Buy & Sell 6/30 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

Ben Pernick breaks down the most notable hot and cold hitters this week

Welcome back to the last Buy & Sell of June, which I will not explain again is about recommending who to add and who to drop, not advice on buying low and selling high. Oops, I explained it again. Well for the sake of all the internet users who only read the headline (and not the subtitle) I’ll mix in some buy-lows and buy-highs since trade season is definitely underway, with trade deadlines approaching in some leagues. On to the list!

 

BUY

 

10-Team

Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros)

 

I know, I know, he’s probably rostered in your league. If not, get him now before reading further. Because he’s worth ponying up big for, and I mean a lot more than what made him a top-100 pick on draft day. His bat has cooled off as of late on the stat sheet, but Statcast believes he’s been hitting like a stud, with a .323 xBA that is among the best in baseball. While I know such Statcast measures are descriptive and not predictive, I trust in it being legit as he’s been following the Matt Olson method of continuing to hit the ball hard while cutting his K-rate. His K-rate has taken huge strides each year, going from #30% in 2019 to 25% in 2020 and now just 15% in 2021. I think he can easily hit .290 the rest of the way and with 16-20 homers to go with another 5-10 SB, making him not far off from what you’d hope for out of Mike Trout. Overwhelm your league mate with an offer you can’t refuse, and soon you’ll be the Fantasy Godfather.

 

Alex Kirilloff (OF, Minnesota Twins)

 

If you can’t get tickets to the big show with Tucker, don’t overrate the value of going Kirilloff-Broadway. His profile looks like Tucker-lite without speed, and that still shapes up as a very, very good player. Although his 260 batting average, .442 SLG% and 6 HR with just one stolen base look quite pedestrian, under the hood he’s rocking a fantastic .316 xBA and .599 xSLG. Although some of that came from a big power binge before his injury, his rolling xwOBA suggests another one is coming and he’s relatively widely available at 29% rostered. Swoop in on Kirilloff in 12-team formats and 10-team AVG formats, as he still doesn’t draw enough walks to be viable in shallow OBP formats.

 

12-team

Mike Zunino (C, Tampa Bay Rays)

 

Hey Mr. Owl, how many longballs does it take to get Mike Zunino a 50% roster rate? Apparently more than 16, as he’s still rostered in just 18% of ESPN leagues, which is less than the 28% roster rate of Mitch Garver who is injured and hasn’t shown this kind of pop. Zunino is red-hot as he’s hitting .294 with four taters this week to raise his season line to .206/.297/.538. Sure, that average may be tough to swallow, but it’s not all that different from Joey Gallo. In fact, Zunino leads the majors in barrel rate with an astronomical 28% Barrel per batted ball event. A catcher who can hit 30-35 homers, even if with a low .200 AVG, is a must-start in most leagues. Add Zunino in all 12-team leagues and 10-team OBP if you need HR. And who doesn’t need homers?

 

Willy Adames (SS, Milwaukee Brewers)

 

Rogers & Hammerstein said it best in South Pacific, “There Ain’t Nothing Like Adames”. Or something like that. Often moving to a new park doesn’t lead to real change, but Adames’ struggles at the Trop were well-documented, with him saying he couldn’t see the batting eye. He’s hitting a much healthier .313/.377/.625 with three HR and one SB in his last 48 ABs, bringing his season line up to .240/.305/.442 with 11 HR and two SB. While he doesn’t provide any standout ability, his ability to hit for decent power and average and drive in runs from a good lineup position makes him a useful play in this injury-decimated landscape.

 

Steven Duggar (OF, San Francisco Giants)

 

Duggar has been a very hot add in 12-team formats, with his roster rate now at 28%, and it’s easy to see why. He’s hitting .316 with a .559 SLG%, six HR and 6 SB in 136 PA, and on the strong side of a power/speed platoon with Austin Slater. Although he’s doing much better his second time around, his current level of production is unlikely to last. His xBA of .241 and xSLG of .457 suggests he’s still a league-average hitter at best, which made me consider writing him up as a sell, but his 6 SB with 0 caught stealing gives him a pretty high floor, and it’s not like you’ll get much from trading him. There aren’t many guys who can steal 20 bases who can hit for power or average much at all, so Duggar performing over his head doesn’t matter much as long as you don’t mind him losing at-bats against lefties. Add in deeper 12-team batting average leagues for power/speed.

