Buy & Sell 7/31—Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Welcome back to Buy & Sell— Rolling Windows edition! No, you don’t need to restart or your computer (rolling a Dell with Windows ME down a dumpster ravine is optional) but this is about the latest neato Statcast feature. Statcast’s expected batting average and slugging percentage, are descriptive, not predictive, and don’t tell the whole story over a full season when you’re trying to find values right now.
Rolling windows essentially tell you over the past 50 or 100 PA who has deserved better production over that span, so you can get players who are legitimately hot and cold instead of making decisions based on data heavily tainted by what they did back in April and May. Also in this article, a few trade deadline movers and shakers, including several Torontonians! Or is it Torontoasters? Anyway, on to the list!
Franmil Reyes (OF, Cleveland Indians)
So long, Fran Diego! You know, after yammering on and on about him as a must-own since April, I figured folks would catch on and he’d finally be properly valued. But I’ve come to realize my impact was that of a fart in a hurricane because Franmil is owned in just 51% of Yahoo leagues. What a travesty. If you’re in one of those leagues, scoop him up and bid like hell because his already massive power could get even bigger going from the pitcher’s haven Petco Park (28th for runs, 17th for home runs) to the more neutral and power-friendly Progressive Field (19th for runs, eighth for home runs). But the other thing that was cutting into Reyes’ value, his lack of consistent playing time, is also now out the window, as his 27 dingers (tied for 10th-best in MLB) came in only 354 plate appearances, nearly 100 plate appearances fewer than the home run leaders. While his average of .255 isn’t wowing anyone, it’s well below his xBA of .274, and his .536 slugging percentage is outshined by his .554 xSLG. He’s also drawing more walks in the second half, making him more viable in OBP, and he’s now a must-own in all formats if he weren’t already.
Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)
It’s time everyone appreciates the wonder of Cirque du Soler. He’s been circling the bases plenty of times with 28 dingers this year to go with a .248/.330/.514 line, and while it was tempting to write up Hunter Renfroe as the post-trade buy, Soler’s season is less of an illusion. In fact, Statcast believes he’s been a bit unlucky, with a .258 xBA and .533 xSLG, and he’s one of the most improved hitters over the past 100 plate appearances, raising his prior .385 xwOBA to a studly .453 xwOBA over that span, the second-highest in baseball and only a tick behind Mike Trout. He’s also boosted his OBP, with a .438 OBP to go with his .286 average, .625 slugging percentage, and five home runs over the past 21 days, with more walks (15) than strikeouts (13) over that span. He’s owned just a smidge below Renfroe at 65%, but especially seeing as he already has 73 RBI, his ownership rate should be at least 10, nay, 20 points higher. He’s not just a slugger; he’s a star.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)
Hope you’ve been watching out for bounty hunter Boba Chette. After breaking his hand in May, it became clear he wouldn’t be an early call-up, but he still has two months to make an impact and has good odds of doing that. While he was hitting .275 with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases in 244 plate appearances Triple-A, which is not incredible in Triple-A’s currently homer-happy environment, it’s more impressive when you remember he couldn’t legally drink a beer until spring training (well, unless he was in Canada). Even though the stolen base numbers are intriguing, he’ll likely contribute more at the plate than on the basepaths as his bat speed is far greater than his sprint speed. While he’s unlikely to make a Fernando Tatis Jr.-like impact, if he can keep his strikeouts down (far from a guarantee), he could produce the rest of the way. I’d recommend adding in all 15-team and 12-team average leagues, and he’s worth gambling on in 10-teamers if you need a high-upside dice roll to break out of a low spot in the standings.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B, Minnesota Twins)
It’s Sano-time, and the hitting is easy. Sano’s been hotter than a sauna, hitting .391 with four tates and 10 RBI in just 23 at-bats the past week to raise his season line to .248/.335/.579 with 18 home runs in just 202 at-bats (230 plate appearances) on the season. In a homer-happy season, that may not seem like much, but consider that prorated to the 400 plate appearances that most regulars have, that would be 31 home runs and in the top 10. Still not convinced? He has the seventh-most improved expected batting over the past 100 plate appearances, raising his wOBA from just .270 all the way up to .376. He’s cut his strikeout rate down from the 40% early season mark to a 36% mark which is palatable thanks to his still-elite power. His 93 mph exit velocity is top five in MLB, and his barrel per batted-ball event rate is 16% (more impressive than his barrel per plate appearance rate). If you lost Joey Gallo, Sano could be a near carbon copy from here on out, minus the occasional stolen base. Because of his name value, he’s not unnoticed at 42% owned, but that’s still too low considering his high-impact power. Own in 12-team OBP formats and stream him for power in 12-team average leagues.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves)
Since being activated off the IL, Ender’s found a new beginning. Over the past week, he’s hit .350 with two home runs and one stolen base with seven runs and eight RBI, even though it raises his ugly season numbers to just .227/.312/.367 with four home runs and five stolen bases in 150 at-bats. Still, perhaps now he’s healthier than he’d been all season after a lengthy rehab from a back injury, and three multi-hit games in his past four bolsters his case for playing time. The timing is good for him as Austin Riley has really struggled as of late, and an Inciarte streak could finally send Riley back down to the minors where he belongs. His stolen base ability combined with high average and run-scoring upside makes him a worthy gamble in 15-team average and OBP formats, especially ones with five outfielders.
