Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is unheralded rookies and sophomores and sophomoric humor and song puns. Many boppers and speedsters like Hiura and Myles Straw have garnered a lot of the headlines but there are many more under the radar players that should be just as solid, if not more. On to the list!
Akil Baddoo (OF, Detroit Tigers)
Maybe I should call him Erkyah because my praises for Baddoo go On & On. He started the year seeming like a prototypical power/speed play with a strikeout problem, and his massive slump after his hot start to the season seemed to confirm that. But he’s rapidly advanced to his next lifetime as a hitter, suddenly cutting his strikeout rate substantially and becoming a batting average asset in the process, hitting .333/.420/.450 with 6 stolen bases (2 CS) and a 9/12 BB/K in 72 PA over the past 3 weeks. His season K rate still looks unhealthy at 28%, but it’s dropped from 44% in April to 29% in May and 17% in June, and 21% in July. His walk rate has also fluctuated wildly, with a 3% mark in April and 24% in May, and now settling somewhere in between. Unfortunately, the power has vanished as he hasn’t homered in the past month, and Statcast seems to think he’s unlikely to be much of an asset there with a 9th percentile exit velocity and 22nd percentile hard-hit rate. Still, the combination of on-base ability with 30 SB upside makes is sweet as honey, and didn’t cha know that makes him a must-start in all leagues, especially OBP formats.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)
Every year I keep thinking it’s time to let him go, but he keeps McClutchin’ on. He’s been a dynamic sparkplug on an an offense that’s had few positives this year, as he’s hitting .234/.354/.433 with 13 HR and 6 SB (1 CS). His batting average is likely never going to eclipse the .250 range again, but it’s certainly encouraging that he’s showing he still has his wheels after 2 straight seasons of disappointing SB totals. He recently had an oblique scare but then busted out, going 3-5 with 2 doubles, so baseball fans can breathe easy. While he hasn’t been super hot lately, his plate discipline has me optimistic a surge is coming, and he’s hit .278/.412/.481 with 3 HR and 3 SB in 54 AB over the past 3 weeks, which comes with a strong 12/11 BB/K. He’s a great source of runs as Philly’s leadoff hitter with 25-30 HR and double-digit SB and fantastic OBP. He’s a must-add in 10-team OBP formats and strongly consider in AVG leagues as well. If you can’t handle his heat, stay out of the ‘Cutchen.
Dominic Smith (1B/OF, New York Mets)
Dominic’s bat seems to have finally returned from a long vacation in the Dominican and is now ready to dominate. I liked him as a buy-low in May as Statcast suggested he was the recipient of bad luck, but even I started to lose faith after continued struggles and losing playing time. His role should be safe for now, however, after hitting .409/.417/.909 with 3 HR in 22 ABs the past week. That brings him up to a season line of .259/.325/.405 with 9 HR and 2 SB in 259 AB, which is still far below his lofty preseason expectations, but much closer than he looked a few weeks ago. I expect him to end the year with a .270+ batting average and eclipsing 20 HR with great run production with the return of the Mets’ heavy hitters, so he should remain a steady contributor for deeper 12-team formats.
Brendan Rodgers (SS, Colorado Rockies)
Hop on this train because we’re entering Mr. Rodgers’s Neighborhood. But unlike the show, his performance won’t put you to sleep. The long-maligned former top prospect is finally shaking off the injury bug and the Rockies terrible management bug (for now) and showing the offensive ability that many thought had vanished, hitting .308/.386/.538 with 2 HR and a 5/6 BB/K ratio in 39 ABs over the past two weeks. While his overall season line of .267/.346/.442 with 5 HR and 0 SB in 120 ABs is far from taking the fantasy world by storm, it seems he’s finally playing well enough to garner regular playing time, and with his talent, I expect him to improve as the season goes on if (and a big fat if) he can stay healthy. As far as what to expect going forward, I’d say if all goes well, Willy Adames (Milwaukee version) can be a pretty good comp.
Gavin Sheets (1B/OF, Chicago White Sox)
He’s been so good lately that when he’s at the plate, the opposing pitcher Sheets his pants. Oy, with puns like these, nobody will believe that I’m getting married. Sheets has baseball bloodlines as the son of former MLB vet Larry Sheets, and he’s hit the ground running, hitting .320/.357/.680 with 2 HR and 8 RBI in his first 25 ABs. He has long struggled to translate his massive raw power into game power, but he made some strides with that this year and also has maintained a solid 14% K% rate that lets his power play up. I still think he’s due for some regression in his K rate and power, but he still should be a decent power and average play with the potential to be a poor man’s Dom Smith. Scoop in 15-team formats and try to ride the short-term wave, but I don’t think he’s worth an add in 12-team.
Jace Peterson (2B/3B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
I didn’t know if I wanted him, but then I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, thanks Jace of Base. Peterson has hit a rather ridiculous .424/.524/.727 with 1 HR, 2 SB, 10 R, and 11 RBI in just 33 ABs the past two weeks, which raises his previously lousy season line to a more respectable .267/.385/.456 with 3 HR, 4 SB, 18 R and 19 RBI in 90 AB. The thing that makes me most convinced that this is more than just a spurt or dead cat bounce is the improved K rate, as he is sporting an 8/3 BB/K in his last 33 AB. He’s always had a touch of power/speed combo with strong OBP, but the batting average has been painful to stomach. If he can increase his contact rate enough to bring that to a respectable level, he’s a solid 15-team OBP and 18-team play, but I’m not going to fool myself into thinking more 11 RBI weeks are just around the corner.
