Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire
Hey everyone, Happy 4th of July, and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than with barbecues, baseball, and blowing up bright bombs in the black night sky. This week’s theme is the patience edition, since, as my mom always used to tell me, “Patience is a virtue”. But I learned from an elderly lady I work with that it’s part of a larger poem “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can; seldom found in woman, never found in man.” And man do I wish I had stuck by some of these guys who paid back stubborn owners who stuck by them. Also there’s a lot of deep dives for those streaming for AVG and OBP help, so get your scuba gear, ’cause here we go.
Aaron Hicks (OF, New York Yankees) – Aaron thought “Hmm, how can I get myself noticed?” and then he said “By George, I’ve got it! Hitting three home runs in a game!” to which the owner replied “No, George is the old Steinbrenner, I’m Hal.” Hicks has handsomely rewarded those who stuck by him during his early season foibles, as he’s hit .296/.346/.690 with 8 homers over the past 21 days, and an incredible .417/.444/1.000 with 4 homers just this week, making him the hottest hitter in baseball. Owners may forget that last season he looked primed for a full breakout before injuries and other maladies got in the way, making him a popular sleeper. While he obviously won’t keep this insane power pace up, he’s posting career highs in FB% rate (42.2%) and low in GB% (38.9%), with highs in Hard% (42.6%) and a strong 45.2% Pull rate. He’s also improved his O-Swing% (22.0%) and Swstr% (9.3%) over his rates the past few years, so he’s getting his power without sacrificing contact and with great plate discipline. While his numbers may have benefited from some luck, the total package, plus double digit speed, makes him a must-own in all 12-team formats and a sleeper in 10-team OBP to bring some Hicksitement to your offense.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox) – Avisail no longer ails, so that leaves us with Avis, because he’s trying harder. Maybe I’m trying too hard with that, I mean, holy baby Moses in a basket was that contrived. But the point is Avisail is the most added player, hitting .348 with 4 homers in 46 AB since his return, bringing his season line up to .277/.287/.449. Now, you may have noticed a little problem there with that second number. See, he hasn’t drawn a single walk all year. He does have a career-high Hard % of 42.9% and pull% of 50.5%, but that can be seen as a negative with his 49.5% GB% (since pulled ground balls are easy outs). Even though he has decent contact skills, he’s posting an all-time-worst O-Swing% of 48.8% (among worst in MLB) and Swstr% of 18.8% that makes this look like a bubble set to pop faster than fidget spinners. On the other hand, he’s posting the best exit velocity of his career, with a 93.6 mph avg. exit velocity that’s 11th best in the MLB, with a strong 96.5 mph FB/LD eV and 8.2% Barrel%, compared to last year where he had a 90.1 mph eV and 6.1% Barrel%. Considering the formerly husky OF has a top-50 Sprint Speed at 29.0 ft/sec tied with Michael Taylor and above Whit Merrifield, he could add in some SB and pull off a higher BABIP. He’s still risky but should be added in all 15-team leagues and 12-team Batting Average leagues while he’s this hot.
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) – Some people are self-starters, some people can only get going after a kick in the pants. Odor seems to be the latter, as he’s making me eat my words saying to drop him after he was on the hot seat for his Yohander Bender. Over the past 2 weeks, he’s hitting .333/.409/.564 with 3 Homers and 3 SB, and an even hotter .368/.478/.684 with 2 homers and 2 SB over the past week, raising his season line to .241 in a hurry. It’s easy to forget that with all his struggles last year, this guy did hit 30 HR and steal 15 bases last year. Pick up in 12-team batting average formats, or stream in 12-team OBP or 15-team OBP formats. Like Bitcoin, he’s maddening to own but can pay off big dividends, and now that the bear market seems to be over, you better grab the horns for the Rougned of the bulls, he’s the Mat-Odor. If you want to point out that Matadors don’t go to running of the bulls, making my pun nonsensical, just buy me a ticket to Spain instead.
