Buy & Sell 7/28 – Identifying Who to Add and Who To Drop

Ben Pernick recommends the hottest and coldest hitters to add and drop.

Welcome back to another week of Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is, “trust the bat, the rest will follow”. Most of these guys had at least early in their career a bat-first profile, though for some of them their game has taken interesting turns and isn’t what we originally expected, but still turned out okay. Sort of like when the ice cream machine at McDonald’s is “broken” again so you mash and freeze an overripe banana and it’s still not that sugar cone you craved, but it’s probably better for you. That’s at least what I’m telling myself as that was my night in a nutshell. Ohh maybe next time I should add crushed walnut shells. On to the list!
BUY
10-team
India is back and has already started telling bad pitches mum-bye. Okay, let’s face it, it would sound a lot better if I could say he was hitting Bomb-ays, but this is the sacrifice I make to attempt to keep with the times. India is quickly making fantasy leaguers forget about his lousy start after hitting .310/.385/.586 with 4 HR and 1 SB in 58 AB over the past 3 weeks, with two of those homers coming in his last 15 AB. There may still be leagues slow to pick up on the surge as his overall season line still looks weak at .240/.305/.386 with 6 HR and 2 SB (3 CS), especially since post-All Star Break, many teams mentally begin shifting their attention to football.
Now, there’s still a lot to be desired from his overall line, as his stolen base prowess and walk rate from last year have seemingly cratered, without which he appears like a rather empty batting average + moderate power play. Not only that, but his injury helped allow for the emergence of 2022 fantasy stud Brandon Drury, who despite tailing off a bit lately, is still going nowhere after hitting .271 with 19 HR and 2 SB this year. Still, I think the momentum of a hot streak will increase his confidence with plate skills, and sure enough the past two weeks he’s posting a healthy 4/5 BB/K. He hasn’t attempted a stolen base the past two weeks despite his last attempt being successful, and even though the Reds don’t have much to lose, it’s likely a fools’ errand at this point to expect double-digit total bags. But he could hit .270 with 10 HR and 3-5 SB for the rest of the year with solid OBP and run production, and that’s still worthwhile. Add in all 12-team leagues and 10-team OBP formats for his high floor and chance he rediscovers more of his 2021 mojo.
His hitting is healthy but also packing some protein like a Nicoise salad. He’s quietly been producing for months now, and is hitting .302/.343/.492 with 2 HR and 3 SB in 63 AB over the past 3 weeks. That raises his season line to .306/.345/.435 with 6 HR and 10 SB in 294 AB, which may not jump off the page until you consider that it’s rather comparable to the much more widely-rostered Andres Gimenez, who is hitting .301 with 11 HR and 7 SB. It may surprise you that Hoerner has amassed more at-bats over the season than Gimenez, as Hoerner is often wisely placed atop the lineup, whereas Gimenez inexplicably still often hits at the bottom of the lineup and was often benched earlier on.
I wrote about Hoerner as a buy back in June as I liked his improved peripherals, and he’s done nothing to make me regret that. Sure, his 3% Barrel% rate is still quite weak, but he’s still maintaining a career-best 85% Contact% and hitting at an increased launch angle that at least allows for the chance at home runs. But his real asset is still his baserunning acumen, as he’s stolen 10 bases with only 1 caught stealing. That continued success should see him continue to get the green light in the second half, and can easily steal another 10 bags while hitting .300, which is honestly not too different from what Nicky Lopez did last year but at least with the chance of a couple dingers along the way, which at least makes a difference psychologically. Add in all points formats, 12-team and 10-team AVG formats.
12-team
José Miranda (1B/3B, Minnesota Twins)
Mira, mira, on the wall, who is hottest Twin of all? It’s José, though Statcast may be the spirit in the mirror talking about how beyond the surface Statcast still thinks others are prettier (and then José uses the mirror to smash another tater). He’s hitting .421 with 2 HR and 12 RBI the past 3 weeks and an even hotter .583 (7-for-12) this week, which raises the young slugger’s overall line to a heartier .271/.313/.457 with 8 HR in 199 AB. That’s actually right in line with what preseason projections imagined he could contribute this year. Imagine that.
Now, I’ll return to the caveat, which is that despite his sudden surge to fantasy relevance, Statcast is utterly nonplussed. They still give him a lowly .221 xBA and .379 xSLG, which hasn’t really changed much from the time he was hitting .240. So should you sell high? Maybe, but I’m not so sure. For one, his BB/K, as well as his batting average, has improved every month he’s been in the majors. I think there is certainly some luck at play, but his contact has been trending upward with a strong 90% Z-Contact% and 80% Contact% that is up a good deal and allows his above-average (but not elite) Hard Hit ability to play up. His playing time until recently was sporadic with the return of Kiriloff at 1B, but despite his defensive limitations, the Twins will likely keep rolling him out while he’s racking up homers and multi-hit games.
