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

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

Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is “Forgotten but not Gone”. I tend to be rather impulsive in April and May despite being reminded time after time why baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. So there are some turtles that I sprinted past, and now after a long nap they’re starting to pull ahead. Make sure to check past the overall numbers to not sleep on players who have been hot lately, and Statcast Rolling Windows are a great tool to help filter out the noise from the smaller samples. But I’ve learned from the internet not to trust people who say “Do Your Own Research” so I’ve got your back, now let’s get onto the list!

BUY

10-team

Ian Happ (OF, Chicago Cubs)

No, no name wordplay this time. I’ve written about him too long, so there’s nothing left Happ punning. I actually was bearish on Happ entering the year due to some troubling batted ball data, but he’s matured significantly as a hitter this year, and it may be masked somewhat due to power/speed numbers that are solid but don’t jump off the page, hitting .283/.381/.460 with 8 HR and 5 SB. But I think the leap will happen soon.

The biggest reason is Happ has made major plate discipline gains this year. His current K% of 21% is the best of his career by a healthy margin, with his previous best at 25% and at 29% last year. It’s not a fluke as it’s backed by a career-best contact% of 76% (previous best 72%), and while most of it is fueled by a big increase in O-Contact%, he still also has a career-best Z-Contact% as well. So he should at least be able to foul off more pitches and get the meatballs he wants. Although he does have a high BABIP and his Statcast data doesn’t suggest anything special, I think it’s commendable that he’s managed to make this level of improvement and still hit the ball at a 40% rate.

One concerning trend is his increase in wormburners at the expense of line drives, and if it continues he could start to morph into Ian Desmond, and one that doesn’t play half his games in Coors, so that’s not great. Still, with his excellent OBP to go with power and potential double-digit speed, I think he’s a solid buy-low as some will see the single digit HR total and consider him boring, whereas I think he can be a top-50 hitter going forward.

Esteury Ruiz (2B/OF, San Diego Padres)

His rapid stream of SBs is about to meet the tide, so it’s time for estuary Ruiz. Now, I fully recognize I’m breaking one of general rules in that I don’t typically write up a prospect until they’ve actually been called up to the majors, which is why I haven’t mentioned other standout prospects such as Corbin Carroll or Gunnar Henderson. But in the case of Ruiz in particular, I think you must get him now (at least in leagues that allow you to do so, or you’ll be too late.

Why? Well, I think this next sentence tells you all you really need to know. He hit .344/.474/.611 with 9 HR and 37 SB in 232 Double-A PA, and then he hit .348/.483/.543 with 4 HR and 19 SB in 117 PA in Triple-A. That sentence probably would have sounded more impactful if I just added the two seasons’ totals together, but math is hard. Still, you probably realized that that combines to 13 HR and 56, count’em 56 stolen bases… in just 349 PA. In a full minor league season, 100 bags is not impossible, which is insane as his current 56 is legendary. But I mean, everything he’s doing is. He’s always been a fast guy in the minors but never ranked high on prospect lists because it was really the only intriguing part of his game. This year, he’s made Berti look boring by massively improving his batting average, flaunting double-digit and perhaps even 20 HR pop, cutting his K% to just 17%, and also massively improving his walk rate to 13%, which is obviously a good thing with how many more stolen base opportunities it affords him.

It’s honestly puzzling why the 21-year-old C.J. Abrams is getting a call over this 23-year-old dynamo when right now he looks possibly ready to be the perfect-world projection for Abrams at his peak. Of course, we know from Vidal Brujan and many others before that even the most dazzling minor league darling prospects can break your heart, but if all goes right he could be Ichiro-esque and you gotta take that gamble in all leagues. But here’s the thing: in many Yahoo leagues, there are built-in NA spots, which means that you may be able to take him without dropping anyone. In NFBC you’ll, unfortunately, have to wait and hope you still have the hammer because he’s absolutely worth blowing your budget on in all formats, even 8-teamers.

12-team

Juan Yepez (1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals)

Yepez. If he’s still available in your league, should you pick up? Yep, EZ. After cooling off after a hot first few weeks, the redbird is once again red hot, hitting .286 with 5 HR in 49 PA the past two weeks. That lifts his season line to .279/.318/.514 with 11 HR in just 198 AB (54 Games).

Earlier in June, I thought it may be time to move to the next shiny toy due to his power seemingly stalling as well as his disappointing sub-6% walk rate, the latter of which is a bit surprising given his double-digit walk rates in Triple-A last year. And on that note, it’s certainly of some concern that he hasn’t drawn a single walk in the past three weeks. But what brought me back on board even before the streak is how he displayed big man power and crushed his previous best in maxEV with a stunning 114 mph shot. That’s among the best in baseball, which makes me believe that his recent power streak is too legit to quit. It gives me hope his 10% Barrel% while good in its own right, can improve further for him to truly breakout.

