Deadline? Things look pretty alive to me.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Buy & Sell, once again guest hosted by me, Alexander Chase, the non-punning non-Ben Pernick who you only need to put up with for another week. There are some rumors that the Seattle Mariners are interested in acquiring Ben at the right price, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Joey Votto (1B, Cincinnati Reds)
The year 2010 produced a treasure trove of cultural touchstones worth forgetting. James Cameron’s “Avatar” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” played in some theaters at the same time that summer! I’m cursed to remember things like that instead of anything at all about baseball, so I don’t remember even a single moment of Joey Votto’s 2010 MVP campaign. But if you take your contacts out and squint just right, you can catch re-runs of it at GABP right now. Votto’s cut some walks and added some strikeouts since then, but’s on the same 37 HR per 650 PA pace that he was back then. Yes, he’s probably going to run out of runway — I don’t see him getting another 350 PAs — but he’s still sitting around a .900 OPS and batting in a Reds lineup that’s top-10 in runs scored this year. Votto is must-add in pretty much any league format, and he has been for months. He’s still just 50% rostered in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. Pick him up — and while you’re at it, give “Airplanes” by B.o.B and Hayley Williams a first listen in a decade.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets)
Fully healthy? Check. Batting leadoff even against lefties? Check. Running to first base when he’s walked just in case the ump changes his mind? Heck yeah, he is. If you’re still penalizing Brandon Nimmo isn’t the biggest power or speed threat — he profiles as a 20-10 guy over 162 games — but his spot atop the Mets’ lineup and his .400 OBP are guaranteed to make him a huge asset in runs, and even if he doesn’t bat .300 the rest of the year, he’s likely to be an asset in that category as well. Nimmo’s the easiest pickup of all time in OBP leagues, and even if you’re still in the dark ages and using batting average, he profiles as a reliable all-around contributor.
César Hernández (2B, Cleveland Traffic Statues)
If you’d given me betting odds for César Hernández to have more than 15 home runs at the All-Star break, I’d probably have rejected them pretty much no matter what. I like to think that the city of Cleveland is some sort of temporal anomaly that only exists to produce sitcoms and pain — hello, baseball team named after things you stare at while stuck in traffic — but even by their standards, Hernandez setting a career-high in home runs in just 412 PA is out there. He’s also been somewhat unlucky when it comes to balls that haven’t left the park: his .264 BABIP is about fifty points lower than his career average, and his xBA of .249 is about 30 points higher than his .228 batting average. He’s not stealing — that’s also pretty puzzling to me, actually — but he’s been somewhere near the 15th best second baseman this year when it comes to fantasy production (6th in R, t-6th in HR, mediocre in RBI, a minus in SB and AVG) with plenty of room to grow in the two categories he hasn’t helped him. And he’s rostered in just 24% of Yahoo leagues. What gives? I couldn’t tell you
LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B/OF, San Fransisco Giants)
Galaxy Brain Gabe Kapler and his plucky band of “dudes who are actually pretty good if coached well and played exclusively against their better platoon side” have been an unending well of interesting adds for players who are paying attention. LaMonte Wade Jr. might be the best example yet. He’s leading off against righties and sitting against lefties at the moment, so if you’re playing in a league that allows more than weekly moves, Wade is a must-add at this point. His quality of contact means he more than deserve his spot — even if his .380 wOBA doesn’t keep up, he’s producing hard-hit balls in more than 30% of his PAs (77th in the MLB, and above Xander Bogaerts and Marcus Semien, to name a few). That’s led to 12 home runs in 175 PA. Give him a shot, even if you have to bench him occasionally — he’s been nothing short of superb when you don’t.
Rougned Odor (2B, New York Yankees)
I swear I’m not just claiming Rougned Odor just to make Ben seethe about the missed chances for puns. While Yankees fans have been holding their nose this year, Odor has not been the problem. His rough-around-the-edges approach hasn’t always worked, but he’s made the most of his new chances in New York and is now a fixture of the top half of their lineup. And hold the jokes: it’s a decent lineup that routinely faces bad pitching! Odor’s 109 wRC+ so far this year wouldbe the best of his career, and 25.8% strikeout rate is his best since 2018. He’s not running anymore (a decision he should have made in approximately 2018), but he’s on a 35 HR / 90 R /90 RBI per 650 PA pace. That’s a better pace than what Jonathan Schoop (94% ESPN / 84% Yahoo) has mustered this season! The batting average probably isn’t topping .250, but he’s almost certainly going to produce like a top-15 fantasy second baseman if he can keep this role. That’s good enough to be owned in 12-team, even, but he’s a must-roster in 15-team.
