MLB Barometer: Risers & Fallers

MLB Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our MLB Barometer series.

The end of the lockout saw a brief lull followed by a flurry of transactions, with several top players traded and the majority of the best remaining free agents quickly agreeing to deals. Things have slowed significantly over the last week. 

The comparatively quiet period means it's a great time to look beyond my own opinions and consult the pool of drafters at large to see who they've loved or hated recently. This week's column will compare the players at each position who have risen or fallen the most since the end of the lockout, comparing their NFBC average draft positions through March 10 with their ADPs since March 11. 

We'll start with the biggest movers in the top-50 picks (as players in that range don't move nearly as far in absolute terms as those who go in the late rounds) before moving on to each position. 

Note: I've skipped fallers whose ADP before the lockout fell outside the top 350 to prevent these lists from primarily featuring players who were taken in the 50-round Draft Champions leagues, which are popular in early winter but who aren't good enough to be selected in 30-round formats. Risers lists only feature players who are now going inside the top 450, the final pick in 15-team, 30-round drafts.

Top 50 Players (as of March 10)

RISERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Matt Olson1BATL43.835.4-8.4
Jacob deGromSPNYM24.617.5-7.2
Tim Anderson

The end of the lockout saw a brief lull followed by a flurry of transactions, with several top players traded and the majority of the best remaining free agents quickly agreeing to deals. Things have slowed significantly over the last week. 

The comparatively quiet period means it's a great time to look beyond my own opinions and consult the pool of drafters at large to see who they've loved or hated recently. This week's column will compare the players at each position who have risen or fallen the most since the end of the lockout, comparing their NFBC average draft positions through March 10 with their ADPs since March 11. 

We'll start with the biggest movers in the top-50 picks (as players in that range don't move nearly as far in absolute terms as those who go in the late rounds) before moving on to each position. 

Note: I've skipped fallers whose ADP before the lockout fell outside the top 350 to prevent these lists from primarily featuring players who were taken in the 50-round Draft Champions leagues, which are popular in early winter but who aren't good enough to be selected in 30-round formats. Risers lists only feature players who are now going inside the top 450, the final pick in 15-team, 30-round drafts.

Top 50 Players (as of March 10)

RISERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Matt Olson1BATL43.835.4-8.4
Jacob deGromSPNYM24.617.5-7.2
Tim AndersonSSCWS33.429.0-4.4
J.T. RealmutoCPHI49.845.5-4.3
Yordan AlvarezOFHOU29.425.4-4.0

Matt Olson, 1B, Atlanta: Olson has risen the most among players who were in the top 50 at the end of the lockout. It's not hard to see why, as he's gone from the last-ranked park per Statcast's wOBA park factor to the seventh-best.  It's worth noting that Olson isn't necessarily receiving a big lineup upgrade compared to last year's A's, a squad that ranked eighth by wRC+, five spots ahead of Atlanta, but it's still certainly an upgrade compared to what's left on the team this season. Olson slashed his strikeout rate from 31.4 percent in 2020 to 16.8 percent last season and didn't sacrifice any power to get there, with his barrel rate dropping by a tenth of a percent to 12.7 percent. Among qualified hitters last season, only Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Manny Machado could beat both his strikeout and barrel rates.

FALLERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Fernando Tatis Jr.SS/OFSD2.053.651.6
Zack WheelerSPPHI24.338.414.1
Starling MarteOFNYM28.635.36.8
Cedric MullinsOFBAL33.237.44.2
Sandy AlcantaraSPMIA42.245.73.5

Sandy Alcantara, Marlins: The first three players in this group are injured. Alcantara's fall is harder to explain. It's not hard to fall in love with his 98 mph heat or his 3.19 ERA. Despite that elite velocity, however, he's never actually been much of a strikeout guy. His 24.0 percent strikeout rate last season, his highest since his 8.1-inning debut in 2017, was barely above league average  — only one other pitcher in the top 100 (Max Fried) had a lower strikeout rate last season. It also makes it harder to believe his ERA is sustainable, though it's not as if regressing to his 3.42 FIP or even his 3.68 SIERA would make him a poor option. He's beaten the ERA estimators in each of his five MLB seasons, so contact management may be a skill he legitimately owns, but even then, I want the pitchers taken this high to have a shot at being elite across the board, which Alcantara hasn't yet shown he can do.

