Fantasy Baseball Risers, Fallers: June 14, 2021
By Phil Backert
Major League Baseball has cracked down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers during the last few weeks and the results are telling. Doctored baseballs help pitchers increase their spin rate, which makes their pitches more effective. Since the crackdown, spin rates across baseball are down and offenses are scoring more runs.
It’s an extremely small sample size, but for fantasy purposes, we should take note. It could be a coincidence along with the weather heating up across the country. However, fantasy owners need to be proactive and maybe target a hitter who is beginning to swing the bat well or sell high on a pitcher who has had a good couple of months.
1. Toronto Blue Jays First Baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — The 22-year-old is having the type of season many believed he would when he was one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Guerrero was overdrafted in 2019 as a hot-shot rookie, but was underdrafted this year after two solid yet underwhelming seasons. Those fantasy owners who believed in the talent and knew a breakout was coming are being paid off in a big way. Guerrero hit three more home runs this past week to give him 21 on the year. The infielder is hitting .344 and has 55 RBIs as he chases a triple crown along with the Most Valuable Player award in the American League.
2. Oakland Athletics First Baseman Matt Olson — After struggling in a shortened season in 2020, Olson has returned to form this year. The first baseman finished the week hitting three home runs along with seven RBIs and is now batting .289 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs this season. Olson was being drafted in the sixth round back in March and is already paying off that investment to fantasy owners.
3. Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Robbie Ray — Two Blue Jays crack this list and for good reason. Ray was a beast in his two starts this past week, as he struck out 23 hitters while allowing just four earned runs. The left-hander has had a nice June, allowing only five earned runs while picking up two wins in the process. Ray’s ability to rack up strikeouts has always made him fantasy relevant, but his inconsistencies have left many frustrated. Fantasy owners should ride the hot streak while it lasts.
1. San Diego Padres Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. — After dominating the “Three Up” portion for most of the season, Tatis finds himself here after a week in which he struck out 13 times while only collecting five hits. It should be noted that the shortstop hit two home runs during the weekend, including a grand slam, so there’s nothing to be concerned about. However, when you finish with a .200 batting average and strike out as many times as Tatis did, he should be included on this list.
2. Tampa Bay Rays Outfielder Austin Meadows — The outfielder has put together a nice season but had a brutal week. Meadows collected only one hit, which resulted in his batting average dipping to .233. The 26-year-old has hit 14 home runs with 48 RBIs this season and will look to put this past week behind him and get rolling once again.
3. Houston Astros Second Baseman Jose Altuve — The good news is Altuve hit three home runs during the past week. The bad news he only collected five hits and struck out eight times. Altuve was hitting .306 on June 5 and is now batting .288 so the slump has lasted a couple of weeks. I’m not too concerned with the second baseman, as he continues to show power. He has 12 home runs this season.