Elias Diaz (C, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Francisco Cervelli has this cool trick where when he hits the DL, he infuses all his talent into the player replacing him. At least, it sure seems that way, as Diaz has suddenly mimicked if not outdone Cervelli’s breakout this year, hitting .300 with 2 jacks this week to bring his season line to ..297/.343/.508 with just 7 Homers in 128 AB. Although Diaz lacks Cervelli’s high walk rate with an pedestrian 6.4% BB%, he also has a much lower K rate at just 10.0%, combined with a strong Hard Contact rate of 35.3% with a 41.4% Pull% with a career-best 34.5% FB%. He still will regress some on the power front as his 17.5% HR/FB doesn’t look too sustainable, but a catcher who can hit for both contact and power is quite a find in a landscape where you’re lucky to find a catcher who can hit at all. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Cervelli returns but you shouldn’t let that doubt stop you from scooping him up in 15-team and 12-team OBP formats, and he makes a viable injury replacement in AVG formats as well.
Johan Camargo (3B/SS, Atlanta Braves) – You don’t mess with the Johan. Yeah, I know, that reference probably made more sense in the days of Johan Santana. But otherwise I would have said “CamArgo f*** yourself” which is from a still not-so-recent movie. I don’t watch a lot of movies, you see. But I do see Camargo has posted a .400/.435/.600 line with a homer this week and a .354/.394/.523 line the past 21 days to raise his season total to .259/.361/.447 with 8 HR in 197 AB. As a third baseman, that still wasn’t exactly thrilling, but now that he’s boldly rocking SS eligibility, he suddenly looks like an underrated commodity where Enrique “Quique” Hernandez sells like hot cakes. Camargo isn’t thought of as a high-upside guy, but compared to Hernandez he has a much higher floor with a 30/39 BB/K, and is also still just 24. Still, despite being a hot multi-eligibility OBP machine, he’s owned in only 8.9% of ESPN leagues. Let’s fix that and load him onto our Camargo ship in all 15-team leagues and 12-team OBP.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – Everybody boo the cheater! BOOOO! Okay, we done? Got that out of our system? Good, let’s move on now. Polanco is returning as a nearly forgotten man post-PED suspension after former afterthought Eduardo Escobar did so well in his stead. But with Sano figuring himself out in the minors, there’s still room for Polanco in the lineup. Now, we only really have his 2017 to look at, which already seemed lucky and we know now it was, well, performance enhanced. But he’s still developing at just 24, and an hit at a .260-10-10 pace the rest of the year with a higher floor than most youngsters with his high contact approach. The upside in redrafts isn’t so high, but he’s a viable add in 18-team and 15-team leagues right away with potential for 12-teamer viability.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – I think he can still be counted as underrated, since Nick accidentally called him “Winkler” on the First Pitch podcast… twice. It’s not exaclty surprising, since the young former top prospect only has 6 home runs in 278 PA, with a .267 AVG, no homers… you may have fallen asleep before I mentioned his .383 OBP. Thanks to his 15.1% BB% which is higher than his 14.4% K%, he’s improving not by rounding out his game, but by making his greatest strength even stronger. His 5.9% Swstr% is Top 20 in the league, and his walk rate is top 10. Sure, his .121 ISO is plenty disappointing after posting .231 last year, but it’s surprising that it’s so low, since his Hard% of 42.8%, LD% of 24.2% and GB% of 41.1% are better than last year. While he may only be a one-category guy, he’s really good at that category and I still believe there’s upside for more. Add in 18-team and 15-team Batting average formats and deeper 12-team OBP formats.
Ben Gamel (OF, Seattle Mariners) – Yeah, I’m recommending a guy with one, count ’em, one home run on the year. Despite that, and the fact that he was left for dead even in AL-only formats after the Mariners landed Span, Gamel has hit .421/.476/.579 over 19 AB the past week and .356/..408/.489 over 45 AB the past 21 days to raise his season line to ..300/.371/.413. That makes him a useful player to own in AVG leagues, though he’s no slouch in OBP formats, and the lack of home runs hides the fact that he does get a fair share of extra-base hits, not to mention a couple handfuls of stolen bases. Still, according to ESPN, the 26-year old is owned in only 1.3% of leagues. In a world where Yulieski Gurriel, a first baseman performing worse than Gamel in every rate stat, is owned in 46.2% of leagues… Well, that just ain’t right. Add in AL-only and 18-team formats but also consider as a batting average stream in 15-team leagues, and this Gamel will get your team over the hump.