Catcher

RISERS 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Mitch GarverTEX186.9155.5-31.4
Gary SanchezMIN252.5228.5-24.0
Elias DiazCOL245.6223.6-22.0
Will SmithLAD58.450.0-8.4
Alejandro KirkTOR236.9228.6-8.4

Mitch Garver, Rangers: Drafters seem to love that Gary Sanchez got traded to the Twins while simultaneously loving that Garver got traded from the same team. The love for Garver rests on firmer ground, as he leaves a Twins team that seemed committed to easing their backstops' workloads. Since his breakout 2019 campaign, Garver ranks 32nd in starts behind the plate, getting the nod just 38 percent of the time. Injuries were part of the picture, but his percentage of starts when not on the injured list merely rises to 52 percent. If the Rangers give him a more typical workload, he could benefit greatly from his move. Garver produced an elite 17.4 percent barrel rate last season, trailing only Mike Zunino among catchers with 200 plate appearances, making him a candidate to lead the position in homers if he plays enough.

FALLERS 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
James McCannNYM323.8387.063.2
Danny JansenTOR334.8383.648.8
Adley RutschmanBAL187.2216.829.6
Yadier MolinaSTL291.9319.327.4
Travis d'ArnaudATL210.8221.811.1

Danny Jansen, Blue Jays: Some of Jansen's fall is likely due to the prevalence of 50-round drafts earlier this offseason. He's a lock to be drafted in those, but as the 25th catcher off the board since the lockout, he's not guaranteed to go in 30-round formats. The recent deal that sent Randal Grichuk to Colorado for Raimel Tapia might have helped Jansen's stock, however, so I'd argue he should potentially be on the rise again. Grichuk has a much better bat than Tapia and was a stronger threat for starts, pushing Teoscar Hernandez to designated hitter and leaving Alejandro Kirk to fight with Jansen for time behind the plate. After the trade, Toronto's best alignment probably sees Kirk at DH and Jansen at catcher. Jansen isn't a particularly exciting fantasy option, but he homered 11 times in 205 plate appearances last season, offsetting his .223 batting average and giving him a 105 wRC+.

Corner Infield

RISERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Ha-Seong Kim2B/3B/SSSD376.6334.4-42.1
Jonathan Villar3B/SSCHC273.9238.5-35.4
Luke Voit1BSD265.1239.0-26.1
Max Muncy1B/2BLAD147.8121.9-25.9
Kris Bryant3B/OFCOL93.667.9-25.7

Ha-Seong Kim, Pirates: Kim is an interesting late-round option following the news of Fernando Tatis Jr.'s wrist injury, as he looks like the Padres' primary shortstop for the first two months of the season. Love for Kim requires some optimistic projecting. He couldn't have fallen much flatter in his debut last season, hitting .202/.270/.352 in 298 plate appearances. There's also the risk the Padres call up 2019 sixth overall pick CJ Abrams. Still, there are reasons to like Kim. He's eligible at three infield spots, and his eight homers and six steals last season both prorate to double digits as a starter. Kim was an all-around star in South Korea, hitting .306 with 30 homers and 21 steals in his final KBO season, and he's still just 26. Betting on the projections being unfairly harsh to him is defensible, especially considering he's cheap enough that you can dump him somewhat painlessly if he does not improve.

FALLERs 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Josh Jung3BTEX344.0643.0299.0
Abraham Toro2B/3BSEA260.2368.9108.7
Luis Arraez2B/3B/OFMIN303.2363.560.4
Patrick Wisdom3BCHC318.9376.757.8
LaMonte Wade Jr.1B/OFSF309.0348.039.0

Patrick Wisdom, Cubs: Wisdom was one of the few bright spots at Wrigley last season, homering 28 times in 375 plate appearances while batting .231/.305/.518. During the lockout, his grip on the hot corner seemed firm, but the Cubs added a huge number of MLB-caliber players. Jonathan Villa is a clear competitor at third base. Villar could also spend time in the middle infield, while Wisdom should be part of the designated hitter mix, so it's not as if all of his at-bats have suddenly evaporated. But it's easy to see why the Cubs are not comfortable with Wisdom getting everyday at-bats — his breakout campaign last year came with an untenable 40.8 percent strikeout rate. It's easy to envision him continuing to whiff at an alarming rate while clearing the fence less frequently. If that happens, he could be out of a roster spot, not just a starting role.

