- Both Josh Bell and Byron Buxton are playing like All-Stars this season after taking a few years to live up to their prospect hype.
Welcome to the fantasy baseball Stock Ticker, SI.com’s weekly surveying of the fantasy baseball landscape. This column isn’t a weathervane. It won’t respond to the natural vagaries of baseball that force even the likes of Mike Trout into an occasional slump or Derek Dietrich to look like an MVP candidate for a week or two. If a player appears on the Ticker, it means that we believe his rest-of-season outlook must be recalibrated.
This also isn’t a waiver wire column. While some players with low ownership rates will appear in the Risers section from time to time, the Ticker will generally consist of players widely owned in fantasy leagues.
Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates
Bell won NL Player of the Week honors last week, slashing .407/.484/.889 with four homers and 10 RBI in seven games. The one-time top prospect is breaking out in his age-26 season, his third full year in the majors. He’s hitting .325/.396/.680 with 14 homers, 14 doubles and a league-leading 44 RBI in 192 plate appearances. A new adherent of the launch angle revolution, Bell is hitting more fly balls than ever before, while his ground-ball rate is south of 40% after being higher than 50% just two seasons ago. What’s more, his HR/FB ratio is at a gaudy 29.8%. Forget about his struggles from a season ago. Bell is showing his true colors this year.
Jarrod Dyson, OF, Diamondbacks
Dyson is literally and figuratively running with his opportunity to be something close to an everyday player with the Diamondbacks this season. He’s hitting .267/.371/.381 with 12 runs and 23 steals in 124 plate appearances on the year. His 23 steals are tied for third in the majors, and he’s making the most of his speed by racking up a 13.7% walk rate. He was never much for the free pass earlier in his career, but he had an 11.4% walk rate across 237 plate appearances last year, so this is developing into a skill we can trust.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
This time it finally feels like it’s safe to believe in Buxton. He is hitting .262/.325/.490 with four homers, a league-leading 18 doubles, two triples, eight steals, 25 runs and 24 RBI on the season. It became trendy to dump on Buxton last year, but it’s worth noting that this is just his age-25 season. Not everyone can be Mike Trout and have things click immediately upon entering the league. It has taken Buxton longer than expected, but this just might be his year.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs
This is more of a speculative rise, but it’s the sort of aggressiveness we should be looking for at this point of the season. Schwarber has played his best baseball of the season recently with hits in five of his last seven starts. The Cubs don’t have a dedicated leadoff man, and Joe Maddon appears ready give Schwarber another shot atop his lineup against righties. If he can produce there and hold onto the gig, he’ll have massive run-scoring upside hitting in front of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez.
Lucas Giolito, SP, White Sox
We’ve discussed Giolito in this space already this season, but all he does is keep on dealing, warranting himself another increase in stock. Giolito won his fourth straight start last week, allowing one run on three hits in five innings, striking out four and walking two. The game was called due to rain after five innings, otherwise the White Sox’ righty likely had another inning or two in him. He now sports a 3.35 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 50 strikeouts against 18 walks in 43 innings this season.
Jean Segura, SS, Phillies
Segura is here not because of his overall performance, which has been great, but because of another dip in his willingness to run. He’s having a fine season, slashing .318/.363/.484 with four homers, 10 doubles, 30 runs and 20 RBI in 168 plate appearances, but he has just three steals. Segura has swiped at least 20 bags for six straight seasons, but that total has fallen both of the last two years. This season, he’s on pace for just nine steals, rounded to the nearest whole number. It certainly doesn’t help that he already spent 10 days on the IL with a hamstring injury.
Khris Davis, OF, A’s
This isn’t a true downgrade, but rather a warning given Davis’ hip issues over the last three weeks. He has missed seven games since suffering the injury on May 5 and left another one in the fifth inning. Hitters generate power in their lower halves, with the hips playing a particularly important role. Davis has just two homers in 28 plate appearances since suffering the injury, and those are his only two dingers since April 12. If he’s not hitting for power, his fantasy value takes a significant hit. Keep a close watch on him these next few weeks.
The Rockies promoted Brendan Rodgers, their top prospect, last weekend, and he started his first two games in the big leagues. Rodgers tore up the Pacific Coast League before getting the call, hitting .356/.421/.644 with nine homers and 10 doubles in 152 plate appearances. There’s no way the team brought him to the majors just so he could be an occasional starter. We should expect to see him in the lineup more often than not, getting most of his playing time at second base. That could have damaging effects on every non-catcher on the team not named Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story or Charlie Blackmon.
Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks
Walker has fallen into a bit of a slump, going 3-for-24 over the last seven games. Combine that with the fact that Jake Lamb is on the mend from his quad injury, and Walker could find his playing time threatened upon Lamb’s return. Eduardo Escobar has cemented his status as an everyday player, and Walker is limited to the corner infield spots. If he doesn’t start hitting again soon, he and Lamb could form a platoon. There’s still no exact timetable for Lamb, but Walker needs to get it going sooner rather than later if he’s going to remain a fixture for the Diamondbacks.
Miles Mikolas, SP, Cardinals
Mikolas was absolutely dreadful in his last start, allowing seven runs on nine hits, including two homers, in 1 1/3 innings against the Rangers. He had been very good in his three starts before that disaster, but even in those three outings he had just 16 strikeouts across 20 innings. His lack of strikeout upside always limited his fantasy value, and he hasn’t been nearly as good at avoiding walks or homers as he was last season. Mikolas needs to be a guy who pitches to weak contact, and he simply hasn’t done that well enough this season.