Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire
Welcome to this week’s Buy & Sell, and the theme this time is “Multi-Positional Mayhem”! That’s not a theme I chose beforehand, this isn’t a Bar Mitzvah, I swear it’s just how it turned out. Some of these players may not still be around by the time you read it, unless you play in a league full of three-toed sloths, in which case I may help you more by abducting your league mates and making them my pets. Coffee is a heck of a drug. Okay, I know, less talking, more fantasy baseball talking!
Matt Adams (1B/OF, Washington Nationals) – I wanted to write up Adams last week but ran out of room, and I figured I’d just write him up next week, since nothing significant would change. Oops. While it may be too late to grab Adams, he’s still only owned in 47% of ESPN leagues after a meteoric rise from just 1.0% last week. After a home run binge and a 2-homer game yesterday, he suddenly has an absurd .307/.422/.747 line, the latter of which is fitting because his moonshots are flying out like a Boeing 747. Although xStats gives him a more conservative xSlash of .272/.393/.620, that’s still excellent at any position, and he’s made all-around improvements including increasing his Pull%, decreasing his IFFB%, posting the best Z-Contact% since 2014 and the best O-Swing% of his career, with an 11.1 Barrel% (14th-best in MLB). It’s going to be interesting to see how he is used when the Nats return to full health, but with him hitting this well, I expect them to get him in the lineup at any cost. If he’s still unclaimed in for some reason in your 12-team league, grab him right now, and probably also in both OBP and Batting Average 10-team leagues.
Eduardo Escobar (SS/3B, Minnesota Twins) – I may not understand how steroids work, but somehow Jorge Polanco taking a banned substance has only benefited his teammate. Escobar was overlooked in all but the deepest as leagues as a stopgap with a boring name and a possibly lucky season, but he’s looking to go Marwin Gonzalez on us (the 2017 version), hitting a studly .311/.364 /.623. (which I’m sure will go up as I see hit a homer in today’s game). Even though his high BABIP is bound to regress, some of the power gains are real with a .268/.325/.509 which is considerably higher than his .445 xSLG% in 2017. This is likely in part due to his improved batted ball mix, with only 25.6% GB% compared to 33.7% last year, and 26.7% LD%. I don’t see him continuing to be an OBP asset though as his chase and contact rates haven’t improved. In leagues that focus more on big names than current numbers, the underrated utility man is still available, and he makes for a must add in 15-team leagues and 12-team batting average leagues, and with his multi-position eligibility, he makes for a fine flier in 10-team at least while he’s this hot… I mean, E2 is hitting better than E5!
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – The Eugenio is granting fantasy teams their wishes this year. He has once again developed his game all-around to go from a solid regular to a stud cornerstone, hitting .290/.390/.609, which is actually light compared to his .293/.393/.647. A .647 Expected Slugging percentage from a formerly light-hitting shortstop… I bet the Tigers feel great about dealing him. He’s somehow improved his K rate and discipline with career-best O-Swing% and Z-Contact%, cut his IFFB% by more than half at just 4.8%, while hitting harder with a 54.4% Hard% and a 11.0 Barrel% (15th best in MLB). While he’s yet to steal a bag and some regression is inevitable, he could post a legitimate .280, 25 homer 5 SB campaign, which is useful anywhere. Add without hesitation in 15-team and 12-team, and as long as it works with your roster, I’d advocate scooping him in 10-team as well.
Ryon Healy (1B/3B, Seattle Mariners) – They say fortune favors the bold. But to be bold and not foolhardy is to admit when you’re wrong. Early in April, I forecasted Healy’s demise after a slow start, to be overtaken by “slugger” Dan Vogelbach. Oops. Healy has been a different hitter, or at least a much better hitter, since returning from the DL, raising his season line from the abyss up to a decent .246/.270/.525. His xStats think he deserves ever so slightly better, with an xSlash of .259/.283/.532. But what really has be intrigued are his barrels, at a respectable 9.5% with a 96.1 mph eV on flyballs/line drives (FB/LD). He’s definitely a sleeper candidate to hit at a 25-30 HR pace the rest of the year, and is worth adding in 15-teams and as a flier in 12-team Batting Average leagues. With that OBP though, I’d pass in 12-team OBP, where he’s as cool as a grown man wearing Ryon Heelies.
Jose Peraza (2B/SS, Cincinnati Reds) – If you’re not powerful enough to assault a baseball, you can still be a base burglar. Peraza does have 2 home runs to go with a .285 average, but he makes the difference with his feet, with 5 stolen bases so far this year. xStats actually sees his offensive line in a 2-year decline, with a pedestrian 2018 xSlash of 260/.280/.337 line, but he’s still the second-most added player, going from 29.3% to 60.1% ownership in ESPN leagues, likely in part due to his shortstop eligibility. Although I put him in the add list, I’d really only add in 15-team Batting average leagues, because shortstop is not nearly as sparse nowadays, and with a career-worst 44% O-Swing% (offset somewhat by his career-best 95.6% Z-Contact%), he’s going to kill you in OBP formats.
