Buy & Sell 4/21 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

Ben Pernick breaks down the spiciest and the iciest hitters of the week

Welcome back to Week 3 of Buy & Sell,  where this week’s theme is Many Mashing Mariners! There are still plenty of new values to be found as people are shedding the embarrassing affairs with Kyle Isbel and other first-week darlings. We’re now getting to the point where the stats are actually somewhat meaningful, which makes this quite a bit more fun as there are some big values to be had for the savvy fantasy player. Just don’t get too carried away with a few weeks of production or lack thereof… although I might. Let’s face it, hype is fun! That’s why I got carried away with extra buy writeups this week… Enjoy, but don’t get used to it!

BUY

10-team

Jazz Chisholm (2B, Miami Marlins)

I’ll admit I didn’t like him despite the talent, which is also how I feel about jazz in general. Needless to say, I didn’t fit in at Berklee. But Chisholm has surprised massively, with an impressive .325/.451/.675 line with 3 home runs and 3 stolen bases. That’s quite a surprising show of power as well as plate discipline to go with his elite speed. His current performance is strongly backed by Statcast, as he deserved a lower .290 xBA but a considerably higher xSLG of .742, thanks largely to his insane 29% Barrel% (8 barrels on the year).

Unlike other hot starts like Baddoo, I think Chisholm, while still streaky, may be young and talented enough to keep the strikeouts from stopping his meteoric rise. He’s displayed excellent plate discipline with a 20% O-Swing and a decent contact rate at 73%, which will both allow his power and 94th percentile speed to play up. He has a fair shot at a 20/20 season but could be capable of even more, which could make him an Albies lite. Add in all OBP formats and consider in 10-team AVG leagues.

Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners)

This hitting is ridiculous; I demand to speak with your Haniger! Mitch has been pitch-perfect in April, and, looking back, it’s rather surprising how much more affordable he was coming into 2021 than the also injury-prone Austin Meadows when their profiles are quite similar. Haniger has always had the ability to hit for power and average with a side portion of speed, and health was the only question.

He’s hitting a robust .319/.338/.594 with 4 homers in 74 PA, and I see no reason he can’t keep it up. It’s not just luck, as it’s backed by a .321 xBA and a .617 xSLG. While it’s nitpicking, he hasn’t drawn many walks or stolen any bases in the early going, but I expect the plate discipline to improve a bit as he sees more pitches. While he’ll never be a star, he’s still a very useful run producer and accumulator when healthy.

Wilson Ramos (C, Detroit Tigers)

6 homers in April. From a catcher. Do you need me to repeat myself? Of course, if you take him now, you can’t take his past production with you, but I’m glad one of my favorite low-cost signings of the offseason is paying off, and there’s some more promise to keep the good times rolling. The biggest reason I’m hyped is his massive reduction in groundball rate, down from a terrible 56% in 2021 (45% career) to just 27% this year. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s turned those balls into a 40% line drive%, which likely won’t last but is still awesome.

If anything, he’s been unlucky, with an xBA of .278 and xSLG of .650! Grounders have always been his bugaboo, and if he can even keep that rate below 40%, he has the upside for 20-25 HR with a .290 batting average, which essentially would make him Sal Perez lite. If he’s still available in your shallow league, hold this Wilson and don’t let him get cast away.

12-team

Ty France (2B, Seattle Mariners)

My fantasy team’s offense hasn’t been perfect, but I get by with a little help from my France. He’s had an uproarious start to the year, hitting .311/.411/.525 with 3 homers, and there may be more in store. He’s actually underperformed his expected stats with an xBA of .343 and xSLG of .604, and this is after putting on quite an impressive showing at Spring Training. While his 16% Barrel% will likely regress towards career norms, he did set a career-best max exit velocity at 111 mph, and he’s been aggressively swinging at pitches on the plate while maintaining a low reach rate. Long story short, I’d buy high here and scoop him in 12-team formats (especially if he’s eligible at 3B and/or 1B) and consider him as a utility bench guy in 10-team AVG leagues. He’s the best late-blooming multi-position high-average hitter since Ty Wigginton.