In some leagues, he may even qualify at 2B (based on minor league games), and I think he could certainly perform similarly to Ty France going forward. Then again, note that he doesn’t draw many walks or offer any stolen base upside, so you really need to focus on your team needs before blindly adding him, unless you think he could make a useful trade chip to acquire what you need. Consider him a stream with potential to be a permanent add in 12-team AVG leagues.
15-team
For scooping him off your waiver wire, this could be your last Jansen for a while. I’m a bit conflicted on this one, but it’s based on a belief. A belief that in the end, the Blue Jays will want a catcher that can, you know, catch. Alejandro Kirk has taken the fantasy world by storm with many claiming he’ll be the top fantasy catcher going forward this year, but he’s really a DH in a catcher’s body. Well, really more of a catcher in a giant Swedish meatball’s body. But this is actually not about defense, it’s about Jansen’s own bat.
Given that Jansen has turned more into a matchups play than a true regular, I get that his expected stats need to be taken with a grain of salt as the results are a bit cherry-picked. But still, the man has a .275 xBA and .611 xSLG, and the latter isn’t far off from his actual .603 Slugging Percentage. While that may be a fluke, I think it’s less fluky that he’s already hit more barrels this year (13) in just 64 batted ball events than he did all of last year in 141 BBE. That’s a 20% Barrel% folks, and while I know that will regress, the fact is that this isn’t just a grip-it-and-rip-it Darick Hall-esque slugger, but someone with a strong chase rate (24%) and strong contact rate (80% Contact%). He’s weirdly traded off some of his usual high line drive rate for more flyballs, which is a bit extreme at 51%, but it seems to be working for now.
The bigger point though is this is the profile of an intriguing hitter in a small sample, but it’s from someone who, when healthy, also plays the position quite well, which the team will need more of down the stretch. I think he could be a very sneaky pickup who could outproduce much more widely owned bats like Christian Vazquez and M.J. Melendez. Of course, it takes Toronto to tango, but I think soon he’ll be Jansen with the Stars.
Chaz McCormick (OF, Houston Astros)
This guy may be less exciting than black pepper, but McCormick can still grind it out and bring some spice. He’s up to 10 HR on the year after hitting .333 with 2 HR this week, and while his season average is still a lowly .234, he’s definitely trending in the right direction, and with Brantley out indefinitely and Siri in the minors, he’s looking at his most real chance at a regular role this year. While I didn’t trust his profile last year, he’s made some improvements across the board, including his power, with an increase of max eV (110 mph) and Barrel% (12%). As if that wasn’t enough, he significantly improved his contact rate, notably his Z-Contact% from 74% last year to 81% this year.
While his offensive profile is still a tad below average as a prototypical masher with a merely acceptable contact rate and minimal speed, he’s been providing value in a category I did not expect, and that’s in OBP, where he’s sporting a double-digit walk rate. That really makes no sense though, as he’s been far more aggressive this year at swinging both more pitches on and off the plate, so it will probably decline. The reason he’s worth adding in 15-team formats isn’t for his average or power, but rather for the potential runs he can produce as part of what is still a formidable lineup with considerably more security in the role. If you need power or RBI/R to stream in your 12-team format, he’s a solid add that likely won’t win you your week but won’t lose it either. Woo.
Deep Leagues
I love players from underrepresented countries, so I have to pump this Panamaniac. I can’t believe I got excited that he got traded to Tampa, thinking that it would increase his playing time. It certainly wasn’t going that way, which made me wonder why the Rays bothered to acquire them at all. But in light of Mejia’s injury, it’s finally looking like a win for Bethy and anyone who is rostering him. He has a rather unusual profile with a .242 AVG with 5 HR and 4 SB in 200 AB, sort of like a Christian Vázquez lite, except that has raw power is anything but light.
I continue to be intrigued by his great hard contact, with a great 113 mph maxEV, along with a 13% Barrel% and 47% HardHit%. You just don’t often see that kind of pop in a catcher, especially not one picked off the scrap heap. The problem of course is his tendency to swing at, well, everything, with a 44% O-Swing%, though I think he makes up for it with a super-aggro 84% Z-Swing%., leading to an extremely low 9% Called Strike%. It’s a volatile approach, but it could be crazy enough to work at least in a smaller stint. Given the dearth of other deep league catching options, it’s worth betting on the power/speed upside for the journeyman and crossing your fingers that he doesn’t have a tragic fall like MacBethancourt.
He certainly seems to have many strengths which is why he can say power and running are both his Fortes. He’s snuck under the radar with 3 HR and 4 SB, quite similar to Bethancourt above, but with a more balanced profile and also being 25 which certainly helps on the believability front. So far he’s hitting a solid .256/.344/.427 with 3 HR and 4 SB in just 82 AB. While I mentioned Christian Vázquez above, it’s probably more apropos here, as he’s a rare catcher with an above-average strikeout rate, at just 16%.
