Welcome back to Buy and Sell, and this week’s theme is underrated boring guys! Now that we’re in May, teams are more open to trading, and you can take advantage of some surprising underlying metrics to get great value. Or you can do what I often do, drop a struggling player so that they can finally have that big offensive surge you had waited for. Looking at you, David Dahl.
Josh Donaldson (3B, Minnesota Twins)
Quick, tell me which Twins infielder with a Z in his last name leads the league in expected batting average! If you guessed Josh Donaldzon, you are correct, even though you need to work on your spelling. Forget about Arraez; Donaldson has reinvented himself and is quietly one of the league’s very best hitters, and given the injury fears still lurking around him and ho-hum production you can still pounce. While his current line of .290/.375/507 with three HRs is solid in both OBP and AVG leagues, he’s sporting an outrageous xBA of .348 and xSLG of .650. Part of how he’s done this is by cutting his K rate nearly in half, with a 14% mark that should regress, but he does have a moderately improved 77% K%. But the other part is walloping the ball with career best hard-hit rate (56%) and barrel rate (17%). He may not be on your wire with his past week but can likely be acquired easily in a trade with a huge potential. Add or try to acquire Josh Donaldson in all AVG and OBP leagues, and if you can’t, try to acquire Don Joshaldson.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles)
I love when a feel-good story plays out like this. After losing his 2020 to cancer, he’s back and it’s as if he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s hitting .252/.311/.452 with seven homers, and as if that wasn’t encouraging enough, he’s underperforming his superior xBA of .303 and xSLG of .547. He’s managed to keep his hard contact while slightly improving his K rate and improving his historically low launch angle, and he should be in for a big summer hitting cleanup in Camden. If you’re frustrated with a weaker OF or 1B, you should legally emancinipate them.
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Some people might want to drop him just because they see people in other leagues are dropping him. As they say, Muncy see, Muncy do. But I won’t do that. Muncy’s current batting average of .219 and SLG of .410 are pretty lousy, though his .423 OBP is godly thanks to his league-leading 23 BB% rate. But even if you play in a batting average league, I see better times ahead. He’s had mediocre luck with a .251 xBA and 463 xSLG. While the fact that won’t blow you away is a sign he’s more or less the same guy, even if his power is in a slight gradual decline since his breakthrough season. With amazingly triple-position eligibility he should still be owned in all 12-teamers and 10-team OBP with a solid source of 25 homers and did I mention that insane walk rate? I did, I just read it.
Nick Senzel (2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Nick Senzel has had two huge multi-hit games this year, and I know this because they were the two days I put him on my bench. Serves me right. Senzel wore out some owners’ patience with a slow start marked by a lack of power and speed, but since being offered the leadoff role he’s really gotten into gear. He’s hit .344/.417/.469 with a HR and an SB in 32 AB, and this could just be the beginning. He has deserved better with a .299 xBA thanks to his career-best 13% K%, which should help him become the high-average hitter we expected. However, the base paths are a surprising problem, as despite his 96th percentile sprint speed, he already has four times caught stealing to two stolen bases. In case you’re new at this, a 33% stolen base success rate is very not good. I’m still optimistic he’ll be an asset, but I might need to cut back heavily on the expectation of 20+ SB. But with newfound second base eligibility in most leagues, as long as he keeps that leadoff spot behind Cincy’s surprise murderers’ row, in 12-team AVG leagues, he’s money in the bank like Senzelle.
Willians Astudillo (C/1B/3B/P, Minnesota Twins)
Okay, I know he’s not really a pitcher, but that 46 mph fastball en route to a 1-2-3 inning was masterful. The injuries currently plaguing the Twins hitters open up a path to at least semi-regular playing time, and it’s honestly too bad he wasn’t so passable as a catcher as Garver hasn’t exactly been inspiring. We know what Astudillo does… He makes contact, and a lot of it. This year his reach rate is a crazy 50%, and I don’t think his current pace for home runs will last, but he’s a fine roster fill-in for cheap batting average and multi-position eligibility, and for making baseball watching more fun. Add in batting average 15-teamers, but don’t bother in OBP formats for obvious reasons. Ask me if I think his offense is sick, and I’ll say, “He’s A stud, ill O”. I’m simultaneously very proud and very ashamed of this.
