Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is “Not a big FAAB week!” But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of value to be had, it’s just hiding in the nooks and crannies. Some of that is in reclaiming the duds of yesteryear, and some is in guys that have sort of been hanging around but are finally turning things on. There were a lot of guys I wanted to write about in addition to these guys that deserve some recognition, but I’ll give my honorable mentions here to Darick Hall, Adam Duvall, Dominic Smith, Nick Gordon, and Rob Refsnyder. Now, onto the list!
Franmil Reyes (OF, Cleveland Guardians)
With Franmils like this, who needs enemies? I feel kind of conflicted about recommending a guy who is still rocking a 40% K%. That’s not entirely a fluke either, as his Contact% took a dip, and his Swinging Strike Rate and CSW% are also at career highs. But there comes a point where you need to forget the numbers for a minute and just be simple. This is a guy who has shown easy ability to hit 40 bombs, and he seems to be heating up, and he’s not Joey Gallo. Those are all good things.
Now, what’s not good is the fact that despite this “breakout”, it’s entirely possible that it’s another false start like he had earlier in the year. After all, although his K rate has improved from the horrific 51% mark he had in June, his July K% is still not pretty at 37%, especially when it comes with a walk rate of 0% for the month. In order for a player to survive with such awful plate discipline, you need to absolutely clobber the ball. Fortunately, he is succeeding in that with an elite and career-high 18% Barrel% to go with a 56% HardHit%.
While this may not be enough on its own, coming back from a layoff, I think you just need to hope he can rediscover his career form, and I do tend to take those bets on players in peak years (and had I stuck with this I wouldn’t have panic dropped Dansby Swanson in May). In many leagues he now has OF eligibility, and I say you hold him for at least a few weeks in 10-team average leagues to see if he can keep the good times rolling. If not, just cut him and monitor for the next supposed breakout.
Josh Rojas (2B/3B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Rojas has been quite the Josh of all trades. I’ve normally been wary of him as he consistently outperforms his Statcast data, and doesn’t really offer quite enough power or speed to move the needle. But Rojas is red hot, hitting .435 with 1 HR and 2 SB over the past week, raising his season line to .282/.346/.422 with 5 HR and 7 SB in 234 PA. That’s good, but not so special… but you must remember that has the asset that leagues with shallow benches covet the most, excellent multi-position eligibility. But there’s one thing that has me thinking maybe we have more in store.
I’m reminded yet again of Santiago Espinal, who is not nearly the success story he seemed to be a month ago, but still has been good enough to be a solid regular when he was thought of a depth piece. How? A big jump in power, signaled by a maxEV jump. Rojas has been Arraez-esque in this regard, with a poor 104 mph max eV in 2020 and 2021. This year? A maxEV of 109 mph. That’s a career-best and a rather huge jump, and while it may have been somewhat of a fluke, it’s at least somewhat meaningful and tracks with the fact that he’s sporting an improved HardHit% of 38%. I also definitely like that he’s making more contact than ever this year with an 81% contact%, which is likely still worse than you expected, but with his solid OBP bodes well for him.
He’s best deployed as a super-utility backup you can plug and play when your other guys are hurt, especially if you need speed but don’t want to sell out for it with a Jorge Mateo type. He also may be a streaming play since he has been historically prone to ugly cold streaks, and while at this point I do expect him to outhit his lousy .238 xBA, his spot atop the D-Backs lineup makes him a worthwhile play in 12-team leagues, and 10-team OBP formats for the time being.
Nolan Jones (OF/3B, Cleveland Guardians)
This is the year of the Nolan. Whether you’re an Arenado, a Gorman, it’s going to be your year. This is the peak of sabermetric analysis. Jones is weird as he lost his prospect sheen last year, and he redeemed himself somewhat in a brief campaign in the minors this year, hitting .311 with 3 HR and 4 SB in 108 PA (just 23 games). I say “somewhat” because there were likely small sample shenanigans as he still had a 27% K% and the average was fueled by a .424 BABIP. Yet I still think he can surprise, and not just because of the fact the slugger had more stolen bases than homers. In the majors, he’s off like gangbusters, hitting .538 with 1 HR in 16 PA.