A fair comp for him for this year could be Rowdy Tellez, as they share the traits of being relatively undisciplined swingers (Yepez has a 39% O-Swing%) with good contact (77% Contact% and 88% Z-Contact%) with big raw power. However, working in Yepez’s favor is: A. He’s multi-position eligible and less terrible at defense and B. He’s doing this as a rookie. Tellez is on a hot streak of his own, but Yepez has also had fewer at-bats and I think he simply has a better chance given his adjustments to become an elite hitter. Add in all 12-team leagues and consider in 10-team batting average leagues.

 

Jarren Duran (OF, Boston Red Sox)

We’re going back to the 80s, because between this outfielder and the Twins’ flamethrower, everyone is hungry like the wolf for Duran Duran. Remember how we loved Whit Merrifield entering the draft? A late career guy who has value for average and speed with run production in the leadoff spot? Yeah, me neither. While the sample remains small Duran may be the better bet going forward with how solid he’s looked in his post-hype campaign, hitting .329/.388/.521 with a homer and 5 SB in just 80 PA. So right now we should feel silly for leaving him for dead after his first rough go of the majors.

While his .404 BABIP suggests he’s a bit over his skis, I think a lot of what he’s doing is legit, as he’s improved in nearly every aspect of his game. The biggest one is that he cut his strikeout rate nearly in half, improving from his 36% K% in 2021 to a strong 19% rate this year. He also nearly doubled his walk rate from 4% to 8%, which should help increase the odds he remains batting leadoff. As if that wasn’t enough, he doubled his Barrel% from 4% to 9%. So I think we should see more power than the single homer he’s given us so far.

Of course, I’m burying the lede by not talking about his speed. His 5 SB in 80 PA is the reason you really want him. With his 5-for-6 success rate and a 92nd percentile sprint speed, I don’t think it’s a fluke and he could easily end the year hitting .275 with 5-8 more homers and 12-15 SB, and perhaps that’s still being conservative. Don’t forget why he was so hyped last year, because I think now he’s ready to live up to it. Add in 12-team batting average leagues.

15-team

Seiya Suzuki (OF, Chicago Cubs)

Just because he was gone for a bit, it’s no reason to say Seiyanara. Suzuki, who I like to call Mr. April Victory lap, may still be on rosters of teams that mentally checked out by Memorial Day, but was dropped in many leagues after he couldn’t add a single homer to the four he hit in the first couple weeks. Well, it looks like the time off did his body good, as he’s hitting .444 with 2 more dingers since his return, so now on the season, he has a .257/.349/.473 line with 6 HR and 3 SB in 148 AB.

Sure, there are still some concerns, including the fact that his current 3/5 SB success rate isn’t ideal, though it’s probably too early for the team to give him the red light, especially seeing that it’s the Cubs. But he’s still essentially doing an impression of Tommy Pham with his blend of power, speed, and strong OBP. While I’ll take a reprieve from the overly stat-focused approach and go Alex ThinkFast here, we know that Japanese players often take time to adapt, and we also know the talent upside is rather immense. Therefore he should be scooped up in any and all 15-team leagues, and 12-team OBP leagues where possible.

Eric Haase (C/OF, Detroit Tigers)

His bat speed is finally ready to jump around, and he’s showing pitchers why he’s Haase of Pain. He’s quietly been one of the best hitting catchers in recent weeks, hitting an impressive .333/.370/.875 with 5 HR and 14 RBI in 42 ABs over the past three weeks. I was initially encouraged by Haase’s early contact rate improvements, but unfortunately in April and May his power stroke was nonexistent, with considerable dips in maxEV and hardhit% suggesting that maybe he sacrificed his power for it.

Whatever it was, it seems he ditched it and is seeing the results. He is striking out more now, but his xwOBA has been steadily climbing suggesting the power isn’t a fluke, and while his power numbers are still well below last year, his barrel rate is fast approaching double digits. Despite the positional scarcity, he’s rostered in very few leagues, as his season line is still just .227/.280/.439 with 7 HR, not to mention the fact that he still doesn’t really have a positional home and he’s on a forgettable team. Still, with his bat waking up, he should find PT regularly at least until Meadows returns and likely after then, and if he can keep the K% around 25%, his power can play up in a big way with 10 more big flies before the season is over. He’s a solid buy in 15-team and 2-catcher formats.

Deep Leagues

Michael Perez (C, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Why yes, I am suggesting you take a chance on a catcher who is currently hitting .157/.196/.333 in over 100 PA. It’s not often you see an on-base percentage that’s also under the Mendoza line. But I still like him more than the other Perez who catches for the Pirates. Why? Well, lately he’s actually been quite good, hitting .292 with 3 HR the past week. Of course, pretty much all of that came in one awesome game.

Still, he’s one of those weird players who will likely never be a true regular but seems capable of beating expectations for stretches of time, and what I also like about him is that he’s pretty good at not striking out. He has only 4 strikeouts over the past two weeks, and his contact rate is a career-best.  While he is underperforming according to Statcast, he does have an extreme high flyball rate which doesn’t go great with his pitcher-friendly home park. But if he continues to play, I think he’s capable of hitting .220 with 5-8 HRs the rest of the way, which helps you get by in NL-only and two-catcher formats.

