 home runs, 36 runs, 35 RBIs, and four stolen bases. The only players with a higher wRC+ during that time were:
- Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuña Jr. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Isaac Paredes, and Yandy Díaz
At just 24 years old and with the ability to play all over the diamond, he became a highly valued asset in dynasty leagues. Unfortunately for those that bought into Duran’s early season success, his second half has been a disaster. As you can see from the PLV chart below, Duran’s performance has been steadily declining.
Since the All-Star Break, Duran is slashing .217/.305/.377. Even more concerning than his slash line is the fact that Duran has only one home run during that time. His barrel rate has dropped significantly and his PLV rolling power chart has been declining throughout the second half.
Although Duran was always going to experience some regression from his stellar first half, nobody expected it to be quite this bad. Duran has gone from utility infielder to fantasy star, back to a giant question mark. The Rangers already have a talented team with even more players coming quickly through their farm system.
Despite only being 24, his dynasty value is trending in the wrong direction and could continue dropping if his struggles persist throughout the rest of the season.
Wander Franco– TB
There is not too much to say at this point when it comes to the Wander Franco situation. That being said, I felt his inclusion in this article was essential. Just days after talking with on Keep or Kut about how Franco was in the same conversation as Bobby Witt Jr and Mookie Betts, his dynasty value has changed drastically.
At this point, it is difficult to recommend a specific path forward without more information. The only thing that is certain is that his dynasty value has taken a massive hit. There is a chance we do not see Franco again in 2023 or perhaps ever.
Diego Velasquez– SFG
The San Francisco Giants quietly have one of the league’s deepest farm systems. Although they lack the headline names, there are prospects from top to bottom that have the potential to be above-average big league players.
One that has not garnered a lot of attention is Diego Velasquez. Velasquez received the largest signing bonus of any international free agent signed by the Giants back in 2021. At just 17 years old, he struggled in his first taste of professional baseball and repeated the Complex League for a second time in 2022.
Expectations were not high for Velasquez entering 2023 and he was more of an afterthought in most fantasy circles. He has responded by having the best season of his young professional career.
Still only 19, he is posting strong stats at Low-A with seven home runs, 21 stolen bases, and an average of over .320. He continues to grow into his 6’1″ frame by adding muscle and the power is quickly catching up. Since the All-Star Break, Velasquez is batting .380/.434/.546 with nine stolen bases.
The most impressive part of Velasquez’s profile is the adjustments he has already proven capable of making. One thing hindering him early on in his professional career was a high ground ball rate. He hit ground balls over 60% of the time in 2021 and over 57% of the time in 2022.
Velasquez has tweaked his swing this season to get more launch on the ball. His ground ball rate is below 45%, while his line drive and fly ball rates are up. This is helping fuel a career-high home run total and the BABIP to support this batting average.
He might never have the highest ceiling, but he profiles to be a .280 hitter with 10-15 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases. His name should be firmly back on dynasty managers’ radars.
Aeverson Arteaga- SFG
From one Giants’ middle infielder that signed out of Venezuela to another.
If you have kept up with any of my work or Twitter (X?) activity, you are well aware of my love for Aeverson Arteaga. Arteaga first made his professional debut back in 2021 and generated rave reviews from scouts. He posted a 121 wRC+ at the Complex Level and Keith Law was even hyping him up entering 2022.
At Low-A, Arteaga did not fall flat on his face, but the overall results were underwhelming. 14 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a strikeout rate north of 27%. His dynasty value plummeted back down and there was plenty of skepticism as to whether or not he would ever become a Major League regular.
If you want to know why I was still so high on Arteaga entering the 2023 season, you can read my breakout prospects article here. Arteaga has remained inside of my Top-100 prospects throughout the season despite a lackluster start. Through May 10th, Arteaga was slashing .212/.303/.356 and his dynasty value was falling even further.
After his poor start, Arteaga has really turned things around at the plate. He has been on fire since the All-Star Break batting .302 and slugging over .600. He has crushed seven home runs including this one below:
An ice bath fit for the walk-off hero!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 27, 2023
In fact, this recent power surge has been going on longer than many have noticed. Since May 17th, Arteaga has an ISO of .229, and overall on the season, he is one of only six shortstop prospects under 21 with an ISO over .195. The other players are:
All five of those players hold way more value than Arteaga does in dynasty communities. At just 20 years old and playing well in High-A, it is time for dynasty managers to start paying attention to Arteaga. He was recently highlighted in the Watchlist and has continued to swing a hot bat since.
His value is only going to keep going up and now might be your last chance to get in.
Darell Hernaiz– OAK
One trade from this past off-season that went virtually unnoticed at the time was the Baltimore Orioles acquiring Cole Irvin from Oakland. The Orioles cashed in on some of their superb Minor League depth and traded away Darell Hernaiz as the return going to Oakland.