Harrison Bader (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
I’m sad he hasn’t yet homered off the Brewer’s closer, because then we’d have a Bader-Hader Tater. What could be greater? Bader has displayed his power and speed in the early going with three HR and two SB, and while the .243 AVG makes you think he’s bound to disappoint think again. His xBA of .285 and xSLG of .564 suggest he’s evolved as a hitter, largely in part thanks due to his 14 K% which he amazingly halved from his 2020 season (32%). It’s backed by an improvement in both contact and plate discipline, with a 25% CSW% down from his 31% mark in 2020. That gives him the potential to be similar to Senzel, but with a little more HR/SB upside and less batting average. The well-rounded profile makes him a strong add in all 15-team leagues.
Seth Brown (OF/1B, Oakland Athletics)
What can Brown do for you? How about free homer delivery? Brown continues to be overlooked due in part to his lack of pedigree and track record combined with the boring Oakland platoon, but he’s been an asset when in the lineup, hitting .364 with two HRs this week to bring his season line to .259/..317/.552 with five HRs. He might have had some down luck, as his xBA of .288 suggests, and I think the pop is real with his 112 mph max eV that ranks 88th percentile. While I’d love to see what he could do in a full season, it looks like the Piscotty timeshare will continue, but Brown is a sneaky asset in 15-team daily moves leagues and has value 18-team and AL-only leagues as well.
Kyle Farmer (2B/3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds)
Going into this year, I couldn’t believe the Reds were really planning on rolling with Kyle Farmer as their starting shortstop. But I must admit, Farmer has grown on me. Despite the lousy .200/.325/.277 line, I think he’s got the seeds for success. He’s hitting .333 over 24 ABs the past two weeks, and is rocking great plate discipline this year, with a career-best 16 K% and 10 BB%. He’s also been among baseball’s unluckiest hitters, with a .282 xBA and .455 xSLG, and I think he can at least hit a solid .260 AVG and .400 SLG% going forward that will make him better than the Andrelton Simmons types. Especially with his great 2B/3B/SS eligibility (with possible 1B and/or OF eligibility a few games away), he’s an underrated cultivator of stats.
Randy Arozarena (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
I’m sure this one will turn heads so fast I might be liable for whiplash. But I’m just going off the trend I’m seeing, and what I’m seeing on Statcast right now makes me want to Arozarunaway. While the surface stats look solid, with a .258 AVG to go with three HR and four SB, it’s uglier under the hood than my 2001 Ford Focus. While this is only descriptive and not predictive, his xBA of .190 and xSLG of .252 should set off five-alarm chili bells. He keeps making his hard contact into the ground and has an elevated 32 K% He does possess both power and speed so he certainly could turn it around, but in a 10-teamer, you have other power/speed options without so much downside.
Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)
Despite the name, Victor Robles is not a winner who took off his bathrobe. Although he got some late hype as a bounceback candidate, it’s been more of a dead cat bounce, with a .226 AVG and .269 SLG to go with no HRs and just two SB. The one piece of good news is he’s drawing many more walks with a 11 BB%, but the appeal of him getting on base was supposed to be for him to steal bases, and he’s not really even doing that. With his pitiful sub-2% barrel rate, he’s unlikely to produce double digit pop, and with his bad defense he could soon be out of a job if he doesn’t turn it around. Don’t wait to find out in 12-team leagues, and that goes for OBP as well, unless you really need speed in the worst way.
Andrés Giménez (2B/3B/SS, Cleveland Indians)
You may as well give up on him, because apparently his major league team already did. The 22-year-old sputtered in his sophomore campaign, hitting just .135 with no HRs, one SB, two R and one RBI over the past three weeks, and as a result Cesar and Amed are increasingly taking over. Even with playing time, his luck wasn’t betraying him, as evidenced by his nasty .188 xBA and .297 xBA. You can’t steal first base, and he looks like the 2021 version of Oscar Mercado. Hope they still feel good about that trade.
Brett Gardner (OF, New York Yankees)
This feels like when Lou Reed decided to finish his career by recording Lulu with Metallica. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky and please don’t look it up. Although a Yankees Fan in my Noobs-only league took Gardner with a 10th round pick, it’s quite clear that he’s got nothing left. If his current line of .190/.284/.238 wasn’t bad enough, it’s even worse under the surface with an xBA of .162 and xSLG of .229. Even if he did fall into playing time, don’t fall into the trap of starting him. Remember, if you want to have a fruitful season, Farmer good, Gardner bad.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com) and Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)