by Ray Kuhn
Fantasy baseball success is all about maximizing value and timing. You want to grab players at the right point on their trajectory upward and then part ways when they begin to trend downward. Of course that harder said than done. Every owner in your league should be trying to do the same exact thing (possibly with the same players), complicating matters. All that means is that you have to look that much harder to find value.
In some cases that means keeping your eyes out for rising prospects, potentially grabbing them a week or two early. Then, when you find success with your “flash in the pan” additions, make sure that you don’t get too greedy and let them over stay their welcome in your lineup.
Here are 3 players whose stock I think is rising this week, and 3 whose stock I think is falling.
- Josh Rutledge, SS, Colorado Rockies. Rutledge started the season off as a popular sleeper for the Rockies. Instead, the power/speed infielder struggled, hitting .242, before being sent down to the minors on May 20. However he did show some of the power/speed that was expected of him with five home runs to go with five stolen bases and 13 RBI. With the injury to Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago, Rutledge was recalled from Triple-A and given a second chance. In his 69 minor league at bats he was able to put his troubles behind him as he hit .348. So far he has played in three games in his second stint with the Rockies and he is 1-14 with a two run HR. Then why am I advocating Rutledge as a player to add? Not much has changed from when he was highly regarded prior to the season and he did show some of his power and speed in flashes despite his early season struggles. The fact that he was also successful in Triple-A is a good sign. Middle infield is also an extremely weak position, so especially in deeper leagues Rutledge could be a very attractive option to take a look at.
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins. We all remember Plouffe last season as he gave his owners an unexpected boost in the power department. In 119 games he hit 24 home runs, but the problem is that he only hit .235. So far this season the third baseman has had some moderate success, but he also missed close to a month with a calf injury. Prior to his injury he hit four home runs in 37 games while driving in 17. Those are not terrible numbers, though not great either, and it is important to remember that he is no longer eligible at shortstop like he was last season. That, in addition to his injury, meant that Plouffe was forgotten about in a lot of leagues. He returned to action by going 3-3 with a home run in his first game back and is hitting .264 on the season. While he might not hit 24 home runs again, the power is still there to some degree, though the average is also a concern. This is the time of year when injuries are aplenty and fill in options are needed. The injury caused a lot of owners to forget about Plouffe, so he is worth a look if you need help at third base.
- Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays. I am sure that by now you are sick of hearing about Myers. He was a top minor leaguer and hitting prospect for both the Royals and now the Rays and now he will finally be making his major league debut. The bottom line here is that if he is still available in your league, he should not be. Pause reading this article and go pick him up or put a claim in for him. All through the minor leagues Myers has had success and the 22 year old is certainly ready for the next step. So far this season he is hitting .283 in 63 games at Triple-A. Tampa’s offense has been lacking this season and Myers is the run producer they need as his 57 RBI and 14 home runs have proven.
- Brandon League, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite the three year contract the Dodgers gave League, he has been on thin ice even before the season started. Kenley Jansen has been breathing down League’s neck for the closer’s job and it finally seems that Jansen has overtaken him. With a 5.54 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP, there was certainly reason for League to lose the job. After he blew his fourth save of the season last week against Arizona, it was made official and Jansen took over as the closer with his ERA of about three runs lower. Jansen then promptly blew a save a few days later and League actually recorded the save after the Dodgers took the lead in extra innings. That, League’s contract and the fact that he has 14 saves on the season while Jansen is not a proven closer could give owners false hope. Yes saves are valuable, so if you have the space League is a decent option to stash, but even while he was recording saves, League’s ratios were brutal and the Dodgers were just waiting for the opportunity to hand the job to the hard throwing Jansen.
- Kelly Johnson, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays. Now that Myers has been promoted, he is going to take at bats from someone. At the moment it looks like Johnson will be one of those guys. Even more than other teams Tampa always sticks with the hot hand, so that should not be too much of a problem for Johnson. Well that is if he were actually producing. Owners that jumped on Johnson in May got a very good return on their value. Even though he is a second baseman by trade, he has been seeing a lot of time in the outfield, only making him that much more valuable. However, even if Myers was not making his debut this week Johnson would still be on this list. He hit .227 in April which was followed by a .330 average in May and then a .109 average thus far in June. Johnson also hit 7 of his 10 home runs in May and drove in 26 of his 37 runs. Be grateful for that production, but cut bait.
- Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers. Profar made it the major leagues with much fanfare after the injury to Ian Kinsler. While Kinsler was on the disabled list, the top prospect had some moderate success and is hitting .277 with two home runs while both driving in and scoring seven runs. Those numbers are not terrible, but they also are not in line with his expectations. Now that Kinsler has returned, Profar is staying in the major leagues but he will be used more in a utility role. In the next week or two he will start to see time in the outfield and he will also be used at both middle infield positions. For now, the Rangers are saying that he will be getting ample playing time, but I do have my doubts. Also, I am not sure how his offense will be affected by some inconsistent playing time and learning a new position. Plus, it is not like he was really tearing it up while he was getting consistent playing time at second base. Certainly he is more valuable in keeper leagues, but try not to over value him as he is more of a bench option for now.