Jason Heyward (OF, Chicago Cubs) – Don’t forget about the J-Hey kid! Heyward has been climbing upward with a .400/.444/.600 slash line this past week to raise his season total to .285/.342/.431 with 5 HR over 239 AB. While it’s sad to see that his once-excellent stolen base ability has evaporated, with nary a swiped bag to call his own, he’s at least on pace to outproduce his 2017 line. This year he’s spraying the ball to all fields and is doing it with a 34.3% Hard% that’s far above any of his totals over the past 5 years. It’s not sexy, and I’m sure you wish he developed into a superstar, but he’s a solid outfielder to use a batting average flier in 18-team and 15-team formats.
Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics) – Yes he Canha! He’s not anyone’s idea of an exciting fantasy player, but that’s why he’s probably still available in your league. He’s hitting a helpful .313/.410/.594 with 2 homers over 32 AB over the past two weeks, raising his season line to .255/.332/.466 with 10 HR over 204 AB. He hasn’t quite been good enough to stick as a regular throughout his career, but this year may be his quiet ascension to fantasy relevance. He’s posting a career-best 32.5% O-Swing% 86.2% Z-Contact% and 8.7% Swstr%. He’s also managing to do this with a career-low Soft% (17.2%) and career-high Hard% (40.4%). and career-low IFFB% of 9.5%. Unfortunately, he’s also hitting more grounders at 37.7%, but that’s still not bad. Even though his playing time situation isn’t secure and could be traded, for now, he’s an underrated add in AL-only, 18-team leagues, and even a viable utility/bench bat in 15-team OBP. Get high in the standings with some dank Canhabliss.
Willians Astudillo (C/3B, Minnesota Twins) – He is my new favorite player. He is so weird. And you know he’ll be great, because you can’t spell “Astudillo” without “a stud”. He’s a 5’9 230-pound contact hitter who played his first major league game in center field, and his second major league hit was a triple. He also made a no-look pickoff in Spring Training. This year he posted the highest minor-league walk rate of his career, at 4.8%. He also doesn’t walk, at all, as he really likes to swing, a lot, with a 78% Swing rate. But his contact rate of 85% shows that he does manage to make a ton of contact even with bad pitches… it’s just not hard contact, for the most part. While his microscopic walk rate renders him unusable in OBP formats, In Batting average AL-only, 18-team, or two-catcher leagues, I think he’s interesting enough to give a shot. That is, provided he qualifies at catcher, which with his multi-position eligibility makes him also a versatile batting average bench bat. If your team was looking for a catcher who can hit for a decent average, he may be the Willianswer.
Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets) – I know he has lots of future promise. But future promise won’t win you the pennant, and means nothing in redraft formats. The fact of the matter is Conforto, despite teasing us with glimpses of promise, has been mostly bad, with a .105 AVG the past week, and a pedestrian .250/.373/.456 over the past 21 days. He still draws so many walks that he’s hard to part ways with in OBP formats, but the power this year is not close to what is should be, with an 87.4 mph avg. eV, a 93.3 mph FB/LD eV and ho-hum 6.1% Barrel%, which is fine for a regular player but not for one for whom power is supposed to be his carrying tool. There’s probably better options on your wire, so in 10-team leagues and 12-team formats that use Batting Average, it’s well past time to finally cut him and push yourself out of your Conforto zone.
Keon Broxton (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Look, I already took my W on him last year in betting he’d be out of a job and demoted by midseason. Doesn’t mean I root for a talented player to fail. And he’s doing well again and that’s great! But, yeah I would sell now for whatever you can. I mean, sure, he’s hitting .250/.348/.600 with 2 dingers, 1 SB and .350 ISO in just 23 PA, but it’s aided by his sliiiiightly lucky 100% HR/FB, what with his 15.4% FB% to his 69.2% GB% and all. As for the contact, while it looks better with a 13.0% BB% and a 30.4% K%, the underlying metrics says he’s worse than last year, with career worsts 30.7% O-Swing%, 66.7% Z-Contact%, and 18.5% Swstr%. Yeah, that means that one third of the time, he’s swinging and missing at pitches on the plate. That’s bad. Considering his K rate at Colorado Springs, the most hitter-friendly park in the minors, was 35.6%, this is a hitter equivalent of a cherry bomb and I’d take the money (stats) and run fast, far away. If you own him, see if you can trade him for whatever you can, but otherwise cut in 12-team, 15-team AVG formats, I know you may need stolen bases but it’s not worth demeaning yourself.
