Welcome back to this week’s Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is brought to you by Huascar Ynoa singing “I fought the wall and the wall won”. There were a ton of other injuries too this week, with a couple of Mets down for the count and even the perennial Mike Trout out for 6-8 weeks. You can always roll with the guys to soak up at-bats like Jose Rojas, Leury Garcia, and Johneshwy Fargas, and I swear my cat didn’t just walk on the keyboard typing that last name. But here are some players who have the ability to truly help your team excel, at least if you don’t mind making your league mates think you might have lost your mind.
Jarred Kelenic (OF, Seattle Mariners)
The Mets must look at this trade and be so thrilled that they unloaded this guy for super-studs and franchise role models Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. JK. Kelenic hasn’t set the world on fire so far in his debut, but I think he’ll turn it around quickly and it presents a rare potential buying opportunity. He’s managed to translate his above average contact with an excellent 83% Contact% (92% in-zone contact%). In a way is more impressive when you consider that his pitch selection has been poor with a 41% O-Swing% and a mere 59% Z-Swing%. I think this should improve over time, but what’s most important is his power/speed combo, which can allow him to produce at a 20/20 pace (so think 15/15 by season’s end). While it might take a few weeks for the young mariner to get his land legs, once he does it should be smooth sailing. Add in all 10-team AVG leagues.
Robbie Grossman (OF, Detroit Tigers)
This may be the year Grossman lives up to his name and gets 144 hits. Grossman has been on fire as of late, hitting .340/.448/.638 with 2 HR and 3 SB over the past 2 weeks. The Tigers look rather smart after picking him up off the relative scrap heap after a strong 2020 small sample that most assumed was a fluke. While he hasn’t had quite the power flourish he displayed last year with 4 home runs, he’s turned heads on the base paths with 7 SB. Although we saw a bit of this last year, it remains a surprising development as Grossman had been a pretty terrible baserunner for several years. As an accumulator in the leadoff spot with the potential to go 15/20 with a .350 OBP, he’s a great streamer in 12-team leagues and 10-team OBP formats, even if he eventually cools off again like he did last year.
Mike Zunino (C, Tampa Bay Rays)
He’s unpredictable, but he’s been bringing the thunder with his bat, that’s why they call him El Zuniño. Okay, they don’t call him that, mostly because it’s a very outdated reference, but he’s arguably been more Joey Gallo-esque than Joey Gallo himself this year, and actually leads all of baseball in Max Exit Velocity with a stunning 117 mph mark, as well as in barrels with a bombastic 24% Barrel%. While he’s hitting just .167 with 2 HRs the past week, I’m encouraged by his 3/3 K/BB ratio and think he’s in for a career year. While he still swings and misses as much as ever, with a 63% Contact%, that’s plenty fine when he’s crushing the ball like this, as he could very well lead all catchers in home runs by season’s end even if he’s in a timeshare. I also think the Rays will soon realize Mejia is not worthy of sharing playing time with big Mike, and I’ll be bold enough to call Zunino a must-add in 12-teamers and a viable play in 10-team OBP. Also please just watch his home run blasts this year, it’s a fun time.
Harold Ramirez (OF, Cleveland Indians)
He was never a big prospect, but it’s time he stop being so unharolded. Ramirez made a big splash for the Marlins in 2019 before falling off the map last year, but he’s been quietly crushing the ball and one of my favorite sleepers. While his .278/.297/.528 line with 2 HR in 36 AB is fine and dandy, he’s deserved far, far, better, with an eye-popping .383 xBA and .642 xSLG. Of course small sample size is a factor, but he’s also been tattooing the ball with a 115 max eV and 94 mph average eV, backed with outstanding 31% LD% and 56% HardHit%. He’s also made great contact, with an 11% K% supported by a strong 80% contact% and 24% CSW%. His only problem is that he makes too much of his hard contact into the ground, but if he improves on that he easily has 20+ HR upside. And while he has yet to steal many bases, his 85th percentile sprint speed gives hope that he can add that and be a five-tool threat. He’s a sneaky add in deeper 12-team average leagues, but his lousy walk rate makes him questionable for 15-team OBP.
Niko Goodrum (SS/2B, Detroit Tigers)
Niko should change is last year to Goodrun, because that’s mostly what he’s good for. He’s still tragically under-rostered in ESPN at just a 12% roster rate, despite the fact that he has the exact same 4 HR and 7 SB of Robbie Grossman. He’s hitting the ball harder than ever with a 52% HardHit%, but he’s clearly selling out for the power with a 40% K%. Still, he’s managed to walk at an 11% clip, making him a versatile speed add in 15-team OBP and a viable speed streamer in AVG formats.
