For every riser in the rankings, there must be a faller. It's Newton's first law of Fantasy Baseball, or something like that. Sometimes, a guy moves down in the rankings for no other reason than someone else had to move up -- Jose Abreu and Pete Alonso fall under that category after I moved Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up to No. 3 in recent days. That happens, and it isn't an indictment on the player who moved down.
Of course, sometimes, a player actually does move down on their own merits, or lack thereof. You can see some of the biggest risers and fallers highlighted in my trade values chart here, but you won't get the "why" there. That's what this column is for. Here are five key players who have moved down in my rankings over the last few weeks.
I didn't move LeMahieu down much -- he dropped below Whit Merrifield at second base and Vladimir Guerrero at first base, which I can't imagine will be particularly controversial. But still, it's worth noting, especially because I am, admittedly, a bit more pessimistic about LeMahieu than I was coming into the season. His slow start isn't really my concern, as much as it is the changes to the ball and the impact it might have on his production. The new ball comes off the bat harder but doesn't travel as far, an issue for someone like LeMahieu who has ranked among the shortest average home run distances since joining the Yankees. I'm not worried about his high strikeout rate right now, and I think he'll hit for a solid batting average no matter what. However, I have my concerns that LeMahieu might be more like a 12-15 homer guy rather than the 25-homer guy he looked like in his first two seasons with the Yankees. And I'm worried we're seeing that in action.
Biggio shares the concern about the impact of the new ball, except he doesn't have LeMahieu's overall skills as a hitter. He's been one of the worst hitters in baseball so far, and according to Statcast expected stats, he's actually been a bit lucky to have the numbers he did, which is pretty frightening. I don't think he'll continue to hit this poorly, but Biggio has regressed in pretty much every way possible so far, and given that he has a pretty slim margin for error as a middling raw power bat with strikeout issues, his batting average could especially continue to be an issue. He is not a buy-low candidate for me at this point, and I might not be far from removing him from my top-12 at second base -- he's ninth right now. We'll see how the next few weeks go, but Jazz Chisholm might just be what we hoped Biggio would be, except with better underlying tools.
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How could I not move Strasburg down? He's already suffered multiple injuries since the start of spring training, and neither was related to the surgery he had last offseason. And this one is a shoulder injury that caused his velocity to tumble in his last start before the injury. Shoulder injuries are the most difficult for pitchers to deal with, and given Strasburg's history, you can't feel confident he'll be able to come back from this one and be effective. Obviously, Strasburg has tons of upside, and I still have him inside of my top 50 based solely on the chance that he might be able to come back, avoid injury, and be effective. But you can't be confident in that at this point, unfortunately.
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I wrote about Plesac and whether he should be a sell-high candidate yesterday, and there isn't a ton to be optimistic about. Of course, admittedly, I was much more skeptical of Plesac than his consensus as a top-25 starting pitcher in pre-season ADP, so I'm inclined to believe his struggles are representative. Plesac has great control, but he gives up a lot of hard contact so his margin for error is going to be inherently slim. Last season, he figured out how to get a ton of whiffs and made it work for him, but my concern coming in was that, after facing just five teams in 2020, the league would adjust to his new pitch mix and it wouldn't be as effective. It's too early to say for sure that Plesac can't recapture what he had last season, and he hasn't been so bad in every start that you can't see positive signs if you're looking for them. He's still a top-40 starter for me, but I'll tell you this: I'm not looking to buy low on him right now.
Kluber has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last decade, but I'm starting to think we've seen the last of Kluber as a viable starting option in Fantasy. His average fastball velocity is down below 90 mph, and his fastball has never been particularly good. He's trying to adjust by throwing his secondary pitches more, which is an understandable strategy, but it seems to have come at the expense of his trademark command. Kluber has 11 walks and two hit batters in 15 innings, and if you include spring training that jumps to 18 walks and five hit batters in 28 innings if you include the spring. Maybe he can figure this out and get back to being at least an above average pitcher -- after all, he basically hasn't pitched in two years -- but I just don't see any reasons to be optimistic. There have been too many interesting pitchers emerging on waivers this season to keep Kluber on my roster. I've moved him outside of my top 70 at the position.