Welcome back to “Buy and Sell”, where I’d like to add a disclaimer for readers that this article is NOT about who to buy and sell in trades! It’s about which hot players that may be on your waiver wire deserve adding to your roster, and which cold players are worth tossing back. Sure, “Buy & Sell” may be a misnomer, just like Banana Republic doesn’t sell Bananas, Christmas Tree Shops don’t sell Christmas Trees, and Sonic doesn’t make burgers with hedgehog meat. Okay now let’s move on to our post-fireworks studs and duds.
Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees) – Some call him “The Red Thunder”. Others call him “Occam’s Frazier” and “Bellybutton Clint”. Okay, those last two names are used by me and me alone. . And he’s off to a cool start, but he’s getting scooped up even in some shallower mixed leagues. From a numbers standpoint, his Triple-A campaign was rather similar to his 2016 Double-A campaign, but he did make incremental improvements in a very pitcher-friendly league. He’s likely to face some strikeout issues in his first go-round the league, but has the benefit of playing in a power-friendly park in the summer, making him a promising add in deeper leagues. I’d add him in 15-team mixed and deeper formats, but I would only add him in 12-teamers with a deep bench since he may not be ready yet to deliver on his upside, and his power-centric skill set isn’t as valuable now as it was a few years ago. But he still has the upside to be crème’ de la crème fraiche-r.
Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Domingo may not hit many singles, but if you’re looking for a power-speed combo, Do-bingo. He’s only owned in 44% of leagues despite hitting .281 with 14 Homers, 8 SB 44 R and 41 RBI in his age-24 season. I bet the Astros regret giving up on him so early in his career. After posting a K% above 30% every year, he’s managed to cut his K rate down to a more manageable 27.0%, although his .356 BABIP is also helping to propel his batting average. What’s incredible is that he’s posting these power numbers with just a 27% Flyball%, so there’s potential for him to become a fantasy monster if he can up that flyball rate. He should be started for that upside in not only all 12-team formats, but also in many 10-team formats, especially for OBP leagues.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – When he first came to the majors, he was really feast of Pham-ine, but he’s improved now that he’s more Pham-iliar with the league. He’s hitting .283 with 10 Homers and 9 SB in just 209 PA, suddenly transforming him to a one-tool guy to an asset in most categories. A big factor in this was incredibly cutting his K rate from an untenable 38% to just 24% in a single year, without sacrificing too much of his Hard Contact, with a 35.7% Hard% and 10.0% Barrel/BBE. And while he’s always had speed, it’s great to see him translating his baserunning to the major league level. His.342 BABIP will likely come down some, and with just a 24.0% FB% rate, he probably won’t continue homers at this rate. But of course, if he hit even 35% FB%, we’d be looking at an easy 30-homer hitter with 15-SB speed, and he’s doing enough that he’s worth an add in all but the shallowest of 12-team formats and all 12-team OBP. I’m not happy with everything he’s doing, but he’ll always be my Pham.
Josh Reddick – (OF, Houston Astros) – I’ll admit, I dread having to pick the players to drop, because nobody likes when I make it an easy call, and sometimes, when I take the more risky route and kick an established player while he’s down… well, this happens. Reddick has been red-hot and while his 4.7% Barrel% doesn’t indicate much power, he’s provided value in runs produced and batting average. He’s hitting .307 with 8 Homers and 7 Stolen bases, continuing with the same low 12% K rate as he posted in 2016, but with more power and speed than last year with a .198 ISO compared to his .123 mark last year. Health has always been an issue for him, but it seems that for the moment he is looking healthy, and like many of the other guys on this list, provides the batting average boon and speed that makes him more valuable. It’s worth noting that while his .325 BABIP seems reasonable, his career BABIP is .284 so he may be a bit over his head, but his floor is still high. He should be owned in all 12-team leagues, although he’s probably not 10-team material unless the league has a deep bench.
Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers) – I’m wondering which he’ll have more of by season’s end: stolen bases, or stolen ice creams. Way too many people gave up on a 21-year old Arcia after he struggled in his first attempt in the majors, but now at 22 he’s providing that and then some. He’s hitting .288 with 8 HR and 5 SB in 290 PA, solidifying himself as an all-around asset, although he was expected to have less power and more speed than he’s shown thus far. Of course, in the current environment, that’s more a negative since speed is so rare, but it’s also not uncommon for players to run less in the majors than in the minors and his speed was never considered elite. That said, everything about his profile seems more or less sustainable, and a shortstop who could easily go .290-15-10 is as sweet as that Cherry Arcia ice cream he took.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers) – Kelly Clarkson wrote a song about him “Shin-Soo Been Gone”, but now he’s back. Choo has been the rare player who went from being universally underrated, to being universally overrated, and now, after several years of injury and ineffectiveness, he’s underrated again. He’s regained his power stroke and is now up to 12 Home Runs with a .259 AVG and 6 SB. While his days of .290 Batting averages and 20 Stolen bases are over, he is still a stud in run production with 46 R and 41 RBI, as well as a vintage 14.9% walk rate with a solid 20.9% K rate. However, his 25.0% FB% is a career-low and the 24.0% HR/FB is above his career mark of 15%. But he’s still hitting the ball hard with a 36.0% Hard%, and while he’s no spring Chooken at 34, rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated. As a contributor in OBP, HR and SB, he’s worthy of an add in all 15-teamers, and worthy in 12-team OBP as well. although I prefer Pham since he’s basically morphed into higher-upside version of Choo. I wanna make it wit Choo.