Trevor Larnach (OF, Minnesota Twins)
With all the Kelenic and Kirilloff hype, Larnach gets forgotten, but he’s a great prospect in his own right. The 24-year-old masher just proved it with a max exit velocity of 116 mph on the nose, ranking a 98th percentile in only 17 batted balls. He’s also managed to keep a K rate below 20%, which is significant considering that strikeouts were considered his bugaboo, and while it should regress with his sub-par contact%, it gives him some momentum. It remains to be seen what happens with him once Alex Kirilloff returns, but with his massive raw power I think he could just as easily have a four-homer week and you’ll miss your chance to scoop him on the cheap. Add in 15-team OBP and consider as a streamer in average leagues.
Ji-Man Choi (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)
The Rays likely don’t feel so great about never giving Nate Lowe a fair shake, and Choi’s year so far has only added injury to insult. But now he’s back from that injury, and had a solid first game, going 3 for 4. With Joey Wendle now covering most of the time at the hot corner, Choi is in a loose platoon with Yandy Diaz, who offensively ultimately profiles rather similarly as a solid OBP with mid-teens power bat, which is pretty useless in most formats but good enough for AL-only leagues especially with wave after wave of injuries weakening the hitter pool. Add in 18-team OBP formats and AL-only leagues.
Khalil Lee (OF, New York Mets)
Lee has gotten a lot of hype due to his 50+ SB seasons in the minors, but the question remains whether he can steal first. We’ll likely find out soon, as his second stint on the team should be longer than the first with the Mets hitters dropping like dropped flies. Unlike the cooler-named Johneshwy Fargas, Lee has significant single-category upside if he can even hit .200, and I’m not sure I’m confident that he can. But he’ll get the chance and makes a useful SB stream in 18-team and NL-only leagues if you can stomach the potentially dreadful average or OBP, which could be reminiscent of Domingo Santana’s legendary bellyflop of a rookie year.
Gleyber Torres (2B, New York Yankees)
Gleybaby’s photo on the MLB site looks like he just bit into a lemon, which reflects my face when I see his Statcast page. Granted, Statcast was skeptical of his big 38-homer 2019 season, but for the second straight year he has struggled to hit the ball with authority, with just 1 HR, 2 SB, and a .234/.326/.298 line in 141 PA. The 24-year-old certainly has the talent to be better than this somewhere in there, but it seems his performance thus far hasn’t just been bad luck with a .239 xBA and .376 xSLG. He has at least managed to draw more walks, but while he’ll improve, in 10-team formats you simply can’t afford to wait for a turnaround, especially as it might just be a .260 20 HR bat that could be outproduced by Eduardo Escobar. Cut in 10-team AVG formats and potentially OBP as well if there’s a good second sacker still on the wire.
Josh Rojas (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
I have considered writing him up every week basically since April and have always changed my mind for two key reasons: his relatively high K% of 25% and his low max exit velocity of 105 mph. Basically this means right now, he’s likely performing at the top of his game with his .284 AVG, 5 HR and 2 SB in 130 PA. But Statcast indicates he is possibly even over his head with a far less impressive .243 xBA and .431 xSLG. Right now everyone seems to be talking about what a sleeper and must-own he is with a nice 69% roster rate, but that’s precisely what makes him a great player to deal in a trade before reality kicks in and they realize that he’s closer to Leury Garcia than Adolis Garcia.
David Peralta (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why so many people flocked to him in the first place. He’s had one hot week 3 weeks ago but with a .267/.331/.466 line with 4 HR and 1 SB, there’s really nothing special about him. The 33-year-old is the same as he ever was, with an impressive eV that he mostly hits straight into the ground, and if you like that profile, why not go with the younger, faster and more malleable Harold Ramirez instead?
Elvis Andrus (SS, Oakland Athletics)
Elvis has left the building, and just as disgracefully. The 32-year-old is hitting an anemic .183/.232/.237 with no homers and 3 SB, which is more concerning on the heels of his abysmal 2020 campaign that had the longtime Texas Ranger replaced and unloaded in a heartbeat. Now with the return of Chad Pinder (who I’m a fan of), Andrus may find himself with fewer chances to turn it around. As weird as it feels to stick a fork in a 32-year-old with a long track record of success, there’s simply better speed options and he can retire so he can do what he does best: annoy Adrian Beltre.
Kurt Suzuki (C, Los Angeles Angels)
Some players may seem to defy age, but in the end Father Time is undefeated, and right now is giving Suzuki a spanking. After many years as an above-average battery-mate, Max Stassi’s injury gave him a chance for full-time reps and he hit just .177/.278/.258 with 1 HR in 73 AB. Statcast thinks this is fair with an .188 xBA and .284 xSLG, thanks in part to his career-high 22% K%. Even before Stassi returns, you’re better off taking a chance on another backup catcher who can actually hit when given the chance. You’re a fool if you don’t cut him in all leagues, sorry to be Kurt with you.