Buy & Sell 5/30: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and to make up for the extra few days in between articles, I included a few extra players. While away on a cruise with no internet, I missed a lot of good fantasy baseball, so I’ve been catching up quite a bit lately! Also my girlfriend broke up with me on the cruise, and cited my frequent checking of baseball scores as one of the reasons! So don’t say I don’t make sacrifices for y’all. Now, on to the players, as I delve deeper into distraction.
Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Everyone likes watching while Austin Powers your team to victory. I wrote him up in last week’s addition as a high-upside add and he’s been a true spark plug, hitting .a beastly .439/.429/..854 with 4 homers and 3 stolen bases in just 42 PA. While it’s pretty crazy that his average is higher than his OBP, the fact that he’s doing this after hitting just one homer in Triple-A is even more astounding, and gives yet more credence to the theory that power numbers are depressed in the juiced-ball-free minors. While his current production is obviously not sustainable, xStats says he deserves a .300+ average with a .550 SLG which is fantastic, and that’s before accounting for his speed and defense. With Marte back, some fools may worry about him losing PT, but, to borrow from the cat-based meme “if I hits, I no sits”. At 55.6% owned, he is this week’s most added player, with a 36.7% ownership spike this week, and he should be grabbed in all leagues like the mask of a Scooby Doo villain. He’ll say, “I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you Meadowing kids!”
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – This land is Moreland, it’s sweet like candy, to not be in a platoon anymore, wave bye to Hanley. Moreland has been the biggest beneficiary of the somewhat surprising move by the Sox to DFA Ramirez, and Moreland has earned the right to prove what he can do in a full-time role He’s hit an astounding .317/.385/.642, and hitting .333 with 2 of his 8 homers in the past week. Even though xStats thinks he’s benefited from some good luck, his xSlash of .287/.359/.588 is still quite excellent. Of course, that was against primarily lefties, so now I’d expect his rates to drop while facing righties as well, but I see no reason he can’t hit .270/.330/.550 the rest of the way, which is plenty useful in all 12-team formats. I believe in the power with his FB/LD exit velocity of 97.6 mph and barrel rate of 9.2% nearly identical to Khris Davis. Due to the run production upside, I’d look to grab him in batting average 10-teamers as well, and while he’s staying hot you should not ditch Moreland.
Matt Kemp – (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – He’s been red hot and turning up the kemperature. After hitting .400 over the past 2 weeks, the 33-year old raised his season line to a superlative.340/.370/.541 with 6 Home Runs in 173 PA, which may make you wonder what year it is. While you may wisely raise an eyebrow at his sketchy 22% K%, .408 BABIP and .191 BABIP, xStats still thinks he’s mostly legit, with an xSlash of .291/.325/.536, and his 9.4% Barrel% is right in between Stanton and Khris Davis. While he’s not going to hit 35 homers again, with continued health, he could hit 25 with a strong average, making him a must-own in 12-team batting average formats. 12-team OBP can stream and ride the hot hand but can be a good deal less committed if things go south… Kinda like my ex-girlfriend was with me! Haha, I’m okay, really, guys.
Yonder Alonso – (1B, Cleveland Indians) – He may have been left for dead in April, but now’s no time to be Alonso mourning. Wrong sport, I know. While Yonder has been hitting homers all year, the average is coming around in a hurry, as he’s hit .320 with 3 Home Runs over the past 21 days and .474 over the past week to lift his season line to .243/.313/.474. That line is virtually identical to his xSlash of .245/.316/.480, so this is likely what we should expect going forward. The walk rate isn’t quite what it was in his 2017 campaign, but I still think it should be at 10% the rest of the way which makes him worth owning in 12-team OBP, whereas he’s more of a streamer in batting average 12-team leagues. If you’re lacking power production from your 1B or CI lot, you should ponder yonder.
Evan Gattis (C/DH, Houston Astros) – Yeah, this is why we shouldn’t overreact to one bad month. Not to sound like I’m above it, I stupidly dropped him in one league. After being downright garbage in April, Gattis has been on an absolute tear, with 6 homers since May 12th, to bring his average up to .236 with 7 home runs on the year. I had noted previously that this wasn’t the first year he started off abysmally only to rebound with a mid-season power breakout, but it is harder to practice patience with a player like him with no defensive value to keep him in the lineup. Considering that catcher has been an absolute dumpster fire as usual this year, if he’s available in any leagues, 12-team or even 10-team, you should pick up the iron butterfly and rock out to In-a-Gattis-Da-Vida. Speaking of which, that song just had it’s 50th birthday, which probably makes some of us feel very old!
