- 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 Jose Altuve into an occasional slump or Jason Kipnis 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.
Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF, Mets
McNeil goes into play Wednesday with a career slash line of .341/.399/.492 in his two MLB seasons. He ranks first in batting average and fifth in OBP during that time, something that has been obscured by the fact that the Mets have been a laughingstock. Still, they’ve got a real gem in McNeil, who’s rising above the muck in Queens to hit .351/.413/.509 with six homers, 23 doubles, 37 runs and 34 RBI this season.
Domingo Santana, OF, Mariners
Santana wrapped up June on a hot, three-week run, hitting .313/.384/.606 with eight homers and 20 RBI. He’s had to work around a league-leading 111 strikeouts this season, but he has counterbalanced that in some way by drawing 37 walks. As such, his OBP is 71 points better than his batting average, and he’s one of 11 players with at least 18 homers and 60 RBI on the year.
Eric Sogard, 2B/SS, Blue Jays
Look, no one except Sogard himself can explain where his .307/.380/.498, nine-homer season has come from, and even he might have trouble explaining. What we do know, though, is that it’s time to take it at face value. Sogard has 248 plate appearances, during which he has a 14.1% strikeout rate and 10.5% walk rate, in addition to the gaudy numbers in the first sentence. He’s leading off every day for a Toronto lineup that is starting to coalesce around it’s young talent. The 33-year-old Sogard may not fit that last part, but he’s proving himself a valuable player in all fantasy formats.
Eric Thames, 1B/OF, Brewers
What’s old is new again. Thames was an out-of-nowhere slugger for the Brewers in 2017, then fell out of favor in 2018, ceding the first base position to a similarly out-of-nowhere Jesus Aguilar. This year, Aguilar has fallen off the map, with Thames resurging back to his former prominence. He’s hitting .273/.387/.545 with 13 homers and 36 RBI on the season, and has been especially great over the last three weeks, going 16-for-46 with five homers and 10 RBI in 53 plate appearances. That comes out to a slash line of .348/.415/.804.
Shane Bieber, SP, Indians
Bieber has been excellent after getting knocked around by the Yankees for five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings back on June 9. In his four starts since that outing, he has a 2.00 ERA and 0.78 WHIP and 37 strikeouts against three walks in 27 innings. Bieber’s had to step up because of injuries to Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, and he has done just that, pitching to a 3.54 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 133 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals
We’ve already discussed Goldschmidt once in this space this season, but he’s worthy of another downgrade going into the last few days of the first half. When the Cardinals traded for him, and when fantasy owners selected him in the middle of the second round, they assumed they were getting an MVP candidate. Instead, the first baseman is hitting .247/.338/.404 with 14 homers and 31 RBI in 356 plate appearances. He’s behind Brett Gardner and Miguel Rojas in OPS+ and David Fletcher and Brian Anderson in wOBA. Put simply, he has not lived up to his end of the real-life or fantasy bargain.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox
Benintendi is no stranger to the Fallers side of the Stock Ticker, either, and it’s only fitting to put a bow on his first half with his second appearance. Benintendi was supposed to be a 20-20 threat while challenging for the league lead in runs atop a mighty Boston offense. Instead, he’s on pace for 14 homers and 16 steals while hitting .270/.351/.427. The lack of power is most troubling, given the homer-happy environment of MLB in 2019. Benintendi was never going to be a 30-homer guy, but it’s disappointing to see him going into the last weekend of the first half with just seven dingers in 344 plate appearances, and a 6.9% HR/FB ratio that would be the lowest of his career.
James Paxton, SP, Yankees
At first glance, Paxton seemed to get back on track in a win over the Mets on Tuesday. He allowed one run in six innings, notching his first quality start in his last three trips to the mound. He had to pitch around eight hits and two walks, though, and struck out just three batters. Since returning from the IL, he has a 5.23 ERA, 1.74 WHIP and 32 strikeouts against 17 walks in 32 2/3 innings.