Middle Infield

RISERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Ha-Seong Kim2B/3B/SSSD376.6334.4-42.1
Jonathan Villar3B/SSCHC273.9238.5-35.4
Isiah Kiner-FalefaSSNYY319.9286.1-33.7
Max Muncy1B/2BLAD147.8121.9-25.9
Oneil CruzSSPIT218.9206.7-12.2

Oneil Cruz, Pirates: I wish I could tell you why Cruz has risen by nearly a round since the end of the lockout, but it's beyond me. I would have expected him to fall slightly. While early Steamer projections were optimistic (123 wRC+), I would have guessed later arrivals such as ATC (104 wRC+) and THE BAT (91 wRC+) would have sobered expectations, as would recent reports that he might not make the Opening Day roster. Perhaps people simply are becoming increasingly infatuated with the 6-foot-7 shortstop. His 118.2 mph max exit velocity in his tiny sample last season (seventh highest in the league) understandably turned heads, and it came on the back of a minor-league campaign that saw him bat .310/.375/.594 with 17 homers and 19 steals in 68 games. Despite his long levers, he doesn't seem to have a strikeout problem, whiffing 22.8 percent of the time. There's clearly a lot to love, even if the direction of his movement in recent weeks doesn't make the most sense.

FALLERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
J.P. CrawfordSSSEA348.5489.6141.0
Abraham Toro2B/3BSEA260.2368.9108.7
David Fletcher2B/SSLAA339.4426.587.1
Adam Frazier2BSEA333.9410.576.6
Nick Madrigal2BCHC302.5366.063.5

Abraham Toro, Mariners: The Mariners added competition for Toro in the form of Eugenio Suarez, who was acquired in a trade with the Reds. Assumed to be the primary third baseman following Kyle Seager's retirement, Toro now looks like he'll be back in the utility role he occupied last season. That definitely still has value, especially given that he can fill either your corner infield or middle infield spots, but it's an undeniable downgrade. That said, it's probably the role that suits Toro best. The 25-year-old made a lot of contact last season, striking out just 14.4 percent of the time, but he didn't hit the ball with much authority, posting a 33.6 percent hard hit rate. He may be a low-end starter but looks like a high-end utility guy. I might actually be more interested in him now, with a reduced role but a correspondingly reduced price, than I was before the team added Suarez.

Outfield

RISERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Nick SenzelOFCIN468.8383.9-84.9
Seiya SuzukiOFCHC209.6159.5-50.2
Riley GreeneOFDET305.3268.5-36.8
Marcell OzunaOFATL198.1163.3-34.8
Andrew McCutchenOFMIL347.6316.9-30.7

Nick Senzel, Reds: Senzel appears to be a major beneficiary of the Reds' rebuild, and while his stock might fall with the addition of Tommy Pham, he still has a good path to playing time. He'll need to stay healthy to play regularly, something he hasn't done, but if all you're spending on him is a reserve-round pick, you lose little if he heads to the injured list yet again. The 2016 second overall pick still has upside. He's played 163 career games, almost exactly one full season, batting an unimpressive .246/.308/.396, but his 15 homers and 18 steals are reason to get excited. It's also possible to dream a bit more on his bat, as he slashed his strikeout rate to 12.9 percent in 36 games last year, with xBA saying he deserved a .310 batting average. The likely outcome remains that you'll drop Senzel early in the season when he gets hurt, but he has a much higher ceiling than is typical for a 26th-round pick.

FALLERS 
PlayerPositionTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Kyle LewisOFSEA308.0475.2167.2
Vidal BrujanOFTB345.2458.1112.9
Luis Arraez2B/3B/OFMIN303.2363.560.4
Fernando Tatis Jr.SS/OFSD2.053.651.6
Rafael OrtegaOFCHC319.7365.345.6

Vidal Brujan, Rays: Brujan's drop of more than 100 spots might be best explained as drafters losing hope that he'll get regular playing time. He remains an interesting prospect, but his 44 steals in 103 Triple-A games last season provide more fantasy value than real-world value, so it's perhaps no surprise the Rays haven't gone out of their way to carve out at-bats for him. Still, he doesn't haven't much to prove after a full season of solid numbers at Triple-A, showcasing excellent plate discipline with a 15.4 percent strikeout rate and 11.1 percent walk rate in addition to his speed. I'm a little more optimistic about Brujan than his adjusted market seems to be, as I don't see why the Rays would let him rot in the minors. Trading him or trading someone ahead of him would make sense. It was tough to spend a starting slot on him, but he's a fine pick now that he's essentially free.