Matt Carpenter – (2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Carp is swimming upstream. While his ugly start had many worrying that his bothersome shoulder was affecting him at the plate, this was never reflected in his above-average Statcast data. His Barrel% of 9.1% and FB/LD eV of 94.1 mph indicate he’s been healthy and his comments about trading power for contact were just as legit as Chad Pinder saying he’s going to steal a ton of bases this year (he has zero). It’s a little surprising to see his ownership spike up to 69.8% considering his season line of .221/.328/.423, but perhaps they’re getting savvy to his much healthier xSlash of .258/.360/.551. Combined with his multi-position eligibility, that makes him worth owning in all 12-team formats and 10-team OBP.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets) – In the end, it looks like Nimmo found himself. After going 2-4 with 2 stolen bases on Tuesday, he’s now up to an excellent .271/..418/.533 line with 5 Home Runs and 5 Stolen Bases (0 Caught Stealing). It took a good while for him to carve out a role for himself, but injuries helped pave the way and now he’s cementing his place in the lineup. His line is not a total fluke either, as before Tuesday’s game his xSlash of .240/.392/.493 is still plenty useful. The power surge seems legit as he’s posting significant career-highs in Hard% (41.9%) Pull% (43.2%) and Flyball%(49.3%), which all combine quite nicely. He should definitely be owned in all 15-team leagues, and is a smart add in 12-team OBP formats, where he may still be available with just a 17.4% ESPN Ownership rate. If your offense is looking dead, he may provide your team with Nimmortality.
Dustin Pedroia (2B, Boston Red Sox) – Baseball is busting players for PED use, but baseball openly welcomes Pedey. It took awhile for Pedroia to get healthy enough to play, but I still believe he’s not yet done. Sure, he hasn’t lit the world on fire with his .091 AVG over his first 13 PA, but it’s at least encouraging that he’s not striking out with a lower-than-usual whiff rate of 2.7%. I think as he rounds into form some power can come if he can stay healthy, and ROS projections may be underselling his power since he played through injury last year. Once he starts hitting (assuming he does), he’ll likely get scooped up quicker than most, so he should get immediately added in all 15-team leagues, and 12-team formats that use Batting Average or Red Sox loyalty as categories. In the latter category, he’s an obvious fantasy stud, though those leagues likely only exist within the confines of Fenway.
Mac Williamson (OF, San Francisco Giants) – Mac Attack is back! Before his concussion, he was really starting to look like a more evolved hitter, and he’s now hitting .270 with 3 Home Runs, 5 R and 8 RBI in just 39 PA. In Triple-A, he hit a phenomenal .446/.543/.982 with 8 Homers and a .536 ISO over 70 PA, which makes it clear that he no longer needs a single at-bat in the minors. It’s worth noting though that in the majors he’s still struggled with discipline, with an ugly 37.8% Chase% and a career-best 14.4% Swstr% that still isn’t good at all. His ownership rose from 5.8% to 9.2%, but that still means he’s rather widely available. With sample sizes being so small, it remains to be seen whether he’ll continue to underwhelm in the majors or if he can summon some of that Triple-A magic for some fantasy lightning in a bottle. The upside of that alone makes him worth adding in all 18-team leagues and worth a speculative add in 15-team formats, and 12-teamers should at least leave on their Mac monitors.