 

15-Team

LaMonte Wade, Jr. (OF/1B, San Francisco Giants)

 

When he hits one into the San Francisco Bay, we can sing Wade in the Water. The former Twins tweener prospect has gotten new life on the west coast, and with Brandon Belt out, he’s earned more playing time, hitting .280/.362/.527 with six HR and two SB in 93 ABs. He’s been especially hot as of late, hitting .400 with two taters this week, and is now rocking dual OF/1B eligibility that always comes in handy. While he’s outperforming his Statcast expected stats, he still should be a solid power hitter with a bit of wheels in the Taylor Ward mold, but with a higher floor thanks to his lower strikeout rate. He’s available in most leagues, and makes a fine add in deeper 15-team OBP and AVG leagues in the short-term if you’re looking for a higher floor compiler.

 

Daz Cameron (OF, Detroit Tigers)

 

I was tempted to put his teammate Baddoo here as he’s also been great, but Cameron’s the one that dazzled me. He’s already showed shades of his father’s greatness with an 87th percentile max exit velocity and an 87th percentile sprint speed. He’s fared much better in his second major league cup of coffee, hitting .234/.280/.468 with three HR and three SB in just 47 AB, and while he’s unlikely to continue at that 30/30 full-season pace, I think 20/20 with a passable average is not out of reach. After all, the 24-year-old is being given regular at-bats and that Tigers don’t stand to lose anything from giving him a green light on the base paths. Cameron is still strikeout-prone, but he should be usable as long as he can keep his K% under 30 like he’s doing now. Note that his lack of walks makes him an even bigger liability in OBP formats. Roll the dice on the power-speed phenom in 15-team batting average leagues and 18-team OBP.

 

Deep Leagues

Ernie Clement (SS/3B, Cleveland)

 

Clement couldn’t get playing time, so he took out his competition in Naylor. Just kidding, obviously it wasn’t intentional, but most are predicting this will open the door for Oscar Mercado. But I think Ernie will get the last laugh as Oscar’s minor league numbers suggest that he is still living in the trash can. Clement has excelled when given the chance, hitting .286/.348/.333, with just two strikeouts in 21 ABs. I believe this is no fluke as he combines an aggressive 51% swing rate with a strong 86% contact rate. While the 25-year-old doesn’t have a lot of pop, Statcast thinks he’s deserved better numbers, with a .321 xAVG and .448 xSLG. In the majors thus far, he’s only played 2B and 3B, but I think he could get some run in the outfield as Mercado is known for being a butcher defensively and Clement did play five games at OF in the minors. Although the playing time is not yet guaranteed, he makes a strong spec add in AL-only formats.

 

Lars Nootbaar (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)

 

What do you get when you combine a Mars Bar, Nougat, and a baseball player? Probably a Lars Nootbaar. While he has an 80-grade name, he also has some other decent assets, hitting .329/.430/.557 with five HR and one SB in 93 PA in Triple-A prior to his call-up. While he has looked like a Milk Dud with his .182/.240/.273 with no homers or SB in 25 AB, I think better times may be ahead. After all, he’s only struck out twice and Statcast gives him a less terrible .241 xBA and .325 xSLG, and his 108 mph max exit velocity suggests he should have more pop going forward. On top of that, his strong 81st percentile sprint speed suggests he can leg out more hits and maybe get a handful of SB. Give a break to Nootbaar and add in NL-only and stream in 18-team batting average leagues.

 

SELL

 

10-Team

Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres)

 

Hosmer finally listened to people telling him to hit the ball more in the air last year and succeeded, so naturally this year he decided he was right all along and went back to mediocrity. His ground-ball percentage is up 11 points to a 57% mark that is just as high as his 2019 season, which might play a role in why he’s hitting just .249/.306/.352 with six HR and four SB in 285 PA. In such a star-studded lineup, offensively he may be the weakest link on the team, which is concerning for a first baseman. It’s worth noting that he has been the recipient of some bad luck, as his xAVG of .280 and xSLG of .420 is more acceptable, but rates like those simply won’t fly from a first baseman in shallower formats. He’s still rostered in 83% of leagues, which is darn near puzzling. Cut your losses and your Hosses in 10-team leagues as well as 12-team OBP formats.

