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Week 4 Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers: Welcome to the Varshow!

It’s hard to believe, but we’re nearly a month into the baseball season. While some players are playing unexpectedly well, others we were high on have yet to get going. You may be wondering what to do for fantasy purposes, but don’t panic! This write-up highlights the weekly hot and cold player performances to help you with waiver wire and lineup decisions. With that in mind, let’s look at some Week 4 Risers and Fallers for fantasy baseball.

Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

Stats from 4/15 – 4/21


Daulton Varsho (OF — TOR)

Daulton Varsho stuffed the stat sheet last week with seven hits (three doubles), three home runs, six runs scored, six RBI, and a couple of steals. After a slow start to the season, Varsho has picked things up. He’s flexing a .288 ISO across 72 plate appearances and leads the Blue Jays in home runs (5) and runs scored (14).

Varsho is chasing fewer pitches outside the zone this season, with his 24% O-Swing% a career-best mark. Combine that with an offseason swing adjustment, and Varsho is starting to reap the rewards. Assuming his gains stick, Varsho should continue to bring fantasy goodness from the middle of the order. He’s rostered in only 65% of Yahoo leagues, which is criminal.

Travis d’Arnaud (C — ATL)

It’s not often that catchers lead the week in home runs, but Travis d’Arnaud did just that. He crushed four dingers (one three-home run game) with six runs scored and eight RBI across four starts. He also walked more than he struck out and barreled the ball at a 38.5% clip.

d’Arnaud took over the majority of backstop duties at the beginning of April and has hit the ground running. He’s rocking a .922 OPS across 57 plate appearances and is making a ton of quality contact with a 15% barrel rate and 47.5% hard-hit rate. d’Arnaud hits in one of the most potent offenses in the league and shouldn’t be sitting on the waiver wire in 10- and 12-team leagues while he’s producing.

Bryan De La Cruz (OF — MIA)

If you’re in the market for power, look no further than Bryan De La Cruz. Three of his seven hits last week were home runs, and he added four runs scored, eight RBI, and a stolen base to his weekly totals. De La Cruz also crushed the ball, registering a 50% hard-hit rate and a 22.2% barrel rate.

De La Cruz’s plate approach and contact rates leave much to be desired, but his power is legit. He has a 14.3% barrel rate on the season, and his expected stats indicate more power is on the way (.465 SLG/.526 xSLG). De La Cruz recently moved up to second in the order, where he should be able to make some noise despite a less-than-ideal Marlins lineup. Ride De La Cruz’s hot bat while he’s swinging it.

Luis Garcia Jr. (2B — WAS)

The speed demon of the week was Luis Garcia Jr. He stole four bags and had a hit in all but one game last week, including a home run. Garcia has five stolen bases on the season, third-most on the Nationals. While he doesn’t walk (4.5%), he also doesn’t strikeout (16.7%) and is getting on base at a healthy .348 clip across 66 plate appearances.

There’s a lot to like about Garcia. He makes elite contact in the zone (91%) and improved his quality contact this season with a 13.5% barrel rate (career 6.4%). Plus, he’s moved up in the order, hitting cleanup in three of his last four games. The Nationals are one of the most aggressive teams on the basepaths this season, and a 15/15 season is in the cards for Garcia.


Nolan Jones (OF — COL)

Nolan Jones failed to record a hit last week and is in the middle of an 0-for-22 slump. It’s been an icy start to the season for Jones. He’s striking out at a career-worst 37.1% clip, has only two barrels on the year, and is posting a lowly .484 OPS across 89 plate appearances.

Jones is coming off a breakout 20/20 season, so his 1/9/6/2/.148 stat line isn’t giving fantasy managers the warm and fuzzies. On the plus side, Jones has upped his zone contact rate nearly 10 points this season to 83.9%. Once the barrels start coming — his 4.2% barrel rate is a far cry from his 15.7% in 2023 — he should be able to right the fantasy ship. Have patience with Jones.

Oneil Cruz (SS — PIT)

Oneil Cruz had a week to forget, logging only two hits with no run production across 21 at-bats. He also struck out 11 times. Cruz did steal a base, but that’s likely cold comfort. Strikeouts have plagued Cruz this season. He has a 40.2% strikeout rate across 92 plate appearances, and his 37 strikeouts on the season lead the league.

Cruz is no stranger to elevated strikeout rates since reaching the majors. In 2022, he finished with a 34.9% K-rate and still produced, hitting 17 home runs and stealing 10 bases across 87 games. Cruz will likely still be a productive bat in 2024. But his swing-and-miss ways have cost him the leadoff spot against righties, putting a dent in his fantasy value. Cruz hasn’t hit higher than seventh in his last three games and will likely stay there until he curbs some of the Ks. He’s still worth holding in shallow leagues. Just buckle up for the ups and downs that come with Cruzing this fantasy season.

Jordan Walker (OF — STL)

Jordan Walker went 1-for-10 last week and only started in four of seven games. Additionally, he dropped to eighth in the order, and it looks like he’s fallen into a short-side platoon role. Not good all around.

Walker has struggled out of the gate, slashing .164/.238/.273 across 63 plate appearances this year. He also has goose eggs in home runs and steals. Walker has the talent to hit his way to better results, but I’m not sure he has a long leash — especially since he’s already losing playing time. Plus, hitting near the bottom of an anemic Cardinals lineup isn’t very appealing, fantasy-wise. Walker is a drop for me in shallow leagues.

Carlos Rodon (SP — NYY)

Carlos Rodon had a mixed bag of an outing against Toronto last week. He allowed three earned runs on five hits and walked four batters across four innings of work. The good news is that Rodon’s velocity was up, and he struck out five.

Rodon hasn’t looked very Rodon-esque this season. While his 2.70 ERA across 26.2 innings looks pretty shiny, his 5.10 xFIP and 4.84 SIERA say otherwise. Plus, Rodon is only striking out batters at a 19.1% clip, and his 11.3% walk rate is his worst mark since 2015. Fewer strikeouts, more walks, and a significant injury risk? No, thank you. I’d be looking to move on from Rodon in shallow leagues.

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