Nearly two months of baseball games are in the books, folks. While some players are playing unexpectedly well to start the season, 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 in order to help with lineup and waiver wire decisions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some Week 8 risers and fallers for 2023 fantasy baseball!
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Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers
Week 8 stats from 5/15 – 5/21
Christopher Morel (2B/OF – CHC)
It’s tough to find a hotter player than Christopher Morel right now. Since being called up earlier this month, he’s collected a hit in all of his 11 games played – including eight home runs. Morel clubbed five of those homers last week, to go along with 10 runs scored and eight RBI in 25 at-bats. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also posted a 69.2% hard-hit rate and 30.8% barrel rate for the week.
Morel offers both pop and speed, but he also has a ton of swing-and-miss to his game. Last season, he slashed .235/.308/.433 with 16 home runs and 10 stolen bases across 425 plate appearances. But that also came with a 32.2% strikeout rate and a 38.3% whiff rate that was in the first percentile. Morel’s hot bat is definitely worth riding, just be mindful of his free-swinging ways.
Seiya Suzuki (OF – CHC)
Seiya Suzuki is heating up after being sidelined with an oblique injury to start the season. He went 8-for-22 (.364) last week, with three home runs, four runs scored, and five RBI. He also swiped a base and posted an absurd 83.3% hard-hit rate.
Since the beginning of May, Suzuki is slashing .313/.400/.578 with a .266 ISO and 162 wRC+ across 75 plate appearances. He has four homers, 11 RBI, and one stolen base over that span, in addition to a 48.9% hard-hit rate. Suzuki hits the ball hard, has strong plate discipline metrics, and bats cleanup for the Cubs. He should also throw in a handful of steals moving forward. There’s a lot to like about Suzuki rest-of-season.
Jake Burger (3B – CWS)
Jake Burger has been crushing it since coming off the IL this past week. He went 9-for-22 (.409), including four extra-base performances in six games. For the season, he’s hitting .271/.330/.667 with 10 homers, 23 RBI, and 14 runs across 106 plate appearances. Burger is also sporting a .396 ISO and .997 OPS during that span.
There’s a ton of power under the hood with Burger. His 24.2% barrel rate is in the 100th percentile, and he has a 31.3% HR/FB rate across 31 games played this season. Keep in mind that power comes with a lot of free-swinging – he’s striking out close to 30% of the time and chasing pitches outside the zone at a 43.4% clip. Assuming Burger can secure playing time once Eloy Jimenez returns from the IL, he makes for a strong power play.
Jeimer Candelario (3B – WAS)
Jeimer Candelario put on a hitting clinic last week. The veteran had a league-leading 16 hits, with six multi-hit performances across seven games. He also tallied seven extra-base hits, including two home runs. Overall, Candelario is having a solid season. He’s slashing .269/.323/.457 with six homers, 20 runs scored and 19 RBI across 194 plate appearances. Additionally, he’s lowered his strikeout rate to 18.8% and is making contact in the zone at an 88.1% clip – both career bests. You take fantasy goodness where you can, and Candy is dealing at the moment. Take advantage in deeper leagues.
Andres Gimenez (2B – CLE)
Andres Gimenez went 2-for-18 last week with a stolen base. The swipe is nice to see, but Gimenez has produced zilch in May. For the month, he has 10 hits (one home run), for a grand total of one run scored, three RBI and one steal across 60 plate appearances. He also has a terrible .222 OBP and .476 OPS during that span.
Outside of his seven steals this season, not much else is going right for Gimenez. His quality of contact metrics have cratered – he has a league-low 19.5% hard-hit rate that is down nearly 20 points from last season. Additionally, he’s barreling the ball at a lowly 1.6% clip. Gimenez is coming off a 17/20/.297 season that is quickly starting to look like an outlier. He’s one of the year’s biggest busts to date.
Michael Harris II (OF – ATL)
Michael Harris’ struggles continued last week as he managed only one hit across 22 plate appearances. It’s been a disappointing season for the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year, with back and knee injuries limiting him to 26 games. Harris also hasn’t produced much when he’s been on the field. Across 95 plate appearances, he has a paltry .163/.242/.244 slash line and 34 wRC+, with one home run, eight runs scored, five RBI, and four steals.
A .197 BABIP is likely fueling Harris’ poor start, and it’s encouraging that his 44.8% hard-hit rate and 9% barrel rate are nearly identical to last season’s totals. However, if Harris can’t get things going, he could be in danger of losing playing time.
Taylor Ward (OF – LAA)
Taylor Ward only logged three hits last week, and has gone hitless in his last 12 at-bats. Additionally, his struggles have started to cost Ward playing time, with the Angels favoring Mickey Moniak in three of the team’s last five games.
Ward makes a ton of contact and is coming off a 23/5 season with a .281/.360/.473 slash line across 564 plate appearances. However, his current .227/.303/.320 line through 46 games isn’t doing anyone any favors. He’s traded fly balls for ground balls, and his 6% barrel rate has been cut in half from last season. If he can’t improve those numbers, Ward could continue to ride the pine.
Hunter Greene (SP – CIN)
Hunter Greene didn’t have the worst week, but he continued to have issues with the long ball. He allowed four earned runs across seven innings, with three walks and 10 strikeouts. He also yielded two home runs. The strikeouts are obviously great to see, but Greene has now coughed up seven home runs in his last four starts. This is somewhat concerning given Greene only gave up one home run in his first six starts combined.
Greene’s 4.68 ERA and 1.50 WHIP across 50 innings this season isn’t great but the young hurler has immense raw talent. Despite Greene’s underwhelming surface stats, he sports a sparkling 14.6% SwStr% on the year. Additionally, he’s one of only eight starting pitchers with a K% above 30% and a K-BB% above 20%. However, if Greene can’t curb the homers, his fantasy value will be capped. Stay tuned.