Colin Moran (1B/2B/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Moran was one of my favorite players in early 2020, and he’s apparently trying to make me look stupid again. While he was seen as a boring low-power option heading into 2021, he’s showing his hot 2020 was no fluke with an impressive .298/.385/.579 line with 4 homers. He’s backing it up with a strong 16% Barrel% and .297 xBA with a .541 xSLG and seems to be taking a much more patient approach at the plate. He dropped his swing% from 50% in 2020 to just 38% this year, and while this has led to a higher percentage of called strikes, it also makes him quite the sleeper in OBP formats. With his positional versatility, he’s incredibly useful in 12-team leagues, and a viable bench add in 10-team OBP formats.

Eduardo Escobar (3B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)

It looks like it’s 2019 all over again. Escobar had a pretty brutal crash to earth last year, but he’s popped 6 taters on the young season to go with his Matt Chapman-esque .241/.308/.586. Although it’s easy to discount his past performance, as Statcast always suggested, he was quite lucky. So far, those peripherals are on his side, with an improved xBA of .253 and xSLG of .602. He probably won’t keep this power rate up, but he should continue to compile with his high flyball rate and long track record of health to go with his unusual multi-position eligibility. He’s a high-floor addition if you need some run production in your deeper 12-team league.

15-team

Avisail Garcia (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)

Avisail pulled a Vlad Jr. this season and got fit… and could break out nearly as much as Vlad Jr. You just don’t yet see it. He’s been off to a strong start but not quite turning heads with his .259/.328/.463 line with 3 HRs and 1 SB. But he’s actually been one of the unluckiest players in the majors, with an outrageous xBA of .350 and xSLG of .695. Remember, these stats are descriptive and not predictive, but it does mean up to this point, he’s been hitting the snot out of the ball with a 56% Hard Hit% and has some chip-in speed to boot.

While he still hits too many grounders (49%) to make the most of his power, I think he could at the very least replicate his 2019 season where he hit .282 with 20 HR and 10 SB, which would make him viable in all 15-team formats as well as 12-team AVG leagues.

Jose Trevino (C, Texas Rangers)

Clint Eastwood is planning a sequel to his 2008 box office hit, calling it “Grand Trevino.” In my preseason bold predictions, I highlighted the Texas catcher situation, saying that the Rangers catchers will be Top 10 in the majors, and not because of Sam Huff, who often was drafted first. This was largely due to my feeling that Trevino was overlooked, with above-average contact for a catcher to go with solid power, and he’s showing both right now. He’s hitting an impressive .319/.327/.362 in 49 PA, and the lack of power may be unlucky with an xSLG of .473, which trounces his mark in 2020.

Another reason to hope for more power is him boosting his max exit velocity to 109 mph already, over 1.5 mph more than his previous max. Heim has gotten off to a rough start, which helps open Trevino’s opportunity to run with the full-time gig. While his plate discipline taking a step back is a bit concerning, I believe in Trevino’s ability to hit above .260 with double-digit pop, and that plays in the current catcher landscape. Add in 15-team leagues, especially formats that use batting average.

Jose Marmolejos (OF, Seattle Mariners)

I’m all ears for late-blooming hitters, and Marmolejos’s ears are incredibly triangular. Seriously, stop what you’re doing and look at his MLB.com profile photo. Speaking of bold predictions, I like to think I was the only person who published one about the breakout of Jose Marmolejos, whose ADP entering the season was in the 700s! While many expected Frail Jakey and Kelenic to steal his opportunity, I couldn’t ignore the skills Mr. Marmalade showed in 2020, with surprisingly good comps based on his batted balls.

Granted, while he’s hit 3 HRs, his .212 AVG is as concerning as his 34% K%.  But I remain bullish as he’s actually improved his contact rate to 71% and has brought his CSW% from 34% to 29% by aggressively swinging at 73% of strikes. Even better, he massively improved his power, crushing his previous 109 mph max eV with a 114 mph laser, to go with a hearty 20% Barrel% and 55% Hard Hit%. With an improved launch angle, we could be looking at a 30 HR hitter still unclaimed on your wire. Add in all 15-team OBP and most 15-team AVG leagues.

Deep Leagues

Billy McKinney (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)

Oh my god, they killed McKinney! But it’s a new episode, and he’s back. His 2019 campaign was largely underwhelming with his .215 AVG, but with Yelich on the mend for back issues, the 26-year-old former prospect again has a chance to earn substantial playing time and looks to be much better this time. He’s hitting a strong .310/.333/.483 with 1 HR in 30 plate appearances, and Statcast thinks this was earned with a .336 xBA and .512 xSLG.

