Rest of Season Rankings for Fantasy Baseball: June Returns
This week saw the return of two highly sought-after fantasy commodities to the field of play. Cody Bellinger and Adalberto Mondesi were second-round picks in most fantasy leagues. But fantasy managers had yet to get much of a return on either investment through the first two months of the season. Bellinger had been out since April 5 with a hairline fracture in his fibula, while Mondesi suffered an oblique injury days before the regular season began. The injury cost him two months of action. Both are now back and should provide a jolt for their fantasy managers. Few players in all of baseball have as high a ceiling as the two returning 25-year old fantasy stars. I have Bellinger and Mondesi as top-25 hitters in the latest edition of my rest of season rankings.
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Bellinger and Mondesi Return
Cody Bellinger returned to the Dodgers lineup on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants. It should only be a matter of time before he is once again pounding the baseball in the big leagues. The former MVP should provide plenty of counting categories in a loaded Los Angeles lineup. However, I do think his upside is reduced a bit because of an expected lack of stolen bases. Bellinger had double-digit steals in all three of his full MLB seasons and tacked on another six in last year’s shortened season. I just wonder if he will still try to contribute in that area after missing nearly two months with a leg injury. Bellinger is a fantasy stud whether he steals two bases or 10 going forward. But those missing steals could result in a round or two of value when all is said and done.
Arguably the most polarizing player in fantasy baseball, Adalberto Mondesi has already provided ammo for both his supporters and detractors during his first five games. Mondesi has tallied seven hits, including four of the extra-base variety. He had what we like to refer to as the “Combo Meal” on Saturday, as he hit a home run and stole a base in the same game. On the other hand, he has also struck out in every game, racking up eight already. That is just part of the package you get with Mondesi. Even during his scorching September last year, Mondesi struck out 28 times in 98 plate appearances. Mondesi will never lead the league in batting average, but he does have the potential to lead all of baseball in stolen bases this season despite missing nearly a third of the year.
Braves New World
It has been quite an interesting few weeks on the injury front for the Atlanta Braves. First, waiver wire darling Huascar Ynoa fractured his pitching hand punching a bench in the dugout. The breakout candidate is expected to be sidelined well into July at the very least. Then Marcell Ozuna fractured two of his fingers sliding into third base on Tuesday. The injury will put Ozuna out through the All-Star break. Ozuna was then arrested Saturday on what appears to be a domestic violence charge. There is a real possibility of jail time, and almost assuredly a suspension on the horizon from Major League Baseball looming. I had already dropped Ozuna more than 100 spots in my rest of season rankings based solely on the injury. Following the arrest, I lowered my ranking on him significantly.
Que Sera, Soroka
Then there is the curious case of Mike Soroka. We all saw the Braves star pitcher suffer a devastating Achilles injury last summer. He threw in a couple of simulated games during the spring and pitched two innings against Boston in Atlanta’s final Spring Training game. Atlanta sent him to their alternate training site, where he felt discomfort in his right shoulder. The Braves transferred Soroka to the 60-day Injured List in late April. In mid-May, Soroka was still experiencing discomfort in his foot. It was determined following an MRI that Soroka would have to undergo exploratory surgery on his Achilles. The second surgery went well, but a report surfaced that manager Brian Snitker hinted that Soroka would miss the remainder of the 2021 season.
Snitker seemed to confirm that speculation during an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday. He told Christopher Russo on High Heat that Soroka was “down for the year”. On Friday night, however, Snitker told reporters that he misspoke during the MLB Network appearance. He said that Soroka would be re-evaluated in two weeks to determine the extent of the Achilles injury. For now, neither Soroka nor Ynoa cracks the top 300 in my rest of season rankings. If I had to pick one going forward though, it would be Ynoa. I suspect that he returns in early August, and I would be surprised to see Soroka before then. There is a decent chance the former first-round pick misses the entire 2021 regular season.
Houston, We Have Reinforcements
The Houston Astros got a shot in the arm this week with the return of two starting pitchers. Houston activated Framber Valdez off the Injured List. The talented lefty pitched four innings in his season debut against San Diego on Friday. There was speculation back in March that Valdez would miss the entire year after he fractured his left ring finger. Luckily those rumors turned out to be false. Fantasy managers were taking Valdez as high as the sixth or seventh round before the injury. That is a little ambitious at this stage of the game, but Valdez has significant upside going forward. If he can remain healthy and build up his stamina, he should be a solid contributor in fantasy. He cracked my top 200 overall this week and could continue to climb throughout the next several weeks.
Houston was so glad to activate one of its starters on Friday that they decided to double down on Saturday and activate Jake Odorizzi on Saturday. Odorizzi had missed five weeks due to a forearm injury. The veteran looked solid on Saturday, limiting San Diego to one run in 5.1 innings. He was in line for the win before the ninth-inning heroics of Fernando Tatis, Jr. Odorizzi is just two years removed from a 15-win campaign, and has a career ERA just below 4.00. Fantasy managers have Odorizzi rostered in just 53 percent of Fantrax leagues. I would encourage fantasy managers to add him where he is still available. He does not have elite upside, but he is a solid starter who should provide depth to a fantasy rotation.
Rest of Season Fantasy Rankings
For more help, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.
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