Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell All Star Break edition, and the theme is: who cares, because it’s All Star Break! At this point, more than half of casual fantasy leaguers have stopped looking at their roster since they’re clearly out of contention, but for those still in the mix, here are some more players I haven’t written about that are worth a look. It’s 4 AM and I can’t think of anything more clever to say, so, well, here you go.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Colorado Rockies) – Carlos Gonzalez sure looked like Toast early this year, but now he looks like Rocky Mountain toast, which is far more delicious. Cargo has been carrying many fantasy teams into the second half, with a .361/.425/.778 line over 36 AB the past 2 weeks, with an solid 3/5 BB/K over that span. After being a massive fantasy disappointment last year, it seemed he was doomed to repeat a lackluster campaign this year, but he’s now up to a strong .280/.332/.479 line. As much as fantasy owners are tempted to dream of a huge payoff, xStats thinks he may be getting lucky, with a more average xSlash of .262/.316/.419. That’s a pretty huge difference in power output, and he has rather underwhelming 5.0% Barrel/PA% and 92.1 FB/LD eV, so you may want to trade him before regression hits. That being said, he’s outperformed his xSLG every year since 2015 by at least .020% and as much as .053%, so I’d continue to ride it out and see what happens. He’s worth picking up in 12-team leagues and streaming in 10-team batting average leagues.
Paul DeJong (SS/2B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Give Paul a hand! Because he broke his. DeJong is back in the lineup and back in fantasy owner’s minds and hearts after the DL stint, and we all await with baited breath to see if the power returns. While he only has 8 HR in 205 PA this year, he made his profile less extreme with a 8.8% walk rate and a slightly lower K rate, so he’s improved his OBP so far. While he’s probably not going to hit at a 25-homer pace, his 94.6 FB/LD eV suggests he still can hit for solid power, and his .472 xSLG indicates he’s deserved better power numbers up to this point. While he’s only hit .250/.294/.281 in 34 PA since returning and hand injuries can sap power, if he’s fully healthy, he could supply homers by the bunch. With his high offensive ceiling, it’s worth scooping him up now before he gets hot and someone else nabs him, and he should be owned in all 12-team leagues and is at least a bench stash in 10-team.
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – No, he hasn’t been the breakout star we were all hoping for, but he’s not the total dud he was last year. Lately he’s been Mai-killing the ball, with a .333/.400/.556 with 3 HR over 49 PA with an excellent 5/5 BB/K ratio, to bring him to a season line of .269/.317/.459. Unlike Cargo, xStats has backed Franco and considered him lucky if anything, since he’s rocking an xSlash of .280/.327/.458. With Machado seemingly going to the Dodgers and not Philly, Maikel looks to have the 3B job locked up for this year, and seeing how he’s improved his K and BB rates from last year, you shouldn’t look past the 25-year old. He should be added in all 15-team leagues and 12-team batting average leagues, and seeing as France won the World Cup, you should take pride in being a Francophile.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – Old King Kole has been a merry old soul, though I can’t say whether it’s been thanks to a pipe and bowl… or fiddlers three. Calhoun has returned with a vengeance, hitting .364/.400/.955 with 4 homers over the past week to raise his previously abysmal season line to a merely awful .187/.237/.319 line. Still, he’s hit more than half of his season’s homers over the past month, and if it were a hidden injury sapping his production in the first half, he definitely seems healthy now. Calhoun is one of the only Angels players who benefits from the lowered outfield wall, and can still be had for next to nothing thanks to his ugly season line. He’s owned in just 10.6% of leagues now but should be owned in every 18-team and 15-team league while he’s hitting like this, and can be streamed in 12-team AVG formats as well.
