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2024 Fantasy Baseball: 5 Rebound Candidates for 2024

A rebound can come in many different variations and as a result of many various causes. Ultimately, it is a player bouncing back from a poor performance, and both luck and health play large factors here. The underlying target here has to be metrics, talent, and track record. These options can be found in various forms and at every point in the draft. With that being said, let’s dig into 5 Rebound Candidates for 2024.

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5 Rebound Candidates for 2024

Eloy Jimenez, UT, Chicago White Sox

The fact that Eloy Jimenez only played 14 games in right field last year might be the biggest problem he’s encountering from a fantasy perspective. What he’s also rebounding from, is that he had just 489 plate appearances last year in 120 games. In fact, it was his busiest season since 2019, so in reality, Jimenez has a lot to rebound from.

It is good news that Jimenez is beginning the season on a high note as he has been healthy this spring. Not only that, but Jimenez is also having success. Through 3/19, he’s back to his old ways hitting .372 with 12 RBI. While we can’t too much emphasis on Spring Training, it is a good development.

While dealing with health issues last year, Jimenez still hit .272 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI so his overall production didn’t suffer too much. Jimenez’s barrel rate did decrease to 9.3% which is lower than where it consistently sat throughout his career. Having a full off-season of health should benefit Jimenez and it’s likely he finds his way towards being eligible in the outfield.

Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

After playing in just nine games last year, Oneil Cruz’s inclusion here is purely health-based. While Cruz was being drafted around the top 75, at a minimum, all off-season in most leagues, he isn’t sneaking up on anyone. In fact, after an explosive Spring Training, those days of seeing Cruz go off the board in the sixth round are long gone as he continues to get more expensive.

At some point, things will get too expensive, but depending on your league format there still might be some value. With a .355 batting average, seven home runs, and 14 RBI through action on 3/19, none of this should come as a surprise.

In looking towards 2024, batting average might be the biggest concern. In 87 games in 2022, Cruz hit just .233 as he also struck out 34.9% of the time. We can live with the strikeouts if there is a slight batting average improvement, and based on his minor league track record, that might be possible. However, it’s really everything else we are after.

Cruz had an insane 15.5% barrel rate in 2022, and an even crazier 122.4 mile-per-hour maximum exit velocity. With a 91.9 average exit velocity, that production is sustained. There is a lot to like when Cruz makes contact and we could be looking at a 25/25/80/80 stat line. Perhaps most impressive, is the fact that there still could be profit and upside in those numbers.

Jeremy Pena, SS, Houston Astros

We might be cheating here as it was a weird season for Jeremy Pena in 2023. After a dynamic rookie season, Pena took a step back in his sophomore season, but it really was in just one key area. Pena went deep 22 times in 2022 while driving in 63 runs, but last year he took a step back to 10 home runs and 52 RBI. Along the same lines, Pena’s ISO decreased from .173 to .118.

That dip went along a barrel rate that dropped from 9.6% to 4.0%. Pena’s launch angle saw a similar decrease, so the hit to his home run total, while troubling, shouldn’t be surprising. The good news though, is that after his rookie season, Pena didn’t all of a sudden forget how to drive the ball or hit it well.

Spring Training hype is something that has to be kept at arm’s length, but Pena did adjust his swing this winter. That change has helped him reacquire his power, and look better overall at the plate.

As Pena’s power suffered, his batting actually improved; going from .253 to .263. Additionally, Pena’s strikeout rate went from 24.2% to 20.3% as he also boosted his walk rate (3.9% to 6.8%). Pena also scored nine more runs, 72 up to 81, while adding 13 stolen bases. The home run dip and decreased barrel rate caught our attention, but aside from that, it wasn’t a lost season for Pena. Admittedly, the home runs are not insignificant, but things were not as bad as we might have thought.

Chris Sale, SP, Atlanta Braves

With Chris Sale, it’s all about the health. As he has proven this off-season, he enters 2024 in a strong position. Ultimately, the southpaw is simply building on 2023.

While he posted a 4.30 ERA, Sale’s xERA was 3.60 to go along with a 3.80 FIP. He struck out 10.96 batters per nine innings with Boston. The Red Sox were cautious with Sale as he ultimately averaged slightly over five innings per start.

There are some concerns from the home run perspective, but the overall body of work was strong. We can’t expect Sale to truly revert back to his days as an ace, but there is some real value here. As Sale has continued to have success this spring, his increased price is removing some of that value, but things are moving in the right direction. The true rebound potential will come as the Braves let Sale pitch deeper into games.

Carlos Rodon, SP, New York Yankees

Adjusting to life in New York is never easy. Doing so on the heels of a big contract is even more difficult. Then, when you factor in health issues, there truly were a lot of obstacles for Rodon in 2023.

When Rodon did return to action last year, things were not good for the southpaw. There were flashes of success, but those moments were fleeting and he finished with a 6.85 ERA. A 5.34 xERA did offer a little optimism, but that still doesn’t get us close to where we need to be. In the two years prior, Rodon had ERAs of 2.37 and 2.88, respectively, while striking out about 12 batters per nine innings. While that is the pitcher the Yankees signed, looking for a full bounce-back might be too aggressive.

This spring, Rodon has looked impressive with a 2.93 ERA over 15.1 innings in four starts. Most notably, the left-hander picked up his second victory on Monday with 5.2 hitless innings against the Phillies. Rodon struck out five while walking just one batter as he couldn’t be more ready for the season to begin.

While we can’t forget what we saw last year, Rodon never was truly healthy and comfortable. That makes it difficult to reality evaluate him heading into 2024, but the good news is that he can’t do any worse.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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