Buy & Sell 5/21: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

Ben Pernick reviews 14 trending hitters and breaks down which ones are set to soar and which ones are in for a crash landing.

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s edition is themed “earlier than usual because I’ll be out of the country”. I will enjoy my travels more not knowing whether or not the advice on these digital pages helped your team or possibly destroyed you, though hopefully more of the former than the latter. Some of the players on this list probably would not have made it on if not for opportunities created by teammates getting hurt. So, injured players, thanks for taking one for the team. Er, our fantasy teams, anyway.

BUY

Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals) – There can be only Juan. Soto entered the year as one of the game’s top prospects, but his stock has skyrocketed after hitting a ludicrous .362/.462/.757 with 14 Home Runs in just 39 games. Oh, and he’s only 19. He’s an obvious top 5 prospect. For everyone that thought Acuna was a fast riser, Soto went from Low-A to the majors in a month and a half. So of course there’s a fair chance that he stumbles with such a rapid ascent, but he really hasn’t struggled yet. The insane upside for power and average, even for a 19-year-old makes him worth adding in all leagues, and aggressive bidding if you can get him with FAAB.

Trey Mancini (OF/1B, Baltimore Orioles) – It’s about to get hot in Camden, so change into your Tankinis and expect a change for Trey Mancini. While he’s only hit .200 over the past week, it’s come with 2 homers and a 7/5 BB/K that points to him maturing as a hitter in his full sophomore campaign. In fact, his walk rate has doubled from last year, going from 5.6% in 2017 to 11.1%, with a K rate that’s declined from 23.7% to 21.1%. While his season line of .259/.339/.416 is hardly inspirational, I’m uplifted by his healthier xSlash of .294/.371/.488. With Schoop’s return and summer’s imminent arrival, I think he makes for a great buy-low with massive run-producing upside in the heart of Baltimore’s reawakening lineup. His ownership somewhat surprisingly jumped from 64.1% to 76.6% this week, but scoop him up if he’s still available in 12-team formats and even 10-team formats depending on your team situation, now for both batting average and OBP leagues, especially with his dual 1B/OF eligibility that’s as delicious as a Mancinimon roll.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers) – Jesus is making a return to this list, and he has the power to save you. Now that his opportunities for playing time have opened up with Ryan Braun‘s DL stint, He’s hit 4 homers of his 6 homers over the past week, with a .269/.296/.654 slash over that span. While you may assume this is just a hot streak, consider even with his excellent .330/.395/.588, that his xStats backs it and then some with a .323/.393/.604 xSlash (and that doesn’t account for his Saturday homer). He always was bandied about as a bat-only guy who in the right opportunity could be a power/average monster, and year this may be his coming out party. Despite being owned in just 4.6% of leagues, his bat makes him a must-add in 12-team leagues and a worthy flier in batting average 10-team leagues (he definitely takes a hit in OBP formats). He’s such a steal, picking him up for free in deep leagues should be considered Grand Aguilarceny.

Yasiel Puig (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – This past week, Puig has been putting the YAS in Yasiel. He’s been hitting .296/.449/.882 with 3 homers, 4 Runs, 3 RBI and 1 SB over 17 AB over that span, and is reminding owners why you can’t just panic drop him due to a slump. xStats definitely believes the numbers will improve, as his current season line of .214/.283/.339 is a good deal weaker than his xSlash of .240/.305/.399. Of course, that’s also nothing to write home about, but every player has their streaks and we already know from last year what a peak Puig is capable of. Even with this hot streak, he’s still prone to the Dodgers yanking him in and out and around the lineup, so keep an eye on your lineups. Still, if he was cut by a frustrated owner in your league, the upside makes him an astute pickup in 15-team and 12-team formats, and certainly worth a power/speed or hot streak flier in 10 team.

Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Aside from having a name that’s very pleasing on the ear, he has a bat that’s very pleasing to the eye. He has yet to strike out in his first 11 PA, hitting .455 with a homer and a stolen base. He has the ability to hit for solid average and OBP with a little bit of power and speed. Sort of similar to Dustin Fowler who we covered last week, he’s likely a better real-life player than a fantasy player, though Meadows likely has the higher upside. While he’s overshadowed by the call-up of Soto, he’s plenty exciting and his OBP/power/speed upside makes him a fine add in 15-team and 12-team OBP leagues.

Travis Jankowski (OF, San Diego Padres) – He’s got everyone doing the Janky leg. Lately his legs have been plenty busy, as he’s up to 7 stolen bags with 2 more on Saturday, while hitting a surprisingly impactful .390/.470/.508. Of course his .478 BABIP is not going to last, but a player with his speed should still have an elevated BABIP and a high average and OBP with his excellent 13.2% walk rate and solid 17.6% K rate. That K rate also should go lower as he’s suddenly a plate discipline and contact beast, with fantastic career-best 13.8% O-Swing% (career 21.7%) and Z-Contact% of 94.8% (career 88.1%) for a 5.0% Swstr% (career 8.2%). But he’s no Tower of Power, as the Wet Towel of Powell (Boog) would point to his 66.7% GB% and his puny 88.1 mph FB/LD eV (86.9 mph overall) and he’s massively outperforming his meager xSlash of .259/.365/.329. So if you add him, you may want to shop him around, but he’s a fine add in all 15-team leagues and a handy streamer for OBP and SB in 12-team formats.

