The Scorecard: Andy Pages looks set to go down as one of the best fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups of 2024

Few fantasy analysts can stand the heat — and deliver it — like Dalton Del Don. He'll bring his blazing fantasy baseball takes here every week, to help you keep the fire burning in your leagues. And speaking of fire ...

Andy Pages has started every game but one since getting called up by the Dodgers, and he’s posted a 154 wRC+. He’s yet to record a walk and is riding a high BABIP (.367), but there’s a lot to like here.

Pages destroyed Triple-A this year (.371/.452/.694) and already has one of the best swing paths in the majors. Los Angeles’ lineup will help his counting stats, and Dodger Stadium has boosted homers for righties an MLB-high 26% over the last three seasons.

Pages could go down as one of the best hitters added off the waiver wire this year.

• Rogers Centre in Toronto increased home runs for right-handed batters an MLB-high 28% in 2022, but it’s ironically suppressed them since making renovations in 2023. Despite beat writers speculating an even bigger launching pad thanks to outfield fences moving in, for whatever reason (the sight line?), Toronto has decreased homers for RHB a whopping 23% so far this season.

That’s a tiny sample when it comes to park factors, but it’s also becoming a longer trend since the changes occurred. Some Blue Jays hitters (*) were already overrated in projection systems thanks to playing in minor league stadiums in 2021, and now their home park has become a problem for right-handed power.

* Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a 1.418 OPS with 11 homers over 21 games at TD Ballpark and a 1.180 OPS with 10 homers over 23 games at Sahlen Field in 2021. It’s become clear we need to reset our expectations for him while treating that season as an outlier (like 2019 with the juiced baseballs).

That said, expect Guerrero to start producing more soon; he’s hitting .295/.382/.462 with the bases empty but just .143/.250/.257 with runners in scoring position despite better K- and BB-percentages. Sunday’s grand slam was just Guerrero’s third extra-base hit over 56 at-bats with runners on base this season. More regression should follow, including Rogers Centre unlikely to continue suppressing homers at such a high rate.

Guerrero’s home park may prevent him from paying off his ADP, but he’s a buy-low candidate in fantasy right now anyway.

• Anecdotally, Statcast’s Swing/Take leaderboard has been a sneaky resource to identify breakout hitters. Some early surprise standouts in 2024 include: Alec Bohm, Jurickson Profar, Jordan Westburg, Ryan Jeffers, Riley Greene, Josh Smith, Luis García Jr., Jake Cronenworth and Brent Rooker. The strong starts by Elly De La Cruz and CJ Abrams are also further confirmed as real here, while Rafael Devers is revealed as a buy-low candidate in fantasy.

On the other end of the Swing/Take spectrum, some early drafted hitters toward the very bottom of the leaderboard include: Randy Arozarena (who’s last in the league tied with the recently demoted José Abreu), Nick Castellanos, George Springer, Oneil Cruz (😢), Gleyber Torres, Bo Bichette and Wyatt Langford, who recently added injury to insult. Those hitters are all capable of performing much better moving forward, but poor luck hasn’t been the only culprit to their slow starts in 2024.

Joe Ryan posted a 6.09 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP after the All-Star break last season, but his peripherals suggested it was mostly because of poor luck; Ryan’s K-BB% was similar to his first half, but his BABIP jumped almost 100 points while his HR/FB% doubled. That’s proven true so far in 2024 when Ryan has been one of baseball’s best starting pitchers.

He ranks seventh in K-BB% (24.7), just behind Pablo López and Cyler Glasnow. Ryan has unquestionably been helped by a favorable schedule having faced bottom-10 offenses during five of seven starts this year, but he’ll continue to benefit from pitching in the AL Central. THE BAT projects Ryan to be a top-10 fantasy starter over the rest of the season.

Ryan has emerged as a Cy Young candidate during a season filled with starting pitching chaos.

Corbin Carroll’s shoulder is clearly a major problem. He has just eight homers over 450+ plate appearances since re-injuring it in early July last season. Carroll’s average exit velocity is down more than 5 mph compared to last year and is in the bottom 6% of the league. Alarmingly, he’s pulling one-fifth as many fly balls as last season as well. His decision-making at the plate has also taken a remarkable tumble, likely due to compensation. Carroll has been moved toward the bottom of Arizona’s lineup even against right-handers recently, so he’s an early candidate for fantasy bust of the year.

It's becoming increasingly likely Carroll will eventually need another surgery to fix his ongoing shoulder issues.

• Christian Scott generated the most whiffs (18) by any Mets pitcher this season during his MLB debut Saturday. The rookie was dominating in Triple-A, producing a 31.9 K-BB% and a 0.71 WHIP. Scott has a nice four-pitch mix and will benefit from throwing in one of the league’s most extreme pitcher’s parks. He’s never reached 90.0 innings in a season, so his workload will be limited, but this is one of the most anticipated pitching call-ups of the season (although beware: his next matchup is against the Braves).

Scott’s upside makes him worth 30-40% of your free agent budget.

• Kyle Manzardo has eight homers over his last 13 games in Triple-A and is set to be called up to Cleveland with Steven Kwan headed to the IL. The Guardians were patient with one of their top prospects, but Manzardo’s bat appears ready after recording a 149 wRC+ over the first month of the season. He averaged one homer per 19 plate appearances with strong contact rates in the minors, so Manzardo could eventually hit toward the middle of the Guardians’ lineup.

Hopefully, Cleveland gives the rookie an extended opportunity and lets him split 1B/DH duties with Josh Naylor. He’s projected to be an above-average hitter right away and should be a source for power.

Manzardo is available in 78% of Yahoo leagues.

• Vidal Bruján has failed spectacularly when previously given MLB at-bats, but he hit throughout the minors, where he put up monster stolen base stats. Bruján got a fresh start in Miami this season, and he should remain in the Marlins’ lineup even after Jake Burger’s return after Luis Arráez was traded. Bruján has an 8.1 K% and a 9.7 BB% over 62 plate appearances, so it’s been a highly encouraging start to 2024 even if his other numbers have yet to show it.

Bruján is eligible at 2B, 3B and SS and possesses real SB upside, so he’s worth adding in deeper fantasy leagues (available in 90% in Yahoo).

BONUS TV/Movie Talk: The Tom Brady Roast was amazing (although missing Anthony Jeselnik). The GOAT deserves credit for subjecting himself to that abuse … "Shōgun" stuck the landing and was one of the best shows in recent memory … I was late to watch "Silo," which would have been high on my 2023 list … "Baby Reindeer" was hard to watch at times but is a wild mini-series based on a true story … Check out this good interview regarding The Curse, and their next collaboration looks highly intriguing ... M. Night Shyamalan can be hit-or-miss to say the least, but I’m so in for Trap.