Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where you’re likely quite happy if you followed my advice to roster Stassi, India, and Fraley. And if you rostered Jake Lamb instead… uh, I owe you a soda. The trade market is starting to pick up, even though Jake Bauers getting traded likely didn’t do much for you. But contending teams are at the point where they’re getting serious, so you should be aggressive on the wire, and I think all of these guys can pay off bigger dividends than Dogecoin. On to the list!
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
The past few years dragged his value down about a thousand pounds, but now it’s uptons. He’s quietly provided all-around value for nearly a month, hitting .323/.447/.694 with six homers and a 14/18 BB/K in 62 ABs the past three weeks. That gives him a total of 14 HR and a .237/.333/.490 line on the season in 194 AB. But what intrigues me most about the 33-year old is his career-best max exit velocity of 117 mph, which is top 2% in baseball. Sure, maybe he just got a perfect meatball, but his career-best 14% Barrel%, 48% HardHit%, and 92 mph average exit velocity all suggest he’s back to being a star. Even though he doesn’t contribute much on the bases, he’s a must-add in 10-team OBP formats and 12-team leagues.
Tommy Pham (OF, San Diego Padres)
Lately, Pham has been going p-HAM. I know he got off to a bad start, but I’d assumed that surely teams wouldn’t drop him. And then I looked at ESPN, where his roster% was down to 72%. He’s made that remaining 28% look stupid, as he’s hit .313/.432/.522 with 4 HR and 7 SB (1 CS) in 67 ABs the past week. While his season line is still lagging with a .239/.375/.356, xStats says he’s deserved far better with a .256 xBA and .452 xSLG. With his career-best 17% Walk rate, he’s been a five-tool monster in OBP formats, and I think the power and average will continue to rise even if the mad stolen base pace cools off. He’s a Phamtastic add in all 10-team formats, especially in OBP formats.
Bryan Reynolds (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
Reynolds has been the best thing in Pittsburgh since 1943 when the NFL merged the Eagles, and the Steelers into the “Steagles” and Pittsburgh had its first winning record. No, I didn’t make this up. You’re welcome. Reynolds has just kept churning production all season like butter, with a sweet .286/.389/.500 line with 10 HR and 1 SB. This year he returned to his 2019 ways and with an even lower 21% K% and a much higher 14% BB% that makes me believe he’s a legit hitter. It’s a shame he doesn’t steal more bases with his 85th percentile sprint speed, but he should continue to be a dual-threat in power and batting average while hitting atop the lineup, making him an underrated asset.
Jorge Polanco (2B/SS, Minnesota Twins)
He’s giving enough of a performance that we’re asking for a Pol-encore. The diminutive second-sacker (and short no-sacker) is rediscovering his power stroke, with nine homers, with five of them coming in the past two weeks. He’s been hitting for better average lately as well, with a .300 AVG and 2/6 K/BB over 50 AB during that span. He’s gotten more aggressive this year with a career-high 46% Swing%, which allows him to make more of his strong 84% Contact%. Statcast thinks he’s deserved better with a .274 xBA and .496 xSLG, which would make him one of the top 2nd base options around, especially with a handful of SB chipped in. Add in 10-team AVG formats and all 12-team leagues.
Harold Ramirez (OF, Cleveland Indians)
I’ll continue to vouch that he continues to be fantasy baseball’s best-kept secret. While he hasn’t done much this week, he’s hitting .324 with a homer and an SB in the past 2 weeks. I can hear the yawns from here, I’m losing ‘em! I’ll continue to hang my hat on the fact that he is a Statcast Mahvelous Dahling with a .326 xBA and a .524 xSLG, with an xwOBA that has continued on an upwards trajectory in his past 50 PA, 100 PA, and 250 PA. Although he still hits too many grounders, his 54% HardHit% and 94 mph exit velocity are bound to find holes (especially with his 89th percentile sprint speed). He’s a wise speculative add in deeper 12-teamers and a must-add for 15-team AVG formats, but I think it could be very soon before he becomes an obvious 12-team or even 10-team add for his well-rounded profile.
Bobby Bradley (1B, Cleveland Indians)
Bobby Barrels is back to bop some bombs. The swing-and-miss slugger has been surprisingly anything but in the early going, with a K rate of just 13%. While that won’t last with his Contact% of 72%, it’s still a big improvement from his first cup of coffee (63% Contact%) and certainly good enough to give him a real chance to be a productive major league hitter with his pop. He’s already crushed a ball at 114 mph with 3 barrels, and he could put on a 2019 Aristedes Aquino-like run (well, minus the SBs). There’s also a chance he peters out, but with Bauers gone and Naylor stinking up the joint, Bradley should see plenty of playing time going forward and is a fine add in 15-teamers and deeper 12-team OBP leagues as well for owners looking to play the hot hand.