Abraham Toro (3B, Seattle Mariners)
It’s not clear immediately what Abraham Toro’s role will be with his new team, but even a most-of-the-time role for Toro could mean that he’s a rosterable player in 15-team leagues. That means that anyone below that threshold should consider picking him up before we have that information. Toro’s skill set at the MLB level has been quantity of contact rather than quality — his 14.4% line drive rate this year is abut 60% of league average and screams out for regression to the mean — but there’s also a chance that he’s sustaining his low strikeout rate because he’s trading whiffs for weak and awkward contact. The upside, though, regression to the mean should also mean that he access his power more often and his HardHit% could tick up considerably. This all makes Toro a gamble, but if you’re in need of help, the stars don’t have to align that much for him to be much more productive without needing to be much more talented than he already is.
Cavan Biggio (2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays)
The case for Cavan Biggio as a top-75 pick was always based on some strange math. We’re used to the usual “let’s make him 15% better next year because he was a good prospect” growth that doesn’t make sense. But with Biggio, drafters were banking on a 20-20 season based on a near-700 PA sample. There have been a handful of hiccups on the path to that, though. The first and most important has been how hard Biggio has been hit by the de-juiced ball: his wall scrapers and now wall-outs: he’s down to a 10.3% HR/FB rate, and while I loathe that stat for player-to-player comps, it shows how his skillset current environment. In total, his approach is netting him a hard-hit ball in just 18.6% of PAs, good for 242nd out of 250 batters with at least 200 PAs this year, which just isn’t a recipe for sustained power production, RBI opportunities, or even batting average. That has his name seemingly pencilled into the eighth spot in the Blue Jays lineup, where he’s both losing PAs and less likely to score when he does reach base. With only three steals this year, what’s the appeal? Try to flip him if you can — he’s healthy now, which has been an issue this year — but there are greener pastures in shallow leagues.
Didi Gregorius (SS, Philadelphia Phillies)
Didi Gregorius‘ profile has always been that he bits the ball often more than specifically hitting it hard. For most of his career, he’s finished with a strikeout rate in the low teens and a total percentage of PAs that end with contact somewhere around 80%. This year, though, his strikeout rate has nearly doubled from last year from 11.8% to 19.5%. Almost no player’s batting average can survive that sort of shock, and Didi’s numbers certainly haven’t. Plenty of players have made changes to their approach that make additional strikeouts work (Joey Votto says hello again), but Didi has paired his drop in contact with a drop in hard hit rate as well — his 18.0% HardHit/PA is one spot behind Biggio for 243rd. That’s not a combination that even the Yankee Stadium short porch could fix, and while PNC Park is still kind to his sort of profile, the compounding issues of more strikeouts, less power and a lower lineup spot mean that it’s probably time for us to move on from Didi.
Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)
Victor Robles‘ near-total loss of power since 2019 is much less shocking when we understand just how flukey that power was to begin with. That year, Robles put up a Tony Wolters-esque 15.6% HardHit/PA%, which was third-to-last among players who picked up at least 500 PAs that year. His 17 HRs came on just 20 barrels. Since then, things have headed in roughly he direction that we’d expect, and the results is that Robles is a deluxe small-size platoon bat now. He’s slated to start against lefties and some righties, which probably amounts to three games a week depending on matchups. At this point, he’s almost certainly outside the top 100 outfield-eligible players, and there are only 90 starting outfield spots in Major League Baseball. Robles might even be a questionable roster going forward in as deep as 20-team leagues soon, but for now, he’s an easy cut in 15-team leagues. If, however, you are in a league that rewards rostering platoon bats, I’d like to introduce you to Andrew Stevenson. He’s taken playing time from a player who went inside the top-100 in some NFBC drafts!
Ha-Seong Kim (INF, San Diego Padres)
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Ha-Seong Kim was a player who I thought could challenge for Rookie of the Year in the right situation. Instead, he’s getting paid a good amount to watch Padres games. With his team’s acquisition of Adam Frazier, he’s no longer one injury away from everyday playing time, but potentially two. I’m including him as stand-in for the several Padres who are likely to see their playing time drop following this move: Wil Myers is currently hurt and getting rest, but he could see a reduced role as a righty bat going forward, as could Eric Hosmer, who’s been bench-bat material all season anyway. Both of them are rostered at 10-team levels and deserve to be shopped before being cut. The ship might have sailed on getting off of middling Padres pieces, but if you can make the effort, now’s the time. That starts with Kim, though. His 9% Yahoo rostership rate will be an interesting barometer for how many leagues are actually active.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com) and Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)