Jake Bauers (OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – He’s got a good groove going like the Tower of Bauers, but definitely is not in a funk. The 22-year-old rookie is heating up going 296/.345/.667 line with 2 HR in 27 AB this week, to bring him up to a .262/.368/.496 with 5 Homers in 131 AB on the year. While many prospect hounds wrote him off for being too low-power to be of shallow league fantasy relevance, Bauers has shown yet again that power projections must be boosted for the majors. As a player who hits lots of doubles, he has a sneaky advantage in leagues that have a category for slugging, and his 14.8% BB% makes him a low-key OBP beast, especially now that he just gained OF eligibility. Although he’s only owned in 22.7% of ESPN leagues (nearly double his own rate last week), it’s time to start him in all 15-team 12-team OBP formats.
Daniel Palka (OF, Chicago White Sox) – Since May, my unpopular hot take was that Daniel Palka and Teoscar Hernandez have been essentially the same player, and I know that’s may look kind of crazy now, but I’m not entirely ready to back down. It’s true that Palka’s K rate has skyrocketed to over 34% where Teoscar’s has remained safely in the mid-20s. But Palka’s 36.1% O-Swing%, 16.8% Swstr% and 82.5% Z-contact% are similar to Teoscar’s 34.7% O-Swing% 79.4% Z-Contact%, and 16.6% Swstr%. As for power, Palka’s 9.1% Barrel/PA% is top 25 in the league but no match for Teoscar’s 11.0% (4th best in MLB) but Palka matches him in exit velo, with his 92.7 mph avg. eV and 98.9 mph FB/LD eV beating Teo’s 91.9 mph and 98.4 mph eVs, respectively. While he’s still been a batting average liability and OBP disaster in recent weeks, he still has 5 long balls over the past 2 weeks, and if he keeps getting playing time, I see him getting another 12-15 jacks. Add in all 18-team and stream him for power in 15-team formats.
Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS, Kansas City Royals) – Maybe he’ll start calling himself “Raul” again if I give him the nickname “Bert”. Bert Mondesi has returned to the majors this year after a mostly unfair demotion in favor of a lousy Alcides Escobar, and has showed more in his second time around, hitting .400/..438/.867 with 2 HR and 1 SB (2 CS) this past week. On the year he has a .250/.270/.444 line with 3 home runs and 5 SB over 72 AB, and it is somewhat but not entirely backed by xStats with a .239/.254/.439 xSlash. The power has noticeably improved, as his top-50 8.1 Barrel/PA is tied with Story and Lindor, with a solid 94.3 mph FB/LD eV, though his best asset is still his speed, with a top 15-Sprint Speed of 29.5 ft/sec. As you may expect from a 22-year-old, his game is still raw, and his lousy K/BB gives him little room for error, especially with a horrific 19.0% Swstr%. But if you need stolen bases in the worst way and want some pop despite tanking your average, Mondesi is viable in 18-team formats or for streaming in 15-team batting average leagues in which you’re feeling lucky.
Wilmer Flores (1B/2B/3B, New York Mets) – Finally, something on the New York Mets that DOESN’T fill my heart with bitter disappointment! Wilmer has actually been surprisingly solid, with a .313/.329/.522 line the past 21 days to bring him up to a .272/.322/.460 season line. My favorite thing about what he’s done the past 21 days is that he only struck out twice in 67 AB, and his K rate is now down to a career best 8.9% K% which isn’t much higher than his career-best BB% of 7.2%. So I wasn’t surprised to find that he’s deserved better luck, as his xSlash is an enticing .294/.342/.481 which would put him in a whole other tier. With his multi-position eligibility, he is worth a pickup in all 15-team and even deeper 12-team formats where he is likely available, as he is just owned in 6.7% of ESPN leagues. If you need some magic, make a splash with the Wilmermaid.