Alen Hanson (2B/OF, San Francisco Giants) – He’s got me singing “MmmBop”, since it seems about that long ago that people were excited about him. Still, he has an opportunity in San Francisco, and so far he’s hit a solid .286/.306/.571, the last number of which made me do a double take. Of course, the sample size has been tiny, but while he’s had some good luck, at least thus far his xStats do give him the best SLG% of his career by a healthy margin, something you wouldn’t expect in one of the worst parks for hitters. But his 34.5% Hard% crushes his career marks, as does his 44.8% FB% which encouragingly comes with a 0% IFFB%. His main calling card is his speed, although it’s flown under the radar, with 15 stolen bases over 303 PA. He’s still just 25 and could be a great sleeper as a power/speed threat. He’s worth adding in all NL-only and 18-team leagues right away, and makes for a fine flier in 15-team Batting Average leagues as well, especially if you believe in the MmmPop.
Travis Jankowski (OF, San Diego Padres) – We’ve been through this before, as stolen-base hungry teams have been let down by him and gotten mad like the Fast & the Furious sequels. Okay, I’ll admit never seeing any of them. Or is that a hipster brag? Anyway, Travis has been crushing like 90’s kids on Kelly Kapowski, with a .346/.414/.500 line and hitting leadoff. While his .450 BABIP obviously is going to come down, I’m encouraged by his career-best 6.2% Swstr% (8.5% Career) thanks to a stingy 14.0% O-Swing% and a 92.7% Z-Contact%. With his speed, it’s great to see signs that he can get more opportunities on base with walks. I must note that xStats predicts regression that’s likely heavier than Jankowski soaking wet, with an xSlash of .248/.308/.330, so don’t expect him to be your next 5-tool stud. But he can still nab bases 20-25 bases the rest of the way so nab him if you have a need in 18-team leagues, or as a flyer Friar in 15-team OBP leagues.
John Hicks (C/1B, Detroit Tigers) – I’ll preface this by saying Hicks only really has much value if he qualifies at catcher in your league, so I’d go check that first, because catcher this year is a dumpster fire inside a toxic sludge planet that is also on fire. Hicks got off to a rip-roaring start last year before cooling down, but so far it looks good, with a .283/.333/.528 line, which is way better than most of the starting catchers right now. Of course, he lacks the sample size and track record. xStats thinks regression won’t be so bad, with an xSlash of .256/.308/.481, which while more modest for sure, is still better than half of the starting catchers right now. While he is still similar from a plate discipline perspective with a dangerous 28% K% rate, he’s hitting a career-best 48.6 Hard% and he’s nearly doubled his fly ball output, with a 52.8% FB% compared to just 29.5% in 2017. Weirdly his pull rate this year is actually nearly halved from last season, and he may be overdoing as evidenced by a 15% IFFB%. Still, in AL-only and 18-team leagues, or any 2-catcher formats, until Cabrera’s healthy, he can be your Hickscalibur.
Jose Bautista (OF/3B, Atlanta Braves) – It’s not too often people get hyped about a 37-year-old who was arguably the worst regular in the majors last year. But Joey Bats is trying so hard that it’s nearly impossible not to root for his comeback, unless, like, you want the prospects to have a chance. Still, he’s off to a solid start, hitting .300 in his first 12 ABs, which of course means virtually nothing. While I’m at least encouraged by his 37.5% Hard%, his 75% flyball rate, and his strong 16.7% BB and 16.7% K rates, the latter seems not sustainable with a career-worst 76.9% Z-Contact%, when his career mark is 86% and his nightmare year was at 81%. His .100 ISO is not surprising considering he posted a .111 mark in Triple-A, and if you ask me, he’s donion rings. I’d only consider him worth a gamble in NL-only, but his high average and deceptive BB/K makes him a great sell-high to any owners going Joey Batty.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – On the one hand, it’s pretty incredible that a hitter with virtually zero prospect pedigree has been able to maintain a regular job for this long. But this 30-year-old king Kole is no merry old soul, with a disgusting .165 AVG with just 1 HR, 2 SB and a .043 ISO. This is especially disappointing as he was targeted by some as a sleeper with the Angels lowering their right field wall. Of course some of this is bad luck, but his xSlash of .210/.237/.309 is far from giving hope. With the halos having a real chance to contend, Calhoun’s days as a regular are numbered. I’d cut without hesitation in 12-team and even 15-team formats.
Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – I was going to actually write some nice things about Nick Ahmed, I swear! After all, he’s one of the more added players this week, going from 9.2% to 15.1%, which is weird considering his batting average has been plummeting. If you were hoping that he’s building on last year though, I’m here to crush your hopeful optimism. His xSlash of .212/.280/.356 frankly doesn’t deserve to be on any mixed fantasy roster. If you picked him up, go to customer service and get a return in 12-team and 15-team leagues.
Jurickson Profar (SS/OF, Texas Rangers) – While I’m busy taking the wind out of people’s sails, why don’t I talk trash about a well-liked player who I’m sure is a great all-around guy? Profar has been a popular add as he just keeps keepin’ on, with a .226/.319/.363 line which is far from appealing, but must have signaled some promise of a breakout, especially in OBP leagues. Yeah, I don’t see it. His xSlash is actually just .215/.210/.298, and yes that last .298 number IS his expected slugging percentage! His 89.9 mph FB/LD eV ranks 305th out of 363 players who qualify, and his batted ball rates and hard hit rates are nearly identical to last year. He’s still 25 so people see promise, and I’d capitalize on that and sell him for whatever scraps I can muster, because since that shoulder injury, he’s never got the power back. With a likely offensive upside of Jose Iglesias (yeah I went there), he isn’t so much lProfar as he is Amateurfar. Oh, take THAT, cute puppies!