- Checking in on the risers and fallers across the fantasy baseball landscape.
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 Colin Moran 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.
Carlos Santana, 1B/3B, Indians
Santana has been swinging a hot bat for the last two weeks, going 15-for-45 with four homers and 12 RBI in 52 plate appearances. He’s always had extreme on-base ability and that hasn’t changed this year, evidenced by a 16.2% walk rate and .404 OBP. He’s been better on balls in play, though, carrying a .286 batting average into play Wednesday. Of course, the power is there as well, with Santana belting 13 homers and driving in 45 runs on the year.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs
Schwarber is entrenched as the Cubs’ leadoff man, and that is great news for his fantasy value. He has taken well to the spot this time around, hitting .242/.328/.545 with eight homers and 17 RBI in 116 plate appearances atop the order. He's been even better recently, hitting .333/.400/.667 in his last nine games. What’s more, Joe Maddon isn’t afraid to slot him first against lefties, ensuring that Schwarber is in the lineup every day. His run-scoring upside is massive with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez immediately behind him, and his power is playing even more with the weather heating up in the Midwest.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Angels
Ohtani has been hitting for plenty of power over the last week, drilling four homers and driving in nine runs in 31 plate appearances. It’s still a bit early to draw any meaningful conclusions from his full season stat line considering he missed the first five weeks of the year, but it’s encouraging to see the power picking back up after a brief slump. His 9.8% walk rate is consistent with last year's 10.1%, and he has cut his strikeout rate thus far to 26.3% from last season’s 27.8%.
Trevor Richards, SP, Marlins
Richards has been excellent in his last four starts, allowing three runs on 13 hits with 24 strikeouts against seven walks in 24 2/3 innings. He’s been quietly effective all year, pitching to a 3.31 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 68 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. The free pass is still a bit of an issue—he has a 10.8% walk rate, up from last year’s 9.9%—but there has been far more good than bad in his profile this season. Richards is still widely available across the fantasy landscape, and that simply shouldn’t be the case.
Yonny Chirinos, SP, Rays
After making three straight appearances after an opener, Chirinos has pitched as a traditional starter in his last three trips to the mound. He was excellent in two of those, tossing 13 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts, and bad in the other, allowing four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. We can give him a pass for that bad one considering it came against the Twins, MLB’s highest-scoring offense. He clearly has more value as a traditional starter than as a second pitcher as an opener simply because it gives him a shot at additional volume. Chirinos doesn’t have a ton of strikeout upside, but he has proved the last two seasons that he can be successful while striking out about one-fifth of the batters he faces, totaling a 3.23 ERA, 3.76 FIP and 1.08 WHIP in 158 2/3 innings.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals
Really? This is it? This is all we’re getting out of Goldschmidt this year? Don’t get me wrong, he’s been a good player in the aggregate, but fantasy owners were rightly expecting more from him. Goldschmidt is hitting .271/.359/.441 with 12 homers and 27 RBI in 282 plate appearances. He has a worse OBP than Ji-man Choi and a worse slugging percentage than Brian Goodwin. He has fewer homers than C.J. Cron and fewer RBI than Amed Rosario. His .344 wOBA ranks 76th in the majors and has him behind D.J. LeMahieu and Alex Gordon. This is not the season Goldschmidt is supposed to be having.
Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Tigers
Castellanos finds himself here for much the same reason that Goldschmidt does. He’s having a fine year, hitting .262/.312/.452 with seven homers, 20 doubles and 24 RBI in 269 plate appearances, but he was supposed to be so much better than this. The homers are especially discouraging, considering the power-packed environment across the MLB landscape this season. Tommy La Stella has 15 homers. Brandon Lowe has 14 homers. Dansby Swanson has 13 homers. Castellanos, who hit 23 homers last year and 26 the year before that, is on a 162-game pace for 16 homers. That’s not what people were signing up for when they drafted him, even if he has been a net-positive this year.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians
Bauer held the Reds to one run in 7 2/3 innings on Tuesday, pitching around six hits and five walks while striking out six batters. It was a successful start on paper, but it continued Bauer's trend of issuing too many free passes. His walk rate is now up to 10.7%, nearly three percentage points higher than it was last year. His strikeout rate is down to 26% from last season's 30.8%, and, more troubling, is in line with his career norms. It's looking more and more like 2018 was the anomaly for Bauer.
Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Mariners
Kikuchi has been terrible in his last three starts, allowing 16 earned runs on 29 hits, including six homers, in just 10 innings. He has walked six and struck out two in that stretch, with his ERA and WHIP climbing to 4.99 and 1.42, respectively, from 3.43 and 1.08. Kikuchi’s strikeout rate is a measly 16.6%, 10th lowest in the league among the 84 starters who have thrown at least 64 innings this season.