August is here and the second half of the season continues to chug along. Some players have been playing unexpectedly well this 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 hot and cold performances to help with lineup and waiver wire decisions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some Week 18 risers and fallers for fantasy baseball!
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Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers
Week 18 stats from 7/24 – 7/30
CJ Abrams (SS – WAS)
CJ Abrams tore up the basepaths in July, and last week was no different. He was 5-for-5 in swipes, including a three-steal game. He also scored a run in all but one of his seven games last week, while getting on base at a healthy .375 clip.
Abrams moved to the leadoff spot in early July and hasn’t looked back. He posted a robust .327/.391/.500 slash line for the month, and racked up a league-leading 16 steals and 24 runs scored in 25 games. He also improved his plate approach in July, with an 8% walk rate and 13.7% strikeout rate – both season-bests for the speedster. If Abrams’ plate skills stick, he should continue to make noise from the top of the Nationals’ lineup.
Lars Nootbaar (OF – STL)
Lars Nootbaar crushed it last week. He hit safely in five of his six games and popped three home runs, with six runs scored and six RBI across 26 plate appearances. He also finished the week with a 1.577 OPS. Nootbaar missed most of June with a back injury but was rolling in July. For the month, he slashed a healthy .309/.416/.564 with six home runs, 24 runs scored, 12 RBI, and a couple of steals across 26 games.
Overall, Nootbaar makes a strong amount of contact (82.2%) and his 14.7% walk rate ranks in the 96th percentile. The main ding against his fantasy value is that he hits ground balls at an elevated 54.6% clip. However, as long as Nootbaar continues to get on base, he should be able to score a solid amount of runs.
Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL)
Marcell Ozuna is heating up. He powered his way through the week, clubbing four homers with seven runs scored and six RBI in five games. He also tore the cover off the ball, registering a 33.3% barrel rate and 66.7% hard-hit rate.
Ozuna’s power surge snapped a 17-game cold streak where he hit .159 with a 31.3% strikeout rate. He also posted a terrible .464 OPS and .111 ISO during that span. However, despite his slump, Ozuna still has 22 long balls in 88 games this season. Additionally, he carried an OPS above .920 in both May and June. If you need to chase power, Ozuna is a no-brainer.
Jeimer Candelario (3B – CHC)
Jeimer Candelario had an all-around productive week. He had seven hits, including three doubles, and slashed .318/.464/.591 across 22 at-bats. Candelario also popped a home run, stole a base, and added six runs scored and six RBI to his weekly total.
Candelario is having a strong season across the board. He has 16 homers, 57 runs scored, 53 RBI, and a career-high six steals across 419 plate appearances. He’s also sporting a nice .823 OPS during that span, and his 30 doubles on the year rank fifth in the majors. Candelario was traded to the Cubs at the deadline and debuted as their starting first baseman. He should benefit from an upgraded lineup, and his upcoming multi-position eligibility is an added bonus.
Trea Turner (SS – PHI)
Trea Turner’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season continues. He only managed two hits in 20 at-bats last week and struck out at a 28.6% clip. Turner was also dropped in the lineup and has failed to hit higher than the five spot in his last four games.
Turner’s plate discipline metrics have dipped this season and his 24% strikeout rate (career 18.7%) is fueling a lowly .242/.296/.378 slash line and 80 wRC+ across 467 plate appearances. While Turner certainly has the talent to turn things around for the final third of the season, his recent drop in the batting order isn’t going to do his already-lagging counting stats any favors.
George Springer (OF – TOR)
George Springer had a week to forget. He failed to register a hit in 24 at-bats and was dropped from the leadoff spot to the middle of the batting order in his last four games. Springer’s rough week finished a cold July where he carried a .191 batting average and a .565 OPS across 21 games.
Overall, Springer is still having a fairly productive season. He has 13 home runs and 13 steals on the year to go along with a decent .252/.321/.389 slash line across 443 plate appearances. Additionally, his quality of contact metrics are in line with career norms, and he has an 87.6% zone contact rate and 80.2% contact rate this year – both career highs. Better days are likely ahead for Springer. But in the meantime, Springer will lose plate appearances and counting stats until he can hit his way back to the top of the lineup.
Marcus Stroman (SP – CHC)
Things are starting to get really ugly, really fast for Marcus Stroman. Following a fantastic start to the season where he posted a 2.47 ERA (3.36 FIP) and 1.08 WHIP across his first 102 innings pitched, Stroman crumbled in July. He’s failed to make it past 3.2 innings in his last three outings and has allowed at least four earned runs in all but one of his last six starts. Additionally, Stroman has a bloated 9.11 ERA (4.47 FIP) and 1.84 WHIP across his last 26.2 innings of work.
Stroman was fairly unlucky in July (.365 BABIP and 46.9% LOB%), so he’s due some positive regression. However, he shouldn’t be started until he can string together a couple of strong starts.
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