Christian Arroyo (3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays) – Everyone’s talking about the royal wedding, when they should be talking about the Arroyo hitting. His call-up this year may be among the most unheralded top prospect call-ups in recent memory, but it’s not hard to understand why. Even though he’s just 22 and was the centerpiece of the Evan Longoria deal, he was struggling mightily in Triple-A, with an anemic .200/.235/308 line in 68 PA. But that small sample size hasn’t translated yet to the majors, where’s he’s made a splash with a .400/.538/.600 line in his first two games with a 3/2 BB/K. His plate discipline and average skills do seem legit, with a stingy 18.5% O-Swing% and a 7.7% Swstr%, but his power will likely be limited, and his early 71.4% GB% isn’t going to help that. Still, while he has regular playing time, he’s a must-add in AL-only redraft formats and a solid flier in 18-team leagues in which he has multiple-position eligibility. In keeper leagues, of course, you’d be wise to be more aggressive if he’s available. After all, he does have ROY in his name.

Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers) – He came into the season like a Leonys, then went out like a Lamb-ys. A popular waiver add before his hamstring injury, he was cut in many shallower formats during his DL stint but he’s back and ready to roll. He’s posting a .276/.336/.478 line that is nearly identical to his xStats, and will get plenty of reps and run scoring opportunities as the Tigers leadoff man. This year seems to have some striking similarities to 2016, when Martin was hitting for more power, as Martin’s 10.9% Barrel% is actually 15th-best in the league! Bet you didn’t see that coming. I bet you also didn’t see coming that’s he’s only stolen one base and has been caught 3 times. Hopefully on an offense as bad as the Tigers, he’ll get the green light more, as he could have great deep league value even as a 20-20 threat the rest of the way. But a note of warning: Martin couldn’t get his groove back after returning from his 2016 hamstring injury, and while this one was more minor, it could always happen again. Still, in 15-team formats and deeper 12-team batting average formats, he makes for a Leo-nice addition.

Leury Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox) – He’s been nothing special for a while, but don’t be too leery of Leury. He’s been heating up, hitting .333 with a homer and a SB in 18 AB the past week, to improve his season line to .259/.304/.370 with 2 Home Runs and 7 Stolen Bases. That may not impress you much, but he may not have the bat but he’s got the stolen base touch. While last year he hit for better average and power, he had a poor stolen base success rate with 8 stolen bases and 5 caught stealing over 326 PA. This year he’s already nearly tied that stolen base total in just 112 PA, with his 7 bags coming without a single caught stealing. With Engel being clearly inferior and Delmonico hitting the DL, Leury will have more playing time and should continue to get the green light with such an anemic offense, and could be a 20 SB sleeper with a decent enough average and OBP to keep you afloat. He makes a fine add in all 18-team leagues, and is a solid flier source of stolen base help in Batting Average 15-team formats, but much less appealing in OBP leagues with his 3.8% walk rate. At least he has a good run rate.

Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants) – You may think of him as Mr. Consistency, or Mr. Boring, but he’d probably prefer to be called Mr. Crawford. He’s at least doing enough so far to make him mildly interesting, with a line of .302/.333/.453 that’s solid at a still relatively weak position and it’s mostly XStats-backed thinks with a solid xSlash of 285/.317/.419. Although the high BABIP indicates some regression is on the way, he should be owned in 15-team formats and is at least a good streamer in 12-team batting average leagues. He does take a big hit in OBP formats, where you’re likely better off with a higher OBP guy like Robertson . See, he so boring I had to start talking about other players in his writeup.

Hunter Dozier (3B, Kansas City Royals) – Hunter may have come up empty-handed so far, but he may still have a good shot. You may be wondering why I even bother writing about him as he’s hitting just .176/.263/.235 over 19 PA, and is no longer a top prospect at age 26 going on 27 and basically being useless in the minors in the past year. But I stumbled upon the fact that despite the infinitesimal sample size, he does currently lead the majors in Barrel% with 21.1% Barrel/PA, which means he has more Barrels (4) than hits (3). His secret seems to be hitting everything in the air, and a 69.2% FB% rate combined with a 61.5% Hard% and a 46.2% Pull% is a promising combination. In case you assume he’s selling out for power, his strikeout rate of 21.1% may improve based on his 7.4% Swstr% carried by an excellent 86.7% Contact%. xStats has taken notice, giving him a killer xSlash of .304/.351/.686. While it’s anyone’s guess whether he can keep this up, he’s available almost everywhere, and is worth snagging in AL-only leagues and 18-team formats, and even 15-team should keep a close eye on him. You can catch the worm by being the early bird and not dozing on Dozier.