Yulieski Gurriel (1B, Houston Astros) – I don’t know if I find it more sad or hilarious that Yuli is still owned in 46.2% of ESPN leagues. Yeah, he had a good year last year, and is on a good team. Also, he’s a 34-year-old first baseman with a .115 ISO and a .318 OBP. If you’re in a batting average league, I know first base isn’t as deep this year as it was last year, but still, you can do better. If on your waiver wire, there’s a Belt, a Muncy, an Aguilar or perhaps even Bauers I wouldn’t hesitate to rid myself of this foolieski. Cut in all 12-team and 15-team formats, and I’d go as far as to cut him in 18-team OBP since his pretty little average can’t save him there. Can I still use #FreeAJReed? Because I will! #FreeAJReed!
Heyward on cubs mannnn
Good catch mannnn, fixed. I’d be nowhere without my fact checkers, thanks mannnn
If Muncy or Aguilar are on your league’s waiver wire right now, you need to find a new league.
You’re not wrong. But Aguilar is still available in 15% of leagues and Muncy in 24% according to ESPN. But for some other deeper names I’d rather have than Gurriel, let’s also add in Mitch Moreland, Yonder Alonso, and Trey Mancini.
Hey Ben, would you recommend trying to buy low on Dozier? If so, can you give some examples of hitters or pitchers that could be a fair value to trade away? Hoskins is too much to trade away right? How about Pham, Andrus, Quintana, or Giles? Thanks
Hey Joe, yeah that’s a tough one… I mean I would recommend TRYING. At this point it’s common knowledge he typically explodes in the second half, but other than that, there’s nothing other than the past to suggest it’ll happen again. If the Dozier owner is sick of waiting and will sell him for 50 cents on the dollar, sure. But it’s gambler’s fallacy to assume he’ll break out, so don’t pay full cost. I wouldn’t offer Hoskins, but would be fine offering Quintana Pham or Giles, though you may need to package them.
Ben. Happy 4th. Have a chance to trade for Willie Calhoun and not giving up much. What is your opinion, not ROS, but for next season. Thanks
Thanks Maris, you too! I think if you’re not giving up much you should absolutely deal for him now. Although he hasn’t shown it this year, I do believe he has at least 20 HR power and will be an ROY contender next year.
Why are you picking on Kike? Nobody wants Kike, he is just a poor utility guy. Kike is actually a much different player this year – now that you mention him. I am not sure I love it, but he is basically swinging out of his shoes and only trying to hit HR – I think 25 HR is a reasonable over/under at this point which is nice value. I think the low average/BABIP is for real and that is a problem.
Re: Hicks – in the slack channel a few weeks back I was pointing out that he is a generic Pham. People love Pham more than they should. Its not that I am a huge Hicks fan, but more how easy it is for a middling talent to be a fantasy hero in this offensive environment. Also worth pointing out that juiced ball success isn’t necessarily sustainable. The great hitters don’t seem to be reinventing themselves from year to year… it more like flashes in the pan are bigger than they used to be.
Hey buddy, don’t forget to include the accent, otherwise you could be accused of a hate crime! Jokes aside, I do like Hernandez a lot. That’s why I gave him a positive write up last week. I also added him in one of my 12-team leagues!
The Gurriel hate seems personal. Don’t think his age means as much as it would other MLB players his age that have been around awhile.
It’s not personal as much as it is statistical. In 2 of his 3 years playing he has displayed single-digit power, and the hamate bone injury he suffered earlier this year is known to sap power. I just don’t think he’s showed enough promise in his short major league career to be major league viable in a decline, and his body will still age similarly since he had been playing Cuban ball before the majors. I’d rather have Ben Gamel, who at least supplements his high average with decent OBP and some speed.
I hear everything you saying but then you said the thing about Ben Gamel and I feel like that’s purposeful exaggeration