Mike Yasztremski (OF, San Francisco Giants)
The only thing that would make this story line greater is he gets traded to Boston. If you had taken him as an NL-only gamble early on, you’ve been handsomely rewarded by the grandson of the Red Sox great, as he’s hit a rather shocking .274/.320/.500 with nine homers, 33 runs, 31 RBI, and a stolen base in just 186 at-bats, with four of those homers coming in 66 at-bats over the past 21 days. While the overall Statcast numbers paint him as lucky, he’s made legit improvements as he’s acclimated, with a top-10 improvement in xwOBA over his past 50 plate appearances, from a lousy .267 up to .418 mark over that span. He’s here to stay and he’s only 16% owned, so rise to fantasy royalty and in 15-team average formats, say Yaz Queen.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)
If you bet on him for a huge year, Teoscar has likely made you Tegrouch. With the juiced ball, one would’ve expected him to easily clock 30-plus home runs, but he’s really struggled to hit the ball with authority all year, though it seems he’s finally found his groove. He’s hit .326 with a .420 OBP and six homers over the past two weeks, and Statcast rates him as the most-improved hitter in the league by expected wOBA over that span, going from a putrid .174 xwOBA over his previous 50 plate appearances to a .459 xwOBA over his most recent 50 plate appearances. Despite the fact that he’s doubled his home run total in one month, because of his previous black hole-esque suckitude, he’s still only owned in just 6% of Yahoo leagues. So scoop him in all 18-team formats, though I would gladly stream him for power or ride out the streak in five-outfielder 15-team OBP leagues as well as he’s still just 26 and hasn’t lost his substantial upside.
Austin Nola (1B/2B, Seattle Mariners)
Is what he’s done sustainable? Probably not. Am I inclined to eschew Statcast in favor of baseball bloodlines based on the successes of the past year? Kinda! Like Yas, Aaron’s older, less talented brother was more of a feel-good story depth addition, but all he’s done is hit since arriving, hitting .333/.387/.580 with three home runs, 11 runs, and nine RBI over 69 at-bats. It’s still a very small sample, but I’m inclined to mention him now for two reasons: He just gained second base eligibility in all leagues with a five-game requirement, and in some leagues that use minors eligibility data, he qualifies at catcher. While he’s unusable at first base, second base and catcher are both tough positions, and a bat with a pulse is all you need in deep leagues. Despite racking up 61 Yahoo points since his recent arrival, he’s just 1% owned in Yahoo and makes a solid short-term flier in AL-only and even some deeper 18-team batting average formats. As an everyday hitter and not a pitcher, you actually can live every day like it’s Nola day because it is Nola day, technically.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres)
Whether ye be friend or foe, this trade was great for both Fran and Froe. The long griped-about logjam has finally been cleared, and somewhat surprisingly, the Friars opted to throw their faith behind their older asset. Renfroe has swung quite the boomstick with 29 yaks and four stolen bases with a .237/296/.561 line in 355 plate appearances, but while this trade has opened up playing time, his gaudy homer total masks the fact he’s been trending in the wrong direction. He’s hit just .167/246/.315 with just two homers over the past 21 days, and it’s not just bad luck, as his .323 xwOBA over the past 100 plate appearances is down .058 from his previous .381 xwOBA. Although his lone standout tool is power, his xSLG of .487 isn’t so special, nor are his merely above average 90.6 mph exit velocity and 13% barrel rate (Reyes has a 92.3 mph exit velocity and 15% barrel rate). Especially now, you may be able to get a haul for him, though in 10-teamers I’d still prefer Reyes or Soler as power bats.
Austin Riley (OF, Atlanta Braves)
I’ll admit to dragging my feet on this one, as I wrote him up only as a cautious buy (many said it sounded more like a sell write-up) when everyone was gung-ho about him, but by the time fantasy owners were finally willing to sell him, his trade value all but dried up. But now, it’s time to sell him to the waiver wire. He’s hit a putrid .167/.217/.190 with no home runs over the past 21 days. Perhaps on a contender he’d get a chance to fight his way out of the funk, but Ender is back and on a tear, and a contender such as the Braves can’t be patient. But they should send him to the minors where he belongs instead of riding the pine. He’s still 38% owned, and it’s time to say so long and thanks for all the tates in 12-team leagues and even shallower 15-team leagues without many bench spots.
Eric Sogard (2B/SS/3B, Tampa Bay Rays)
This isn’t so much about Sogard’s production as it is about his new team. While he could pass as a leadoff man in Toronto, he’s looking to be the No. 9 hitter in Tampa Bay, which weakens his greatest ability: volume. Yes, his season stats still look great with that .300 average and 10 home runs. But the power hasn’t shown up lately and was likely a Rogers Center mirage, as his 84 mph exit velocity is pitifully low, but Toronto’s home park has been tops for homers this year. He’s at 18% owned and he’s a relatively easy cut decision in 12-teamers, but in deeper 15-team formats, I’d see if you can sell him for anything of value to a team in need of utility players or average, but be open to moving on soon if his lineup situation doesn’t improve.
Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays)
Well that was a roller coaster ride; good one, Danny Boy. The only pipes calling is a pipe cleaner for a bat, as he’s hit an abysmal .167/.259/.188 with no homers over the past 21 days after fooling us all into buying into a breakout. He reportedly changed his swing to mimic Sogard, and perhaps he shouldn’t have modeled his approach after a career journeyman after all. Still, with his upside and at 33% owned, I can’t recommend him as a deep-league drop, but it’s time to move on in 12-team and most 15-team single-catcher nonkeeper formats.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)