Dan Vogelbach (1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
He’s been putting on a clinic, and will be earning his Vogelbaccalaureate. I can’t quit Vogey, as I love his high OBP, slugger’s frame, and low-ish K rate. Now with Hiura out of the way, he’s blossoming to the tune of a .281/,410/.656 line with 3 HR in 32 ABs the past 2 weeks. You probably didn’t notice that because of his ugly .221 season batting average, but Vogelbach’s rolling xwOBA has been on the rise, and I think he could be in for a huge, beefy run. His 22% K% is the best of his career, with an excellent 16% BB%, but most notable is his career-best 114 mph max exit velo that suggests that he has more pop to tap into than his pedestrian 8% Barrel%. He’s a must-add in 15-team OBP formats and can make a viable streamer in 12-team OBP formats.
Adam Engel (OF, Chicago White Sox)
Every time a White Sox gets hurt, an Engel gets his wings. It’s tough to recommend a player who I don’t even know for sure is starting, but I’ll do it anyway. I’ve had my eye on Engel for years, as he entered the league a scrappy no-bat speedster who couldn’t steal bases but has made strides every year to round out his game and even hit .295 in a small sample last year. This year the 29-year old is hitting .250 with 2 HR and 1 SB in just 19 PA since his return from the IL, and while it’s an extremely small sample size, I can’t help but get hyped. Again, this is Adam Engel. But he already has 3 barrels in his 4 hits, and his contact% is up to 84%, a big jump from his 75% mark in 2019 and 70% career rate. While it’s not yet at the stabilization point, I think given his offensive improvement every single year from his ugly 2017 debut, I can believe in him being a solid hitter this year who should be far better than his name twin Adam Eaton going forward. While Roster Resource and the popular choice remains Brian Goodwin, I think Eaton is more likely to provide value.
Aristides Aquino (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
This one is pretty straightforward. Aquino hits the ball hard. He also strikes out a lot. Maybe this time, the power will be good enough to stick in the majors or at least pad a fantasy team for several weeks before he inevitably falls apart again. While the Reds are giving him a run, he’s worth rostering in NL-only and deeper 15-team formats in need of power. That’s all I’ll say on him—I’m not aquinote speaker.
Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
The near-perfect opposite of Todd Frazier, this Frazier is also not quite the total package. Teams are starved for batting average, and I get that, but even that is likely to regress in line with his ho-hum .288 xBA. With his Arraez-esque power output, with just two homers on the year and a .377 xSLG, and his lack of stolen bases, with just 4 on the year and 2 stolen bases, he just hurts you too much in the power categories to be helpful overall in 10-team formats.
Nick Solak (2B/OF, Texas Rangers)
Solak sure is consistent. Like, six weeks, I could talk about how he had 8 homers, and I can still say that! Many lazy owners haven’t realized how bad he’s been lately, as he hit .200 with just 1 HR and no SB in May and just .143 with nothing in June. While I wish I could say it’s just bad luck, he’s forgotten how to hit for contact, with his Z-Contact% plummeting from 92% in 2020 to just 80%, with a career-high 36% Chase rate as well. Since he hasn’t compensated for this with improved power, he just looks like a below-average bat at risk of losing playing time soon with his poor defense. While his roster rate dropped from 91% to 82% in ESPN leagues, he’s still rostered far too much in 10-team and 12-team OBP formats while the production is solaking.
Andrew Vaughn (1B/OF, Chicago White Sox)
What, you thought Tony La Russa would like, learn how to manage in a non-maddening way? You sweet summer child. Vaughn has been relegated to part-time duty since the beginning but also failed to do much to prove his point, hitting just .222/.303/.389 with 5 HR in 162 ABs and just .172 with 1 HR in 29 AB the past two weeks. While his prospecty sheen remains relatively bright in the long term and despite his potential bad luck with a more palatable .240 xBA and .445 xSLG, the return of Engel and Goodwin just clogs up one of his positional avenues to playing time. Most importantly, assuming you owned him for production at first base, the bar there is simply too high to wait around for Vaughn unless he’s hitting like Mo. Cut in 10-team and 12-team formats.
Ka’ai Tom (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
There’s only enough room for one guy with a name starting with K with an oddly placed apostrophe. Tom started with a bang but is hitting just .143/.283/.242 with 2 HR and 1 SB in 113 PA, and simply strikes out too much for a slap hitter to be of any real value in any league and an easy cut. But his name scrambled is “Mai Tako,” so you can roster him in Taco Tuesdays leagues.