Hernaiz was drafted in the fifth round back in 2019 and was coming off a career season in 2022. Last year, he set career highs in home runs with 12, stolen bases with 32, and batting average at .273. Still, Hernaiz was never viewed as a player with much potential, and not many people were paying attention when he got dealt.
For all the bad that has gone on in Oakland, the scouting department deserves credit for getting this trade right. Hernaiz has been excellent spending his first 71 games in Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A.
Overall on the season, Hernaiz has hit eight home runs, stolen ten bases, and is batting .341. His strikeout rate sits at a career-low 14.7% as his hit tool continues to shine bright.
Nobody was paying much attention to Hernaiz’s 2023 season until his promotion to Triple-A. The new ability to get Statcast data from Triple-A stadiums allows more insight into a player’s true talent level. Many have started to dig into Hernaiz’s underlying metrics and the buzz is growing louder.
Every day it seems as if somebody is talking about Hernaiz’s potential and his value is reaching all-time heights. His 95th-percentile exit velocity sits at 108.9 mph and his whiff rate is under 17%.
The one issue I have with pushing Hernaiz too far up the rankings is his high-ground ball tendencies. His sweet spot percentage in Triple-A is just 22.2% and he consistently runs ground ball rates near 50%.
Nevertheless, Hernaiz’s dynasty value has never been higher. There is a chance we could see him as soon as the end of this year or at the very least early next season. He comes with an excellent hit tool and the potential to hit more home runs if he can adjust his swing.
Oakland might not have much going for them, but Hernaiz gives fans something to be excited about.
Eddys Leonard– DET
One move that flew entirely under the radar during the frenzy of the Trade Deadline was Eddys Leonard getting moved to Detroit. Leonard first made his professional debut back in 2018 as a 17-year-old.
He posted solid offensive numbers in Rookie Ball before the pandemic but really burst onto the scene after an impressive 2021 campaign. Split between Low-A and High-A, Leonard crushed 22 home runs with a .296 average. His dynasty value was at an all-time high after that impressive campaign.
The Dodgers surprisingly sent Leonard back to High-A for the 2022 season and the results were solid even if they were unspectacular. He still managed to hit 15 home runs while maintaining a solid .264 average and finished with a 119 wRC+. Dynasty managers adjusted their expectations a bit after his underwhelming performance, but he was still on the radar for many.
Things have unfortunately taken a turn for the worse this year as Leonard struggled at Double-A. He has continued to look more and more like a replacement-level player rather than a future fantasy asset.
With a 40-man roster crunch, the Dodgers chose to DFA Leonard before he ever got the chance to reach Triple-A. The Dodgers are an organization filled with talent, but no dynasty manager is ever going to target a 22-year-old prospect who was just DFAd before ever reaching the Major Leagues.
The Tigers claimed Leonard off of waivers and are giving him a chance at Triple-A. The move to Detroit does provide Leonard an easier path to the Major Leagues.
However, it is difficult to envision him ever being a sought-after dynasty asset. Hopefully, the recent change in scenery will provide him an opportunity to revive his career, but for now, his dynasty value is trending in the wrong direction.
Chase Meidroth– BOS
The Red Sox’s fourth-round pick from 2022 generated plenty of buzz early on this season. After hitting four home runs with a .309 average in 19 games at Low-A last season, Boston sent Chase Meidroth to High-A to start this year.
He quickly proved that he was up for the challenge posting a 172 wRC+ in his first 20 games. The Red Sox continued aggressively pushing him through the system and had seen enough to send him to Double-A. Meidroth’s value was rising fast early this season.
One issue with Meidroth’s profile is a high ground ball rate. Although early on in his professional career, he has posted high averages, this has come crashing down in Double-A. His .338 average in High-A was fueled by a .442 BABIP. As his BABIP has come back down (.310 in Double-A), so has his average (.248).
The biggest surprise early on was Meidroth’s power. At Low-A, he posted an HR/FB% of 20%, and then at High-A he posted a rate of 16.7%. Although size is not everything (see Betts, Mookie), Meidroth has never been a player that scouts projected to have significant game power.
During his time at the University of San Diego, Meidroth had never hit more than 10 home runs. He only stands at 5’9″ and FanGraphs recently graded his future game power as a 40. Unsurprisingly, his HR/FB rate has dropped back down at Double-A and now sits at 8.5%.
Meidroth has been completely fine at Double-A with a 109 wRC+. The word fine is the issue though. His average is a modest .248. Since his promotion, he has looked much more like an 8-12 home run guy as opposed to a 15-20 home run player. Most of his value is generated in OBP leagues where his ability to walk boosts his value.
Instead of showing improvements throughout his time in Double-A, Meidroth has gone into a massive slump since the All-Star Break. Since then, he is batting .202 with just one home run. After rising early on, his value is dropping back down as the season has moved along.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire