Each week, the NERDS will bring you three players who are trending up, and three who aren’t looking so good. A player’s presence in any of these lists will never be injury-related.
Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants
Before 2021, Brandon Crawford was seen as a glove-first shortstop with some pop, and nothing else. He is also on the wrong side of 30, and an offensive improvement at this point of his career was highly unlikely. Never underestimate the Giants’ player development staff, though.
Crawford overhauled his swing and the results have been amazing. He is currently hitting .306 with a .371 OBP and a .918 OPS, and has 19 home runs and 70 RBI in his resurgence season.
Oh, and he is currently scorching hot at the plate, too. Over his last seven games, he is slashing .519/.517/.815 with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. His hot stretch goes back to his last 30 games, too, evidenced by his .407/.434/.593 slash. He has been a league-winner in 2021 and there is no reason to worry about his rest-of-the-season outlook other than rest days down the stretch.
Advice: Set-and-forget option at shortstop
Jonathan India, 2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
While Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos are the Reds’ best offensive players, there is no denying that Joey Votto’s resurgence and Jonathan India’s breakout have been major reasons behind the team’s renewed status as contenders.
India is clearly the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year honors at this point. For the season. He owns a .283 batting average for the season, with a beautiful .396 OBP and a .873 OPS. He has homered 16 times with eight stolen bases added.
Over his last 30 games, India has clearly taken a step forward with his power and has been performing like a top slugger, slashing .300/.396/.625 with 10 of his 16 round-trippers. He is a keeper, and an absolute star in OBP formats.
Advice: Start with confidence
Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
We didn’t want to put three hitters here, but we just couldn’t resist Swanson and his recent, impressive surge. His batting average is up to .265 after a horrendous start, and his OPS is at a very respectable .813. He has 24 homers in the campaign (!) and has a shot at reaching 30 for the first time in his career.
He is hitting like a hot Mike Trout in his last 15 games, slashing .403/.424/.742 with six home runs and 22 RBI. Driving in 22 runs in just 15 games is insane.
He won’t bat .400 for the rest of the season, of course, but Swanson appears locked in as a starting shortstop going forward, capable of going on a power binge at any time. If you have him, you probably got him on the cheap, so don’t sell him on the cheap.
Advice: Must-start at this point, only consider selling if offer is ridiculous
John Means, SP, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles’ lefty John Means just hasn’t been the same since coming back from left shoulder discomfort. He has a 3.21 ERA for the season, with 87 strikeouts and a 0.97 WHIP in 98 innings; but in his last seven starts, his ERA is 6.06 and his WHIP a mediocre 1.41.
Maybe he is still not quite healthy, or the ban for using sticky stuff has affected him. It’s all speculation at this point. However, he doesn’t look like a reliable pitcher for the fantasy playoffs and the stretch run.
Advice: Hold, but bench for the moment, especially against AL East opponents
Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Rays outfielder Austin Meadows has 21 homers and a .784 OPS for the year, which is actually not so bad. However, he hasn’t been reliable recently and has found himself on fantasy benches more often than not.
In his last seven games, the lefty-hitting slugger is batting just .148/.281/.370, and that bad stretch has also extended in his last 15 games (.190/.288/.414) and 30 games (.209/.302/.382). To be fair, he has been scuffling at the plate for a while.
You shouldn’t drop Meadows by any means, but benching him until he gets things right is recommended.
Franmil Reyes, OF/DH, Cleveland Indians
The Franimal hasn’t exactly performed like a beast recently. In his last seven games, he has gone 1-for-24 with 10 strikeouts and a .042 batting average. Over his last 15, he is slashing .148/.281/.167 with no home runs.
The Indians’ lineup lost some thump without Cesar Hernandez and Eddie Rosario, so it’s not an optimal situation for Franmil. Additionally, if he is not hitting bombs, he doesn’t belong in starting lineups, at least at the moment. You can even drop him in some shallow formats, since players on the wire could get you better all-around production. Just know that Reyes’ hot streaks are legendary before making any decisions.
Advice: Bench, drop in shallow formats