Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and this week’s edition theme is CCR: Cincinnati, Cardinals, and Rangers. I know that’s kind of cheating with flipping the team location and names, but I was listening to them while writing this, okay? And perhaps for good reason, as lots of these guys are older players cranking out hits, yet who can easily get overlooked, especially during the mid-June prospect frenzy. But these will be the ones that will help more in the long haul, and help your team keep on rollin’, rollin’ rollin’ on the river.
Carlos Gomez (OF, Texas Rangers) – You may have been one of the many mourning his productive days from yesteryear, never again to return. But turns out Gomez is back, and doesn’t appreciate your Morticia impersonation. It has always been about health, and although he’ll probably always deal with some nagging injuries (such as his sore back) he’s hitting the ball with authority, with a career-best 40.3% Hard% and a nice low 38.3% GB% with 25.2% LD%. He’s still not a 30 stolen base guy or perhaps even a 20 stolen base guy, and his 30% K rate makes him a batting average liability, but he can go 25-15 and thus should be owned in all mixed leagues. Go to his games and hope you get a souvenir in the Gomezzanine.
Matt Adams (1B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Well I just made a Munsters reference, so naturally, now it’s time for the Adams family. His power binge has been kooky but not at all fluky, as he’s posting a beastly 40.7% Hard% to go with his 43% FB%. While his plate discipline is the same as it ever was, he’s made hard contact for years before kicking it up a notch this year, so I believe it’s legit, and with Freeman likely moving to 3rd, job security is no longer a major concern. I believe in the power more than the batting average, but he could still approach 30 homers with an average in the .270s from here on out which should not be left to fester on your waiver wire.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – Hey guys, why don’t you take the guy with a fracture in his foot who’s still trying to play. Seriously. Look, I’ve recommended him in the past due to his excellent and completely underrated Barrel and Hard Contact rates, and I was nervous when I heard about the foot, but he then hit 3 homers in a row, so it clearly isn’t impacting his performance too drastically. He may hit the bench a bit more in the short-term, but seeing as he could be hitting at a 30-homer pace, he’s really under-owned as he should be owned in all 12-team mixed leagues.
David Peralta (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – It’s pretty ridiculous that Peralta is only owned in 41.7% of ESPN leagues while he’s hitting .325, especially considering how batting average is now so much more valuable and rare than power. Sure, you could point to his .360 BABIP and declare it a fluke, but Peralta is a player with a .347 career BABIP and has natural contact skills, plus he’s walloping the ball with a 36.7% Hard% rate. He also has a touch of speed, and should be owned in all 12-team batting average leagues, and worth owning in deeper 12-team OBP as well even though he’s decidedly less of an asset there. You’ll achieve fantasy salvation by being a Peralta boi.
Scooter Gennett (2B, CIncinnati Reds) – Scooter is Gennett done. What has gotten into him, I’m not quite sure but I like it. After a ridiculous and unexpected 4-homer game, he has been on fire, as over the past 21 days he’s hitting an absurd .371 with 8 home runs. He’s sort of become the butt of jokes of owners flocking to the next hot thing, but I think it’s more than smoke and mirrors. After all, he has a 39.4% Hard% which is among the best in the league at the keystone, and his 38.9% FB% and his 43.9% Pull rate are both career bests. I wouldn’t expect this rate of awesomeness to continue, but with some speed to go along with his intriguing bat, you should be a suitor for Scooter.
Robinson Chirinos (C, Texas Rangers) – Here’s your Alex Avila lite, so take him. I just think it’s hilarious to preseason 2017-me that I can recommend a player that way. But seriously, Chirinos has been quietly mashing, and is now up to 11 homers on the year… in just 97 AB (111 PA). Yeah, that’s a full-season (500 AB) pace of 57 home runs. Chrirazy. It’s no fluke at all, as his 18.6 Barrel/BBE is top-10 in the league, with a 41.4% Hard% and a wild 55% FB% rate. Not what you typically expect from a 33-year old catcher. But remember that Chirinos always had upside but never got a real crack at playing time, so you probably missed that his ISO has substantially improved every year since his 2011 debut. Oh, but about the playing time… it’s going to come. It has to. They won’t keep running out Puke-croy with his now-terrible framing matching his now-terrible offense, and they can still make DH available. I mean, he’s hitting for Gallo-like power without the Gallo-like K rate at just 23.1%. He should be rostered in all 15-team formats as well as deep 12-teams with room on the bench for his off days. He’s only 1.5% owned, which is a downright TRAVESTY. Come on people. Hop on deck with Robinson Crusoe… more like Robinson Crush-O. Chirinos Slaughter? I give up… just add him already.
Randall Grichuk (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – Mr. Statcast Darling is back! After a rather lengthy and probably deserved demotion, he has been discarded from most mixed league rosters, despite the fact that his 14.8 Barrel/BBE is elite and foretells coming improvement in his power numbers. And this year he’s cut his GB% and hit or a higher LD% rate, so you’d think with his plate discipline being the same as 2016, he’d be hitting BETTER than last year. I expect him to have positive regression towards those 2016 rates, so if someone Grichukked him, go pick him up in all 15-teamers and deep leagues. Maybe he’ll have a triumphant return like the Mighty Chuks, and he’ll launch plenty of Grichuklepucks.
