Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is foolish FAAB frenzy! So this past week was a rather insane week on the waiver wire. Somebody in your league likely already blew through nearly half their FAAB or overhauled half their roster in a mad dash to pick up the latest guy to bash a homer. And yes, it’s only April 10. Still, while many of these could soon look like overreactions to small samples, but sometimes you do just have to play the hot hand and ride it out even when it’s not entirely sustainable. With that said, here we go!
Dan Vogelbach (1B/DH, Seattle Mariners)
I think he’s the real deal, not just what’s en Vogue-elbach. Though another PitcherList writer, Ryan Amore, beat me to writing a preseason article singing the praises of Dan Vogelbach (yes that’s an actual thing that happened), I did make an extra bold prediction on the PitcherList Discord that Vogelbach would lead the Mariners in wRC+. It’s the first week of April, so I’m not going to do victory laps, but I’ll just say that the early returns look good. He’s hitting an insane .471/.625/1.471 (not a typo) in 24 plate appearances so far this season. And while this may seem out of nowhere, he destroyed Triple-A last year, and xStats suggested that his small sample struggle in 2018 was mostly bad luck. He joined the fly-ball revolution to trade off average for power, (makes sense when you have 250 pounds of punch), and now he has an 100 mph average exit velo and 16.1% barrel rate with an insane 75% fly-ball rate (extra-small sample warning: only 17 at-bats). He’s truly a beast in OBP formats, and I would not be surprised to see him hit at least .260/.360/.460 with 25-plus home runs by season’s end. And that may be too conservative. Playing time is still a battle, but I think he’s done enough already to belly bump out the competition, and I’d target in all 18-team leagues, 15-team leagues, and stream/stash in 12-team OBP. I’m the high guy on him, but I believe he’ll be 2019’s biggest surprise breakout. I picked him up and bid big FAAB in nearly all of my leagues because I believe he’ll have my Vogelback.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF Baltimore Orioles)
I recognize that he’s probably already gone in most deeper leagues, as his .385/.432/.821 line has stuffed the stat sheet like a Mancinnamon bun. Or a Cini-man bun? Great, now I’m imagining him as a hipster. Anyway, Trey Mancini was largely overlooked as a result of falling from grace in 2018, and his poor plate discipline combined with his penchant for ground balls didn’t bode well. But even moderate improvements in both has helped him take advantage of his prodigious power, with a 10-point improvement in ground-ball rate from 55% to 44%, and a career-best 29% O-swing rate, 77% contact rate, and 10.4% swinging-strike rate. But the real goods are the barrels, with a 13.6% barrel rate and a 99 mph exit velo on FB/LD. He will likely cool off some but could still hit .270 with 30 home runs and a solid OBP, so you should pick him up in 12-team leagues, including OBP formats now, and a solid 10-team stream and get ready for summer when you’ll bust out your Mancini tankini.
Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
It’s not exactly easy to trust a former prospect who was never considered an elite talent at best several years ago. But here he is, mashing tates and sporting a top-10 16.1% barrel rate and 103 mph FB/LD exit velocity. One would assume he’s made a massive change to his swing to unlock this, and based on his batted balls, it would seem he’s another fly-ball revolutionary, but he’s actually hit more grounders this year with a 45% rate. But the real reason he’s on this list is because with Jake Lamb down, he really doesn’t have any competition for playing time, and although Arizona’s offense is depleted, that means he’s hitting in the heart of the lineup. I’m lower on him than some as he went for $100 FAAB in many leagues and I wouldn’t pay that, but I’d still take him in all 15-team and a flyer in 12-team average formats. I’m just not a Christian Walker guy, I’m more of a Jewish Jogger.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves)
Yes, he’s old. Yes, his production seems like he entered some time portal. But I don’t think the Markake is a lie. Since the start of 2018, all he’s done is hit, and he hasn’t stopped (in 2018 he hit .297 with 14 HR). Nick Markakis has outproduced more conventionally exciting fantasy outfielders. He’s been a points-league darling with his iron man status, though he could be even better this year. On the one hand, he’s hitting for worse contact with a career-high 7.5% swinging-strike rate (which is actually quite impressive) and a rather crazy fly-ball rate of 7% but a line-drive rate of 38%. But he’s upped his exit velo nearly 3 mph to 93.4 mph and has an expected batting average of .380. He’s worth adding in all 18-team and deeper 15-team category leagues and all 15-team points leagues. If he can start hitting more balls in the air, he could hit above .300 with 20 home runs, and Atlanta will be renamed Markakistan.
Ketel Marte (2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
While there are several Marte’s right now the Ketel One is the guy triple-distilling his game. He’s started to tap into his significant speed, with two stolen bases already (last year, he only stole six bases all season), but I’m more intrigued by what he’s doing with the bat. It seems the once punchless prospect is maximizing his power, with a 90 mph exit velocity and 6.8% barrel rate (89 mph and 3.8% barrel rate in 2018). For someone who’s been in the league for several years, he still has a surprising amount of untapped upside at just 25, and with his multi-position eligibility, I feel he makes a fine pickup in all 15-team leagues in which he’s available, but in 12-team average formats, I wouldn’t fault you for swinging the Ketelbell.