Omar Narvaez (C, Chicago White Sox) – With so many catchers raising your anxiety with their awful batting averages, you don’t have to be nervous with Narvaez. He’s been on fire lately, hitting .406/.441/.656 with 2 homers, the past two weeks, more than doubling his homer total, up to 3. On the year he’s now hitting a surprisingly robust .286/.356/.415, and xStats is fully onboard with a positive xSlash of .289/.359/.424. I was actually quite surprised to see such a high xSLG% for a guy who’s been punchless for his whole majors career up until now, but it’s mostly for hitting doubles thanks to a career high 25.2% Hard Contact% as his 1.2 Barrel/PA suggests he’s not due for any kind of homer outburst. Now that he’s locked up the lion’s share of PT in Chicago until Welington Castillo returns in mid-August, he makes for a great 2nd catcher in 2-catcher leagues or 18-team and is a viable streamer in both AVG and OBP 15-team league formats for the next few weeks.
Tony Kemp (OF, Houston Astros) – Compare Kemp to Altuve and they’re practically the same… in terms of size, anyway. Kemp is another 5’6 hitter who can hit for solid average with some speed, and has hit .238/.407/.534 in 21 AB with 4 SB (2 CS) and a fantastic 6/3 BB/K ration the past two weeks to bring him up to a season line of .297/.387/.424. While he lacks home run power and regular playing time, it’s easy to like a player with a higher walk rate (12.1%) than his K rate (10.6%) and that’s no fluke as he did this in Triple-A this year as well. Similar to many speedy guys before him, xStats is bearish, with an xSlash of .261/.356/.352, but he’s one game away from 2B eligibility in most leagues, and can still make for a solid add in AL-only and 18-team formats in need of discount speed, provided you can set daily lineups.
Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/SS/OF, Houston Astros) – Fantasy teams still are clutching him tight, not wanting him to be the one that got away. It’s as if they think he’s a superstar and not Marwin Gonzalez. Don’t get me wrong, his 2017 was incredible and one of those examples for baseball being so incredibly unpredictable. But it’s hard to dream on a .230/.305/.355 line, and xStats doesn’t help much with a still poor .246/.320/.377 xSlash. With a lousy 85.5 mph avg eV and 2.4% Barrel/PA, he’s not going to surpass 20 HR this year and should be happy with 15, and you should be happy to cut him in 12-team and even shallower 15-team AVG formats. If at this point you still hold Marwin, it’s your Marloss.
Delino DeShields (OF, Texas Rangers) – The problem with DeShields is he can’t swing DeSword. I should really end it there. But I’ll continue. He’s hit an amazingly awful .057/.083/.086 with 0 HR and SB over 35 AB the past 2 weeks, to bring his season line down to .208/.301/.275 with 2 HR and 16 SB (3 CS) over 265 AB. The speed is still real as his sprint speed is best among active players (otherwise Buxton would be #1), but as the old adage goes, you can’t steal first base. The rest of his game is simply too weak to debase yourself for the speed, especially in batting average leagues. Shield your team from him and in 12-team and 15-team batting average leagues, cut Delino like Delilah.
Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – I should preface this by saying that overall I still really like Meadows, and think he’ll be a great player! Okay, Austin? His season line is pretty to look at and is even backed by xStats, there’s just one problem. He’s not getting at-bats. I bet on the wrong horse expecting him to overtake Polanco in May, and there simply isn’t room for Meadows to play above Starling Marte and Polanco. Trade for him in rebuilding efforts, but otherwise you should cut him in all 12-team and 15-team leagues and reassess next year and try again next year for a fresh Meadows like the neighborhood in Queens.
Jon Jay (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Bet the Royals were glad with the heist they pulled by getting something of moderate value in return for this guy. He’s limped to a .141/.225/.203 line the past 21 days, and yeah that’s never good when your OBP% is better than your SLG% which is hardly above the Mendoza line. Seeing as he was fringey at best even when he hit above .300, you can safely drop him and not look back. Drop in all leagues except for NL-only leagues in which you want to be really, really boring.
