Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to this week’s Buy & Sell, where I just caught up on a baseball-free week as I just copied Alex Fast with my own trip to Iceland. I’m pretty sure you need a baseball player’s salary to afford living there. This week features some red-hot high-average regulars and a few playing time battles that require watching, and I’m too sleep deprived to say anything remotely funny, so let’s get to it.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants) – Maybe after all this time being ignored due to Boring Name Syndrome, it really got stuck in his Craw. He’s been absolutely brandin’ the baseball since mid-May, with a .413/.486/.730 line to raise his season line to an excellent .333/.382/.529. While he still doesn’t have great exit velocity and a low barrel rate of 3.2%, xStats believes he’s been a true high-average hitter with an xSlash of .302/.340/.449. While regression is still likely for his home run rate and .396 BABIP, he should still be a highly useful hitter, especially while being this hot. Add him in all 12-team leagues and 10-team batting average leagues should ride the wave as well.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – As TeoScar says, long live Teo King. I’m sure Hernandez would love to shove Grichuk off the playing time cliff he’s clinging onto, but he may not even to as he’s hitting .265/.307/.549 Although Teoscar has cooled off from his hot start, his xStats and Statcast have consistently believed in him all year, as his current 12.8% Barrel/PA is the 3rd best in baseball and his xSlash is an even juicier .268/.310/.562. While he may continue to be streaky with so much swing-and-miss in his game, with a 16.1% whiff rate, his consistent hard contact makes him an underrated power bat. Even though he’s been dropped in many leagues once the hype quieted, he should absolutely be owned in 15-team and 12-team leagues, and at least stashed or streamed in 10-team Batting Average leagues.
Ian Kinsler (2B, Los Angeles Angels) – If nobody owns him yet, you missed out on the big surge, but it’s not too late to buy Ian. After a dreadful start that resulted in him being cut in many 12-teamers, he’s surged with homers in three consecutive games last week to bring his season homer total to 8. xStats does remain skeptical on the power, as his current .224/.286/.391 is still a bit stronger than his xSlash of .226/.288/.362. That being said, he’s compensated for his reduced exit velocity (86.6 mph eV) with a career-best 8.7% K% while contributing on the basepaths with 6 stolen bases (2 CS). Not bad for a guy about to turn 36 (Happy early birthday Ian!) He may continue to be a batting average liability, but I think it should improve with power, run production and speed so he should be owned in 12-team formats. In 10-team, however, I’m still too wary of that exit velocity to advise him as anything but a runs/stolen base stream.
Brian Anderson (3B, Miami Marlins) – I’ll admit shrugging off Anderson earlier in the year due to his high groundball rate, but Anderson is staying true to his initials by contributing in BA. He’s had a scorching week, hitting .464/.516/.821 with 2 homers over the past week, and hitting .400 over the past 21 days. He’s also earned his BA (I usually say AVG for Batting Average, but his boring name doesn’t give me a lot to work with, okay?), as his .311/.380/.448 is backed by an xSlash of .299/.370/.452. He’s been a true gem for deep leaguers who scooped him up earlier in the year, but it still may not be too late, as even with his rapid rise in ownership, he’s still owned in just 43.1% of ESPN leagues. Even though batting average is one of the less bankable skills, with the rarity of high batting average players in the league, he should be owned in all 15-team leagues and 12-team BA leagues (I was going to say AVG but at this point I have to commit to the mediocre bit, all right?).
Joc Pederson (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Let’s get ready to rumble! Joc Jams has made some noise hitting .275/.343/.529 with 7 homers and a stolen base, and seems to have an opportunity on a decimated Dodgers lineup. He has not been aggressive, been, been aggressive, with a career-best 8.8% Swstr% but if you’re looking for a reason to be skeptical after he’s burned you before, xStats says “Whoomp, there it is”. His xSlash of .251/.322/.451 is nearly identical, arguably slightly worse than his xSlash from 2016 and 2017, as his batted ball rates and middling 4.0% Barrel% suggest Joc Jams’ values is pumped up and will deflate soon. He still can’t hit a lick against lefties in his miserable 21 PA, hasn’t become a threat as expected on the basepaths, and soon when the roster is healthy, they may tell him to move it move it. Still, although he may slip into the Twilight Zone, he should be added in 15-team and streamed in 12-team formats against righties while hot. Ah, 90’s nostalgia is so overdone.
Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Big Game Thames is back. Yeah, I think it’s time to give the name to someone NOT named James Shields by now. Plus, there’s a lot fewer Thameses than Jameses, and Marcus Thames pronounced it like the river. In his first game back he’s batting leadoff, which is sure to entice fantasy owners hoping for runs. But he’ll have to face off for playing time with Aguilar monster, who has been roughly as productive as Thames in his stead, although he’s cooled off in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, this situations dampens both of their values unless or until one gains the upper hand, or playing time is opened via injury or trade. I’d continue to monitor but for now I’d only add him in 15-leagues or 12-team OBP with deeper benches and hope for the best.
Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – The Grich may not steal Christmas , but playing time he will make Curtis miss. Whereas Granderson started out gangbusters, Grichuk was ganged up on and sent to the minors after a miserable start, but now Randal is roaring with a .344/.382/.791 line over 32 PA since his return. While he has always been a Statcast darling with his hard-contact, high-K approach, he’s up there yet again with a 9.9% Barrel% that’s 15th best in the MLB despite his awful start, and there’s some hope (Small Sample Size alert incoming) that he’ll curb the whiffs with just 6 K in 34 PA since his call-up. He’s only 26 so don’t give up just because you’ve had to Gri-chuk him out the window before. Buy in 18-team leagues and 15-team leagues.
Jake Bauers – (1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – His name may sound like Jack Bauer, but with his lack of power, don’t expect him to save the day in 24 hours. Over his past 3 seasons, his ISO has not changed by more than .001, even while repeating the level this year at Triple-A. That being said, he still likely has double-digit pop and a good enough bat to hit for a .270 average right away. He’s currently posting a laughably high 53.3% Line Drive rate and 60% Hard Contact rate, which would explain why he currently sports a .308 xAVG, but his xSLG of .483 reflects how he’s only hit 13.3% flyballs. While he stole some bases in the minors, I wouldn’t expect more than a handful from the youngster if even that. Add immediately in AL-only and 18-team formats, and 15-team OBP formats would be wise to stash him.
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF, Cleveland Indians) – Lonnie Longballs is finally back, after pulling the amazing feat of making a calf strain look like a broken leg. I actually had written him up last week but he got bumped off as I wanted to see him prove his health, and he’s certainly done that, hitting .375/.400/.458 with just 1 strikeout in 25 PA upon his return. He enters a crowded outfield picture with Melky, Allen and Rajai floating about and Zimmer, Guyer, and Naquin waiting in the wings, but Lonnie can rise above the fray if he can continue last year’s display of high average and 20-homer pop. xStats mostly backs his stat line, with a .289/.352/.423 xSlash that gives hope that his power will comeback at least partially. Due to playing time concerns, he needs to be streamed with caution, but AL-only leagues and 18-teamers can get crazy with the Chis Whiz.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – He must throw his weights down at a Planet Fitness, because they’re sounding the Po-Lunk Alarm. He’s been losing playing time to Meadows, and even though Meadows is cooling down, Polanco’s giving away his shot by hitting .146/.218/.271 over the past 21 days. If you’re looking for some positive news, his xStats indicate his current .206/.300/.417 line has some poor luck, with a considerably better xSlash of.241/.330/.462. Still, he’s running out of time for the numbers to correct themselves. Cut him in 10-team and 12-team batting average leagues, though 12-team OBP and 15-team might want to just bench him and wait a bit Po-longer.
Jonathan Schoop (2B, Baltimore Orioles) – If you scope out this situation, you may need to rinse with mouthwash. He’s got holes in his swing all over, posting an awful .114/.170/.227 line over the past two weeks, and I don’t see it getting that much better. While he was a beast last season, his swing-at-everything approach gives him a wide range of outcomes, and this is the bottom end. Then throw a notoriously tricky and often lingering oblique injury on top of that, and I’m selling all the way, and willing to deal him for 25 cents on the dollar. Drop in 10-team and 12-team, and even in 15-team OBP leagues if there’s even a half-decent option available.
Jorge Alfaro (C, Philadelphia Phillies) – You should pass over Alfaro, because he’s going to drown in the Red Sea and take all his owners with him. He’s deceived with an insane .414 BABIP, and while he posted a high BABIP in 2017, it was over just 114 PA and there’s nothing in his numbers that makes it look sustainable, with merely average Statcast data and catcher footspeed. But the real reason you should drop Alfaro right now is his .league-worst 24.2% Swstr% that makes his current 39.6% K% almost look lucky. While he’s playing every day for now, I predict he’ll either be benched or demoted before the season’s over, and you’d be better off taking a chance on nearly any other starting catcher and even a few part-time ones (but NOT Chance Sisco, who somehow is even worse). Even if he was one of your guys preseason, in 12-team and 15-team leagues, 18-team, and even NL-only single catcher leagues, it’s okay to let your people go.