Welcome to the fantasy baseball Stock Ticker, SI.com’s weekly surveying of the fantasy baseball landscape. This column isn’t a weathervane. It won’t respond to the natural vagaries of baseball that force even the likes of Mookie Betts into an occasional slump or Kevin Kiermaier to look like an MVP candidate for a week or two. If a player appears on the Ticker, it means that we believe his rest-of-season outlook must be recalibrated.
This also isn’t a waiver wire column. While some players with low ownership rates will appear in the Risers section from time to time, the Ticker will generally consist of players widely owned in fantasy leagues.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
It’s a Dodgers-heavy edition of the Stock Ticker, which makes sense considering they’re 17-3 in their last 20 games. Seager has been at the center of the team’s surge, hitting .297/.369/.662 with six homers, seven doubles and 22 RBI in his last 18 starts. Before this hot stretch, he was hitting .225/.325/.341 on the season. His slash line after play Tuesday sits at .250/.340/.443 across 244 plate appearances.
Ketel Marte, 2B/SS/OF, Diamondbacks
Marte had a 10-game hitting streak broken earlier this week, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. He went 18-for-47 with five homers and 12 RBI during the streak, and started a new streak by going 1-for-4 with a double on Tuesday. The 25-year-old, who has teased us with breakout potential the last few years, is putting it all together, slashing .276/.326/.527 with 14 homers, 13 doubles, 36 runs and 43 RBI in 264 plate appearances.
Travis Shaw, 1B/2B/3B, Brewers
The Brewers activated Shaw from the IL on Monday and, in a surprise move, sent top prospect Keston Hiura back to the minors. That’s as strong an indication as we need that Shaw, despite his struggles this season, will have plenty of opportunity to lock down an everyday spot in Milwaukee’s lineup. Remember, in his first two years with the Brewers he hit .258/.347/.497 with 31 homers in 2017, and 32 more last year. He went 2-for-3 with a double in his return to the lineup Tuesday.
Austin Riley, 3B/OF, Braves
Riley has been everything the Braves could’ve hoped for and more through the first 18 games of his career, hitting .324/.368/.732 with nine homers and 25 RBI. There’s really not much more to say. When a player is an elite prospect, mashes his way to the majors a month after his 22nd birthday, and rakes immediately in the majors, he earns an upgrade in the fantasy baseball world.
Kenta Maeda, SP, Dodgers
Maeda had an excellent May, earning wins in four of his five starts while pitching to a 2.73 ERA and 0.67 WHIP with 34 strikeouts against five walks in 29 2/3 innings. Maeda now sports a 3.61 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 62 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings this season, securing a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation, even with the underappreciated Ross Stripling in the bullpen. Maeda’s first start of June comes Wednesday against the Diamondbacks.
Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
This feels a little harsh considering that Abreu has 15 homers and an AL-leading 50 RBI. Still, when he’s been at his best in the past, he’s also been getting on base at a high clip. This year, he’s hitting just .250 with a .298 OBP, and that’s a significant drag on his fantasy value. He’s making up for it with his consistent, reliable power, but the fantasy community rightly had expectations of him putting up rates of .290 and .350 this year, and he hasn’t been anywhere near that type of hitter.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves
Albies is mired in a dreadful slump, hitting .220/.298/.268 over his last 23 games. He hasn’t hit a homer since May 4, and has 23 strikeouts against 10 walks since he last left the yard. Before this terrible run, he Albies was hitting .283/.329/.483. After play on Tuesday, he carries a .261/.318/.407 slash line in 264 plate appearances, and is stuck at the bottom of Atlanta’s order.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, A’s
This is less an indictment of Piscotty’s play this season than a reckoning with the fact that his skill set simply isn’t as valuable on this season’s power-packed landscape as it was in previous years. Piscotty is hitting .265/.331/.420 with seven homers and 27 RBI in 252 plate appearances. Just last season, those numbers would’ve made him an easy starting outfielder in all fantasy formats. This season, they make him the 66th-ranked outfielder and 244th-ranked overall player in standard 5x5 leagues. In an environment where 26 players have 15 homers before June 5, a corner outfielder with modest power and decent plate discipline simply isn’t what he used to be.
Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets
Syndergaard took a no-decision against the Giants on Tuesday, allowing three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking three. It's been an up-and-down year for Syndergaard thus far, resulting in a 4.83 ERA and 1.27 WHIP across 82 innings. Most troubling, however, is a strikeout rate that has dipped to 23.6% in arguably the greatest strikeout environment the game has ever seen. Syndergaard's fall in the strikeout department is what truly forces this recalibration of his rest-of-season fantasy value.
Cole Hamels, SP, Cubs
Hamels shoved in his last start, allowing the Cardinals one unearned run on two hits and two walks in seven innings. He wasn’t so good in the three starts before that, however, compiling a 7.62 ERA and 2.46 WHIP with just 11 strikeouts against nine walks in 13 innings. It’s a strong bet that Hamels will generally right the ship, but he pitched like something near a fantasy ace for the first six weeks of the season. We shouldn’t expect him to be that type of pitcher over the remainder of the year.