Leody Taveras (OF, Texas Rangers)

I always loved the gag of Leody getting kicked off the table by LeGarfield. I think Taveras here could always get the boot again, but I am trying very hard to remind myself that somehow, he is still just 23. He’s currently hitting .283 with 2 HR and 1 SB in his first 53 AB, which certainly qualifies as encouraging, unless you were expecting him to run wild (though that would be nice, regardless).

With one Calhoun gone and pretty much everyone else who can play passable centerfield either hurt or struggling, Leody likely has a long leash. His contact and hard hit rates thus far are more or less the same as his career rates, which dims optimism that he could evolve, but then again, this is basically his Spring Training. He’s still a liability in batting average and even moreso in OBP, but he still should bring at least slightly better power with the potential to steal 10-12 bags, which certainly makes him worth the gamble in AL-only and 18-team formats in need of regular PT and SB. It’s not a bold endorsement, but it’s hard to doubt the Taverasity of that statement.

SELL

10-team

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)

His backers always seem to have an excuse, but I’m sick of their Belli aching. Whether it’s because he’s secretly still hurt or just tinkered his swing past the point of no repair, what he’s bringing to the table just isn’t passable in shallow leagues. He’s hitting just .213/.272/.397 with 11 HR and 10 SB in 277 AB, and yes I know that at least the stolen base total is good. You could have said the same for Gleyber Torres last year, but it doesn’t mean he can keep it up.

Obviously, his talent ceiling is that of a first rounder, like he was just a few long years ago. But ultimately, there doesn’t seem to be much if any reason for optimism that he can turn this sinking ship around. He’s striking out at a career 30% rate while walking at just 7%, rates that even Eric Haase can sneer at. The raw power also seems to be significantly down for the second straight year, with a merely average maxEV of 107 mph and a .229 xBA and .416 xSLG that suggest it’s more than just bad luck. The SBs have kept his fantasy value from totally sinking in non-points leagues, but I simply think you may be better off with your options on the wire going forward. So I’d recommend trying to trade him if you can find someone who still believes in him, but even if not, it’s time to formulate your Bellinger Escape Plan.

12-team

Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Happy clown on the Dodgers day, apparently! Muncy has hit better as of late, though that’s not saying much. He had a two homer week, leading many to believe the breakout is upon us, but personally, I don’t count homers hit off of German Marquez. Rather, I think this is the perfect time to sell him while everyone thinks they’re still buying low.

On the season, although he’s hitting .209 with 4 HR and 1 SB over the past 2 weeks, he’s still hitting .167/.321/.321 with 8 HR and 1 SB in 215 AB, which perhaps doesn’t seem so bad until you realize that’s 263 PA and nearly half a season. I understand the reason he’s worshipped in OBP leagues as his OBP is nearly double his AVG, but it’s not like his OBP has even been good. I still think he’s a good hitter, but he’s pretty obviously still hurt, and while perhaps time will heal him regardless, I tend to not believe a player will truly recover without rest. I’d much rather roll the dice on Ryan McMahon, and if you stick with Muncy, you might look Dunce-y.

15-team

Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners)

The Bermuda Triangle. Stonehenge. Adam Frazier being rostered in 41% of ESPN leagues. I think the last one is by far the greatest wonder of the world. I get that the first half of his 2021 season was awesome, but it was never sustainable then (I got more flak than a fighter jet this time last year for saying to sell high on him) and he’s just been his boring replacement-level self since. He’s hitting just .219/.287/.290 with 2 HR and 2 SB in 297 AB, which should tell you all you need to know. But in case you’re stubborn, I’m here for you.

He’s been even worse lately, hitting just .182 with 0 HR and 0 SB and just 1 (1!) RBI in 56 ABs the past three weeks. He has a stolen base success rate of just 33% with 4 caught stealings and likely has the red light as he’s never been fast. Which really begs the question, why the heck are they still bothering to play him at all? They could likely pick a random minor league second baseman from their system and they’d be a better bet. Cut in all 15-team leagues, though frankly, I’d cut him in AL-only formats too. Unlike the Frasier that came up in the lineup before Seinfeld, this show is definitely not getting better with age.

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Chris Williams / 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.

4 responses to “Buy & Sell 7/7 – Identifying Who to Add and Who To Drop”

  1. Mike Honcho says:

    I’m a Muncy owner looking to move on. Are Bregman, or J.Turner or Donaldson or K.Hayes viable trade targets?

    • Mark says:

      Not even close for any one of them. You can drop Muncy and I guarantee you he will clear waivers, he’s so bad.

      • Mike Honcho says:

        My league is deep bench 12 teamer. My 5-man bench is a rotation of top 30 SPs, I’ve got 8. I’ll need to drop a bat for an injury activation and have been pondering dropping Muncy or Votto…or BOTH! Waiver bats out there are Miggy, Oliveras, Schoop, Duvall.

  2. BB says:

    Meadows’ situation doesn’t really affect Haase, who has only played C since May 1 (except for one game at DH in mid-June) and is clearly the backup despite his recent performance (13 starts over the past month).

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