Fantasy Baseball Cut List: Top 5 Star Drops to Make for Week 23
For every fantasy owner, there comes a point in the season when a should-be stud just isn't cutting it—so it's time to cut him. That's what this is all about: letting you know it's OK to let go.
Difficult late-season drops can come in all shapes and sizes, from that third-rounder not living up to expectations to the injury-prone star who just can't get and stay healthy to a midseason pickup who broke out then flamed out.
We get it: Once you've invested in a player and become attached, it's not so simple to say so long. But sometimes it's for the best. After all, the stakes only get higher and the standings more solidified the longer you wait for a turnaround or rebound that might never come.
With owners everywhere making a push for the playoffs—and a shot to win it all—numbers become more important than names. Even the big ones.
What follows is a batch of players who remain rostered in many leagues, largely because they either were selected as early draft picks or looked like surefire starters at one time only to have since become cut candidates for one reason or another.
But don't worry: Each player comes complete with suggestions for readily available replacement options. Because as science says, for every drop, there should be an equal and opposite addition.
C.J. Wilson, SP, Los Angeles Angels (53.4 Percent Owned)
2014 Fantasy Statistics: 10 W, 4.66 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 130 K (150.2 IP)
Because of how much pitching there is in fantasy baseball, owners shouldn't hesitate to abandon an arm that isn't helping, even if it's a "name" like C.J. Wilson. Heck, in the 33-year-old's case, it's silly to hang onto him because not only is he not helping, he's hurting.
Wilson wasn't throwing well just prior to going on the disabled list in mid-July for an ankle injury. And while some might've held out hope that he'd return to form upon coming back, that simply hasn't happened.
In seven second-half starts, the lefty is sporting a gnarly 5.77 ERA and even gnarlier 1.87 WHIP with only 23 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.
Owners in shallow formats likely let go of Wilson long ago, but even folks in AL-only play shouldn't feel obligated to keep him around when he's so clearly a mess.
Replacement Options: Carlos Carrasco, SP/RP, Cleveland Indians (48.8 Percent Owned); Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros (34.7 Percent Owned); Edinson Volquez, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (18.2 Percent Owned)
Alex Rios, OF, Texas Rangers (88.1 Percent Owned)
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .280 BA, 54 R, 4 HR, 53 RBI, 17 SB (518 PA)
Alex Rios is one of, oh, about two Texas Rangers players to manage avoiding the disabled list this season. Maybe fantasy owners would have been better off if he had joined many of his mates there, though.
As of mid-June, the 33-year-old Rios was hitting well north of .300 and had stolen 12 bases. But he has dealt with ankle and thumb injuries over the past month or so, which has torpedoed his performance. And yet he's continued to play through while missing a game or two here and there.
That would be commendable if it wasn't so damaging to owners who haven't been able to give up on a guy they might not have realized—until now—is batting .208 with no homers and but one steal post-All-Star break.
An injury stint somewhere along the way could have allowed owners to hide Rios in their "DL" spot, if not made it easier to outright drop him weeks ago. It's not too late to cut the cord. But do it now.
Replacement Options: Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox (34.2 Percent Owned); Juan Lagares, OF, New York Mets (12.9 Percent Owned); Jarrod Dyson, OF, Kansas City Royals (9.1 Percent Owned)
Brock Holt, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Boston Red Sox (80.0 Percent Owned)
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .282 BA, 66 R, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB (482 PA)
OK, all you Brock Holt fans: Where you at now?
You know, now that your boy has gone ice cold because he never was really that good to begin with and was pretty clearly being propped up by a first-half .395 batting average on balls in play that was third-highest in the entire sport.
And so, after the 26-year-old rookie put up a .327 average in his 61 games prior to the break, Holt's average has plummeted to .220 in 43 games since.
Is Holt still a semi-useful fantasy option? Sure, but only in deep leagues because he's eligible at four different positions and occasionally bats leadoff. Otherwise, when it comes to noteworthy Holts, Brock is way behind Steve.
Replacement Options: Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox (34.2 Percent Owned); Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS/OF, Chicago Cubs (45.2 Percent Owned); Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (17.5 Percent Owned); Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants (19.4 Percent Owned)
Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics (89.0 Percent Owned)
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .242 BA, 62 R, 23 HR, 77 RBI, 1 SB (523 PA)
Has anyone checked to see if Brandon Moss actually is playing these days? Pretty sure the only statistic that has changed over the past month or so is batting average—and only to continue falling.
Moss, who turns 31 in the middle of September, had a solid 2013 (30 HR, 87 RBI) and then looked like he was taking his game up a notch with a first half in which he hit .266 with 21 homers and 66 RBI, earning him a place on the AL All-Star team.
Alas, Moss has done the following in 39 games since (WARNING: you may want to avert your eyes and look through your fingers): .180 BA, 17 R, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB. Blame his strikeout rate spiking from an acceptable 24 percent to an untenable 33 percent.
If you haven't already, move on. For a slumping Moss gathers no fantasy production.
Replacement Options: Adam Dunn, 1B, Oakland Athletics (16.4 Percent Owned); Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox (10.0 Percent Owned); James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (43.6 Percent Owned)
Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals (99.1 Percent Owned)
2014 Fantasy Statistics: .292 BA, 46 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB (492 PA)
Matt Adams is here in part because he's dealing with a strained left oblique that kept him out of Thursday's game and has him listed as day-to-day, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But that's far from the only reason the 26-year-old should be safe to cut. Even when he was hitting in the .320s as recently as mid-July, Adams felt like a candidate for a drop in batting average. It's hard to maintain that level when sporting a 4 percent walk rate like Adams does.
His average down to .292 now, Adams has gone just 36-for-162—that's a .222 mark—with only two home runs and 16 RBI in 43 second-half games.
Adams was a beast last September when he took over first base duties for the injured Allen Craig and batted .315 with eight homers and 15 RBI. That's not going to happen again.
Replacement Options: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (45.2 Percent Owned); James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (43.6 Percent Owned)
Statistics are accurate as of Sept. 4 and come from MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted. Ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball, and players suggested as replacement options must be owned in less than 50 percent of leagues.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11