Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and for this week’s edition, our theme is “The Young and the Restless (on the basepaths). That’s right, now that it’s midway through June, there are plenty of very intriguing, as well as mildly intriguing call-ups. I also sprinkled in a few more reliable yet under-owned players who I noticed when doing my article research are performing red-hot under the surface and the numbers will erupt like a fantasy volcano at some point. Volcanos are also restless… well aside from the centuries that they lay dormant. Look, I am not an expert in volcanology, although I do know a baseball expert who is. Anyway, onto the list!
Cameron Maybin (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – Looks like he’s less of a Maybin and more of a Junebin. Cameron just nabbed 4 more bases to bring him up to a whopping 19 on the year, on pace to crush all his SB totals since 2011 before the season is halfway done. Health has always been an issue for him, and maybe now he’s finally healthy and can nab 40 bases like he did in 2011, now 6 years later at the age of 30. Unlike pure speedsters like Dyson and Hamilton, Maybin provides value elsewhere, as his 3 Homers are no fluke with a 31.3% Hard%, and while his .261 AVG isn’t blowing anyone away, his .384 OBP certainly is. At this point, he should be started in all OBP formats, and 12-team and deeper for Avg. leagues, and at only 27.2% ESPN ownership, you might still have a chance. If you need speed, you maybinge on shares of him.
Kevin Pillar (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – Earlier in the year, Pillar was hot and getting scooped up all over, but in many leagues, he’s once again becoming available, and while he looks cold on the surface, he’s hot underneath, much like a hot fudge sundae… .flipped upside down. Sorry I’m hungry, I should go eat something. But should Pillar become available to you, I’d scoop him up in all 12-team formats, as he’s made some real improvements to his game. Not only has he lowered his Chase Rate for the 4th year in a row (from a disgusting 43.3% in 2014 to a merely “kinda icky” 34.2%, he’s also posting a career-best Z-Contact% of 94.1%, 9th-best in the MLB (previous best 91.1%). And he’s hitting for more power too, with his 8 HR backed by 30.7% Hard%, 6.2% Barrels/BBE, 21.4% Soft%, all of which are career bests. And he can run too! With his ability to provide value in every category, He’s a Pillar of any good 12-team fantasy league, and a solid flier even in 10-team formats.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – The Red Sox may have 99 problems but a Mitch ain’t one. With all the first base kerfuffle he gets lost in the shuffle, but his periperals are tasty as a truffle. He has a career-best and downright awesome 45% Hard% backed by a avg. exit velocity of 90.0 mph and 95.8 mph on FB/LD, and 13.2 Barrel/BBE above the likes of Justin Smoak and Chris Davis, so of course he’s launched a whopping… 8 homers? Something’s not right here. While his 14.8% HR/FB is only slightly below his career average, with that kind of power, he should be well above 20%, though as a lefty playing half his games at Fenway, the green monster will eat some. That would explain why he has the 9th-most doubles in the league, and it seems his .343 BABIP isn’t really a fluke as it may seem. Especially as his walk rate has also improved, he should be owned in 12-team OBP but well worth a flier in AVG. leagues as well. To build your empire, you can’t go wrong acquiring Moreland.
Hernan Perez (3B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – I just bit the bullet and dropped Maikel in the writer’s league for Perez, even after I wrote Maikel up saying he’d be okay. Why? Because Hernan, while far less heralded, has been quietly doing many things even better, and also has speed. For example, he’s posting a career-best 35.1% Hard%, as well as a career-low 10.7% Whiff rate. That’s a lot better than anyone expected from the speedster, and with 9 home runs, he’d be a monster if he ran like he did last year when he nabbed 34 bases. I believe he’ll start running more, as he has a strong 80% success rate thus far. While his free-swinging ways won’t help you in OBP, the power-speed potential is considerable and with his dual 3B/OF eligibility, he should be owned in all 12-team mixed formats.
Mallex Smith (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – Mad Mallex just feels the need to steal the show… and every base in sight. In just 42 PA, he stole 7 bases, and while hitting .378 with 8 R, 3 RBI and even a home run. In leagues in which he’s on the wire, this certainly boosts his cost, but he’s still only owned in 12.2% of leagues. Now, it’s certainly encouraging that he’s sporting a 11.9% Walk Rate equal to his 11.9% K rate, but his 31.8% Chase Rate and 12.4% Swstr%, combined with his minor league track record, dampen my enthusiasm as this looks bound to regress. And with a miniscule 11.5% FB% and 18% Hard%, I wouldn’t expect homers to come often. But the speed is undeniable, so you can run with that if you’re in need for speed in 15-team or deeper and anything else he provides with it is just gravy. He could be a slightly better Jarrod Dyson, and if all works out he can perform like the 2017 version of Cameron Maybin, which would be Mallexcellent.
