Welcome back to this week’s Buy & Sell, where the theme is Tigers and catchers. Hitters on bad teams always present opportunities for the savvy owner. With the never-ending monsoon of injuries, playing time is more important than ever, and that means bottoms barrels must be scraped. Hopefully, there you’ll find seeds to grow into lovely barrels of your own.
Jonathan Schoop (2B, Detroit Tigers)
If you avoided him, you might not have seen it coming when you got NoSchooped. He’s always a streaky hitter, but this is a heck of a streak to ride, hitting .409 with 6 HR in 44 ABs over the past two weeks, with four of those homers coming in the past week. He could still fly under the radar as his season line is a more pedestrian-looking .257/.310/.429 with 9 Homers in 210 ABs, which looks like a typical Schoop season, but I’m encouraged by his career-best 7% walk rate (it’s never been his forte) and the highest Max Exit Velo (116 mph) since his breakout 2017 season. He’s probably still the same .260 25 HR player he’s always been, but I trust more in his ability to do that than other top sluggers at the position like Gleyber Torres and Ryan McMahon. With how terrible the rest of the 2B pool is, he could easily finish the year a top-five second baseman, so scramble to scoop up Schoop in your 10-team scrap and score.
Eric Haase (C, Detroit Tigers)
He may be a career journeyman, but he’s no Haase-been. The Rammstein pun from last week was better, I know. I usually don’t write someone up for back-to-back weeks, but 30-year-old minor league catchers also don’t usually become potential league-winner fantasy assets overnight. He’s incredibly mashed to the tune of .438/.526/1.438 with 5 HR in his last 16 ABs, which raises his season line to .265/.324/.647 with 7 HRs in 68 AB. Of course, it comes with only 11 RBI, because it’s still the Tigers. While he probably won’t maintain his 60 HR season pace, his power looks legit, as evidenced by his 21% Barrel% and 56% HardHit%. He also has four games at OF, meaning he’s close to being the rare dual-eligible catcher should you find yourself in the rare position where that’s useful. In all leagues, you have to add him and ride the haate hand.
Max Stassi (C, Los Angeles Angels)
Stay Stassi, San Dieg- I mean, Los Angeles. Staying on the field has been his only weakness, but he’s come back from his concussion con-crushing to the tune of .467 with a pair of homers in 15 AB, which raises his season total to .318/.388/.568 with 3 HR, 10 R and 6 RBI in 44 ABs. While he will likely regress, he’s indicating that his breakout last year was not a fluke with a strong 13% Barrel% and 63% HardHit% that tops his rates from last year. He’s whiffing more this year with a 28% K% and 71% Contact%, but he’s also showing top-notch plate discipline with a Grisham-esque 19% O-Swing%. As long as he’s on the field, root for Stassafrass in 12-team formats with streaming potential in 10-team OBP.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, Boston Red Sox)
Lately, his hitting has been as sweet as renfro-yo. The slugging red socker started the year splitting time with Franchy Cordero, but despite his initial struggles he stuck around when Franchy went down and he’s gone to town, hitting .410/.477/.744 with 2 HR in 39 ABs the past 2 weeks. Although his season stat line doesn’t wow with a .263/.307/.451 and seven HR in 175 AB, his bat should stay hotter through the summer months. Most encouragingly, he’s cut his historically high K rate to a palatable 25% while maintaining his trademark strong exit velocity and solid barrel rate. He could hit .240-.250 with a 35 HR pace the rest of the way, so in deeper 12-team formats and 15-team leagues, get Ren and don’t be Stimpy.
Jonathan India (3B/2B, Cincinnati Reds)
India’s bringing home the bacon like a New Delhi. His stat line hasn’t been so beefy with just five HR in 142 ABs, but he’s hit two of those taters in the past week with a .500 AVG over that span, to raise his season line to .261/.368/.423 with the aforementioned five homers and three stolen bases. That makes him a solid, well-rounded player, especially in OBP leagues. He won’t light the league on fire, but his high fantasy floor should not be underestimated as he’s a near-lock for a 15/10 season with strong run production in the potent Reds lineup. Add in 15-team OBP formats and consider streaming in AVG formats.
