Buy & Sell 4/25: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
May is almost here, and now owners can laugh about the panic moves and overreactions that plague nearly every league in their first month. But now many stats begin to become more reliable, and there are plenty of exciting new faces on the scene for owner to panic and overreact about. So let’s look at who seems too legit to quit, and who looks due to sit or quit.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – You heard it here first, Teoscar’s start to the season has just been due to luck. BAD luck, because he deserves better! This sounds like a joke, as he’s hitting a scorching .343/.395/.743, but his xAVG/xOBP/xSLG% (which I just call xSlash for short) is .373/.422/.783! The sample size is tiny still, but that is an insanely good line for the young slugger, and that’s not even counting his stolen base potential. Of course, these numbers will regress as pitchers adjust and his high chase rate catches up to him and brings down his average, but with his excellent batted ball contact he can has a higher floor than you’d expect, and likely a higher ceiling as well. It’s time to add him in 12-team mixers where he’s still available, and 10-teamers looking for lightning in a bottle should strike now on this white-hot Blue Jay.
Miguel Andujar (3B, New York Yankees) – While I did just recently write him up just for reaching the majors, he’s earned a callback with his Andu-hearty .316/.333/.649 batting line. xStats mostly believes in the early production with an xSlash of .302/.338/.616 line, which is especially exciting because it suggests a level of power that some scouts doubted Andujar was capable of. He has displayed his expected strong contact skills with a 90.5% Z-Contact, but his lack of plate discipline, as exhibited by his 37% O-Swing%, is likely to bite him as pitchers adjust. Still, with the upside on display, he really should be owned in all 12-team leagues and 10-team AVG leagues (I’d still pass in OBP for now). He could make your team Grandujar.
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, New York Yankees) – Yankee fans and prospect hounds are full of glee for Gleyber’s arrival, and the hype seems justified, as the top prospect hit .347 in Triple-A with a homer as a 21-year old prior to his call-up. Especially seeing the increasingly hot bat of his teammate Andujar, it’s easy to envision a similarly torrid Torres debut. Thus far, he hasn’t done much, but he also hasn’t struck out much. Gleyber is definitely valuable for an actual team, but at this stage in his career he isn’t a lock to have mixed-league value. That being said, right now it’s anyone’s guess and I’d pick him up in 18–team and 15-team leagues, though I’d only gamble on him in 12-team or 10-team leagues that have a big bench.
Kurt Suzuki (C, Atlanta Braves) – I’ll be honest, I expected to not need to even know Kurt Suzuki’s name anymore, like, 4 years ago. But the formerly punchless catcher redeemed himself last year, and this year has been even better, with a .306/.411.587 line overall that is among the best catcher stats in the league. xStats calls for a .321/.406/.568 so it seems like Suzuki may have reinvented himself yet again at age 34 (and 6 months). But the craziest thing is the plate discipline; His walk rate is nearly double, from 5.5% in 2017 to 10.7%, but his strikeout rate is down from 12.6% in 2017 to… 3.6%! It’s crazy and it’s at least somewhat backed by a career-best 95.9% Z-Contact% that’s 6th-best in the league. While his lack of true full-time reps makes me hold off in 10-team for now, The Big Kurt should be owned without skepticism in 15-team and 12-team leagues.
JaCoby Jones (OF, Detroit Tigers) – Look out Mr. Ellsbury, there’s a new best Jacoby in baseball, and he has his own take on capitalization. While he didn’t have an official starting job to start the year as the Tigers planned to throw scrubs against the outfield wall to see what stuck, but Mahtook’s struggles opened up an opportunity and he’s finally… capitalizing on it. He’s hitting a robust .293/.362/.512 with 2 homers and 3 stolen bases, surprisingly keeping his K-rate under 20%, which is supported by his career-best 10.7% Swstr%. That’s an understatement, as last year’s mark was 17.7%, and even more interesting is that he hasn’t improved his plate discipline at all with a 37% O-Swing%, but his Contact% and Z-contact% zoomed from 73% in 2017 to 90% this year. Like Teoscar, xStats supports the breakout and calls for better, with a xSlash of .362/.404/.518. That batting average number is particularly stunning especially considering his larger sample size, and while regression is in store, a good average could be all he needs to become a fantasy mainstay, since he already had the power/speed combo. Pick up in AL-only, 18-team, and 15-team too, especially if it’s a batting average league.
Mallex Smith (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – He’s been so hot, he’s been too Mallex-y for his shirt. While he’s been lucky with his .344/.412/.459 line, his xSlash of .275/.350/.344 is still better than his career marks and plenty useful with his game-changing speed. His .429 BABIP is largely due to a 31% LD%, and it’s good for a speedster like him to keep the ball closer to the ground, since many of his low-power fly balls will be caught but he can turn grounders into hits. Although he lacks Dee Gordon-esque contact ability, his ability to draw a walk makes him valuable in OBP 5×5 formats. I’d shop at the Mallex in AL-only, 18 team and OBP 15-team formats, but I wouldn’t hate on streaming him for steals in 12-team H2H.