SELL

Yulieski Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros) – I’m selling him like a cheap handmade jewelry on YuliEtsy. While I’ve erroneously bailed on him too early, his complete lack of power makes me want to double down. While his .3.1% HR/FB seems likely to regress after a double digit mark in 2017, he’s hitting more groundballs at 49.1%, and his okay 31.3% Hard% is belied by a 89.5 FB/LD eV (interestingly, he has a slightly higher velocity on his grounders). His chase rate and whiff rate (Swstr%) are up this year too, and suddenly you wonder why you’re holding out for better things for a guy who will turn 34 in a few weeks. He should not be owned in 12-team, and even cut in 15-team, especially if it’s an OBP league. If you keep waiting for mixed-league value, Yuli be sorry.

Scott Kingery (2B, Philadelphia Phillies) – If he gets the same treatment as Felix Hernandez, he should be Scott Princery, or perhaps Scott Pawnery. But I’m not writing here to kick someone while he’s down, but rather to address him since he’s definitely not a hot pickup. From a data perspective, it’s hard to find much cause for optimism, although his xStats at least say he’s deserved slightly better. But he’s still getting the opportunity to work out of this, and we have to remember the reasons we were so hyped on him entering the season, since his talent didn’t just disappear on Opening Day, though it sure can seem like it. You can’t hold him in 10-team and can probably cut him in 12-team for now (unless you have room on your bench), but I’d hold tight in 15-team since ROS Kingery is likely better than the waiver alternatives. The king may be dethroned, but don’t behead him just yet.

Mark Trumbo (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – Since I got some flak for saying drop Chirstian Villanueva after a 0-for-36 streak that made that decision rather obvious, let me instead clip the wings of a recently popular flier. Trumbo has been hitting pretty well since his return from the DL, with a .279 average and a homer in just 69 PA. Of course, every knows that his luck is bound to improve and the power will come around as Camden heats up. Well, they know wrong! Trumbo’s xSlash of .277/.287/.365 shows that he may be actually be getting lucky on the power front, and just really doesn’t seem anything like the hitter the Trumbo of 2016 who hit all those homers. And somehow his normally bad walk rate has become downright abysmal. He has no business being owned in 12-team formats right now, and in OBP leagues, he should even be cut in 15-team formats. That may seem boldly pessimistic, if I’m going to be bold about Hunter Dozier, I think it’s only fair. Yep, drop Trumbo for Dozier, you heard it here first.

Ben Pernick

Fantasy baseball nerd, music therapist, and comedy singer/songwriter and stand-up/sketch comedian. I am also an insufferable enthusiast of puns and dad jokes. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

18 responses to “Buy & Sell 5/21: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. Avatar AC says:

    Ben, 9-team mixed OBP league – with Starling to the DL, how would you prioritize the following OF options: Matt Adams (currently on my bench), or drop Adams and FAAB one of Soto, Span, Conforto, Meadows, Leonys? I’m mostly looking to maintain power, without taking a hit in OBP, but capability of adding a few SB would be helpful – leaning Soto, but concerned a bit about an adjustment period. Thinking of this as short-term OF starter, medium-term bench/UT bat, but the more long-term value the better.

    • Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

      In such a shallow format, you may as well go with the highest upside. I’d go Soto, then conforto, then keep adams, then meadows, then leonys then a million guys then Span

  2. Avatar A huge fan says:

    Nice job this week Ben. If I could pick your brain real quick which side do you like
    A: Corbin/Andujar
    B: Greinke/ Belt

    I understand if you dont get around to it, still appreciate all your work

    • Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

      I’d go Greinke/Belt, more reliable pitcher and hitter If you own Corbin and were offered that I’d take it pronto

  3. Avatar Turp says:

    Hi Ben, do you prefer dustin fowler or meadows?

  4. Avatar omar says:

    How much of a drop-off is Mancini from Gallo. In an AL Only league, and have an offer on the table that would make Trey my primary 1b instead of Gallo. I know I’m giving up a lot of power, but gaining a ton in Avg. Thoughts?

    • Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

      The disparity in average is so large that I don’t consider it that big a drop off at all. Avg is harder to find

  5. Avatar Turp says:

    Hi Ben, do you prefer meadows over dustin fowler?

  6. Avatar Chucky says:

    Speaking of selling….has the train left the station without Odor? Besides the roundhouse right….not seeing any redeemable qualities here.

    • Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

      I think it’s still to early to say that on odor in deeper leagues as this is effectively still April for him with the time missed from the injury. I’d recommend patience til we have more data but in OBP you can cut him if you need

  7. Avatar Chucky says:

    Selling Odor? Besides the roundhouse right of his, not seeing any redeeming qualities.

    • Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

      With his power speed upside and youth, I’m trying to bench and hold where I can, but you can cut in 10 team an for 12 team OBP

  8. Avatar Benjamin Pernick says:

    On the cruise ship now so sorry if I didn’t get to your question! See you next week!

  9. Avatar Maris says:

    Ben. I drafted Scott Kingery in April at a decent price. Would you drop him at this point? Really don’t need him as he is now my backup SS to Lindor. Could stash him until next year. What do you think?

    • Avatar Ben Pernick says:

      If it’s a keeper league, he’s certainly worth holding onto, since I still believe in him long-term. But if it’s an auction league where you’d be keeping him at his drafted auction price, you will most likely get him far cheaper next year so he really wouldn’t be a great keeper.

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