Max Muncy (1B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – If you’re craving a high level of production, you may end up getting the Muncys. Hey it’s legal in California now, sort of. In addition to having some of the most prominent canine teeth the majors (He doesn’t quite look like a vampire, but perhaps a vampire’s comic relief sidekick), he’s opened some eyes with a .256/.364/.522 with 6 homers in 107 PA. Up to this point the 27-year old has always produced in the minors with excellent OBP and solid power, but this level of power and walk rate in the majors is still unexpected. But it may not regress as much as expected, as his xSlash of .235/.332/.534, which was calculated before his 2-hit game tonight, suggests that he’s deserved slightly better power numbers. I believe in his ability to keep a decent average and super strong OBP with his stingy O-Swing% of 20.8% and his impressive 8.0% Swstr%, but I’m even more excited by his 12.1% Barrel%, that’s 7th-best in the MLB! At just 1.2% Owned, he’s the kind of sleeper player who may still be available in deep leagues that could help carry you to victory, and he should be immediately added in 18-team and 15-team formats, and I’ll be so bold as to even add him in 12-team OBP, and perhaps even that may soon seem conservative. Muncy is no longer just a New York suburb with a plethora of Kosher food options.
Justin Smoak – (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) – Seeing that he hit a home run tonight makes it a bit harder to write this, but I’m writing it anyway. I wanted to hold off on sounding the alarm on Smoak as his .249/.375/.452 line certainly isn’t terrible, and he’s maintaining last year’s changes with a career-best 8.2% Swstr%, and he still has strong FB% and Pull%. But one thing is missing: the power. Last year, his 9.3% Barrel% was 8th-best in the league of qualified players, with a 94.6 mph FB/LD exit velocity. This year, the FB/LD eV is down to 92.5 mph, with a 6.5% Barrel% that ranks 75th-best, with a Hard% of 32.8% which is his worst mark by far since 2012. While you may see the glass still half-full, xStats will stomp on your glass (Jewish wedding not included) with an ugly xSlash of .219/.350/.396 that even tonight’s homer can’t doll up. While he still may find more power and have a stronger second half, Smoak should be cut in 10-team formats, and it may be time to cut him in 12-team batting average formats as well if there are better options available (like, say, Belt, Moreland or even Aguilar). But in 12-team OBP, I can’t quit Smoak…yet.
Gorkys Hernandez (OF, San Francisco Giants) – Rumor is that Seal is working on a new hit “Gorkys from a rose”. He has been red-hot, as the age-30 former prospect disappointment is hitting studly .321/.348/.527 with 6 homers, and 3 stolen bases. That’s more dingers in 119 PA than he’s had in the rest of his career spanning 583 PA (5), Unfortunately, xStats sees this as mostly a mirage, with a quite sobering xSlash of .257/.286/.380. ESPN leaguers care not for these newfangled statistics, as he’s been among the most added players, rising from 0.3% to 10.7% ownership. It would seem as he’s selling out for his power, as his 30.3% K% is a career worst and looks unlikely to improve with a terrible 16.8% whiff rate, and it’s all masked by his .423 BABIP. Despite the tantalizing numbers, the three-ring Gorkys tent should come crashing down and he should not be owned in 12-team formats. I originally wanted to write him up as a buy, but after seeing the data, he makes for an obvious sell-high candidate.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Colorado Rockies) – Hey, did you hear the news? Gonzalez went 4-for-4! So go out there and …sell him now while you can! Really.With his name value and home ballpark, you’ll likely find a buyer for his .333 Average over the past 3 weeks (.421 over the past week), especially since the 5 homers are complemented by 3 stolen bases, and get something nice in return. But xStats is not buying, with an xSlash of .239/.286/.381, which is just ugly, and his mediocre FB/LD eV of 90.9 mph isn’t doing him any favors either. If you fail to find a taker on his (finger quotes) “upside”, I’d be okay unloading this not-so-precious CarGo for most of the guys on this list.
Jonathan Lucroy (C, Oakland Athletics) – Remember what I said about catcher being a dumpster fire? Here’s a discarded open jug of kerosene. Many optimists were hoping for a rebound from his anemic 2017 where I lambasted him plenty on these digital pages, but he’s given me license to trash him some more. His .259/.319/.354 line could be worse, and xStats says it should be worse, with an xSlash of .242/..304/.328, and a 1.9% Barrel% lower than Ketel Marte. At this point you should wonder why you’re hoping from him at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s start ceding his at-bats soon to Maxwell since it’s at least worth a shot, and you can drop him for speculative gambles on guys like Stassi and John Hicks. Cool bat Lucroy should not be owned in any 12-team single catcher format or even 15-team, unless you’re just trying to create a dream team of regulars that can be outhit by Madison Bumgarner, in which case he’s perfect.