The baseball season is starting to heat up, folks. Some players are playing unexpectedly well to start the season, while others who we had high hopes for have been struggling. For fantasy purposes, you may be wondering what to do. But don’t sweat it! This weekly write-up will highlight the week’s risers and fallers in order to help with lineup and waiver wire decisions. Keep in mind it’s early in the season and we’re still in information-gathering mode. For the most part, continue to trust your draft process and don’t overreact to the small sample sizes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some Week 2 risers and fallers for 2023 fantasy baseball!
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
Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers
Stats from 4/3 – 4/10
Matt Chapman (3B – TOR)
Simply put, Matt Chapman has been on fire. The Toronto Blue Jay stuffed the stat sheet this past week, going 13-for-28 with five doubles, two home runs, five runs scored, 12 RBI and a stolen base. He also posted an otherworldly 42.9% barrel rate and 85.7% hard-hit rate across those 31 plate appearances. While these rates aren’t sustainable, Chapman’s steadily improved his plate skills over the past two seasons and it looks like it’s paying off.
Last season, Chapman posted a sub-30% strikeout rate for the first time since 2019. He also made more contact across the board and dropped his chase rate from 26.6% to a career-best 22.9%. Chapman is no stranger to power, but his plate discipline gains may unlock another level in 2023. His hot bat has moved him into the cleanup spot, where Chapman should continue to rake in Toronto’s potent lineup.
Michael Conforto (OF – SFG)
Michael Conforto has had a solid start to the season, and this past week has been no different. In six games, Conforto slashed .333/.467/.708 with a .375 ISO. He also popped three home runs with seven runs scored, six RBI, and a stolen base. Conforto missed all of last season following April shoulder surgery, but his 68.8% hard-hit rate and 12.5% barrel rate during the week should put to rest any lack of power concerns.
Additionally, Conforto hit second in the order in all but two games this season, making him an asset in runs scored. He gets on base (career .359 OBP), flexes some power, and hits near the top of the order. There’s not a lot to not like here. Consider Conforto a solid power option that can also contribute a little everywhere.
Myles Straw (OF – CLE)
Myles Straw is a pleasant surprise so far this season. The speedster leads the league in stolen bases (6), has a hit in all but one game, and is getting on base at a .489 clip. Additionally, he’s 9-for-22 in his last seven games, with five runs scored, four RBI, and four stolen bags. His 26.7% strikeout rate across those 30 PA isn’t ideal, but it’s offset by a more than healthy 20% walk rate.
Nearly all of Straw’s fantasy value is attached to his speed. While he struggled to get on base last season (.291 OBP in 596 PA), he still managed to swipe 21 bases. If Straw can improve that rate in 2023, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the steals department – especially if the Guardians remain aggressive on the basepaths.
Josh Rojas (2B/3B – ARI)
Josh Rojas had a sneaky-productive week after starting the season 0-for-7. He’s since gone 11-for-20 in his last five games, including three three-hit games. Rojas also chipped in five runs scored, five RBI, a couple of steals, and three doubles during that span.
The Diamondbacks’ 18 stolen base attempts are second-most this season, and Rojas should be able to take advantage as the team’s leadoff hitter. He’s currently a strong-side platoon bat, boosting his value in daily leagues. But his pop and speed should still amount to a solid 10/25/.260 season. Additionally, his 2B/3B eligibility is an added bonus. Rojas is a great low-key add, especially in deeper leagues.
J.T. Realmuto (C – PHI)
J.T. Realmuto is off to an unusually sluggish start. The All-Star backstop went 3-for-20 last week, with one home run, one run scored, and two RBI. What’s most striking is Realmuto’s lack of plate discipline during this period. He failed to register a walk and his nine strikeouts were good for a 45% strikeout rate. Yeesh. There’s no need to panic at this point, but Realmuto’s slow start isn’t what fantasy managers envisioned when drafting the league’s top catcher this offseason.
Josh Bell (1B – CLE)
It’s been a brutal week for Josh Bell. He has two hits in his last 26 at-bats, to go along with one run and three RBI. Unfortunately, it looks like Bell’s cold streak has carried over from 2022. Following his trade to San Diego last August, Bell finished the season with a 79 wRC+ in his final 210 PA. His move to Cleveland hasn’t exactly shaken the icicles off, either. In fact, Bell’s poor play has already dropped him out of the cleanup spot. Bell has always been a streaky hitter and has the ability to quickly turn things around. However, this is definitely a situation worth monitoring in the next couple of weeks.
Christian Walker (1B – ARI)
Christian Walker had a solid start to the season but has since fallen into a nasty 2-for-27 slump across his last seven games. He slashed .074/.161/.222 this past week with one home run, two runs scored, and four RBI. Overall, I’m not too concerned about the cold streak. Looking under the hood, Walker made significant gains in 2022 in his quality of contact and plate discipline metrics. He nearly doubled his barrel rate to 11.5% and posted a career-best 19.6% strikeout rate. Walker also made more contact across the board while chasing at a career-best 27.2% of the time. Currently, Walker has an underwhelming 57 wRC+ across 45 plate appearances this season, making him a great buy-low candidate.
Anthony Volpe (SS– NYY)
Heading into 2023, there was a ton of hype surrounding Anthony Volpe – and for good reason. The top prospect was scorching hot this spring, slashing .309/.415/.618 with three home runs and five steals. He also made the Opening Day roster and stole three bases in his first three games. However, Volpe has since struggled. He only has two hits in his last seven games, in addition to striking out 40% of the time. The Yankees should give Volpe every opportunity to adjust and turn things around. But if he continues to ride the struggle bus, it wouldn’t be surprising if Volpe gets sent down for more seasoning sooner than later.