While his power totals in decent years have been somewhat disappointing, with only 13 HR in his 2021 minors campaign, he’s showing he definitely has raw power and is shellacking the ball every chance he gets. In his 16 PA cup of espresso, He’s rocking an insane 88% HardHit% (7 of his 8 batted ball events), and while that’s obviously unsustainable it certainly bodes well, and his 109 mph max EV shows his raw power is ready to rock. So far, he’s hit 60% line drives, which is great, but I wonder if he can get the ball in the air as he’s only done it once so far and had a concerning 59% GB% in Triple-A. If he can’t fix that, he could be a Yandy Díaz without the bulging biceps. I mean, I’m sure his biceps are quite satisfactory.
Still, the good news is Yandy Díaz is a great floor for a player, though to be fair Jones is not there yet as his strikeout issues are considerably worse, as he projects for a near 30% K% and his 77% Z-Contact% isn’t a great foundation (reminds me of Chris Morel). The difference between him and Morel is so far he’s shown a great batting eye with a 18% O-Contact%. I think he could be the kind of player to spike a good average and counting stats on a lineup in need, and a sleeper for a .270/.350 line with 10 HR and a handful of SB and useful position eligibility. I think he’s certainly worth streaming in 15-team and 12-team OBP if you’re getting cold at the hot corner.
Yandy Díaz (1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays)
It may be mostly sugar, but you need to help yourself to some Yandy crush. He’s having a heck of a hot streak, hitting .600 this week and .418 over the past 3 weeks in 67 ABs. Due to his earlier struggles, it’s easy to miss this but his season batting average is now up to .307/.418/.409 with 3 HR and 1 SB. Not shabby for someone who was cut in my AL-only league six weeks ago.
He’s the hot ticket item for this week, but obviously he has some flaws, especially once you see the 3 homers, which FYI is less than Luis Arraez. Then again, Arraez is valued highly in most leagues, and while Yandy lacks the same position eligibility, and his 25% SB success% means he won’t help there either, he has one thing going for him. He’s hitting leadoff, and he honestly seems quite safe in that role as a contact/OBP hitter on a team that just got ravaged by more injuries. Playing time is king, and he can get a lot of hits.
It’s rather shocking that despite posting an elite 114 mph maxEV, which is tied for a career-best, he only has 3 homers and a 3% barrel%. I think this should improve as his HR/FB over the past 3 years was 18%, 18%, and 11%, and currently sits at just 4.6% despite his batting profile looking quite similar to years prior. You project him for double-digit homers, and he looks like classic Yuli Gurriel but with elite OBP. He’s a solid buy-low in deeper leagues, whereas in 12-team he’s a worthwhile add if you’re set on power and want to stream for OBP.
Matt Carpenter (2B, New York Yankees)
He’s too legit to quit, and that why he is swinging the MC Hammer. Carp has been one of the best players in baseball by plate appearance, although his playing time has been so limited that it’s not saying much. But if we do that foolish thing we love to do and extrapolate his .344 AVG and 10 HR in 77 PA to 600 PA, he’d beat out Barry Bonds, which makes you wonder why Cooperstown isn’t bribing the Yankees to play him every day.
Not to cast aspersions on a team that’s having a legendary year, but it doesn’t seem to make so much sense to me that Joey Gallo, who has made the Mendoza line look like Man of La Mancha’s unreachable star, gets at-bats all the time, meanwhile, Carp goes 3-for-4 with 2 homers and then rides the bench the next three days. Sure, he has better matchups, but how does it hurt to give the hot bat a chance? There are legitimate reasons to think it’s not a fluke, as his 80% Contact% is his best in 5 years, and his 26% CSW% is the best since 2014. In addition he is barreling the ball quite well with an elite 18% rate and a career-best 42% O-Swing%. Sure, the sample is small and cherry-picked, but I’d argue that’s pretty good for a guy the Texas Rangers, yes I repeat, Texas Rangers, cut in the spring, A flyball hitter like Carp couldn’t be in a much better place to hit than Yankee Stadium.
The problem is, regardless of my justifications, he’s still not a full-time player, and I’m not sure if there’s anything more he can do to get what he deserves. I mean, he’s basically outproduced DJ LeMahieu in a third of the at-bats. Still, I’m reminded of Alejandro Kirk and just trusting that a bat that keeps hitting will eventually find a way. So I’m adding and stashing him in all 15-team and 12-team OBP formats (at least with room on the bench), especially since it’s just one more game til he gains OF eligibility. And Carpenter is a slam dunk brick house in DFS leagues, and fans of his giant mustache have likely already reaped the rewards in mustcash.