Ben, quick question:
Moncada or Bauers ROS in a points league? Does moncada’s lack of plate discipline bring Moncada down too much in this format?? Is Bauers made for this format because he knows how to take a walk?
ps GO SOX
Moncada. Bauers isn’t going to help you much as he is just not an impact bat at big bat positions. He may be a solid stopgap, but Moncada could theoretically make a difference. Moncada walks which offsets a few Ks. Bauers is posting a career high BB rate (minors included) and I wouldn’t bet on that. His ISO is also 100 pts above any minor league stop. 3 HR and 4 multi-hit games in your last 8 goes a long ways towards inflating short-term ratios. I would be selling high if I could as he seems like he is being tabbed a buy everywhere. All the decent sells really have to come from another owners buy list! If this is a trade prop, then I think you know what I would do. My faith in Moncada is close to zero that he will turn it on, but he could carry a team. That is worth a roster spot for me… and also just sit him against lefties.
Er: Bauers – there are some typos in the writeup… it says something like he is hitting .296 this year… to bring his avg up to .262. Not sure what it is supposed to say, but probably not that! I think it should reference a split but it doesn’t. I spent about 3 mins trying to figure out what it is supposed to say but I can’t figure it out.
Remember that it’s now common for young guys in their MLB debut to show more power than in the minors. Yeah, probably needed another cup of coffee to catch thise slip-ups on the proofread… I’ll fix it after work, and try to not crank out articles at 4 AM with Rick and Morty playing in the background next time.
You gotta go with Moncada. He strikes out a lot but does have strong walk ability, not a free swinger like most young toolsy guys. Bauers is a high floor type but you cant turn down Moncada’s huge power/speed ability since his fantasy upside dwarves Bauers in OBP
Thanks buddy, appreciate the response. All the confirmation bias I needed to make my decision lol.
Important to state that Narvaez is only viable in the short term. Welington Castillo will be back mid-August and will reclaim the starting job.
Good point, yeah definitely a good short term stream but after Castillo arrives he’ll likely just be a quality backup C
Hosmer or Bauer rest of 6×6 with obp and total bases? Yes, hosmer has the track record but he has been anemic at the plate. 10 hr, hit his first homer since June 12 on Saturday. The dude has a career high ground ball rate (61%+) and career high strikeout rate. Thanks
I don’t go Bauers personally, especially in an OBP format. Don’t see many promising signs for Hosmer and his worm burning ways.
“Compare Kemp to Altuve and they’re practically the same…” You got me really good
Heh, couldn’t help myself :P
Ben, in a shallow 9-team mixed league, would you flat out drop the injured Wilson Ramos to add Yadi (or Hedges)? Concerned about the lack of a timetable on Ramos – I could live without a C for the 5 games he’d miss post-ASB if he’s out the minimum, but I’m worried this could be a longer absence.
In that format, I think you have to hold Ramos for now until more is learned about his timetable… He’s the only one of 3 that if healthy is really 9-team viable. Hope he’s okay for your sake and for good baseball’s sake
Is Cespedes worth trading for or is he a groundout away from another DL stint? Was thinking of offering DJ LeMahieu for him. Fair offer? I’ve got Murphy and Cano waiting in the wings. 10 T 5×5.
I’d rather hold LeMahieu. Cespedes is high risk and no longer offers the upside he once had… there are many other guys who can hit 30 HR with limited AVG and speed at this point in his career. Hate to break it to you but LeMahieu very well may be your best 2B of the three ROS, not convinced Murphy is fully healthy and Cano PT might be limited since they want to be used to not needing him for the playoffs. I’d try to see what I can get for one of those 2 but don’t ask for too much.
Ben, great insights, as always. One typo- you talk about Mondesi but reference Mejia in the last part of that section.
Oh, wow, that’s weird. Maybe this was why Francisco Mejia left me in my AL-only keeper league :(
Avi Garcia, anticipated back “sometime after the ASB”. Do you think he can continue and even enhance on his newfound power?
Personally, I wouldn’t count on it. He already had some problematic parts of his profile (particularly with a crazy high whiff rate, among others), and hamstring injuries typically don’t fully heal until the offseason. He could be okay but I’d go for less high-risk options.