Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 8

We've got Burgers and shaking off rust in week 8 of DLR&F.

Hello again deep league enthusiasts! You get my wisdom for a second consecutive week thanks to a scheduling conflict, you lucky dogs. Then it’s a doubleheader from Nate Kosher to finish off May and kick off June in style. We have a lot to discuss this week, so without further ado…




Jake Burger, 1B / 3B, Miami Marlins59% Rostered


Jake Burger was starting to look like a gourmet corner infield option towards the end of last season. The 6’2″ righty slugger slashed .279/.339/.522 with 15 dingers over the second half of 2023. This year’s version of Burger has played a bit more like a pre-formed, frozen patty that was cooked over a heated argument. Burger is slashing just .171/.205/.286/ with only three long balls and 16 RBI through 105 at bats. His May line is even worse at .104/.104/.125. Which raises the question: Where’s the beef?

Well, it’s not exactly missing. Burger has actually lowered his strikeout rate from 27.6% to 23.2%. That still places him in the league’s bottom half, but it’s not egregiously bad. He’s also improved his whiff rate, which ranked in the league’s bottom ten percent last season. He whiffs just a bit more than average this year. What’s really dropped off is Burger’s quality of contact.

Last season Burger placed in the top tenth of the league in hard hit rate, just outside the top ten percent in exit velocity at 91.9 MPH and in the top two percent in barrel rate. He looked every bit like a legitimate slugger with some strikeout concern. This season he is just barely above average in each of those rates, and while we appreciate his improved strikeout rate, he still Ks too much and his chase rate remains one of the worst in the majors.

I don’t think Burger is as bad as his numbers currently make it seem, but there isn’t anything here to suggest a turnaround is imminent. However, the Marlins have already dealt away two-time batting champion Luis Arraez for prospects, and it’s possible a team in need of offense could see some upside in Burger, who won’t be arbitration eligible until 2026. Maybe this Burger needs a new bun? As for now though, maybe go for a hot dog instead.


Oswaldo Cabrera, 2B / SS / 3B / OF, New York Yankees – 46% Rostered


Oswaldo presents a curious case. He is actually slashing better (.273/.306/.394) in May than he did in April (.250/.290/.380).  Yet with most of May in the can, the Yanks’ super utility player has accrued just four runs, four RBI, one homer, and one stolen base this month. He scored 14 runs, drove in 16, hit three dingers, and stole a base in April.

Cabrera started almost every game in April, but has been out of the starting lineup for seven games already in May, including four out of the Yankees past five matchups.  His underlying rates support that reduction in playing time as well. Cabrera’s barrel rate of just 2.7% sits in the league’s bottom tenth, and his 86.5 MPH exit velocity and 30.9% hard hit rate don’t rank much better.  He also walks at just a 5.6% clip, which severely limits his ability to get on base.

There just is not much upside in Cabrera’s game right now, and I expect his role to continue to diminish as the season progresses.  I’d suggest checking your league’s waiver wire to see if Tyler Freeman, who I’ve written about previously, is still available instead.


Josh Rojas, 2B / 3B, Seattle Mariners – 21% Rostered


Rojas had been a pleasant surprise this season, slashing .301/.372/.439 with three homers and four steals through 139 plate appearances. He’s exclusively batted leadoff since the final week of April, but has managed to amass just 12 runs scored and nine driven in thanks in part to Seattle’s lackluster offense, which ranks 26th amongst MLB teams in runs scored.

Over the past couple weeks, however, even Rojas has slowed. He is slashing just .208/.255/.208 with only a single run scored, two driven in, and one stolen base over the past 14 days. That is not what you are looking for from a leadoff hitter. It’s not really what you’re looking for from anyone to be honest.

On his own, Rojas isn’t doing anything particularly poorly. His bat speed (all the rage these days) is just about the slowest in the Majors, but he still generates slightly above MLB average exit velocity, whiff, strikeout, and hard hit rates. He’s a tremendously disciplined hitter with a near-elite chase rate, and a strong walk rate of just over 10%. Rojas actually is doing exactly what you do want from a leadoff guy, the results just haven’t been there for a couple of weeks.