Mike Zunino (C, Seattle Mariners) – I recommended him upon his return to the majors, noting that he seemed once again to fix himself after returning to his second home at Triple-A and posting an 11% K rate. Well, I have good news, and bad news! Good news is he says he’s made a swing change, and it’s believable as he’s been tearing the cover off the ball like a tiger at a zoo…nino. He’s hitting .375 with 3 Homers, 6 R and 14 RBI in the past two weeks, and I see he just went 3-5 with another homer as I’m writing this. So what’s the bad news? Like a zoo, he’s also been swinging wild, as since returning, his K rate has actually gone UP, in the 45% K range, which is very, very not good, especially as he also isn’t walking much. Unless he can tame that, he’ll regress hard at some point, but as he’s only 9.9% owned, for 2-catcher formats and deeper leagues, while he’s hitting so well you gotta ride the unpredictable enigma known as El ZuNino.
David Freese (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Think of a powerful third baseman. Did you think of David Freese? Probably not. If you did though, maybe it’s because you knew that he has a 12.7% Barrel/BBE, the exact same amount of Edwin Encarnacion! I’m not saying he’s as powerful a hitter as E5, but it’s a sign that he belongs in the conversation for deeper mixed leagues looking for unrecognized value. He’s also posting a career-lowest swing rate and career-best whiff-rate, so the .272 AVG and career-best walk rate look legit. At 34 years old, he’s no bright red ferrari, but he’s the discount used Honda on the lot that drives nearly just as well that you won’t regret buying in 15-team NL-only, and worth a flier in 12-team OBP formats, since ROS I’d expect him to launch at least 10 more Freese’s Pieces.
Lewis Brinson (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – While his stock has tumbled some since his breakout 2015 season with the Rangers, Brinson has done enough to earn a call-up at age 23. He his 6 Homers with 7 Stolen bases and a .312 AVG in 204 Triple-A PA. Now, I’ll be the wet blanket and point out that that average looks fluky with a 22.1% K rate, but he did post a double-digit walk rate that gives hope that he’ll be a defense-first power-speed asset like diet Mike Cameron in his prime. He’s hitting leadoff, so the team looks poised to give him every opportunity to contribute, so it’s worth the gamble in NL-only and obviously in keeper and dynasty formats, but even in redrafts he’s worth a speculative flier in 15-team for the upside.
Danny Valencia (1B, Seattle Mariners) – As I’m writing this, Valencia just cracked his 6th homer, and he was already the 4th-most added hitter in ESPN this week. After a horrendous start, it’s easy to overlook how he’s already tidied up his season line, with a K/BB and ISO right in line with what he did in a solid season last year with the A’s. With Vogelbach not due Vogelback anytime soon, he can use this performance to solidify his presence as a regular. He’s still hitting too many infield flyballs at nearly 19%, and his hard contact is down on the year, but that may rise as his hot streak continues. He’s still not worth adding in 12-team, but in deeper 15-team and AL-only he’s worth a flier as his hot streaks can reward lucky owners handsomely.
Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics) – It seems like Matt Olson is a relic of prospect days of yore, so I nearly did a double-take in remembering the dude just turned 23. It seemed he might be a one-year wonder after hitting 37 dingers in High-A in 2014 and then putting up less than half that total in 2015 and 2016. But in Triple-A this year, he hit 15 yaks with a .296 ISO that was even higher than in his 2014 season, along with a mighty impressive .286/.376/.582 line. It seems strikeouts will always be a problem, as he still posted a 25.7% K rate which is sure to go higher in the majors. But if he can curb it to below 30%, he can temper it with hard contact and a high walk rate and be just what the league needs… another Three True Outcomes slugger. While he’s only played 1B this year in the minors, since his callup he’s already played 2 games in the OF and one at 3B, giving him unusual versatility in teams with 1-game eligibility requirements. He’s worth a flier in deeper keeper formats, and in redrafts he’s worth a speculative add in AL-only and 15-team OBP if you can stash him on your bench.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – If you’re one of the 35% of owners still holding onto Adrian Gonzalez… What’re you thinking man? The 1 Home Run is just unacceptable at a position as deep as first base, and there’s really just not enough to indicate any significant kind of power rebound is on the way, as it’s been steadily declining for years. And he’s no longer the contact hitter he used to be, either, so he’s not going to Joe Mauer his way to value. With Gonzo, it’s fair to assume injuries are playing a role, but that doesn’t mean he’ll suddenly be okay at some point this season. I’d drop him in all non-bizarro mixed leagues and let him remain in a different time Gonzone.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) – I’ll admit, I wanted to write him up as a drop every single week for the past month or so, but somehow I forgot every time. That’s how forgettable he is. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still just 25, and he probably has the talent somewhere in there to be an above-average player, but don’t let his improved K rate improve you he’s really been a failure to improve his terrible discipline and he’s hitting for below-average and career-worst Hard$ at 28.3%. He’s earning more time on the bench, so drop another-hole-in-the-heady Eddie, just make sure not to accidentally drop the other, better Rosario.
Logan Forsythe (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Forsooth, what dost thou value in Forsythe? Perhaps you meant to pick up Logan Morrison and got confused, or you just like Hugh Jackman. But Forsythe has performed like a literal wolverine on the field (they can’t really grip a bat), with just 1 HR, 1 SB, a .196 AVG and a 31% K rate. It’s no fluke either, as his Z-Contact% which used to be in the 90s, is now down to a career-worst 81.5%, and while his Hard% is fine, he’s hitting only 23% flies compared to 49% wormburners. It’s time to forget Forsythe for he has forsaken you.