Steve Pearce (OF/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – In all of the Tesocar hype, Pearce is almost as forgotten as Franklin Pierce, arguably America’s most forgettable president. But despite his platoon usage, his performance thus far is anything but forgettable, with a .304/.360/.505 line that brings back memories of his best seasons. And while this line from the 35-year-old could look like a small sample fluke, his current xSlash of .336/.389/.607 suggests this is just the beginning of the comeback. Granted, he’s always mashed lefties, and with the crowded Toronto OF situation, his role has been more specialized. Still, he’s hit .278 with a homer and a 1/1 BB/K in 19 PA vs righties, and his xSlash split vs. righties is probably better than that and suggests he should be earning full-time reps. It’s worth noting that an injury derailed a studly 2016 season and could surpass it with health. I’d add in AL-only, 18-team, and even 15-teamers that let you set daily lineups.
Mitch Moreland (1B/DH, Boston Red Sox) – Fun fact, I was going to make a bold prediction that Mitch Moreland would have a great season based on his 2017 exit velo/Barrel% data, but I felt it was too bold. Boo, me! While Hanley grabbed the full-time role, Mitch has been thriving in his limited PT, and has shown many encouraging trends. He’s been Mitch MoreAir with an increased FB% to 36.2% to 40.2%, and he’s sporting a career-best K rate of 14.3% that’s backed by improved O-swing% and Z-Swing% and a career-best 92.5% Z-Contact%. xStats is fully on board with an even better xSlash of .323/.386/.617 that suggests that he really deserves full-time reps, as it even beats Hanley’s xSlash of .297/.356/.514 and his actual Triple Slash. It will likely regress as we’ve seen him be streaky before, but last year’s slump was due to injury and I want to land him on more teams in 18-team and 15-team formats, and for now a solid matchup play in 12-team and if you have a deep bench, I’d stash in the hopes he earns full-time reps.
Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – He’s been turning up the Kemperature, hitting .321 with 3 homers, giving hope that he can re-enact the 2016 comeback story. But there are some plot holes, the biggest of which is his .424 BABIP that inflates his avg far above his modest .267 xAVG. On the other hand, his .547 SLG%, while lucky, is a little closer to his still solid .491 xSLG. Still his xSlash from 2018 is worse than each mark from 2017, and that was a rather forgettable season. He may be among the most added, but you’d be wise to cash in on the hype and float his name in trade offers, as the Kempanada is only desirable when hot. As for owning him, I would pass on him in 10-team and 12-team format, but he’s a solid back-end guy in 15-team.
Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – He’s only hitting singles and not ready to Domingo. Santana has seemingly had a case of amnesia, and maybe anemia, since he’s forgotten who he is with a pathetic .014 ISO that even makes Jose Iglesias feel pity. And while there must be some bad luck with rates so extreme, his xStats says his .219 AVG and .313 OBP are actually a bit lucky, with a .206/.301/.303 xSlash. Perhaps the uncertain playing time got in his head, but his recent performance makes his future more certain on the bench without a trade, I think he’ll turn it around eventually in the power department provided he’s healthy, but I think there’s plenty reason to cut him in 10-team and 12-team formats, though in 15-team I’d only cut if there’s a good player available and you don’t have a bench.
Matt Davidson (3B, Chicago White Sox) – What goes up, must come down… and down… and still further down. Davidson just earned a golden sombrero tonight to bring his K rate to a frightening 36.7%, which means that it’s really been above 40% for the past couple weeks after the hot start. While it’s easy to say he’s exactly the same player as he was before, it’s worth noting he still has maintained a high walk rate, largely driven by his reducing his swing rate 10 percentage points, which at least improves his chances of being a Joey Gallo lite. He will likely still have big streaks but it isn’t worth the drag in 10-team or 12-team AVG. leagues, where he can be cut, though I’d still hold in 12-team OBP formats for now.
Chris Owings (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – These are no Owings of Glory. He’s hitting a paltry .259 with 1 homer with a surprisingly high 31% K% rate. He probably deserves a better K rate with his career-best Swstr%, but his xStats suggest he deserved even worse than his current line. His power seems way down to his pre-2017 levels with just a 26% Hard%, which suggests that perhaps the 2017 power “outburst” was a fluke. Due to his fringe-y nature, he’s the #1 most dropped player, and in anything shallower than 15 team that makes sense. He may still be helping his major league team, but in fantasy, he’s Owings us all an apology.