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Rest of Season Fantasy Baseball Rankings: One is Done

Major League Baseball is set to showcase its biggest and brightest stars this week as part of its annual All-Star Game and surrounding festivities. Unfortunately one of the very best players in the entire sport will no longer be on hand in Denver. Ronald Acuna Jr. suffered a torn ACL on Saturday afternoon and will miss the remainder of the 2021 season. First and foremost we hope Acuna has a speedy recovery and can return in short order. The sport is better with players like him on the field every night. For three months now, Acuna has been the top player in my rest of season rankings. I honestly never gave his ranking a second thought. No matter what Fernando Tatis, Jacob deGrom, Vladimir Guerrero, or Shohei Ohtani had done, if Acuna was healthy, he was the top dog. Period.

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The consensus number-one overall pick was living up to his billing and putting up another monster fantasy season. He leads the Major Leagues in runs and is top-five overall in both home runs and stolen bases. That kind of production cannot be replaced no matter how you slice it. On the Online Championship team that I co-manage with Josh Dalley, the best options currently on our roster are Lamonte Wade Jr. and Eddie Rosario. Even when healthy, they do not hold a candle to Acuna individually or collectively. But we must make do with what we have, and so does anyone else with Acuna on their rosters. With that in mind, here are a few outfield-eligible players who you may be able to scoop up during the next waiver or free-agent period. These players are available in at least 25 percent of Fantrax leagues.

A.J. Pollock (69 percent rostered) – A.J. Pollock is swinging a hot bat lately. The veteran has eight hits and four home runs in his last three games. Pollock does not run anymore, but he can provide some pop. He now has 64 home runs and 179 RBI in essentially two seasons’ worth of games (317). Sure, those 317 games span back to 2018, but when healthy, Pollock is a borderline-elite power threat. The Dodgers also get a series in Coors coming out of the All-Star break, so jump on now.

Joc Pederson (71 percent rostered) – Pederson has struggled mightily over the past three weeks, going just 10-for-57 with no home runs. However, we know he can get hot in a hurry from a power standpoint. The average will never be pretty, but he can hit homers in bunches. Keep in mind that the Chicago Cubs will be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline, so Pederson’s rest of season value could be impacted by where he ends up if dealt.

Kike Hernandez (66 percent rostered) – Like Pederson, Kike Hernandez is a former Dodger and a streaky hitter. Unlike Pederson, Hernandez is rolling right now. He has reached base 16 times this month, including three home runs. Hernandez is leading off for the third-highest scoring team in the Majors. As long as he is getting on base, he should score plenty of runs.

Manuel Margot (73 percent rostered) – Manuel Margot probably would have topped this list a week ago. But a hamstring injury will likely sideline the Rays outfielder for the remainder of July. Margot is the only outfielder in this group who provides all-around fantasy production. He does a little bit of everything, but not a lot of anything. His injury may slow him down on the basepaths a little upon his return.

Myles Straw (72 percent rostered) – Myles Straw is the best bet for stolen bases among this group. He has 13 on the year, which is tied for 12th best in all of baseball. He has also batted second in the Astros lineup a couple of times this week, as injuries have hit Houston hard. Straw reaches base at a solid .351 clip, but his power is nonexistent. He has just two homers and a .066 ISO (isolated power) on the season.

Akil Baddoo (64 percent rostered) – Akil Baddoo has a ton of talent, and it has been on full display at various points in the season. He combines a 121 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) with a 91st percentile speed score. But Baddoo also has a high strikeout rate and a 16th percentile hard-hit rate. He is also hampered a bit by a subpar Tigers lineup. Baddoo has yet to reach 30 runs scored or RBI on the season.

Josh Rojas (66 percent rostered) – Josh Rojas is Arizona’s primary leadoff hitter, and has scored a solid 44 runs on the year. He has also chipped in 10 home runs and five stolen bases. Rojas’ batted ball profile is underwhelming, but he provides a ton of eligibility, which always seems to come in handy. Rojas is eligible at both middle infield positions as well as the outfield. That flexibility should keep him in Arizona’s lineup close to every day.

Dylan Moore (69 percent rostered) – Dylan Moore has one of the most polarizing fantasy profiles out there. He has eight home runs and 14 stolen bases in just 65 games. Some quick math says that is about a 20-35 pace over a full year. You can count the number of players who provide that combination on one hand. However, Moore is hitting just .179 this season. Even with the league average dropping, that is a tough pill to swallow.

Michael A. Taylor (31 percent rostered) – Michael A. Taylor is a less volatile version of some of these outfielders, but he is also less exciting. He has eight home runs and six steals to go along with a .248 batting average. Taylor is another player who may find himself on the move by the end of the month. If he is traded, it is likely to be as a bench bat, which would crush whatever value he currently has.

Pavin Smith (57 percent rostered) – Pavin Smith has been more of a compiler than a per-game fantasy standout this season. Smith has played in 86 games, which has helped boost his year-to-date totals. He has 41 runs scored and a .263 average. But he has chipped in just seven homers and a single steal on the year. The former first-round pick should at least continue to play every day and hit near the top of the lineup for Arizona the rest of the way.

Tyler Naquin (66 percent rostered) – I boldly predicted back in April that Tyler Naquin would not lead the league in RBI. OK, perhaps “boldly” is not exactly the right word. Either way, Naquin has had a bit more staying power than I gave him credit for at the time. He is a mainstay in the middle of Cincinnati’s lineup against righties, which offers plenty of RBI potential. His 49 runs batted in puts him in the top 20 in the National League.

Plan E

An outfielder I did not mention above is Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago White Sox. That is because he is rostered in 90 percent of Fantrax leagues. If you are in one of the 10 percent where he is available, he should be your number-one add. Use whatever waiver claim priority or FAAB you can to acquire the slugging star. Jimenez was a third-round fantasy pick this winter before he tore a pectoral muscle in a Spring Training game. He has elite upside in the power department. In 177 career MLB games, Jimenez has 45 home runs and 120 RBI. Jimenez also sports a solid .276 career batting average. You are not going to find that potential anywhere else on the wire.

He began his Minor League rehab assignment in High-A ball on Saturday and promptly homered in his first game. As far as his rest of season outlook goes, we first must ensure his rehab assignment goes smoothly without any setbacks. I think Chicago will want to ease him back into action after being inactive for an extended period. I would not expect him back in the Majors before the end of July, so I did not move him up too high in my rankings. He is currently in my top 200, and he will continue to climb as he rehab stint continues. Jimenez can be a major factor down the stretch in fantasy leagues.

Rest of Season Fantasy Baseball Rankings

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