While that means little in such a small sample, he’s seeing the ball well with an 80% Contact% (91% Z-Contact%) and a 44% Hard Hit% that is a good place to start from. I still don’t think he has much more than 15-20 HR pop, but he could be a solid glue guy to produce runs with an average that won’t kill you in the meantime. Add in NL-only and deeper 18-team AVG leagues.

Brent Rooker (OF, Minnesota Twins)

With Kepler and Garlick getting placed on the Covid IL, Rooker has a chance to become king of the castle. He’s gotten off to a rough start this year, but he had a solid debut before an injury spat in his cup of coffee. Although old for a “prospect,” Rooker still possesses easy 25 home run power and might have a good enough bat to maintain an acceptable batting average. It’s a short-term play if you need power, but he should be available in all but the deepest of leagues and offers more upside than the typical waiver wire fodder. If you’re in something a tad less shallow, take a look at Willie Calhoun instead.

SELL

10-team

Keston Hiura (2B/1B, Milwaukee Brewers)

Oh yes, I’m going there. Why? 62%. That’s his in-zone contact rate. That’s worse than most sluggers’ overall contact rate. Honestly, we never had a great reason to believe he’d improve from his dismal average of 2020 other than looking at his youth and former prospect track record as a bat-first guy. Especially as he’s not even playing second base, I think the Brewers would benefit from sending him to the minors and replacing him with Vogelbach. Don’t become a bagholder in 10-teamers when I’ve laid out so many better keystone alternatives that won’t leave you bitter because it’s one, two, three strikes, and Hiura out.

12-team

Joc Pederson (OF, Chicago Cubs)

Don’t strap yourself to Joc. He has demonstrated perhaps more than any other current major leaguer that he is absolutely helpless versus lefties, and a new team won’t change that. He’s hitting a miserable .137/.262/.235 with just 1 HR in 61 PA, and while I’m sure the power will come, the profile looks like a player in decline, with declining chase rates and contact rates. There’s really very little separating him from Hunter Renfroe, and there are simply too many more intriguing options to stay riding this boring one-trick power pony. Peder power pony picked a pitiful peck of pitches, panic!

15-team

Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees)

Looks like Bellybutton Clint is back—time to scoop him out. When the Yankees struggle, he’s the convenient scapegoat, and this time it’s not so undeserved. He’s hitting a pitiful .167 with a .222 SLG%, and Statcast says he’s earned every bit of that heaping pile of suck. Despite his youth and power potential, he’s already become the Yankees’ top pine rider, with only 9 At-bats the past week. Barring plenty more injuries, he probably won’t get another opportunity for a while because, unlike the sitcom, this Frazier is not underrated. Drop in 12-team and consider cutting in 15-team AVG leagues where you can’t stash him.

Franchy Cordero (OF, Boston Red Sox)

Say it ain’t so! I might look stupid bailing so early on my bold prediction for Franchy’s rise to stardom, especially since he’s accomplished the tough part of staying on the field. He hasn’t been too shabby with his line of .270/.341/.324 with 0 HR in 41 PA, but it gets ugly under the hood, with a downright moldy xBA of .153 and xSLG of .209.

That’s the 1st percentile in the majors, and the 42% K% shows why. The 81% K% in 2020 that had me hyped in 2020 is down, down, down to 58%, with his 19% CSW% in 2020 nearly doubled at 36% this year. I wonder if he’s still feeling after-effects from his bout with Covid, but in all but the deepest of AL-only redraft formats, I don’t recommend waiting around to hear the tragic deafening wails of Banshee Cordero.

Deep Leagues

Wilmer Difo (2B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Please just no. Powerless guy with limited speed who now has a 63% Contact rate? I’ll say this, he’s a very versatile actor who really knows how to be a great villain, but they should have never cast Willem Dafoe as a major league hitter.

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

  • Avatar Manute Bol says:

    Are we dropping Senzel?

    • Ben Pernick Ben Pernick says:

      In shallow 10-team leagues, I think it’s okay to cut him, but in 15-team and even 12-team I’m still holding but benching for the most part.

  • Avatar BB says:

    Re Franchy and “the 81% K% in 2020 that had me hyped in 2020 is down, down, down to 58%” – believe you meant Contact%, though wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up an 81% K-rate one of these days :)

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