Joc Pederson (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Looks like Joc Jams is finally ready to rumble. He’s been pumping up the volume as of late, hitting .310 with 4 Homers, 12 R, 7 RBI and 1 SB over the past two weeks, and perhaps most encouraging, is that it’s come with an 11/10 BB/K ratio. While his season numbers have been dragged down by his terrible start, he has cut his K rate down to 23% which helps alleviate concerns that he’s following a Colby Rasmus career path. With his youth, he still has the ability to mash like an Ian Happ-esque player, and while he’s likely not the fantasy stud owners hoped for with limited baserunning, he’s still a guy who should be owned in all 15-team and deep leagues, as well as 12-teamers with a deep bench, since he could really take off. So strap yourself to Joc.
Michael Taylor (OF, Washington Nationals) – I don’t want this to sound like a ringing endorsement, since Michael Taylor is admittedly a player with some gaping flaws in his game, but we also can’t discount what he’s done. He’s hitting .277 with 11 Homers and 7 SB in 224 PA, and while the average is highly unlikely to last with a 33% strikeout rate. But the speed is real and the power is more real than ever, with a career-best and excellent 11.4% Barrel/BBE and 37.1% Hard%, and combined with a career-best 36.5% fly ball rate, he’s finally able to put his power to use. He’s worth an add in 15-teams and deeper 12-teams for the power-speed alone, but remember it comes with a risk of a .230 AVG. and a similarly bad OBP. If you can handle that, he’s Taylor-made for you.
Eduardo Escobar (SS/3B, Minnesota Twins) – Escobar is one of those perfect under-the-radar deep league players that nobody noticed when you take him and then when you start creeping up in the standings, nobody knows why. He’s been quietly solid this year with 7 home runs and a .276 AVG, with a career-best 34.0% Hard% (previous best was 29.2%) and career-high 41.8% FB rate and 7.8% Barrel/BBE. But unlike many other players showing career-best power, for Escobar it’s coming with improved contact, as he also has a career-best 16.4% K rate, although that may regress some since it’s not backed by his plate discipline numbers. Still, he’s now fallen into regular playing time, and with his multi-position eligibility, makes for a useful player in AL-only and deep mixers.
Brandon Phillips (2B, Atlanta Braves) – Brandon Phillips has been productive this year, but also pretty boring. That’s why you should own him. In a year where players are splashing onto the scene and others nosediving, Captain Phillips has commanded the ship on a smooth steady course to a .290-15-15 season, and preseason, many saw this as a lack of upside. But with his contributions in AVG. and SB, who cares about the middling power, since you can find that anywhere. He’s still only owned in 44% of mixed leagues, and 12-teamers would be wise to stop the obsession with finding the next Cody Bellinger and go for ol’ reliable. Like a Phillips Screwdriver. Or orange juice and vodka… stirred with a Phillips screwdriver.
Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, Oakland Athletics) – “Hey look, the next hot prospect has finally gotten called up! Let’s get him!” said the owner who will toss him back on the waiver wire within a couple weeks. Look, Barreto is 21 and the upside is sky-high, but he’s not ready yet. I mean, even in Triple-A, he had a 30% K rate, and his pretty small-sample .400 AVG is supported by a .500 BABIP. This year he stopped stealing bases in the minors, with only 4 all year, so I wouldn’t expect him to contribute there in the majors, nor can you expect him to bring power to such a pitcher-friendly home park. If you picked him up in the prospect frenzy and there are guys like Pirela and Sogard on your wire (assuming it’s a redraft league), do yourself a favor and fire your Barreto.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants) – Crawford is Mr. Boring. Boring name, boring power, boring average, boring speed, boring plate discipline. Unlike Phillips, who is boring yet productive, this is boring in that it is league average and mediocre. And yet he’s still owned in 44.9% of leagues for some reason, which is slightly more than… Brandon Phillips. I get that he’s a shortstop and the position can seem thin, but you’re still better off taking your chances with really any other waiver wire infielder. Perhaps I’m biased because I don’t like crawfish.
Taylor Motter (OF/SS, Seattle Mariners) – I won’t be surprised if sometime soon he gets de-Mottered to Triple-A. He burst onto the scene with fantastic exit velocity and power, but has turned into a pumpkin since, which isn’t surprising considering that he’d looked the pumpkin part in every level of the minors prior to his big league debut. Round and orange and laying around in a patch and everything. With Segura back and Heredia being the new hot bench hitter, his opportunities to prove himself have dried up. But if you play in a hair league, he’s a must-own.
Ben Gamel (OF, Seattle Mariners) – Speaking of great hair… Look, it’s not much fun to kick players while they’re down, so I’m kicking this one while he’s up, which is much harder! I mean have you ever tried stomping on a spider that’s suspended in mid-air? I have, and it didn’t go well. Anyway, Gamel has a beautiful .346 AVG. so why would you drop him. See fig 1., the .456 BABIP. See fig 2. A 24.8% K/9. See fig. 3, 4 homers and 2 SB in 234 PA. In conclusion, if you own him, it’s predicated on a success in just one category, and one which is unlikely to continue near its current pace. He’s a fine short-term ride the wave stopgap in AL-only and 18-team or deep 15-team, but in leagues shallower than that, spit out Gamel like a Camel. I mean the cigarette brand, I’d spit the Camel out because smoking is bad for you.