Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and this week’s theme is “These pro IL stints are making me thirsty!” Splashbang wunderkind Alex Kiriloff, who I had already written up as an all-leagues buy, is saying bye for now (though if you can still get him on your bench/reserves I think he’s worth it), and the pool of talent is drying up. And the poor White Sox can’t catch a break, now having lost Luis Robert for the majority if not all of the season. But if you stay savvy, you’ll find the new opportunities here.
Nick Solak (2B/OF, Texas Rangers)
ALERT. We have slipped into an alternate dimension, a silly one in which Nick Solak has 7 times as many home runs as Joey Gallo. This is not a drill. Solak is hitting a fantastic .284/.362/.491 with 7 homers and 2 SB, though it’s probably just a bit unsustainable that he has 7 home runs to only 3 doubles (and no triples). But with his.288 xBA and .516 xSLG, he has earned his current production. He may be this year’s Luis Robert as a supposed power/speed hitter that showed near-zero power the previous year, only to explode this year and make you feel stupid for losing faith so quickly. While in deeper leagues it’s likely too late for you to scoop him up, his dual position eligibility makes him worth rostering in 10-team AVG formats.
C.J. Cron (1B, Colorado Rockies)
Time to get back in the Cron Zone. My preseason bold prediction that he would outhit Nolan Arenado doesn’t look absolutely laughably ridiculous yet, as he’s shaken off a rough start to hit ..279/.374/.465 with 4 homers. While his contact ability has tailed off some at 79%, he’s continued to make plenty of hard contact. He’s actually underperforming his expected stats in Colorado (which is hard to do) with a .308 xBA and .567 xSLG, which indicates exactly the player I said he could be with his flyball-heavy approach in a hitter’s haven. He’s probably a multi-homer game from being called an all-leagues must-add, and I’d rather get ahead of that curve. Because I don’t have trouble with the curve. Because it’s a bad baseball movie.
Jesus Aguilar (1B, Miami Marlins)
It looks like the resurrection of Jesus required three seasons. Aguilar put together an interesting but rather underwhelming season in 2020, as he significantly improved his contact skills but seemed unable to tap into the impressive power that defined his 2018 breakout. Well this year, he’s regained some of that pop while also improving his contact to near the peak-Votto realm. This seems like no fluke, and in fact, it’s the fifth consecutive year he’s lowered his K%, from 30% in 2017 to 25%, 22%, 19%, and now it’s down to 13%, though I expect it to regress some as his contact rate is identical to 2020. He’s also rocking a career-best 16% BB% to go with his snazzy .298/.398/.560 with 6 HR and 23 RBI. Even without barrels, he’s in a great lineup spot to be an accumulator and is a fine add in all 12-team leagues.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
Has this been awesome? Yes. Can you trust it? No idea. O’Neill has, despite his excellent prospect pedigree, been one of the worst hitters in his stints the past few years. However, he’s still just 25 and is finally putting that tantalizing power/speed upside on full display. Since coming off the IL, he’s hit a monstrous .359/.375/.718 with 4 dingers and two nabbed bags, bringing his season total to .269/.290/.537 with 5 HR and 2 SB. Statcast very much believes in the power and even the average, as they give him a .297 xBA and .640 xSLG, the latter of which is the 19th best in baseball, and a .591 expected batting average on contact that is among the best if not the best in baseball. That being said, he’s whiffing more than ever, with a 19% SwStr% that makes O’Neill basically a better Bobby Dalbec on wheels. But if you stomach the risk, his elite power combined with his 99th percentile sprint speed makes him worth taking a shot on for a potential 30/15 season.
William Contreras (C, Atlanta Braves)
With Travis D’Arnaud’s bad tag taking a turn for the worse and the 60-Day IL, The Braves signed Jeff Mathis to alleviate all concerns. And they also called up this 23-year-old top prospect who is okay I guess. He is mostly valuable for his playing time, as his minor league track record isn’t especially impressive, but the hope is that being the younger brother of Willson means his baseball bloodlines will shine Cavan Biggio style. Given the strong surrounding lineup, he’s worth taking a chance on given his strong small sample, pedigree, and youth. Add in deeper 15-team and two-catcher leagues.
Tyrone Taylor (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
He’s gotten off to a fine start, and Statcast has validated his excellent current line of .323/.400/.581 with a .320 xBA and .616 xSLG. Of course, that’s not predictive and it’s only 35 PA, but I’m bullish. His biggest weakness has always been mediocre power, and he already broke through in that regard with an impressive 111 mph max exit velocity (79th percentile). Combined with his 88th percentile speed, he has a chance to be an Avisail Garcia clone. The question is when everyone comes back, and you can only save one, which one is the clone? Stream in 15-team batting average leagues.
