Hello everyone and welcome to the week 18 edition of Deep League Risers and Fallers. Lucas hit on a couple of red-hot corner infielders last week in Tristan Casas and Spencer Torkleson. With three of the top five overall first basemen being at least 33 years old, it would be great to see these breakouts continue.
Lucas also continued to bang the drum on the criminally under-rostered Alex Kiriloff. Although he may have banged a bit too hard, as Kiriloff hit the IL with shoulder inflammation. He is still someone to keep on your radar for a late-season push, or even as a candidate for teams selling off and looking for a player to keep into next season.
We are past the MLB trade deadline now and that means we are likely coming up on fantasy league trade deadlines as well. For teams that are looking towards next year, now is the time you can pry talented young players from winning teams that need players who can contribute immediately.
Alright, let’s get to it.
Lowe opened up the season on fire, slashing .342/.398/.632 with five homers and five steals through the end of April. He had a respectable 17:7 K/BB ratio.
Each month since then has gotten worse. Lowe still provided lots of category juice in May with six more homers and eight more stolen bases. But we saw his triple slash drop to .271/.311/.541, with a 22:5 K/BB ratio. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, and Lowe would still be a valuable commodity in our game if he held that mid-.800s OPS with power and speed.
In June, we watched both Lowe’s power and on-base skills seemingly evaporate as he hit just one dinger in the month and slashed just .260/.284/.377. He walked just thrice in June and struck out 25 times over 81 plate appearances. Those who held on hoping for a return to his early-season form were rewarded with a rough .197/.254/.361 line, with two more homers in July.
What we have now is a hitter producing below-average exit velocity and hard-hit rates with the whiff and chase rates right around the bottom tenth of the league. He also doesn’t walk enough to utilize his great speed when he isn’t hitting his way on base. If I was managing a contending team with Lowe on my roster, Id be shopping him hard, hoping that his overall season line, would overshadow his recent trends.
Castellanos is rostered nearly universally, but after he posted a .162/.194/.303 line with four homers and zero steals in July, that may need to change.
The 6’4″ right-handed slugger has had an up and down year so far. He started off very strong with an OPS of .878 through the end of April but slowed down in May with just a .695 mark. Then he absolutely mashed in July to the tune of .351/.387/.567 with five homers and four steals on the month.
It’s totally possible that Castellanos could bounce back yet again in August. Maybe a broadcaster will disgrace themselves on a hot mic and really get him swinging a hot bat again.
But Casty carries a whiff rate and chase rate in the league’s bottom four percent, barely walks, and strikes out too often to avoid prolonged slumps. Despite his recent struggles, he still has an extremely lucky .351 average on balls in play, and if that rate normalizes, his average would drop even lower.
Much like Lowe, I’d be looking to shop Castellanos on the strength of his season numbers.
Bailey looked like the second coming of Buster Posey through his first months of MLB action. He slashed .333/.350/.564 over 41 plate appearances in May after his debut and then followed that up with a great .316/.346/.553 line in June. Just when it seemed like we might have found the next elite fantasy backstop, July began, and regression hit Bailey like a ton of bricks.
The Giant rookie slashed a meager .165/.205/.215 in July, looking ice cold during the hottest month the world has ever recorded. A drop-off was to be expected, as Bailey benefitted from a BABIP just a smidge over .400 over his first two months. That number came down to .232 for July.
Bailey is still a rookie and has posted above-average exit velocity and a fantastic barrel rate so far. He’s not as bad as he looked in July, but he’s also probably not the .300 hitter he looked like earlier in the year.
If I was managing a competitive team right now, I’d be looking to upgrade over Bailey and would be willing to move him to make that happen. If I was looking toward the future and wanted to add a catcher in a dynasty style format, I would target Endy Rodríguez ahead of Bailey.
This one requires a bit of patience, but Means is set to begin a rehab assignment very soon and once the news starts popping up about him, it might be too late.
Means made just two starts last season before heading to the surgeon’s table for Tommy John. When last we saw Mr. Means pitch a full slate back in 2021, he was the Orioles ace. He threw 146.2 innings and posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and recorded 134 strikeouts while issuing just 26 walks.
And that was before Baltimore moved their outfield walls back, which might be especially meaningful since Means has been a flyball-heavy pitcher thus far in his career. It’s also noteworthy that the 2021 version of the Orioles won just 52 games, while the current version already has 65 wins to pace the entire American League.
So if, and that is a reasonably large IF, Means has a successful rehab assignment and comes back to start for the O’s in Early September, he will be returning to a much better situation than the one in which he was already thriving two years ago. There is plenty of risk, but for now you can stash a potential difference maker for the low cost of one IL slot.
This is a similar play to stashing Means, but Perez can’t sit on your IL. Perez, who is still just 20 years old, was stellar over his 11 major league starts thus far. He threw 53.1 innings and posted a tidy 2.36 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and struck out 61 batters while walking just 17. He is one of, if not the most exciting young pitchers in the game.
But there is a caveat. Perez has thrown 86 innings this year, which already eclipses his previous season high of 78. There is a real chance that Perez works out of the bullpen, or is on a tight pitch count when he comes back up.
If I’m running a competitive team in a redraft league, that might scare me away. If I was set to miss the playoffs in a dynasty/keeper format I would be hammering Perez’s manager with trade offers and forwarding any article that suggested he might not get a full starter’s workload.
Gelof made his MLB debut a couple of weeks ago and has held his own at the plate so far with a .218/.283/.491 line, while smacking three homers and stealing five bases over his first 60 plate appearances.
That .218 average is unappealing, and it comes with an equally gross 20:4 K/BB ratio. But it’s still a small sample size and Gelof posted a much more palatable 86:41 K:BB ratio over 308 plate appearances in AAA this year.
That’s still a strikeout rate over 25%, but that strong walk rate gave Gelof more chances to use his speed on the bases. And he showed off nice power and speed, knocking 12 balls into the stands and swiping 20 bags over those 308 PA.
I see no reason for the A’s not to let Gelof run with the 2B gig for the rest of the season. He’s hit out of the two-hole consistently, has an average exit velocity of 90.7 mph, (two full mph above the MLB average), and has shown elite (97th percentile) sprint speed. Gelof could be a valuable power/speed combo down the stretch and is a very interesting target for teams looking to the future as well.
Good luck navigating your own trade deadlines, and see you next time for more Deep League Risers and Fallers.