Every Wednesday, Dapinder joins Pitcher List to outline the best position player buys and sells of the week. He’ll outline the hitters to trust in your lineups and who to shop while their price is high. Make sure to stay ahead of the curve and use the market to your advantage.
Miguel Sano (3B/OF, Minnesota Twins) – Sano is off to a poor start but the potential is still there for a 30+ home run campaign. With five hits in his past five games including a home run, Sano is heating up looking to break out of his dry spell. While Sano has been striking out more, his swing percentage at pitches outside the zone is down 21% compared to last season. Moreover, right handed pitchers are still giving him the same amount of respect he was given when he first entered the league last season. Take a look at his pitches seen by pitch type (courtesy of Brooks Baseball):
2015 Hard Contact: 56% | 2016 Hard Contact 55%
2015 Breaking Balls: 34% | 2016 Breaking Balls: 36%
2015 Off-speed Pitches: 10% | 2016 Off-speed Pitches: 9%
Sano is a strong power hitter with one of the best walk rates in the league. Pick him up now because his value is only going to get higher.
Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – The biggest question mark for Santana coming into the season was whether or not he could make more contact. His strikeout rate is down and he’s swinging less at outside pitches. Santana’s got breakout written all over him and 25 home runs is not out of the question. His average is sustainable as his BABIP is slightly above average. Santana is a source of cheap power; not many players can hit as well as him at his price.
Daniel Murphy (1B/2B/3B, Washington Nationals) – Last season Dan Murphy managed to hit .281 with a below career average BABIP. The most intriguing development was his changed approach to pull the ball more in addition to reducing his strikeout rate by 50%. So far into 2016, he is hitting very well. Murphy has been batting behind Harper and Zimmerman making him a sneaky source of RBIs to go along with his above averaging batting line. His new approach might give him the opportunity to bat .285 with 15+ home runs. His multi-position eligibility gives him versatility.
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, New York Yankees) – Ellsbury’s .213 average is being buoyed by a below average BABIP. His outside the zone swing percentage is his lowest since 2012 and his zone contact rate is the highest since 2014. Ellsbury can still hit well and he can still swipe 25 bags as the 32-year-old already has 4 in 11 games. He should also be able to score 70+ runs atop the Yankees lineup making him an interesting buy.
Billy Hamilton (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – There is no player faster in all of baseball and very few that can win you a category all on their own. Since entering the league, Hamilton is second in stolen bases to Dee Gordon in 259 fewer plate appearances. His current batting average is being buoyed by a .190 batting average in balls in play and a 40% pop-up rate. Neither of those two metrics will last as Billy is due for some regression. In addition, Hamilton is swinging less at outside pitches which as aided his walk rate. So far this year Hamilton has hit more groundballs than flyballs which is a welcome sign for a player potentially changing his approach to have more success. For the rest of the season, Hamilton shouldn’t be too much of a scourge in the average department and he will steal 50+ bases. If he can keep some gains in the plate discipline department, he will get another shot atop the Reds lineup.
Austin Jackson (OF, Chicago White Sox) – Jackson currently has a below average BABIP leading to a sub .200 average. He’s a good source of average production in counting stats, batting average, and home runs. He still has good speed to swipe 15+ bags and is currently swinging less at outside pitches which may help him achieve a career best strikeout rate this year. The key for Jackson this year will be to hit fewer groundballs and more flyballs as his groundball tendencies spiked upon joining the Mariners. His home park at Chicago is better for hitters than Safeco in Seattle. Jackson will challenge to be a top 60 outfielder.
Brian Dozier (2B, Minnesota Twins) – Since 2012, the 28-year-old Dozier leads all second baseman in home runs with 70. Dozier’s HR/FB% this year is currently half of his career average indicating the power should come soon. Moreover, Dozier bats atop the Twins lineup making him a strong source of runs as he has 100+ in the past two seasons. While his batting average is nothing to write home about, there may only be two or three hitters at second base who can hit 20+ home runs at second, and one of them is Brian Dozier.
Jeremy Hazelbaker (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – There are two ways to look at the Hazelbaker situation: On one hand, Hazelbaker is 27 years old and has an unsustainable .400 BABIP in addition to his HR/FB% over 30. The production will not last. On the other hand, he’s another St. Louis Cardinals call up and Hazelbaker might just be under their voodoo magic. Hazelbaker strikes out too much to carry an above average batting line. He only hit 13 home runs in the minors last year and his average was propped by a high BABIP. He’s a prime sell high candidate.
Tyler White (1B/3B, Houston Astros) – White’s .423 BABIP is not going to last, nor is his 26.7% HR/FB%. White has never hit more than 15 home runs in a single year in the minors. He could be a useful player, but if you can get a more proven player that has a better floor with similar if not better upside, you should do it. The Astros lineup may get crowded as AJ Reed has been raking in AAA. White won’t keep up his production; a cold streak is right around the corner.
Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals) – Yadier Molina is sporting a .375 BABIP which is bound to come crashing down in the coming weeks. He lacks power upside evidenced by his 11 home runs since 2013. He is making poor contact on pitches outside the zone relative to his career as well as in the zone. Furthermore, his swinging strike percentage is up leading to a higher strikeout rate. Molina is declining and there should be better catchers with more upside available in most leagues.