With two months of baseball in the books, my Top-500 Dynasty Rankings needed a major overhaul. The top spot is still Shohei Ohtani due to him being a cheat code, but the other 499 names have been shaken around quite a bit. Among all the moves, the following players have made the biggest leaps (not counting previously unranked players):
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Mitch Keller has been terrific, registering a 3.25 ERA and a career-best 24.8% K-BB%. Jorge Soler has tapped back into the power, ripping 17 long balls with an .858 OPS through 58 games. Zach Eflin has found new life with the Rays, registering a 3.30 ERA (2.99 xERA) and a stellar 57:8 K:BB.
Unfortunately, we need to dig into the negatives as well. Here are the biggest fallers in the update:
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Dustin Harris is slashing .239/.375/.403 while repeating Double-A and will turn 24 in June. Oscar Gonzalez posted a .501 OPS before being demoted to Triple-A, where he’s slashed just .240/.272/.406. His teammate, Will Brennan, has picked things up over the last week but slashed .204/.242/.292 in his first 45 games. Eric Lauer is sporting a 5.48 ERA (6.73 FIP) with an unsightly 11.2% K-BB%. Brady Singer’s 6.45 ERA is a result of having the worst hard-hit rate in baseball.
Beyond this group with massive movement, there are hundreds of other players whose stocks have changed. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most impactful ones.
More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers
2023 Midseason Dynasty Risers and Fallers
Young Guns on the Mound
So far in 2023 some of the biggest risers have been young arms. Teams haven’t been shy about pushing their top pitching prospects through the minors and up to the big leagues to fill needs, which is exciting for the game and fantasy managers. One of the best examples and biggest surprises of 2023 is Bryce Elder. He’s registered an elite 1.92 ERA and a 56:19 K:BB through 65.2 frames. He’s dominated batters with his slider, forcing a 32% whiff rate and holding them to a .190 average with the pitch. However, some regression is expected. The 24-year-old is getting tagged with hard contact regularly and has produced a .291 BABIP.
Another Bryce, Seattle’s Bryce Miller, has also made a massive jump in the rankings. He skipped Triple-A despite posting a 6.41 ERA in four starts with Double-A Arkansas. However, he immediately made an impact at the MLB level, striking out 10 batters in his debut and registering a 1.15 ERA through five starts. However, between the dynasty rankings being updated and writing this article, he was slammed for 15 runs in two starts by the Yankees and Rangers. Miller doesn’t force much swing-and-miss and his early success was obviously unsustainable due to a .167 BABIP through five outings.
Finally, there’s flamethrower Mason Miller. He debuted in April despite throwing under 30 career innings in the minors. The 24-year-old posted a 3.38 ERA and 22:7 K:BB through 21.1 MLB frames before landing on the injured list with an elbow injury that could keep him sidelined for a while. Miller’s arsenal features a lightning fastball that averaged 98.3 mph and a wipeout slider that forced a 46.2% whiff rate.
The other main theme so far this season has been outfielders breaking out and/or returning to form. It’s the deepest and most talented position for a reason and we’ve been blessed with some terrific performances in 2023. Arguably the most important is the resurgence of Cody Bellinger. A change of scenery, going from the Dodgers to the Cubs, has done wonders for the 2019 NL MVP. He’s slashing .271/.337/.493 with seven homers and nine steals while cutting his strikeout rate under 20%. Bellinger’s batted-ball data isn’t very impressive and could indicate some regression, though a .294 BABIP is sustainable. Even with a step back, his improved plate approach is enough to make me believe in him bouncing back for his prime years.
Not far behind Bellinger is Jarred Kelenic, who was teetering on early bust status entering this season. He’s registered an .828 OPS with 10 long balls and seven steals through 56 games. However, Kelenic’s K-rate is still egregious, sitting at 32%. After a torrent April, he slashed .250/.304/.423 with a 34.8% strikeout rate despite a .371 BABIP in May. The 23-year-old is hitting the ball with authority but the inconsistency will remain frustrating and limit his ceiling. Similarly, James Outman’s 2023 campaign has been a tale of two halves so far. He slashed .292/.376/.615 with 14 extra-base hits through April before posting an ugly .552 OPS with two home runs and a 37% strikeout rate in May.
Finally, another former top prospect coming into some success is Josh Lowe. After stumbling through his rookie campaign with a .627 OPS, he’s slashing .300/.348/.571 with 11 home runs and 14 steals through 50 games. The 25-year-old is showing the five-tool upside he displayed in the minors and is another chapter in the book of patience when it comes to prospects. Lowe has secured an everyday role with the Rays by cutting his strikeout rate to 22.8% while posting strong batted-ball data, including 12.8% barrel rate.