Diego Castillo (2B/SS/OF Pittsburgh Pirates)
No, he’s not the former closer, but he may be even more valuable. Much like a pop song you like and quickly forget about only to call it your “jam” years later, Castillo is suddenly back on the scene after being a fast-fizzling super-utility guy from April. While initially, he seemed like he could be a batting average asset, it’s his power that’s wowing me right now, as although he is hitting .333 with 2 HRs this week, he’s hitting .259 with 6 HRs the past three weeks to bring him up to 10 on the year (albeit with a .209 AVG) in 220 AB. Who does he think he is, Oneil Cruz?
Well, in some aspects he’s been similarly intriguing. Okay, mostly one aspect, and that’s his barrel rate, but that’s, like, a big asset. The 11% Barrel% from the 24-year old is more than anyone expected, with a similarly solid 39% HardHit%. While he’s still been a batting average drain, I think a lot of it could be corrected with increased aggressiveness, as his 57% O-Swing% and 22% Called Strike% are just giving away opportunities. On the Pirates, he should continue to play (as I doubt they’d want to deal potential young talent), and his triple-position eligibility makes him a sleeper 20 HR 5 SB candidate that is still available in many 15-team formats.
Yermín Mercedes (UT, San Francisco Giants)
I know this may be a bit of wishcasting, but I just really want to see a triumphant return of Yermín Mercedes after Tony LaRussa psychologically destroyed him last year (That’s my explanation, anyway), and add on to Carlos Rodón as to reasons why the White Sox dug their own grave this year. Mercedes has been playing, most importantly, and off to a solid second season, hitting .296/.387/.519 with a homer in 31 PA.
The sample is still infinitesimally small (with a platoon split), but it’s a great start that he’s hit 3 barrels for a 15% rate, especially since it also combines with a greater Z-Contact% of 87%. I’m trying to ignore most of his stats in Chicago since the LaRussa idiocy, and if you think that’s all bologna, consider this… He hit .230 in Chicago’s system this year, and then upon being traded to the Giants, hit .348 with 2 HR in 26 ABs before getting the call.
His viability likely depends on not just the depth of your league but his positional eligibility based on your league requirements. He’s a few games from OF eligibility in most Yahoo formats, and may approach 1B eligibility and even catcher eligibility (if he does, get him NOW). But batting average is tough to find on the wire, and I think if he can continue to display stronger barrel rates, which is certainly possible given his high maxEV, he could be a deep league sleeper and streamer vs. lefties who may even gain attention in shallower formats. Oh, and LaRussa, you get production when you’re compassionate, you get ridiculed when Yermín.
Michael Stefanic (2B, Los Angeles Angels)
I have had high hopes for him, now I hope to see Stefanic at the Disco. His debut is going swimmingly in the toxic swimming pool of an Angels team right now, hitting .318/.444/.364 in 27 PA. He has near-zero power projection, as evidenced by his Triple-A campaign in which he hit .320 with 1 HR and 3 SB in 220 PA, though I still think the fact that he hit 16 Homers last year (with a .334 AVG and 6 SB) can’t have been a total fluke.
I was debating whether to write up him or another intriguing young 2B with a great bat and perhaps more power, Jonathan Aranda, but Stefanic has the advantage of more established playing time for the time being. While his major league power has been light with a 104 mph maxEV and just 24% HardHit%, Statcast at least believes in his hits so far with a .324 xBA and a considerably better projected slugging, with a .461 xSLG. So far, his contact skills have looked quite real with an 100% Z-Contact% and 87% overall contact%, as well as great discipline with a 20%-O-Swing%.
That reminds me an awful lot of David Fletcher, perhaps with a bit less speed but more power upside. And if he can rediscover his 2021 form, he could even become a Josh Rojas type. The batting average is what I’m chasing, and the rest is just gravy, and if he continues to hit leadoff ahead of Ward, Ohtani and Trout, he can become a run-scoring stud. I’d add while I still can in AL-only formats and 18-team OBP leagues with a need in those categories.
Nick Castellanos (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)
In 10-team formats, it’s time to call Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball, and send Casty away. Yeah, I’m going out on a limb with this one, but I’ve been a Castellanos skeptic for awhile, at least when he’s not in very hitter-favorable parks. While the Phillies are thought of being hitter-friendly, it’s not nearly to the extent of the Cincy bandbox, and his performance thus far has made that clear, as he’s hitting just .251/.297/.375 with 8 HR and 4 SB in 364 PA. Look at all of those plate appearances! Matt Carpenter has more homers in one-fifth of that number of PA!
