As we approach the end of MLB's second month, it's a perfect time to reflect on some of the surprise producers and disappointments of the fantasy baseball season.
One caveat is this list won't include rookies or players who've spent the bulk of the season on the injured list. So while Pete Alonso and Chris Paddack have been lucrative additions based on their average draft positions, they don't count for the purposes of this piece.
Ownership percentages and season ranks courtesy of Yahoo Fantasy Sports. Numbers updated Saturday, May 25
ADP courtesy of FantasyPros
Talent has never been the issue for Ryu - it's been durability. The southpaw has pitched at least 150 innings just once since his inaugural major-league season in 2013 and has gone back-and-forth to the shelf since missing the entire 2015 campaign. So far, however, he's been found money for those who took a flier on him in the mid-to-late rounds.
Ryu is 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts over 65 1/3 innings (he threw 82 1/3 in 2018) in 10 starts. After making excellent strides with his walk rate a year ago (1.64 BB/9), he's issued only four free passes this season. More encouragingly, he's tossed at least six innings in six straight starts, allowing five earned runs in that span. If you sell, don't settle for less. Target a premium bat coming off injury or one who's struggled. As fun as Ryu's been, the injury risk hasn't disappeared.
Bell is the poster boy for post-hype sleepers. After a 2017 campaign where he blasted 26 home runs while posting an 18.9-percent strikeout rate - fairly low for a slugger - he saw his power erode, hitting 12 homers in 148 games in 2018. Everyone who was high on him - this writer included - shied away in 2019. With a thin pool of first-base talent, however, he was still being taken in most drafts.
And Bell hasn't sacrificed much of his plate discipline (10 BB%, 21.5 K%) while mashing 16 home runs in 49 games. They haven't been cheapies, either. He's tattooed a couple into the Allegheny River on the fly and has the sixth-highest hard hit percentage in MLB. His 41.5 percent ground ball rate is a little discouraging, though it also represents an improvement over previous years. But hey, Christian Yelich leads the league in long balls despite hitting grounders 46.6 percent of the time. With first base as thin as it is, don't sell Bell unless you can convince someone to part with a top starter and you have an adequate bat to replace him.
With the Marlins in disarray, none of their starting pitchers were appealing on draft day. Chances are Smith was available on waivers on Opening Day, but that didn't last. He's finished at least five innings in each of his nine starts and has only allowed as many as three earned runs once. His 12.06 K/9 is fifth among qualified starters and he hasn't been undone by wildness (2.38 BB/9) or the long ball (1.19 HR/9).
Smith's 2.93 FIP ranks among the top 10, as he's emerged as the Marlins' ace. He's coming perilously close to his career high in innings of 77 1/3 set last year, and fatigue could rear its ugly head in the second half. Combine that uncertainty with the Marlins' inability to provide consistent wins and Smith is an ideal sell-high candidate in standard redraft leagues.
Anyone who took Ramirez with their first-round pick has to be screaming into the void looking for answers. He's batting .200, has hit only four home runs after going deep 39 times a year ago, and is striking out more often than ever. The saving grace was his ability to steal bases, but he only has three steals and has been caught on his other two attempts since the start of May.
You can't drop him, and you probably can't get much of value in return at this point. Unfortunately, you're going to need to hope for a complete turnaround and that his fly balls start leaving the yard. He's got a 47.8 percent fly ball rate compared to a 5.3 percent HR/FB rate.
At 35, Votto appears to be locked into a stage of decline whether we want to admit it or not. There's hope that he can once again be the Votto of old, and he's flashed that on occasion - going 5-for-9 with a walk and a double over his last two games - but that's not nearly enough.
He's had virtually no power - hitting just four homers - has struck out 23.9 percent of the time, and has seen his walk rate drop. The career .308 hitter is batting .226 through 48 games. Start him at your own risk or stash him on the bench if you can't bring yourself to cut ties, but we're nearing the time where that isn't an insane proposition.
Archer started the season pretty well, going 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts in his first 18 innings. Since then, he's 0-4 in four starts with a 9.17 ERA. He's spent a bit of time on the IL, but it was a brief stint, and you wouldn't be blamed if you dropped him because of his decimated trade value.
At this point, you have two options. Ride it out and start him only in favorable matchups - he's a fade Sunday vs. the Dodgers - or just drop him. Archer was 6-8 with a 4.31 ERA last year. He was 10-12 with a 4.07 ERA the year before that. He's lost the ability to suppress home runs, and he's seen an uncharacteristic spike in walks.
Who's been your biggest surprise/disappointment through the season's opening third? Let us know in the comments or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frazier's relative lack of ownership is puzzling. He's a consistent source of power with nine home runs in 35 games and isn't lacking for playing time in a depleted Yankees lineup, even with Aaron Hicks' return. Maybe things get dicey when Stanton and Aaron Judge get healthy, but that may be a while.
Yes, Dietrich has that kind of "utility player stink" that's followed him throughout his career. But that should only add to his appeal in deeper leagues. With eligibility at three positions and 13 home runs already, he needs to be on more rosters. His .243 batting average isn't great, but he's been mired by a 1.86 BABIP. His contact is inconsistent, and he's a bit of a feast-or-famine bat, but he'll serve as a solid fill-in when other players get injured or get a day off.
Lynn is a classic streaming option who'll burn you if you give him too long a leash. But outside of three horrendous outings, he's been a solid fantasy option, especially in his last start when he struck out 11 Mariners in seven innings of work. He gets Seattle again Monday, so he should be on your radar if you're in need for a spot start.
Jason Wilson is theScore's resident fantasy baseball obsessive and has watched "Bull Durham" 88 times. He can be found on Twitter at @Jason_C_Wilson