It’s a bit surprising that he’s doing so well in the bigs considering that this was basically more than what he did in the minors, hitting .257 with 3 HR and 1 SB over 28 games, but the sample was small enough to not mean much. That said, it’s a bit shocking he’s been more aggressive on the basepaths in the majors and it’s worked, with an 80% stolen base success rate. While his 6% Barrel and 108 mph maxEV and 36% HardHit% are all average, I’m quite impressed by his 90% Z-Contact% (and 82% overall Contact%) with a solid chase rate (28%) that makes me think he could be up here to stay. While I don’t expect him to run at quite this pace, I think he could pop 5 more homers and steal 3-4 more bags over a full season of at-bats, and if he manages to get that opportunity, he could be an add in shallower formats. For right now, I’d appreciate his immediate value in NL-only and 18-team OBP formats, though I’m monitoring him everywhere before people catch on and attack him like Fortesumter.
SELL
10-team
Trey, your bat is dead, and I don’t think you’re a necromancini. His xwOBA, while still rather high, has been nosediving for the past several weeks, and is one of the biggest decliners in xwOBA over his past 100 PA. This isn’t the Camden I came to know and love in the summer! While the team is Orange-hot, he is not, hitting .193 with just 1 HR over the past 3 weeks and a solid goose egg, yes completely hitless in 14 AB this week.
I don’t think there’s so much to say other than that I think that especially for Baltimore players, the expected stats really can’t be trusted, and given his struggles lately his validation of past stats shouldn’t be so strongly considered anyway. Given the multitude of 1B/OF types whose bats are red hot like Tellez and many others, Mancini just doesn’t cut the mustard in 10-team formats anymore, and may be worth looking to cut in 12-team OBP formats as well. You’re still a great guy, hey Mancini you later.
12-team
Y’know, I knew he was in for a rude awakening, but even I didn’t think Winker would be such a stinker. Early in the year, Statcast called him one of the unluckier players in the game, and given the small sample, it was easy to believe people were overreacting and would regret dropping him, as he’s still just 27. But despite a two-homer week that got hopes up, the positive regression light remains forever out of reach like Gatsby’s green light, and Winker has forgotten about his 2021 success like I forgot about anything else from that book.
He’s hitting just .227 with 8 HR on the year, and when you realize that’s in 317 AB, you remember that he’s unlikely to eclipse even 20 HR this year, and without the batting average that you thought was safe. But now his playing time may no longer be safe with the return of Kyle Lewis, who certainly offers more intrigue after putting on his own home run derby in the minors. And given that Winker is bad defensively and Lewis is still regaining his land legs, the Mariner will likely be blocked at DH and possibly relegated to platoon at-bats. I believe I already called him a shallow league drop many weeks ago, but I think now even in 12-team OBP leagues you need to cut him loose and is worth considering cutting in many 15-team AVG leagues as well.
15-team
It appears the Cruz missile has finally been deactivated. Nelson for years has been the player who defies father time, and the fact he’s even stayed on the field, er, in the batter’s box, all season at age 42 is a feat unto itself. But far too many teams are still hoping something good can still be squeezed out like another Toy Story sequel (please don’t do it again, it was perfect as a trilogy!) Anyone hoping for a summer blast has had their beach balls popped with a deflating .182  AVG with no homers over the past 3 weeks, and just .053 this week.
With 8 homers on the year in 326 ABs, he’s being outslugged by the likes of Carlos Santana and Chad Pinder, and he’s dead weight in your utility spot. Sometimes you just have to admit that his time in the sun is over and there is no bounceback and that I’m not going to recoup my Bitcoin losses from last October anytime soon. Time is undefeated against athletes, (and man in general) and time will defeat your team if you waste more time killing a roster spot with him on it in shallow leagues. Drop in 12-teams and 12-team OBP.
Deep Leagues
I’ll keep this short. The good news is that he’s playing and has job security. The bad news is he doesn’t deserve it. His walk rate is down, his K rate is up to 32%, and his power/speed combination that intrigued deep leaguers last year seems like it’s out to lunch. Maybe it’s too harsh to judge him before his first 100 PA are through, but his contact rate scares me and that’s one of the biggest things that will get me to jump off the hype train early. I suppose it depends on your options and yadda yadda, but I’d move on by now in AL-only so I don’t end up being a grouchy Oscar Meyers weiner.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Scott Kane & David J. Griffin / Icon Sportswire

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

One response to “Buy & Sell 7/28 – Identifying Who to Add and Who To Drop”

  1. Chris says:

    Miranda had a xBA/xSLG of .195/.324 in May, .306/.425 in June, and .386/.471 in July, so I would say his underlying metrics are more improving than not changing.

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