Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is “Longing for days of Yoredan.” I expect him to be the top FAAB player this year, at least in percentage but maybe not in dollar amount because so many teams blew their wad early on Austin Riley and others. Aside from him though, there’s some value plays both young and old. Because the list is a bit short this week, I’ll include some other adds you should consider that didn’t make this list: Didi Gregorius, Ji-Man Choi, and Delino DeShields. Here we go:
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)
If you think we have a fantasy stud on our hands, Yordamn right. Alvarez has tattooed the ball to the tune of .343/.443/.742 with 23 home runs and two stolen bases in 253 plate appearances, and kicked off his debut game with another homer. This after he only hit 20 dingers all season last year between Double-A and Triple-A. But scouts always saw the monster potential in the 21-year-old’s 6’5″, 225-pound frame. I’m also encouraged that he cut down his strikeout rate to below 20% during his Triple-A surge, meaning he’s not even selling out for the power and can hit for high average too. I expect his impact to crush that of even Riley with a more sustainable approach for success. It might sound crazy, but I’d spend up to 80%-85% of my remaining FAAB on him, and even that may be too conservative. Even with some playing time crunch when Houston’s starters return from injury, I think he’ll win out, and I believe he’s an absolute must-add in all formats.
Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B, Washington Nationals)
Kendrick may be No. 1 on my Buy & Sell leaderboard as I’ve been saying for months he’s for real and is underowned. So that hasn’t changed; I’m just here to rub it in a bit to temporarily forget the wrong predictions. He’s hit .391 with two home runs in 23 at-bats this week to bring his season total to .333/.376/.604 in 159at-bats. Basically, he’s been performing like an All-Star, and he’s still unowned in more than half of ESPN leagues with a 43% Oonership rate. Statcast validates everything he’s done so far with a .328 xBA and .610 xSLG, two rates that have stayed consistently high at this level since the season started while everyone assumed it would regress. While he was hard to trust at first because of limited playing time and Dozier rounding back into form, Kendrick has found time at other positions giving him added eligibility at first base and third base. It’s high time to haul in hungry Howie in all 12-team leagues and 10-team average leagues.
Scott Kingery (SS/3B, Philadelphia Phillies)
Kingery’s succeeded more in spurts than streaks, but when on the field, he’s continued to reward owners who took a chance on him late in drafts or on the wire. The unplanned obsolescence of Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera has kept him in the picture, and now that Andrew McCutchen’s injury apparently infected his replacement Adam Haseley, Kingery should see regular playing time for the time being. He’s likely performing over his head in terms of power and average, with an xBA of .284 and xSLG of .493, though that’s still quite good. However,that is somewhat balanced out by his underperforming in stolen bases, with his sprint speed of 29.1 ft/s (top 30 in MLB) indicating he probably should boost his aggressiveness like Avisail Garcia did this year. He should be scooped in 15-team leagues where he is unowned but also makes a viable utility player in deeper 12-team average formats.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics)
Steady Semien has quietly outproduced the myriad flashier shortstop options who have popped up and fizzled out. He’s been especially hot this week, hitting .429 with two home runs to raise his season line to .276/.361/.434 with nine home runs and five stolen bases. While in his early career he was seen as a high-power, high-strikeout type, he’s improved his plate discipline with a career-best 15% strikeout rate as well as a career-best 12% walk rate that is supported by his peripherals. He’s a studious player who has been constantly trying to address his weaknesses, and he’s still in his physical prime at 28—you’re not alone if you thought he was older than that. While he’s more of a high-floor option than high-ceiling, and shortstop has become a surprisingly stacked position, overall he’s an underrated fantasy asset who should be owned in all 15-team formats and is a viable 12-team OBP formats Stremien option.
Brian Dozier (2B, Washington Nationals)
Speaking of predictions I was wrong about, I said that Kendrick would be so good that he’d bump out the struggling Dozier, so I’ll take my L there. Should’ve expected time to open up with the annual Ryan Zimmerman injury. It’s easy to have slept on him with his awful start dragging down his rate stats, but he’s been hitting .333/.405/.727 with three home runs over the past two weeks to raise him up to .230/.319/.422 with 10 Dozier dongers. Unfortunately, it seems that while the power is back, the speed looks unlikely to return which was part of what made him such a high-performing fantasy asset. Still, he should be owned in all 15-team leagues and 12-team OBP for the power upside alone, in case he has another huge second half.
