Buy & Sell 8/9: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
The major league trade deadline has come and gone, but now many fantasy teams are approaching their own trade deadlines, which can be a harrowing and/or maddening time. Before you let yourself get swayed by a sketchy 2-for-1 offer, you should take a look at your wire and see if any of these guys can help you more than the player your leaguemate is dangling in front of you. This assortment is mostly of the deeper league variety, where there is currently far more sleeper value to be found.
Joey Gallo (1B/3B, Texas Rangers) – It’s pretty crazy that a 23-year old who is 2nd in HR in the league is owned in less than half of leagues, but Gallo is the kind of extreme player who makes that possible. But he’s managed to put up his most recent power surge with average to go alongside it, hitting .295 with 10 HR over the last 3 weeks. As the season wears on, his numbers come ever closer to Aaron Judge, a player with a similar body type and batted ball profile. With the Rangers out of contention, he’s going to be playing everyday, slumps at all. His strikeout rate has remained steady at an awful 37.9%, but Gallo kills the ball when he hits it and should be started in 12-teamers and most 10-team, especially in OBP leagues.
Tim Beckham (SS/2B, Baltimore Orioles) – It looks like somebody is enjoying his new digs in Camden. Beckham has been bending his average up after hitting .500 with 3 HR over the past week and hitting .318 over the past 3 weeks to raise his average up to a surprising .281 with 15 HR and 5 SB. Hey, suddenly that looks like a mixed-league shortshop! He’s displayed a power bat all year, with a 9.8% Barrel/BBE and 94.4 mph FB/LD exit velocity. You may need to scoop him fast, as his ownership rate skyrocketed from 9.8% to 41.6%, especially notable at a time when many owners are already moving on to fantasy golf. It’s time he’s owned in all 12-team leagues, as at 27 years old, the reports of his fantasy death were greatly exaggerated.
Matt Olson (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics) – I remember the last time I wanted to write him up, I had to chuck his writeup because he had been demoted to Triple-A after a short and mixed cup of coffee. But it seems this time he is back for good, and he makes for a smart target for power-hungry deeper league teams. His 4 homers in his limited playing time were not a fluke, as suggested by his excellent 13.3% Barrel/BBE and 96.7 mph FB/LD eV. He doesn’t offer a good batting average floor, as his combination of strikeouts and low BABIPs in the minors means that a .240-ish average may be the reasonable best-case scenario, but he’s also historically had strong walk rates with no lower than 12.2% BB% at any level. In batting average leagues, he’s more of an AL-only asset right now, but in OBP leagues he gets such a big boost that he’s a must-add in 18-team and even a solid flier in 15-team formats.
Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia) – Little Cesar is hot and providing teams with some delicious value lately. While his early season power has unsurprisingly evaporated, he’s hit .360 with a homer and 6 SB over 75 AB the past 3 weeks. He’s helped himself with improved plate discipline, with a 11/12 BB/K ratio over that span that has lifted his average to .294, the exact same as the average he posted last year. And unlike last year, in which he sported an unsightly 17/13 SB/CS ratio (55.66% Success Rate), he’s posted a much better rate this year of 12/3 (80% Success Rate), which should lead to more green lights down the homestretch. He should be owned and started in 12-teamers, and makes for a cromulent flier in 10-team as well.
Tyler Flowers (C, Atlanta Braves) – To 73% of ESPN league owners, SHAME ON YOU! I have been the tower of Flowers, and although he had a big surge this week from 18.3% to 27.3% ownership, that’s still way too low for a catcher who has hit .298 with 9 HR over 245 AB on the season, making good on my bold prediction that he would outproduce Wieters this year, a prediction that sounded far bolder in March, I swear. It’s actually a bit puzzling that he’d experience this surge now as he’s not particularly hot, but he still deserves a much higher ownership rate… To make a point, Wieters is still owned at 54%, DOUBLE Flowers ownership rate. That is just not right, let’s fix this.
Jose Pirela (2B/OF, San Diego Padres) – Pirela’s stock seemed to drop off a cliff last month, but now it’s found it’s way back, Wile E. Coyote style. He’s hitting .368 with 3 Homers over the past week, with a 4-for-4 game yesterday, and is hitting .344 in 64 AB over the past 3 weeks. While he’s played mostly in OF this year, his eligibility in most leagues at 2nd base is what really makes his value shine. He is still benefiting from a .353 BABIP, but he’s earned it somewhat by hitting the ball hard, with a 94.9 mph FB/LD eV and a career-best 33.1% Hard Contact%. So start him with confidence and sit back and Pirelax.