 

12-Team

Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)

 

Maybe it’s time for Seager to turn the page. While he has 13 taters, it’s abundantly clear he’s in the decline phase where he’s just selling out for pop, and it’s working out like it did for Raul Ibañez before him. The 33-year-old’s strikeout rate nearly doubled from last year, going from 13% to 25%, although he has compensated with a career-best 12% Barrel/BBE. He’s been hitting .216 with no homers over the past two weeks, and he could end the season with 25 home runs but a poor batting average and OBP. He’ll be passable if you need someone to just rack up numbers, but it seems the days of him being a .260 hitter are behind us and that could do some damage to your 12-team AVG league. He’s still rostered in 65% of ESPN leagues and that deserves to be far lower, so cut in 10-team and shallower 12-team leagues.

 

15-Team

Reese McGuire (C, Toronto Blue Jays)

 

McGuire is a man possessed right now, and the demon is named BABIP. He’s hitting a freakish .500/.529/.656 in 32 AB over the past two weeks as the Jays main backstop. This has raised his season line, which had been hovering over the Mendoza line last month, to a studly .321/.374/.440 in 84 ABs. Now here’s the part you might be less excited about hearing: It’s definitely not going to last. For one, while he’s showing improved exit velocity to go with his low K-rate, his xBA of .264 and xSLG of .361 are more indicative of his real upside. In addition, Alejandro Kirk is on a rehab assignment and likely to return any day now, which will substantially cut into his playing time as Kirk actually has the real average and power. He’s not a household name so “selling high” won’t return much, but if you get anything useful I’d consider it a win. When Kirk returns shortly, he’s droppable in 15-teamers who can say so long and thanks for all the hits.

 

Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com) and Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

  • Thanks, Ben! Would you give Mullins for Tucker? Meadows? Conforto & Renfroe? (OBP keeper league)

    • Avatar theKraken says:

      I don’t think anybody would accept those offers. I would make them though. The Conforto + Renfroe offer is the worst. As you may see, I don’t like Tucker… but I would take him over all of those guys. He is young and could improve while also being more valuable than all of them currently. Renfroe is close to a streamer – career OBP under .300. I would consider cutting him depending on league depth, but I would be surprised if carried any trade value.

  • Avatar Eric says:

    Great article! Is Bryce Harper too much to give up for Tucker?

    • Avatar theKraken says:

      Sounds like a lateral move to me. Choose what one you like better but I don’t know why you would be chasing after him. He is maybe the 4th best hitter on his own team… which is a great strength for him. Yordan is much better, Yuli is better this year, Brantley is always better, I think Altuve is better this year, Bregman is probably better. Then again, that is why he gets pitched to and that won’t stop. What do I have to do to acquire him is not a question that I think you should be asking.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Kyle Tucker has never scraped .290 at any level except for one stop in AAA. I would take that bet. Way too many bad swings for that to happen I suspect. Own him for the XBH and run+rbi production. He is Cody Bellinger lite, but has never gotten hot like Belly does. Don’t mistake piling up counting stats in bunches for steady production. That is a negative that doesn’t show up in any analysis. It takes a special kind of entitlement to look as bad as they do as often as they do and it is surely reflective of work ethic. It is not a coincidence that they both come form a background of extreme baseball privilege. The K rate is encouraging, so who knows what is really going on. I don’t watch him a lot but it hurts to watch his ABs whenever I tune in. Sure, pick him up if he is a FA though.

    Hosmer is a good case study in the lack of stickiness of batted ball angles. Statcast has led to heaps of regressive analysis, but things like LD rates have been around for a long time telling that story. The best hitters of all-time have not had consistent batted ball distribution. Maybe in a decade the sabermetric crowd will discover this.

    • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

      Tucker is in the 99th percentile in xBA, 96th in xSLG, 91st in hard hit, 96th in xwOBA, 87th in average exit velo, 73rd in barrels, 88th in K%, 79th in whiff%.

      Not sure reality backs up your anecdotal observations and bias here.

  • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

    Kyle Tucker went 21st overall and is currently ranked 60th overall in my league. Not sure how much of a value proposition he is there or anywhere. Not really used to seeing studs who were drafted highly and doing well on lists like these.

  • Avatar Jack says:

    Kiriloff, you say? More so than Cron or Lowe?

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