Welcome back to the pre-trade deadline edition of Buy & Sell, AKA the OMG Rafael Devers is up! Edition. With the trades and major moves that have already happened, there is a surge of young talent, and new playing time opportunities on several teams creating opportunities for sleeper value. Of course, most of these younger guys have more of a high-risk, high-reward profile, but hey, that’s what makes them fun, right? Fantasy heartbreak is also fun. So much fun.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox) – Here’s a guy whose promotion is well Deversed. He hit .300 with 18 HR in 320 PA in Double-A before his promotion to Triple-A where he hit .400 with 2 HR in his last 38 PA. The Red Sox would’ve loved to keep him marinating in the minors, but after foolishly trading Shaw in hopes for Kung-Fu Panda succeeding, which was as wise as hoping for panda mating success. Anyway, Devers is just 20, and despite the massive hype, it’s hard to expect too much from a player at this stage of his development. While the strong Triple-A performance (small sample size warning) was encouraging, his walk rate went down and his K rate did go up to 21%, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that K rate be closer to 25-30% in his first. Now that Eduardo Nunez is in the fold, he’ll have to hit to secure regular playing time, but he can earn it with a strong start as he has far more offensive upside. I actually believe in his likelihood to succeed this year in AVG. and HR over Moncada and be a better fantasy asset despite the lack of speed. Despite the playing time risk, he should still be added in 15 team leagues and deeper 12-team leagues. However, I wouldn’t be starting him in 10-teamers where you can just wish him luck on his future en-Devers.
Chris Taylor (2B/3B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – If he is still on waivers in your league, even if it’s a 10-team, you need to take a long, hard look at the mirror and smash your head into it. I’m looking at you, 30.4% of ESPN leaguers. While he may have been nothing more than a punchless glove-first middle infielder in Seattle, he has silenced his doubters hitting .318 with 12 HR and 12 SB in 286 AB, and is hitting an absurd .525 over his past 10 games. Add in his multi-position eligibility (and one game away from SS eligibility in most leagues) and you’d be delusional to not think he will help your team.
Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – Scooter has scooted into the full-time gig at the keystone position for the Reds, and you can’t say he hasn’t deserved it. After an incredible mid-season run kicked off with a 4-homer surprise, he’s now hitting .314 with 17 HR, 44 R, 52 RBI, and 2 SB in 261 PA. So why, WHY is he still owned less than Dustin Pedroia? (Sorry Dustin if you’re reading this). While he may lack the true contact skills (10.8% Swstr) to maintain such a high batting average long-term, he’s hitting the ball very hard for a 2nd baseman with a 38.3% Hard%, and he should be owned and started in 12-team as well as 10-team.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – You can’t have Pham without ham, and Tommy P is going HAM. And hard is the perfect way to describe his contact and tenacity, as he has 13 homers backed by a fantastic 39.8% Hard%, and 13 SB to boot while hitting over .300. I’ve written him up a few times, but I feel like he deserves a final send-off for shallower leagues, because Pham needs to be owned and started in all leagues. While he may not keep up this ridiculous overall profile, the power and speed elements are here to stay, and a player with 30-30 ability can’t be ignored.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Bell should team up with AT&T because he’ll charge you extra on long-distance balls. He’s at 18 on the year, and while his .248 AVG isn’t great, it’s been steadily rising and comes with a solid .326 OBP. While you could point out that his 34% Hard% isn’t much different than last year as a reason to expect the 22% HR/FB to come crashing down towards the 9% he posted last year, he has made a big change. While last year he was mostly going Oppo Taco, with a 42.9% Oppo% and 22.3% Pull%, he’s turned the table with a 43.4% Pull% and a 28.8% Oppo%, allowing him to drive his flyballs deeper. I believe in the overall package and think he should be owned and started in all 12-team leagues and 10-team OBP… though I wouldn’t fault you for taking a flyer on him even in 12-team AVG leagues.
Paul DeJong (SS/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – DeJong has continued to hit Paul DeLongballs, and deserves a 2nd consecutive writeup as he’s rocketing up the rankings. As someone who qualifies at shortstop, a position where many teams are simply not getting a lot of production, DeJong’s homers him instantly have value. But I’m also writing to let you know that he deserves adds in 12-team leagues, but I still hesitate to recommend him for 10-teamers, since it looks like his inferior plate discipline is starting to get back at him and tank his batting average.
Gerardo Parra (OF, Colorado Rockies) – His hitting has been so hot lately, opposing pitchers would rather jump out a plane with no Parrachute. Over the past 3 weeks, he’s hitting a jaw-dropping .513 (NOT A TYPO), with 12 R and 12 HR and 2 Homers in 39 AB. And while it’s obviously an extreme, he’s been making tons of contact with only 3 strikeouts and 2 walks total in that span. While he’s missed a few days with a calf injury, assuming he comes back healthy, I think he’ll be valuable in AVG leagues (his .358 AVG is way more valuable than his .383 OBP). He’s always been a fringy player, but the kind that kind thrive in the right hitting environments, and it doesn’t get any better than Coors. In In OBP I’d only consider in deeper 15-teamers. But in 12-team AVG leagues, he should be inseParrable from your lineup.
Nick Williams (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – He’s often been thought of a guy with a diverse skillset, but it seems like his current strategy is to consolidate these into pure power. He has 4 HR in 75 PA, including a 2-run shot in Sunday’s game. His power is no fluke, as it’s been backed by a 15.1% Barrel/BBE, 94.9 mph eV on FB/LD, and a studly 43.4% Hard% with only 11.3% Soft%. Unfortunately, when it comes to his strikeout rate, his current 22.9% is likely to go way up, as he had a 29% K rate in Triple-A, and he has a disgusting 42.2% O-Swing% and 68.6% Contact% leading to a Keon Broxton-esque 18.2% Swstrk%. And a Keon Broxton without big stolen base totals isn’t a fantastic commodity. Still, he’s only owned in 18.6% of ESPN leagues and has playing time to hit plenty more homers, so he’s worth starting in NL-only and 18-team formats, and worth a flier for 15-teamers in need of pop.