The biggest issue Rojas is facing is the lack of production throughout the Mariners Lineup. Seattle is the fifth-lowest-scoring team, the sixth-lowest batting average team and sport the tenth-lowest OPS in MLB. Surprisingly, they sneak into the top ten in total home runs. Despite this, they lead the AL West on the strength of their starting rotation, not their bats.

None of that helps Rojas of course, but I think he’s a hold for now. There just isn’t anything wrong with Rojas’s game.




Michael Massey, 2B, Kansas City Royals5% Rostered


I was pretty big on Massey all the way back at the beginning of 2023. It’s starting to look like I may have been one year too early.  Massey is slashing .284/.300/.505 with five home runs on the season but has been on fire lately with a .409/.458/.773 over the past week. He’s usually batting fifth, with Bobby Witt, Vinnie Pasquantino, and Sal Perez setting the table in front of him. Massey slid to eighth in the order versus a lefty starter last week, but that’s better than being platooned.

Massey has yet to attempt a stolen base this season and doesn’t make especially hard contact, with just an 88.5 MPH average exit velocity, and hardly ever walks. But, he has only struck out 13 times over 102 plate appearances this season and carries a near-elite whiff rate. He’s a bit of a change of pace at middle infield, but I think Massey should be a solid source of batting average and run production as long he continues to hit in the middle of the Royals lineup. Think of him as a heavily discounted Jake Cronenworth.


Lars Nootbaar, OF, St Louis Cardinals – 37% Rostered


Lars missed the first couple weeks of the season thanks to some fractured ribs suffered during a spring training game, which was odd, since the ribs in K.C. are usually covered in a sweet and tangy sauce that would prevent fracturing. Nootbaar must have realized his barbecue mistake, and took a low-and-slow approach heating up his bat, slashing just .180/.296/.312 with one home run over 61 at-bats in April.

But all that slow smoking and basting (and probably a dry rub), paid off as Noot has slashed in .246/.370/.475 with four homers in an identical 61 at bats in May. Heck, over the last two weeks, Nootbaar is sporting an OPS of 1.039 and has been a top 50 player in standard formats.

His underlying rates back up his offensive explosion as well. Noot is in the top fifth of the league in exit velocity and hard hit rate and possesses exit plate discipline. His excellent chase and whiff rates have translated into a strikeout under 18% and a walk rate above 15%, near the pinnacle of the league. Honestly, it seems absurd that Nootbaar is unrostered in almost two-thirds of leagues, and if he is available in yours, fix that before continuing on.


Nick Gonzales, 2B / SS, Pittsburgh Pirates – 5% Rostered


Gonzales’ call-up was easy to overlook since he came up at the same time as Paul Skenes. But Gonzales has draft pedigree as the 7th overall pick in 2000, and was torching AAA pitching to the tune of .358/.431/.608 with four homers in 120 at-bats. So far, he’s held his own, producing a .265/.297/.471 line with a couple of homers, a steal, and eight RBI in just ten games.

Clearly we don’t have a ton of MLB data on Gonzales yet, but what we do have looks promising. He’s produced a pretty spectacular 93.8 MPH average exit velocity, a 50% hard hit rate, and a 14.3% barrel rate that would place him in the league’s top ten percent if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. His 32.1% line drive rate is well above the league average of 24.8%. While he’s only attempted one steal in the majors and none in the minors this season, his sprint speed ranks in the league’s top fifth, suggesting at least some stolen base potential.

I do worry a bit about his subpar walk rate, but he drew his fair share of free passes in AAA before his call-up, and we only have 38 MLB plate appearances this season to draw from. Between the two middle infielders I’ve included as risers this week, I’m slightly higher on Nick Gonzales long-term, due to the high quality of contact he’s making, although I will admit that Massey plays in a bit better of an offense and I’d expect him to outpace Gonzales in runs and RBI.

That’s all for DLR&F week 8.  When next I see you all back here, it will be a ways into June and we should have a wave of call-ups to wade through.  Good luck until then 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.

One response to “Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 8”

  1. Mark Penn says:

    Suffering Bucs fan. Right there with you. I drove down to my girl’s apt when it looked like the Bucs were going to the series only to see Sid Bream cross home plate. I have had the pleasure of running into Sid Bream at local Christian concerts locally over the years and booing him in person. Barry Bonds doesn’t deserve Coopertown for that play alone.

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