Chad Pinder (SS/OF, Oakland Athletics) – His hitting has been so beautiful lately, I have started an account on Pinderest. He’s hitting .409 with a homer over the past week, and looks slated for regular playing time with the A’s giving playing time to their youngsters. But with Semien back and Lowrie at the Keystone, he has been logging most of his recent playing time in the outfield, which only adds to his positional versatility. I still believe in the power ability with a 12.9% Barrel/BBE just above Ian Happ, though it some regress some, as his ISO and K rate spiked early-midseason and have both declined. The good news in that is that he only whiffs more when he sells out for power, so with a lower K rate he should be less of a batting average liability. He’s not quite 12-team worthy yet, but he’s a guy I’d like to pin to my board in 18-teamers and 15-teamers for his combination of pop and positional versatility.
Leonys Martin (OF, Seattle Mariners) – Martin is one of my favorite kinds of sleepers in that he’s likely to be overlooked due to an early-season funk depressing his totals. Since that funk and demotion though, he put up a great Triple-A campaign, and is now hitting .303 with 2 HR and a SB in two weeks since his return, though many owners will miss it due to his sub-Mendoza season average. Before his injury last year, he showed some surprising power upside after making swing changes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bring a late-season power-speed surge. He should be added immediately in all AL-only and 18-teamers, but 15-teamers should monitor him and can take a flyer if they feel lucky.
David Freese (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Freese-a has been hitting a ton of Dragon Balls (I don’t remember the show well enough to make an accurate reference). You may have missed with his lackluster season and uninteresting profile, that over the past three weeks, he has hit 2 Homers with a .367 AVG over 60 AB. While he doesn’t conjure up images of power hitting, his 7.3% Barrel/BBE and 94.8 mph FB/LD eV suggest he should provide solid pop the rest of the way, and xStats actually predicts that an exactly identical .268/.390 AVG/OBP but with a .425 SLG% instead of his current .387 mark. He’s widely available in most leagues at just 5.5% owned, and should be started in NL-only and 18-team, and is worth consideration in 15-team OBP leagues as he may be the most underrated potential .400 OBP in the league.
Ben Revere (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – Revere has definitely been on horse lately, hitting .441 with 5 SB over the past 2 weeks, and .377 with 7 SB over the past 3 weeks in 52 AB. I liked him as a preseason sleeper to rebound in average, but he seems to have regained his form midseason as half of his stolen bases have all come in the last month, with the power to boot. He’s still a total zero in the power department, but with playing time security and a league environment lacking power and speed, he makes for a must-add in AL-only and a solid add in 18-team AVG leagues and even a flier in 15-team if you have the category need as he won’t re-veer you team off-course.
Yunel Escobar (3B, Los Angeles Angels) – It’s not like he has been exactly widely owned, but his current position of being hurt and not on the DL doesn’t do him any favors. Valbuena has been a dud all season, but giving him and Cowart the opportunity to establish themselves won’t help, especially as a player lacking upside and on the wrong side of 34. But the most surprising thing has been his lack of run production from the leadoff spot, with only 43 R and 31 RBI over 350 AB. He’s probably not owned in shallower than 18-team, but I would cut him in those formats, and he can even be on the chopping block in AL-only leagues.
Hanley Ramirez (1B, Red Sox) – I really liked him earlier in the season as a second-half sleeper, but an oblique injury is enough to get me off that train. I wish they’ve learned from the example of Jason Kipnis and many others that oblique injuries can often be a storm cloud over a player’s production, and his .167 AVG with no homers over the past two weeks doesn’t alleviate any of those concerns. And he’s no longer worth anything on the basepaths, with 1 SB and 3 caught stealings. Hanley and Mitch would serve the team better spending a few weeks on the beach, but baseball and stubbornness are a tradition as old and unfortunate as chewing tobacco, and the results are as equally gross.
Jedd Gyorko (2B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Hello, I have a player I’d like to return to the Gyorkstore. He’s been pathetic with the bat lately, hitting only .182 with 1 HR over the past 3 weeks, which has led to him getting gradually pushed out of regular playing time. This late in the season, he’s running out of chances to turn the tide, especially as the bat of the admittedly less exciting Kolten Wong has been hot. Even though his plate discipline has at least been solid over the span, with a 9/16 BB/K ratio over those 63 AB, right now there are plenty off middle infield-eligible players who can produce roughly his output without the playing time concerns, so in 10-team and 12-team formats it’s time to slough off that Jedd weight.