Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 15 Stock Up-Stock Down article!
It is upon us. While I'm usually a sucker for baseball romanticism, I hate the All-Star break. Sure, four days in the middle of a 6-month season to get our bearings is a small ask, but fantasy has ruined me. At best your team cornerstone survives the meaningless competitions unscathed. At worst, you're spending the next 3 months cursing the Home Run Derby for ruining their swing.
The 2023 All-Star break has already given us plenty of romantic moments. the Guerreros have become the first father-son Duo to win the Home Run Derby, and Elias Diaz was the hero of the game. that's all well and good, but I for one cannot wait for games to matter again.
Since this week is broken up differently on different platforms, but it comes after week 14, we're just calling it "week 15-ish". However, This article will be a little different than its predecessors. In the spirit of the All-Star break, let's look back at some players we may not have discussed on a weekly level, but who still turned in surprising first halves.
Now, without further ado, let's cliff-dive into the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 15 Stock Up/Stock Down list!
2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 15 Stock Up-Stock Down
Spencer Steer, 1B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds
In a year where everybody is talking about the Reds, it feels like nobody is talking about Spencer Steer. Now that's obviously not totally true, but given the hype that fellow newcomers Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz have garnered, Steer has found himself as the de facto Ed to McLain and EDLC's Shenzi and Bonzai. Steer doesn't have the career ceiling of the other two, but he has been nothing but productive so far in 2023.
Coming in as a 25-year-old "professional hitter", Steer slashed .277/.367/.477 with 14 home runs, nine steals, and a 123 WRC+ in the first half. Steer also walks at an 11% rate and strikes out only 18% of the time. Steer has been nothing short of elite in points leagues in his first taste of big-league action. For rotisserie, he is more of a "stuff and things" floor player who tide raises all the surrounding ships. Both scenarios are leaving owners who found him on the waiver wire ecstatic.
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) July 2, 2023
The obvious question for Steer and the guys listed below is: can it continue? Based on his reasonable BABIP and excellent discipline skills, Steer can certainly maintain. He is overperforming his expected stats a bit, but that can happen when a player's home environment fits like a glove. Great American Launchpad has allowed Steer's doubles power to translate to home runs on multiple occasions. He could get moved down the line as the Reds promote their army of exciting infielders, but as long as Steer is in Cincinnati, he should be considered at the top of whatever tier you have Steven Kwan in.
Isaac Paredes, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have blown away the competition so far in 2023, and no small part of that success has been Isaac Paredes. The former Tiger has found a home in Tampa, and is the most recent Rays reclamation success story.
Paredes came to Tampa as a depth bat and has emerged as their everyday third baseman. His power is finally developing in a sustainable way, leading to a .265/.370/.504 slash line. Thanks to a launch angle increase, the 24-year-old has lowered his groundball rate and increased his line-drive rate proportionately. That has allowed him to hit for more sustained average, and increase his extra-base ability in the process.
Isaac Paredes has an OPS of .874.
It is the 13th best OPS in baseball.
Mike Trout, JD Martinez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jose Ramirez, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Bo Bichette, Kyle Tucker, Pete Alonso, Manny Machado, Wander Franco, and Vlad Guerrero Jr. pic.twitter.com/uHMQhlXX3R
— Justin Spiro (@DarkoStateNews) July 11, 2023
Paredes is overperforming his expected stats by a wide margin, and some of that could be BABIP related, but his is not insanely inflated relative to his average. He has a high contact rate and good plate discipline, so to me, this is just a matter of the Rays doing Rays things again and turning another player with raw ability and a bad launch angle into a real power threat.
Paredes could come back down to earth in the 2nd half, as I do not buy him as a 30-home-run hitter, but it is unlikely that he flames out completely. He is probably more valuable on your team than as a trade piece.
Lane Thomas, OF, Washington Nationals
Coming into 2023, many expected the Nationals to be competing with the Athletics for the worst record in baseball. Their roster was a mix of too-early prospects and too-late quad-A players and it looked like an unpleasant year for everybody involved.