Yulieski Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros) – He started the season cold as a Yulieskimo, but now he’s hot as Death Valliesky, hitting .353 with 3 Home Runs over the past 21 days (and posting another multi-hit game tonight as I type this), and over the past week he’s gone .450 with 2 Home Runs, 5 R and 7 RBI without a single strikeout. He still has a relatively low percentage of Barrel/BBE of 4.2 which may make some skeptical of his 10 Homers thus far. But then again, Yuli is someone who ends up with a lot of Batted Ball Events just as a function of making so much darn contact. And a lot of his contact has been hard, with a 37.2% Hard Hit% that’s been rising steadily since the beginning of the season when it was below 30%, and an exit velocity with 90.0 mph eV and 94.6 mph FB/LD eV. With just a 12.3% K%, that’s a sign that his ability to hit .300 with some pop is definitely real. He’s worth an add in 12-team mixed batting average leagues, though the walk rate is so bad than for OBP leagues he’s only really viable in 15-team leagues and deeper.
Paul DeJong (3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Paul De Jong is attempting to accomplish the near-impossible task of being more valuable than Chase De Jong, to be the #1 De Jong and the league. Hey, relative to the entire world’s population that plays baseball, there’s some truth to that. He’s hitting .259 with 6 Homers in just 106 PA, which has gotten him at least somewhat noticed, even if he still doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page. He’s not a beast on barrels, with just 6.9% Barrel/BBE, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that rise as he has an excellent 95.5 mph FB/LD eV and a 40.8% FB%. That said, he’s probably getting some BABIP luck, and he’s completely unusable in OBP with his microscopic walk rate. But in NL-only and 15-team formats looking to add some pop, he’s a widely available bat who can hit at a 20-25 Homer pace.
Yunel Escobar – (3B, Los Angeles Angels) – Yunel is the prototype of “doing it ugly”. For several years he’s produced a good average with minimal pop, but enough runs produced and hits to help your team get by without being a black hole at the hot corner. As much as you may not like him as a ballplayer and a person, he’s showing his plus batting average has been more than just a fluke. His 29.9% Hard% is the best of the past 4 years, but even better is his Statcast data, since his exit velocity on LD/FB of 93.5 mph, while hardly world-beating, is better than you’d expect given his power profile, and suggests that his increased HR/FB this year is not a total fluke. While the surface numbers don’t show it, his exit velocity and mid-4s Barrel/BBE is very similar to Yulieski Gurriel, which is equally praise of Yunel and criticism of Yunel since there’s such a wide gap in their ownership rates. And with such a low strikeout rate combined with hard-hit liners, he can essentially be a .300-10 HR player, which right now is more rare and valuable than someone who can hit .250 with 20 HR, and so he should be owned in all AL-only but also 15-team leagues that use batting average (though it’s worth pointing out he’s no longer the OBP drain that he used to be. If you need batting average on the cheap, you need Yunel.
Jonathan Lucroy (C, Texas Rangers) – I present to you: The amazing disappearing top-tier catcher! Cool hand Lucroy and his ice-cold bat must be a method actor playing the role of Francisco Cervelli, because his 2.9% Barrel/BBE is just above Joe Panik and below Ryan Goins. I believe he must be playing hurt, since he’s also morphed from one of the best pitch-framing catchers to the absolute worst this year, and his exit velocity of 85.6 mph (88.9 mph on FB/LD) is such a far cry from his marks last year. I’d try to trade him if you can get someone to bite at the name value, but you’d be better off with an Avila, Chirinos, hell, maybe even Steven Vogt.
Joey Gallo (1b/3b, Texas Rangers) – On a home run per at-bat basis, he’s among the best in the league. But with Beltre back and Napoli showing a hot bat, those At-Bats are drying up. Over the past week, he’s only had 10 At-Bats, and he’s struck out in 7 of them. And over the past 3 weeks, he’s hit just .150, and the 4 Homers he’s hit over that span is not enough to justify holding him in shallow leagues, especially batting average leagues. While I’d hold in 15-team OBP and deeper formats, his current 32.8% ownership rate in ESPN is too damn high. If you need to make a cut, send Joey to the Gallos.
Mike Zunino (C, Seattle Mariners) – Oh look what we have here… a major league promotion leading to a massive surge followed by a horrendous slump. Doesn’t this seem familiar. While it’s encouraging that he found his power stroke, the reality is that this year he actually struck out MORE during his big hot streak, where at least last year his run came with temporarily improved plate discipline. Yeah, even at catcher, a 39% K% isn’t going to fly. He still may hit for some pop the rest of the way, but considering it will likely come with a sub-.220 Average (poor OBP as well), you can do better in 12-team mixed formats. Drop him like the American mass market dropped the Zune.
Matt Davidson (3B, Chicago White Sox) – He hits homers, we get it. He also does everything other than hitting homers really, really badly. While he has an elite Barrel/BBE of 18.9%, it’s clear hitting homers is all he’s trying to do, as he has a downright unacceptable 40.9% K rate. And unlike other mashers like Joey Gallo, he’s not really even Three True Outcomes, as he only walks 5.3% of the time. It took a prolonged slump for many owners to wise up, but yeah, he shouldn’t be owned even in 15-team mixed leagues, unless you play in a league where neither batting average or OBP is a category. That must be a weird league.
if Trumbo is available, is he worth a waiver claim? Right now my RF is manned by Schebler.
Between those two, I think you gotta stick with the Big Schebloozie. They could hypothetically hit for similar power ROS, but I think Schebler will continue to hit for more power, and has some SB potential as well.
Would you rather have Avila or Realmuto? 12 Team OBP
Who would you rather own: Aaron Altherr or Domingo Santana?