Roberto Perez (C, Cleveland Indians)
It seems like only weeks ago that I recommended lil’ Roberto had more power in store, even though he only had six home runs. Oh wait, it was just weeks ago! He’s arguably been this hottest hitter in baseball this week with a .357/.474/1.286 line, with four home runs and a 4:1 BB/K in just 14 at-bats, raising his season line to .232/.337/.493 with 11 home runs in 138 at-bats. Unlike JaCoby Jones (see below), he’s only had a mild bump in exit velocity, though still a career-best 88.5 mph, but he’s got more barrels than Donkey Kong with a 17% barrel rate despite never even reaching 7% barrels any other year in his career. The crazy thing is Statcast thinks he’s still been unlucky with an xBA of of .251 and xSLG of .539, which if fulfilled would make him easily a top-five offensive catcher and second-best hitter on the Indians. I still expect some regression as a 34% HR/FB is not sustainable, especially from a 30-year-old career backup, but here’s the thing; He’s still only owned in less than 5% of leagues. He should absolutely be owned in all two-catcher leagues, as well as single-catcher 18-team leagues, but I’ll be bolder and say also all 15-team leagues and 12-team OBP leagues as well. Giddyap!
JaCoby Jones (OF, Detroit Tigers)
I wrote him up as an honorable mention last week, but his continued domination has earned him a full blurb. The toolsy outfielder had been not quite able to cut it as a regular even on the Tigers, which was saying something, but he’s managed to turn his hideous strikeout problem into a merely UglyDoll-level ugly problem, which is enough to let his power/speed combo shine through. He’s hit .371/.426/.726 with five Jacoby jacks and four stolen bases over the past three weeks to raise his season line to .250/.319/.457 with eight home runs and six stolen bases in 164 at-bats. While the fact that his strikeout rate is still above 30% may lead some to fear he’s a Ronny Rodriguez-esque flash in the pan, his Statcast data suggests this is no fluke, with his stats backed by an xBA of .256 and xSLG of .458. The biggest reason is his exit velocity of 92 mph and 13% barrel rate, which surged up from a merely average exit velocity of 88 mph and barrel rate of 6% last year. While his high strikeout ways will likely leave him prone to some brutal slumps, his playing time is no longer in question, and a .240/20/15 season is still within reach. He should be added in all 18-team and 15-team formats and is a viable power/speed category stream in deeper 12-teamers.
Cesar Puello (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
Puello’s playing time projection might get you down, but when they let him hit, he’s gone to town. He’s hitting .500 with a homer this week to bring his line to .455 with three home runs, six runs, and 11 RBI in just 33 at-bats, amassing 0.9 WAR. The 28-year-old journeyman has never been much of anything even in the minors, but he also hasn’t been getting by on pure luck as he has a barrel rate of 15% with an xBA of .328 and xSLG of .627. The reason I think he’s a bit intriguing is that he also has strong sprint speed of 28.5 ft/sec (tied with Whit Merrifield) although he’s stolen far fewer bases in recent years. The playing time situation gets even murkier with Justin Upton due back soon, but if he’s still available in AL-only or DFS leagues, you should add Puello, this is what I say-oh.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
I’d believe he’s a Winker because it’s as if he’s been swinging with one eye closed. While he hasn’t been outrageously bad and still has an impressive 5:6 BB/K over 50 at-bats the past 21 days, the power has dried up without a single home run during that span. For what it’s worth, Statcast does think he’s been a bit unlucky, with an xBA of .265 and xSLG of .452, but in shallower leagues, that still isn’t enough to move the needle, even in OBP leagues as his walk rate plummeted to merely average. I think in deeper 15-teamers, he’s just good enough that you’re better off holding him, but I’d cut him in 12-team formats.
Alex Verdugo (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Verdugo started the season showing average and power, then he still showed average, and now he’s showing nothing. He’s laid a goose egg in his last 16 at-bats and is hitting .204/.281/.259 with no home runs and just one stolen base over the past three weeks. While his season line of .287/.342/.449 is nothing to sneeze at, its collapse has likely been regressing luck as he has a yawn-inducing xBA of .256 and xSLG of .396. While his future may remain bright, for this year, he’s basically a poor man’s Nick Markakis, and no that is not a compliment. Cut him in all redraft 15-team formats.
Tom Murphy (C, Seattle Mariners)
OK, I know your leaguemates aren’t exactly busting down you door to get a journeyman catcher with a 40% strikeout rate. But he has hit four tates the past week to bring his season line to .304/.329/,604 with seven home runs, which gives you the rare opportunity to actually sell him for something of note. While he has posted an above-average 91 mph exit velocity, Statcast is crying bloody murder with an awful xBA of .195 and xSLG of .406. If you’re wondering why that is, I bring your attention back to his 40% strikeout rate. Catcher is surprisingly deeper this year than last year, and there are plenty of part-time catchers I’d rather gamble on than a guy who can pop occasional homers but not much else. I’d be selling for anything of value and otherwise cutting in single-catcher AL-only and 15-team two-catcher leagues.
(Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)