Prospects on the Rise
Because these are dynasty rankings, we need to tap into some hot prospects. One of the biggest risers this season has been Matt McLain. A first-round pick in 2021, McLain’s 2022 Double-A campaign was a mixed bag; he had 17 homers, 27 steals, and an .816 OPS despite hitting .232 with a 28.1% strikeout rate. This year, he dominated Triple-A with a .348/.474/.710 slash line in 38 games before earning a bump to the big leagues. While his power and speed aren’t as prominent, the 23-year-old has registered a .921 OPS through 87 plate appearances. McLain is officially the shortstop of the future in Cincinnati and will be manning the left side of the infield with Elly De La Cruz soon.
One of the most talked about prospects coming into 2023 was Junior Caminero and he’s blown past the lofty expectations. The 19-year-old produced a 1.035 OPS with a .329 ISO in 36 games before receiving a promotion to Double-A, where he’s among the youngest players at the level. He’s collected 24 extra-base hits (11 homers) through 42 total games. The only downside is that Caminero has already struck out 45 times, compared to just 43 in 271 plate appearances last season.
Junior Caminero cannot be contained.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 21, 2023
Jonatan Clase has tapped into a new level of power this season. He knocked 13 homers with an .837 OPS in 107 games at Single-A last season. Now, the 21-year-old has already gone deep 13 times with 36 stolen bases across 48 games at High-A and Double-A. Clase’s strikeout rate has jumped from 26.4% to 33.6% since the promotion but the power-speed potential is still on display.
Finally, AJ Smith-Shawver has been electric in Atlanta’s system in 2023. He began the year with 21 straight scoreless innings, earning him two promotions and a spot with Triple-A Gwinnett. After two starts there, he was bumped to the MLB to join the Braves’ bullpen. In 33 total innings, the 6-foot-3 righty has posted a 1.09 ERA and 45:12 K:BB. The Braves continue to churn out pitching prospects year after year, and now Smith-Shawver looks like a future front-end starter.
On a less positive note, there have been some incredibly disappointing starts from aging veterans. There are a pair of All-Star first basemen that have severely disappointed this season, beginning with Jose Abreu. It took him until May 28 to hit his first homer as an Astro and he’s registered a .537 OPS through 238 plate appearances. He’s consistently posted elite batted-ball data throughout his career but now the 36-year-old’s quality of contact has diminished. Abreu’s plate discipline has taken a large hit as well. Similarly, Josh Bell’s first year as a Guardian hasn’t gone according to plan. He’s slashing .225/.329/.348 with 15 extra-base hits. The veteran switch-hitter has hit just .209 since being traded from the Nationals last season and his numbers are down across the board aside from his solid walk rate.
The player I was most wrong about coming into the season is easily Jesse Winker. I expected him to settle into Milwaukee seamlessly and he’s rewarded my faith with a brutal .204/.315/.231 slash line. He’s yet to go deep and has just three doubles through 127 plate appearances. Now the 29-year-old is stashed on the injured list and wasn’t seeing consistent playing time prior to getting hurt. Another tumble in the rankings could be coming unless he can correct the course.
Lance Lynn has been getting absolutely smoked this season. He owns a 6.55 ERA and a 3.5 BB/9, his worst mark since 2018. His average fastball velocity is down to 92.3 mph, the lowest of his career. The 36-year-old has allowed at least four runs in seven of his 12 starts, though his 4.06 xFIP shows some possible improvement. However, barring a change, Lynn could fall off the list entirely in the next update.
Names to Watch
Looking ahead to future updates of these dynasty rankings, there are a few key names that I’ll be watching closely, beginning with Braxton Garrett. He barely moved in the June update but there’s a lot to like about what he’s doing this season. The 25-year-old lefty has a 4.22 ERA despite allowing two or fewer runs in nine of his 11 starts this season. Garrett has registered a 3.34 xFIP, though his batted-ball data is tough to look at. With a few solid matchups on the horizon, he could make a big jump by limiting the hard contact and continuing his consistent efforts.
Braxton Garrett has a 4.22 ERA and 54:12 K:BB through 53.1 IP. 4.00 FIP and 3.36 xFIP. Take out his horrendous start against ATL (11 runs) and he has a 2.57 ERA, 51:10 K:BB. However, getting hit way too hard (91.6 avg EV)
Next two starts: vs KC, @ CHW pic.twitter.com/95fOJpevab
— Tyler Bowen (@bowentyler96) June 1, 2023
Another pitcher to watch is Michael Kopech, who is in the middle of a very up-and-down year. He held a 5.74 ERA with a hideous 7.31 FIP through eight starts before firing 15 scoreless frames with a 19:1 K:BB over two outings. His command struggles have carried over from 2022 but he’s back to punching out over 10 batters per nine innings. The 27-year-old moved up slightly in this update but I’m not totally sold. The next few outings could tell quite a bit about where Kopech stands right now.
Finally, a rookie hitter has clicked at the MLB level right out of the gate. Casey Schmitt is hitting .295 through 25 career MLB games after rolling through the minors the last two seasons. However, after a massive power breakout in High-A last season, the 24-year-old has hit just seven homers in 90 total games since. Unless he can tap back into the power or get more active on the bases, Schmitt’s ceiling will be limited to a batting-average booster.