Starting Pitcher

RISERS 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Yusei KikuchiTOR336.9282.0-54.9
Corey KluberTB354.4312.9-41.6
Trevor BauerLAD262.9224.6-38.3
Clayton KershawLAD178.6145.4-33.2
Carlos RodonSF129.9100.8-29.1

Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays: Kikuchi's big rise is something of a surprise, though much of it probably stems simply from the bump most players get when they sign anywhere. Drafters love certainty, especially when it involves a player who could have returned to Japan as the lockout dragged on. There weren't significant reports that such a move was on the cards, though, so you could make the case that his price has merely crept back to where he should have been all along. While Kikuchi's 4.41 ERA last season was nothing special, it came with a solid peripherals. His 24.5 percent strikeout rate was slightly above average, as was his 48.4 percent groundball rate, while his 9.3 percent walk rate was slightly below. Jon Gray (226.0 post-lockout ADP) finished nearly identical marks in all three of those categories, for comparison, so it's possible Kikuchi should rise still further.

FALLERS 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Lance McCullersHOU181.4313.6132.2
Jack FlahertySTL76.3169.793.4
Chris SaleBOS57.9122.664.7
Zac GallenARZ136.5176.239.7
Shane BazTB137.7169.231.4

Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks: Gallen fell after it was revealed that he'd experienced shoulder issues over the offseason, though you could make the case that he's fallen too far. By the time his shoulder troubles were reported, he was already restarting his throwing program. He's been throwing off a mound for nearly two weeks and advanced to sim-game action late last week. While it seems likely that he'll hit the injured list to begin the season, his stay looks like it should be a brief one. Missing one or two starts probably doesn't justify a drop of nearly three rounds. On the other hand, it's understandable why drafters may not be all that excited about Gallen. He hit the injured list three separate times last season, limiting him to 23 starts, so there could be fears about his health even after his current issue resolves. Additionally, he's coming off a down season in which his ERA jumped to 4.30 while his strikeout rate slipped to 26.6 percent. It makes sense that even a minor injury would turn drafters off of a pitcher whom many weren't all that into in the first place, though if you've been a Gallen guy all along there could be potential for profit at his new price.

Relief Pitcher

Risers 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Alex ColomeCOL510.9345.9-165.0
Robert SuarezSD479.2361.0-118.2
Corey KnebelPHI183.5145.2-38.3
Matt BarnesBOS274.5237.6-37.0
Andrew KittredgeTB293.7260.3-33.4

Robert Suarez, Padres: The fantasy community seems to think Suarez is the Padres' closer, despite no indication from the team that he's the guy. No other Padres reliever (unless you count Dinelson Lamet) ranks inside the top 500 since the lockout. Suarez is 31, with no MLB experience, but he pitched well in Japan the last five years, cruising to a 2.81 ERA and 68 saves, 42 of which came last year. One argument against him is that he struck out a merely decent 25.3 percent of batters against lower-level competition last year, though Japanese baseball is more contact-oriented, with batters striking out 19.9 percent of the time last year. Still, it's hard for me to say that Suarez stands out next to pitchers like Lamet, Pierce Johnson, Luis Garcia, Emilio Pagan or Austin Adams, so I'm not interested in paying his elevated price. Give me Johnson (473.6 ADP) instead, who's struck out 32.1 percent of batters and posted a 3.09 ERA since returning from Japan in 2020.

FALLERS 
PlayerTeamADP through 3/10ADP after 3/10Diff
Alex ReyesSTL317.7554.2236.5
Will SmithATL98.6192.193.5
Lucas SimsCIN247.2319.171.9
Craig KimbrelCWS150.0207.257.2
Ken GilesSEA298.1350.352.2

Craig Kimbrel, White Sox: Kimbrel continues to plummet down draft boards, as each day he isn't traded reduces his projected saves. I'm among an apparent minority who's expected him to remain in Chicago since the start of the offseason. It's tough for me to envision either the desire to deal Kimbrel or an obvious fit for a trade. The White Sox intentionally added Kimbrel last season despite the fact that Liam Hendriks was already on the team. That's proof enough for me that they don't view having a two-headed monster at the back of the pen as a problem. Yes, they've added even more depth in Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly, but when was the last time a contender decided its bullpen was too deep? If the White Sox really wanted to move Kimbrel, their place in the competitive cycle all but demands they get big-league talent back. But only a contender would want to add Kimbrel, and what contender wants to give up a quality regular to get him? Outside of a three-way deal, the veteran righty's best path to saves probably involves him outpitching Hendriks in the early part of the season.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Halterman
Erik Halterman is the Features Editor for RotoWire. He also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Baseball on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio.
Rookie Pitcher Tiers 1.0
Rookie Pitcher Tiers 1.0
Todd's Takes: Putting a Bow on the Moves
Todd's Takes: Putting a Bow on the Moves
Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions
Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions
Boston Red Sox Odds To Win The American League In 2023
Boston Red Sox Odds To Win The American League In 2023