Rajai Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics) – If I told you there was a major leaguer in this speed-starved environment who’s already nabbed 19 bags, and is owned in less than 10% of leagues, you’d be interested, right? Just kidding, because it’s old man Rajai! I tell ya, he gets no respect… but Rajai Davisfield doesn’t roll of the tongue. He’s run away with semi-regular playing time in Oakland, and has picked it up despite a slow start, like the ageless wonder he is (He’l lbe 37 in October). He actually has better plate discipline numbers this year than he posted in 2016, with a 7.9% BB% that’s the best mark in 10 years, and a 20.4% K rate. However, the double-digit power days seem to be gone, as his power has declined across the board, and he would benefit hitting more grounders as his current 36% flyball rate is hurting his average since they’re not leaving the park. Still, he’s getting on base enough to run, and should end the year with 30-35 SB, so he’s your golden oldie worth a flier in 18-teamers and a solid flier even for speed-hungry 15-teamers.
Cory Spangenberg (San Diego Padres, 2B) – Cory has really been Spangen the ball lately, hitting .311 with 4 HR over the past 3 weeks, and .357 with 2 HR over the past week. Long thought to be a player with no pop, here he is with 8 Home Runs and 6 SB in 269 PA. While his exit velocity is still well below average at 85.2 mph overall and only 89.8 mph on FB/LD, his 6.0% is perfectly acceptable and shows the power isn’t a total fluke. That’s not to say he isn’t performing a little over his head, as his xAVG% is .234 and xSLG% of .280 are below his current .269 AVG and .403 SLG%, but that is still a massive improvement from his career numbers, especially in terms of power output. Considering that he’s owned in only 12.4% of leagues, he’s still well worth adding in NL-only and 18-teamers, but also worth a flier in 15-team formats for some power and speed.
Francisco Cervelli (C, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Earlier this year, I pointed out that Jonathan Lucroy has suddenly transformed into Cervelli, but I apologize as that was not fair to Cervelli. He’s posting the best ISO since .2013, even though it’s still just .140, but he’s hitting a solid .270 with 5 Home Runs with 25 R and 30 RBI. That’s not going to win anybody any leagues, but the fact that his power is no longer near-zero makes him a player worth owning in this dumpster fire catcher environment. While it’s disappointing to see he hasn’t made any noise at all on the basepaths, you can count on him for a solid average unlike most other catchers that will drag it down. In 15-teame’ll serve-elli your team well.
Zack Granite (OF, Minnesota Twins) – He may not have power, but you still shouldn’t take him for Granite. He boasts a 97% Z-contact rate that is among the best in the league (interesting that 3 of the top 5 are on the Minnesota Twins, along with Mauer and Polanco). Granite was due for better luck with that much contact and a groundball-heavy approach combined with his speed, and even when his AVG was below .100, his xAVG was .267 (now it’s .278). So far he’s only 2 for 3 in stolen base attempts, but what’s important is that he now seems comfortable making the attempts. With a 16.7% Hard Contact% and a GB% over 60%, don’t expect any homers, but he’s playing everyday and makes for a sleeper widely available source for AVG and Speed in AL-only leagues, and for 18-teamers looking for a flier, you can rock Granite.
Alex Avila (C, Detroit Tigers) – Well guys, pack it in, looks like the Avila party is over. He has returned to his old ways with a massive slump, hitting just .163 with an even more terrible .163 SLG% over the past 3 weeks, which must drive the Tigers crazy as they could’ve gotten a solid haul for him if he just kept it up a bit longer. Sure, it could just be a regular slump, but you have to look at his history and realize that it’s likely that at some point he would revert to his old ways of mediocrity. It’s time to cut him in 10-team and 12-team, though in 15-team I would bench but hold for a little longer because the waiver options at catcher probably aren’t too pretty. Hasta la Avila the star, baby!
Jonathan Lucroy (C, Texas Rangers) – I’m at the point where I’m ready to drop him in my AL-only league… my TWO-CATCHER AL-only league. After a brief performance bump in June, he is back to being a complete skidmark in the lineup… and yet the rangers are still trorring him out there to go 0-for-3 instead of Chirinos who has twice as many homers. The season’s more than halfway over, and with no sign of a turnaround, he should already be cut in most mixed leagues, and definitely not put in any starting lineups, unless you’re shooting for last place.
Matt Joyce (OF, Oakland Athletics) – I must admit, I was a big proponent of Joyce, earlier in the year, as it seemed based on all his numbers that he was due to repeat the performance he put up over a half-season in Pittsburgh. But as a power-first player, hitting in Oakland has hurt him, and his fly-ball heavy approach has continued to depress his BABIP, and xStats, although they predict better, still see him hitting below .250. With the A’s youth movement underway, Joyce can find himself pushed out of regular playing time if he can’t find a new team. He should be cut from 12-teamers and 15-team batting average leagues.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Red Sox) – Moreland is trying to act macho pretending that he can play through a fractured big toe and that it won’t affect him. The numbers say otherwise. His long swoon that started in June has him hitting just .145 with no homers over the past 3 weeks, and if the Red Sox were smart they’d find a way to rest him and let him heal, though they may not have that roster flexibility without a trade. I liked him a lot before the injury, but I absolutely believe, regardless of what he says, that he is still not healthy and he won’t hit well again until he is. Fantasy leaguers should see less of Moreland, and send him out to sea.
In a 10-team OBP league would you rather have Devers or Bell? Also would you cut Trevor Story to have both?