Jake Lamb (1B/3B/OF, Chicago White Sox)
He came in like a lion and is coming back like a Lamb. He finds himself in a decent hitter’s situation despite having like 3 DHs and first base players on the team. He’s been looking more like his studly 2016 and 2017 self, hitting .344/.417/.688 with 3 HRs in his last 32 ABs across the past 3 weeks. While playing time has been limited, I’m betting on the strong rates with a barrel rate of 10% and an xBA of .271 and xSLG of .483. He is also making improvements in contact and plate discipline, with a sturdy 25% O-Swing% and a career-best 78% Contact%, although it’s fueled entirely by a rise in O-Contact% to 66%. While he’s still a sub-par defender at all positions, he’s getting reps lately in the outfield, giving him coveted triple-position eligibility. He’s still seldom noticed with a roster rate in the single digits, but he’s a sneaky good add in 15-Team OBP and all deeper league formats.
Jake Fraley (OF, Seattle Mariners)
Perhaps people are scared to pitch to him because he grooms like a modern-day Viking. The blonde-bearded Fraley has as many walks (16) as hits and strikeouts combined, giving him an odd-looking .207/.500/.483 line, but that’s delicious for OBP formats. He won’t keep that 35% walk rate up, but it’s no fluke either with an eye-popping 16% chase rate. However, he has been swinging at pitches on the plate more with a solid 65% Z-Swing%, helping him make the most of his limited power to barrel the ball despite a frail 16% Hard Hit%. He probably won’t hit enough to be helpful in AVG leagues, but his ability to go 10/10 with a .350 OBP makes him an underrated asset in deep OBP leagues.
Riley Adams (C, Toronto Blue Jays)
They say “There’s No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect” (TINSTAAPP) but the Jays would argue that the same applies to catching prospects. After hot prospect Kirk and former prospect Jansen went down, former prospect McGuire failed to show any pop, opening the door for Adams to have his second (and hopefully longer) cup of coffee, but this time with the position wide open. The 24-year-old was only rated the Jays’ 20th top prospect by Eric Longenhagen entering the year, but Longenhagen did note his rare athletic 6’4 build at the position and power bat, which he evidenced with 6 homers in Triple-A. Strikeouts will be his biggest bugaboo, but Adams should earn a fair shake of ABs and that alone offers plenty of value in Toronto’s loaded lineup. Add in AL-only formats and two-catcher leagues and monitor closely otherwise.
Yermin Mercedes (UT, Chicago White Sox)
The Yerminator is now dissolving in a vat of molten metal, but still giving the thumbs up. Many probably haven’t even noticed he’s struggling as he still sports a hearty .292/.351/.448 with 7 HR in 192 AB. However he’s been hitting just .071/.170/.143 over 42 AB the past 2 weeks, and it’s a long way down from the .360 he was hitting a few weeks ago. In leagues where he’s catcher-eligible, it’s hard to abandon him with his excellent max exit velocity of 116 mph and low K rate. But in the majority of leagues where he’s DH or UTIL only, he hasn’t been doing enough to justify starting him in shallow leagues, especially OBP formats. He’s a wise cut in 10-team and 12-team OBP formats.
Ian Happ (OF, Chicago Cubs)
His bat has turned to crhapp. He’s hitting an anemic .095/.174/.286 with 1 HR in 21 ABs the past week, and while his 2/3 BB/K ratio gives hope that he’ll rebound, it’s worth asking if he’s truly viable in shallow leagues. He seems to have abandoned the stolen bases that were once part of his profile with just one stolen base (and one caught stealing) the entire season, and he lacks any position eligibility outside of outfield to go with good but not great power. He’s a fine player to hold in 15-team leagues (especially of the OBP variety) with occasional 12-team stream potential, but he’s gone from underrated to overrated and you won’t regret dropping him in 12-team AVG formats.
Harold Castro (1B/OF, Detroit Tigers)
I’m getting married soon, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m done with the single life. That’s the life Castro leads, with 29 of his 30 hits on the year being of the one-base variety. Even with a .306 AVG that’s supported by Statcast with a .317 xAVG, the Tigers recognize the emptiness and have been playing him on a part-time basis as they focus on players who can hit dingers. Perhaps he’s been unlucky as his .441 xSLG suggests some of those singles could have been doubles, but Castro is slow for a slap hitter with a sluggish 21st percentile sprint speed. So you should Feed this Tiger to the lions in 15-team formats, and 18-team OBP leagues if you owned him there for some odd reason.