While the easy answer is to chalk it up to bad luck, I really don’t think it applies here. His contact of 70% is his career-worst other than his 2020 in which he hit .225, and his O-Swing of 44% is a career-worst, as well as his resulting 17% Swinging Strike%. If you assumed that this was part of a strategy to sell out for power, that doesn’t seem likely either, as his 8% Barrel% and 35% HardHit% is his career-worst since his rookie year. Statcast thinks he’s mostly not deserving much better than this with a .267 xBA, though his .457 xSLG is an improvement. Still, if that’s what you get excited about in 10-team formats, with no speed, your team is porabably not doing too well.
Of course, Casty is known to be streaky, and this could be like the year where he had no power all year with the Tigers and then went to the Cubs and his bat went bananas. Still, I think that was more due to luck and an environment change, and I think it’s pretty unlikely that Castellanos gets moved, so I don’t forecast much better than a .270 AVG and 10 HR the rest of the way, and that’s the optimistic version. Once you get past the name and just look at the numbers, its hard to justify still holding him in 10-team OBP formats, and if you have better options in a 12-team batting average league (especially one with 3 OFs), I’d at least be considering it right now.
Nolan Gorman (2B, St. Louis Cardinals)
I think I need to pull out my MapQuest pages because my 1st-Gen GPS isn’t working, so I’ll be lost with my Gorman. Sure, he hasn’t had a complete collapse, as he’s still hitting .242/.322/.438 with HR in 153 AB, but it’s been rough sailing lately with a .183 AVG and just 2 taters over the last 3 weeks, and it’s certainly not fair to lambast a rookie second baseman pacing for 25-30 homers over a full season. I think his future is bright. But for this year, his approach could cause him to bottom out.
Maybe I should be more positive, as his current 30% is still a lot more encouraging than the horrid 34% mark he put up in Triple-A, though it was excused somewhat given the better track record as well as the massive power with 15 homers. While he isn’t a complete zero at contact or a completely wild swinger, he’s below average at both, with a 36% O-Swing% and a NOT “nice” 69% Contact% that adds up to an ugly 16% SwStr%. What that means for fantasy is he is at risk of getting taken advantage of and being lost for long stretches that might not be worth the power outbursts.
The good news is he has been showing the power, with an excellent 14% Barrel% that makes me wonder if perhaps I’m overreacting to his recent performance. Then again, surprisingly 2B has had an influx of talent thanks to many multi-eligible players, and I don’t think he’s currently in the top 15 at the position. But perhaps the bigger issue is that he seems to be really a power-only guy and that is the most replaceable skill to find on the wire, and I’d rather roll the dice on an Isaac Paredes type that has the better batting average floor. Given the prospect name value, I’d try to sell before dropping outright, but I think in shallow 10-team and 12-team AVG formats, you cook something else up in your Forge Gorman Grill.
Brad Miller (1B/3B/OF, Texas Rangers)
Gee, if only the Texas Rangers had an aging second/third baseman who could also play outfield who could draw walks and also hit well, that would be great. That was the one that got away to the Yankees though. Instead of helping build a franchise, Miller is just sifting and grinding wheat. He’s definitely the chaff of the lineup, hitting just .194/.216/.222 with 0 HR in 36 AB over the past 3 weeks and just .143 this week.
It’s possible you may have missed just how bad he’s been thanks to his 7 HR and 4 SB, most of which came at the beginning of the season, but his batting average is down to .209, and his Statcast page is blue enough to give you hypothermia. His .221 xBA is just 8th percentile and despite hitting the ball reasonably hard, has just a 7th percentile xwOBA thanks in part to a collapse of his usually high walk rate, which has nearly snapped in half to just 6%.
In 15-team leagues and even some AL-only formats, he should be cut as there are many better utility options. For example, take Nick Gordon, who has been playing more lately and has underlying numbers that better support his power and speed. Miller will likely see his playing time dry up soon as he is likely only soaking up at-bats as a showcase to be a depth piece for a contender, and at this rate, he’s likely contending for the role of bat boy.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Patrick Gorski & Frank Jansky / Icon Sportswire
Need to make room for an IL return, drop Muncy to make room for Haniger? Or should I drop Votto.