Ramon Urias (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)
Those biblical scholars may recall Urias the Hittite, but not as many know Urias the hitter. While he remains in the shadow of the younger and frankly more talented Luis Urias, Ramon is the player who is overlooked enough that Rotoworld recently stated “he holds no fantasy intrigue or upside” but I beg to differ. For one, he’s hitting a sizzling .412 with a homer this week and .360 with a 4/3 BB/K in 25 AB since his latest call-up. The 28-year-old sophomore showed improved exit velocity compared to his strong small sample debut last year, with a max exit velocity of 110 mph that ranks above league average. He also has a good opportunity at earning playing time as the only Orioles infielder up the middle that has a bat not made out of overcooked spaghetti and is not a complete butcher defensively either. He can be the overlooked all-around solid type like Jose Iglesias with better defense, and his ability to hit for decent average has me liking him more than other deep league middle infield options like Shed Long, Willi Castro, and Rougned Odor. In 18-team and AL-only formats, and even some deeper 15-team formats, the one of the Ramóns is a fine add to Blitzkrieg Bop some taters.
Jake Burger (3B, Chicago White Sox)
I’ve always liked Chicago Barbecue, so I think it’s no coincidence that they have Lamb, Burger & Fry. The 25-year-old former first-round pick has overcome two Achilles surgeries over 4 lost years but managed to persevere, so he’s definitely a feel-good story. It’s worth noting, though, that his opportunities for playing time may dry up like a well-done Angus beef patty when Moncada comes back fully healthy. Still, in the meantime, he should rack up semi-regular playing time with a decent batting average to go with league-average pop. Scoop in AL-only and 18-team leagues.
Rowdy Tellez (1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
Shout out to my lost boys, i.e., Rowdy, now let’s let him bangarang some dingers. At the time of writing this, Rowdy is now in Brewerville. Considering they just had been playing Vogelbach at first base before his injury, there’s no reason Rowdy should not be starting at the position. Normally I’d have considered him more of a 15-team add, but with his recent lack of playing time and demotion prior to the trade, he may even be available in your deeper league. Despite his poor production this year, Statcast thinks bad luck may have played a role and that he still has some elite raw power. It’s worth a shot. Add in NL-only and spec on in deeper 15-team formats.
Isaiah Kiner-Falefa (SS/3B, Texas Rangers)
We just saw his spot in the batting order take a Fallefa. He certainly deserved to be moved down after hitting an anemic .118/.151/.118 in 51 PA the past two weeks, with no stolen bases and one caught stealing. While his season line of .263/.298/.368 with 6 HR and 15 SB still looks good on paper for shallower mixed leagues (especially considering his multi-position eligibility), most of the production may be behind us, as his rolling .187 xwOBA over the past 50 ABs is one of the worst among MLB regulars. It’s also concerning that it’s been nearly a month since he stole his last base, which frankly is the only reliable source of his fantasy value. Of course, that may be due to not getting on first base to begin with. He’ll probably be moved up in the order at some point, but unless you’re truly desperate for speed, I think it’s safe to cut him in 10-team leagues, especially in OBP formats.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies)
I see a Blue Statcast page, and I want to paint it Blackmon, his power and his speed both never to come back, mon. Blackmon has long been shielded by Coors, as his once-ample power-speed-average combo has whittled away one skill at a time, until the point he was just empty average, and now that seems to be going too. He’s actually managed to stay healthy this year but is hitting just .256/.357/.366 with 4 HR and 0 SB in 252 AB and has been even worse as of late with a .167/.275/.217 line with 0 HR over 60 ABs the past 3 weeks. I will note his K rate is still low and his 12% walk rate is his best by a fair margin, and Statcast thinks he’s been unlucky with a .287 xBA. Still, the 35-year-old is still rostered in far too many leagues for name value alone when there are so many superior options available. Cut in 12-team roto leagues that use batting average, and consider cutting him even in OBP and points leagues as well.
Joey Wendle (2B/SS/3B, Tampa Bay Rays)
I suggested (some would argue controversially) over a month ago when he was hitting above .300 that you should sell Joey Wendle immediately, and when a commenter said they’re never selling, I replied that Wendle is the dogecoin of hitters. Well, since then, the Goldwendoodle has plummeted, hitting .143 over the past 2 weeks to tank his average to .275. While this combined with 7 HR and 5 SB may not seem deserving of a doomsday prophecy, the fact that Vidal Brujan’s arrival is imminent suggests that Wendle’s time in the sun is rapidly approaching sunset and now he’s less of a sell as he is a straight drop. He does not belong on any 12-team roster, and shallower 15-team formats (especially OBP formats) may want to look at cutting him too.
Tony Kemp (2B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
As a fan, I love Tiny Tony (he’s 5’6) but not as someone who wants to win my league. I resisted the temptation to add him in deep leagues despite his rapid ascent to 4 HR and 4 SB with a nice batting average because Statcast made it clear it was all a mirage. He’s tanked the past couple weeks, and xBA of .218 suggests he’s not done regressing, and his .303 xSLG (2nd percentile) suggests it’s highly unlikely he hits many more homers going forward. Since he doesn’t steal enough bases nowadays to be a Myles Straw-type, he’s a clear drop in 15-team and even some 18-team formats.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cleveland Indians)
I get that I might be wrong for this one, and it would be much easier low-hanging fruit to say drop Bradley Zimmer, who is probably not rostered in all but the deepest of leagues. But Mercado still has many fans based on what he did in 2019. While it’s good news he cut his K rate in Triple-A down to 16%, his contact rate thus far in the majors is 64%, which hardly cuts it for Joey Gallo and definitely won’t cut it for a player who seems to have minimal pop. If you hope he’ll scavenge some bases, he may, but it will likely come at the expense of every other category.