DJ LeMahieu (2B/3B, New York Yankees)
Reports of his post-Coors demise have been greatly exaggerated, so I hope you didn’t blindly follow that argument like a DJ Lemminghieu. He’s been turning the tables on his doubters with a .406/.472/.531 line on the young season. Of course, that level of production won’t last, but Yankee stadium, while not Coors, is a great hitters’ park, and outside of 2018, DJ LeMahieu showed the ability to hit hit .300 with moderate pop. With so many Yankees hurt, he’s guaranteed everyday at-bats, making him a must-add with his positional versatility in all 15-team formats and a fine stream in 12-team, especially average formats.
Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves)
For the past few years, he was the ugly duckling of shortstops, but now he’s a Swan, son. Dansby Swanson has been on fire, hitting shockingly high .333/.436/.733. While his average will come down, he’s greatly improved his plate discipline with a career-best 25% O-swing rate (37% last year) with an excellent 12.8% barrel rate. I do expect that last number to regress but his exit velocity of 93 mph/96 mph FB/LD is way better than his 2018 marks of 87 mph/92 mph FB/LD, so I expect some of that to stick. Perhaps he lacks base running instincts because otherwise has 30 stolen base ability based on sprint speed, and of course, more hits provides more stolen base opportunities. I don’t think the inevitable regression will hit as hard as folks expect, and I’d make him part of your Plansby going forward in 15-team formats and deeper 12-team if you’re a Dansbeliever.
Renato Nunez (3B, Baltimore Orioles)
At this point, he’s hitting like Nolan a-Renato. Well, better than the real thing so far, actually. The surface results haven’t totally shown it yet, as he’s hitting a modest .267/.364/.414 with one homer, and there’s still plenty of room for variability, but this is a good time to invest in Renato Nunez in deeper leagues. He’s displayed excellent power, with a 93 mph average exit velocity, 100 mph FB/LD exit velocity and a 9.1% barrel rate. He always was a power-only masher coming up in Oakland’s system, but he’s improved his discipline some with a career-best 11% swinging-strike rate, which might be why Statcast gives him an expected batting average of .305. His power should do far better in Camden Yards than in the Oakland County Coliseum, so scoop him in AL-only, 18-team, and I’d try to stash him in 15-teamers as well. If you’re in doubt, I’m telling you Nun-yes.
Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays)
And you thought the legend of Rowdy Tellez ended in September. Well, you thought right, mostly. The Canuck Cowboy has cooled down a bit already from his hot first week, but that first week was enough to convince the Blue Jays to trade Kendrys Morales and Kevin Pillar, both of whom were directly and indirectly blocking his opportunities for playing time. So now he has largely unchallenged at-bats at designated hitter, although at this rate, I would not be too surprised to see Tellez overtake Justin Smoak at 1B despite worse defense. He has enough power for 20 to 25 home runs but could be undone by awful plate discipline with a 41% O-swing rate. Still, with a 10% barrel rate, he deserves better than his .200 average with an expected batting average of .253, and he’s worth a pickup in AL-only and 18-team formats, especially average leagues.
Jurickson Profar (SS/3B/1B, Oakland Athletics)
After a start like this, he’s going to have to change his last name to Semi-Profar. His line has hit us like a truck, with a hideous .120/.170/.180 line with no homers and 2 SB. I just never believed he has the bat speed to support a 20-homer repeat, and the move from the best to the worst hitters’ park only exacerbated that pessimism. He only has an 84 mph exit velocity overall (91 FB/LD exit velocity), and while I’m sure he’ll snap out of this funk soon, overall I’d expect more of a .240 15/15 line than the .260 20/20 some hoped for. AKA what Niko Goodrum did last year. So you can find better on the wire in 10-team and 12-team formats. Alas, poor Jurick!
Cedric Mullins, Jr. (OF, Baltimore Orioles)
The Orioles seem to be giving him the thumbs down, so it seems they are not entertained by Cedric. You’d think on a smarter team that’s out of contention enough to give Chris Davis at-bats, they’d give Cedric Mullins all the chances he can get to prove himself, but he’s already being sat against lefties and bumped out of the leadoff spot. Then again, perhaps he deserves it a little. While his speed is for real, he’s whiffing more, as his 10.7% swinging-strike rate is nearly double his 2018 mark, with his Z-contact rate down from 90% in 2018 to 76% in 2019. He’s also been weak in the power department, with an 85 mph exit velocity. You kind of have to hold him in AL-only and deeper leagues still, but I’d be Cedric Cullin’ him from your roster in 12-team and shallow 15-team formats.
Wilmer Flores (1B, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
It turns out that the assumption that Wilmer Flores would be the team’s everyday second baseman had no legs and should be tossed back into the sea like a Wilmermaid. The emergence of Marte and Walker had to have someone lose out, and Flores isn’t undeserving with a weak 85 mph exit velocity overall and on FB/LD overshadowing his improvement in contact rate. The fact that he’s out of a role even with Lamb going down portends poorly for his future with the team, which makes one wonder why they signed him at all. Without another injury or a trade, you can drop him in all but the deepest NL-only formats until he completes his Florestitution.
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