Charlie Culberson (1B/3B, Texas Rangers)
Do I believe that the 32-year-old journeyman is a late-career breakout? Well, no. While he’s turned heads hitting .319/.347/.553 with 2 HR and 1 SB, Statcast believes he’s the luckiest hitter in baseball, with a much more reasonable .285 xBA and xSLG nearly 100 points lower. But still, that’s not bad, and the Rangers offense is bad enough that he should keep getting reps until he cools down, which inherently has value. As far as power/speed expectations, I wouldn’t expect much more than David Fletcher with a worse average, but he can fall into some run production and be a useful glue guy. Add in AL-only formats and ride while hot.
Matt Beaty (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
He’s no beaty-eyed youngster anymore. I was a pretty big fan of Beaty in his debut and he’s kinda stumbled around since, but he’s made the most of another opportunity. He’s coming off of a massive 4-hit game and hitting .357/.500/.464 with 1 HR in36 PA, with a strong 17% BB% and a 19% K%. He’s the kind of guy that can string together some big games for some solid power and average numbers before the league readjusts to him. While he wasn’t a big OBP guy in the past, his excellent walk rate is no fluke as it’s backed by a career-best 23% O-Swing%. He lacks upside, but I’d say in NL-only average leagues or 18-team OBP, he’s worth streaming for now until the at-bats inevitably dry up.
Eugenio Suarez (SS/3B, Cincinnati Reds)
I know that he had a big game the other day, but it turns out that trying to learn a position that you are frankly pretty dang unqualified for can really mess up your groove. He’s never exactly been a player with amazing barrel rates and outperformed expectations, but his approach just doesn’t look destined for success with that unusually high strikeout rate. He’ll still likely pop 25-30 homers, but his average may give you memories of Yelich’s 2020. I’d still hold him in 12-team formats, but there are simply better options in 10-team formats and you can likely get him back if he rights himself.
Gavin Lux (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
I feel bad for anyone in 12-teamers holding on to him, it stinks to be down on your Lux. He’s hitting just .206/.243/.265 this season, with a lousy 29% strikeout rate. Even though Statcast validated his struggles so far with a .240 xBA and .294 xSLG, I think he won’t remain this bad. However, his calling card is supposed to be his bat, and if he can’t bring his K% under 25% he’s likely a sell. While it’s good for him as a player to have a chance to work this out, Dodgeritis will come for him soon if he can’t turn the tide. He’s a wise player to cut in any redraft format.
Akil Baddoo (OF, Detroit Tigers)
Lately, he’s been a lot less oo and a lot more Badd. It seemed after week 1 that maybe he’d have enough power and speed to make up for a poor contact rate. And now, we’re reminded of why you can get burned chasing high-strikeout types. He’s hitting just .143/.173/.340 in 50 AB the past 3 weeks without a single hit this past week. Barring a shocking turnaround, he’s likely to be demoted (EDIT: Scratch that, he’s Rule 5 and they won’t want him returning to the Twins) and I’d pick up some speculative Victor Reyes shares instead. He’s an easy cut in 12-teamers and I’d drop in 15-team OBP as well since his OBP is pure Baddoodoo. I am 33 years old and I really just wrote that.
David Dahl (OF, Texas Rangers)
I feel like Dahl made a deal with the devil where he was allowed to not get injured but he had to trade all of his talent. The former power/speed dynamo may have always been a beneficiary of Coors Field, as he always had a high strikeout rate and relatively low barrel rates, but there was hope he’d be at least a .250 15/15 season. But as bad as his team is, Willie Calhoun has gained momentum and he’s getting pushed increasingly out of playing time. While he’ll likely be better than this, he may be trying to play through shoulder soreness, and he has blue across the board in terms of hard contact, K rate, expected stats. You won’t get any value from this porcelain Dahl. Cut in AL-only OBP leagues and 18-teamers.
Buy or Sell on the following:
A.Hays, Eaton, A.Hicks, Avisail G., Naylor, I.Happ, Pavin S.
Although it’s tough to say without league context, of the group I am most bullish on Avisail (when healthy), and Pavin, at Eaton may be at the peak of his value this year.
It’s a 12 team roto mixed league
:::Lately, he’s been a lot less oo and a lot more Badd.
genius line. love this column and it feels awesome when I already have someone on the buy list.
Thanks so much, Your Mean Mercedes, btw awesome name!