Apparently, nobody told Lane Thomas. The 27-year-old found himself with an everyday role and has relished every opportunity. So far, he is slashing .302/.347/.497 with a 126 WRC+. He has 14 home runs, 8 steals, and a surprising twenty-four doubles.
Thomas has been a godsend to owners in five-outfielder leagues, where he has gone from a longshot 5th outfielder to a solid number three. Unfortunately, it may be time to get out while the getting is good.
Lane Thomas has a .306 average, but that comes with a .380 BABIP, and a 20% K-BB rate. His career average is closer to .260, and the only thing off his career numbers is that BABIP. This is great for Thomas, who is trying to play for arbitration, but bad for fantasy owners gearing up for their playoffs. What's more, Thomas is a prime candidate to get traded to an MLB playoff contender, and he will likely lose a large portion of his playing time in the process.
Lane Thomas has been an incredible find this year, but it is time to get out while the getting is good, and see if you can't sell him to a reeling Mike Trout or Judge owner.
Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
For many years, haters thought Tim Anderson was a timebomb, and for many years, he proved them wrong. Coming into 2023, Anderson had become the poster boy for free-swinging, high BABIP production. It seemed like the man had broken analytics and was determined to be good regardless of what the numbers or Josh Donaldson said. For four years, he had an average of over .300 and a swing rate of over 50%. High BABIPs obviously abound during this same stretch.
Life has come at Tim Anderson fast. The 30-year-old's BABIP has fallen below .340, and his average is sitting at .223. Players have produced with a low average before, but Anderson has ridden this career low to a league-low WRC+ of 43. However bad your worst player has been, TA has been worse (unless you own him, in which case, oof).
Tim Anderson needs to get that pop back ? pic.twitter.com/xUtvJzvAiX
— The Game Day MLB (@TheGameDayMLB) July 5, 2023
Full disclosure, I have been a Tim Anderson hater since the great Javy Baez implosion of 2020. Nobody who swings that often at everything is going to be on the right side of the odds if the ball is also never going over the fence. However, if there is someone in your league who still thinks he is a superstar instead of just Cesar Hernandez with an Aaron Judge PR team, you should definitely take what you can get. Alternatively, if your MI position is somehow weak right now, he almost certainly can't get worse. Any dead cat bounce could result in increased production.
Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
There was a time when any catcher-eligible player with a WRC+ over 90 was rosterable, and a WRC+ over 100 likely meant they were the best at their position. That time was like, two years ago.
Daulton Varsho had a relatively productive 2021 that laid the groundwork for him to get regular playing time as an outfielder with catcher eligibility in 2022. Or as I call it, a golden ticket. Varsho got to play every day and did not have the distractions of quarterbacking the defense to prevent him from reaching his peak offensively. He turned in a 106 WRC+ last year in 151 games. If he wasn't the best catcher in your league, he was close.
Catcher is now, dare I say, a deep position in 2023. There were at least 15 catchers who I was comfortable rolling out coming into this season. Varsho would have been near the top of that list, as he is in a good lineup and plays regularly. However, there is something that may not have been considered: when you take away the positional value, Varsho just isn't that great. that 106 is his career high in WRC+, and he did it largely on the back of his counting stats.
Yes, Varsho is a rare steals guy at catcher who can pitch in 10-15 a year to go with his 15-25 home runs, but his average is always well below where you would like it. In the first half of this year, his non-homer power has been almost non-existent, as he has toiled to a .214/.277/.368 slash line. That is a "power hitter" with a sub .650 OPS. None of his peripherals really explain what the issue is.
That's a lot of words about an underperforming catcher. So what should I do?
Based on his stats, it's more likely that Varsho was just never that great, and was benefitting from a weak position. He could certainly bounce back and get his average closer to his career line of .230, but his career OPS is still just .714. Is that worth the price? Try and move him to someone who thinks he is still Diet JT Realmuto instead of a flat Adley Rutschman that's been left in the Sun too long.
Thanks for reading the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 15 Stock Up-Stock Down. Be sure to check out more Fantasy Baseball content from the F6P team!