2024 Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates

by Ryan Kirksey
2024 Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates

Searching for the right 2024 Fantasy Baseball bounce back candidates isn't as simple as looking for good players who had down years. Many things can lead to a decline in performance. Whether it's age, injury, loss of skills, loss of role, or something outside baseball, the variables are endless.

When trying to identify bounce back candidates, it's important to find players whose skills, role, and age are the stars aligning to level up their performance. Often, a player got unlucky or they were hurt. Players could have had a bad team environment. Whatever the case, it's important to look under the hood to see if the baseline for success is still evident.

Our customizable Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet can help you identify some bounce back players while you're drafting!

Below are four 2024 Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates

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Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox

After making tremendous gains in ERA, home run rate, ground ball rate, strikeout rate, and walk rate in the two prior seasons, Dylan Cease gave a lot of it back in 2023. His strikeouts dropped and his walks went up. He gave up more home runs per nine innings. His ground ball rate even dropped. Add it all up and you find a pitcher who was a top-five option in 2022 but is now going around pick 110 in NFBC drafts.

The first thing to understand about Cease is that he was extremely unlucky in 2023. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) jumped 70 points to .330 in 2023. In fact, Cease had the highest BABIP of all qualified pitchers in MLB last season. He also saw his left-on-base percentage (LOB%) tumble from 82% to 69%. The inability to keep men off the bases, plus the inability to strand them there was Cease's downfall all year.

His fastball was at 96 miles per hour, just like in previous years. Ceases's swinging strike rate in 2023 (13.6%) mirrored his career average. Also, his first pitch strike percentage (61%) was the highest of his career.

Add it all up and you get a pitcher who is ready to get back on the right side of regression this season.

Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies were so unconcerned with Aaron Nola's 2023 performance that they gave him a seven-year, $172 million deal in the offseason. Why, then, should we worry about Nola's rough 2023?

Nola did see a drop in strikeouts, a spike in walks, and a boost in HR/FB rate. His ERA jumped up 1.2 runs from 2022 and his average exit velocity by 1.6 miles per hour. But his ERA of 4.46 was measured against an xERA of 3.77 and a FIP of 4.03. Something happened to spike the ERA that was out of the ordinary.

Primarily, the biggest concern was his LOB%. He is at 73% for his career, and was at exactly 73% in 2022. In 2023, however, that number tumbled to 66%. Only Jordan Lyles was worse among qualified starters. This inability to keep men from scoring boosted up the ERA when all the rest of his measurables were in good shape.

His swinging strike rate, zone swing rate, and outside zone swing rate where all above his career numbers. His fastball and changeup were both faster in 2023. It all points to a temporary stumble with men on base in 2023, but the Phillies gave him 172 million reasons to show they believe he will bounce back.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers

Rhys Hoskins has the easiest path to a bounce back season of this list. It's quite easy to bounce back from zero production due to a season-ending knee injury. Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL last Spring Training and missed the Phillies' postseason run this year.

Now, the 30-year old Hoskins signed a two-year, $34 million dollar contract with Milwaukee. That signing looks to be the perfect fit for Hoskins, a righty with big-time power.

Hoskins is going to love his new home park in Milwaukee. According to Statcast data, American Home Field was the ninth-best park for right-handed home run power the last three seasons.

Over the course of Hoskins' career, he has 154 home runs. If he played his home games in Milwaukee, that would have been 162. Hoskins's barrel rate and exit velocity were all above average pre-injury and he has stated he will be a full-go this Spring Training. Around pick 197 in NFBC drafts, I am all in at that cost.

Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets

It's admittedly odd to call a player who hit 46 homers and had 118 RBI a bounce back candidate. But look at that average, Woof!

Pete Alonso had the power dialed up to an 11 all season, but couldn't ever get the average in check. His .217 batting average and .318 on base percentage were far and away career lows for the first baseman.

Alsono was coming off three straight seasons of increased batting average. By 2022, it had peaked at .271, but then crumbled back to earth last year? Why? Alonso was as unlucky with BABIP as Dylan Cease, another player on this list.

Alonso was the unluckiest hitter in baseball last year, with his .205 BABIP. That was lower than Kyle Schwarber, Max Muncy, and a whole host of other mashers who are three true outcomes experts.

For his career, Alonso has been in the .270-.280 range consistently. His 22% strikeout rate was right around his career average, as was his walk rate. His 85.8% contact rate on pitches in the zone last year matched his career number (85.7%). This was simple bad batting average luck.

Pete Alonso is a top-30 pick right now in drafts, and understandably so. However, imagine the luck falls in his favor and he hits closer to .300 with 50 bombs. He will then be a steal around pick 27 in drafts.

After rough 2023 campaigns that were not what they wanted compared to expectations, managers can expect Dylan Cease, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, and Pete Alonso to be 2024 Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates.

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