Buy & Sell 8/1: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell: Trade Deadline Edition, sort of! See, while you’re reading this, the deadline has come and gone, but when I’m writing this I’m still one day away from the true deadline. But I stayed up super late just to make sure it takes into account all trade deadline transactions, since the trade deadline comes once a year and takes priority in my life over sleep. UPDATE: I’ll say this about the deadline: It didn’t really do all that much to help any quality active hitter’s value in any really significant way, since Meadows and Villar, the two biggest potential beneficiaries, aren’t currently on the active roster. Pitchers is a different story entirely. Okay, on to the list before my sleepy face smashes into the keyboard.
Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets) – Earlier in the year, he was looking uneasy, but it seems he is finally getting confortoble once again. There’s optimism that he’s once again fully healthy with his increased power numbers, as he’s hit .304/.421/.609 with 4 HR and an 8/8 BB/K ratio over the past 21 days, although you may not have noticed with his season line at just ..230/.353/.401. While the power has been merely solid and not spectacular, if he’s back in form it can come in bunches, and while he can be a boon in average, he can be an OBP beast as he was already useful there without the batting average. While he’s no secret at a 52.8% ownership rate (in ESPN leagues), that means there’s still 47% of leagues where he’s on your wire! Check out dem math skills. You should confortify your offense in all 10-team OBP formats and 12-team AVG and OBP, and would be fine with a speculative flyer on him in 10-team AVG leagues as well.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians) – Let’s take a moment to ponder Alonso. After a long stretch of virtually zero power through June, his bat suddenly reawakened in July, hitting .324/.425/.824 with 5 Home Runs and an 6/3 BB/K in 34 AB over the past two weeks, bringing him up to 18 jacks with a .265/.335/.473 slash on the year. His surge has been supported and then some by the xStats, with an impressive xSlash of .272/.344/.492 that beats his current line, and his 9.0 Barrel/PA% is 16th-best in baseball so the power is clearly here to stay at this point. It seems that although he hasn’t walked as much this year, he’s become a more balanced hitter with a reduced strikeout rate that’s supported by a higher contact rate. Especially being in the middle of such a competitive lineup, you’d be wise to pick him up in all 12-team formats and a viable flyer in 10-team as well. Alonso far, Alonso good.
Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics) – Chappie has been a hitting machine, like the sentient robot of the same name. He’s locked-in with a .405/.500/.786 line with 3 HR in 42 ABs the past 2 weeks, bringing him to a .270/.363/.479 line with 13 HR on the season. Although he lost a fair share of owners when he couldn’t maintain the hype he built up after a hot hitter, I have maintained my optimism throughout the year as he rounded out his game. While the power is great, his boost in value is from correcting his weaknesses, especially in contact, where his improvement in contact rate (and plate discipline) give him a 9.2% Swstr%, which is good for a power hitter and much better than the 11.5% rate he posted last year. xStats is right in line with his AVG and OBP but his .442 xSLG is 40 points lower than his actual rate, so don’t get too crazy, but his great defense combined with great on-base ability make him must-own in all 15-team formats and 12-team OBP formats, and also viable in 12-team AVG leagues.
Nick Williams (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – It’s Christmas in July, and Philly Old St. Nick has been bringing presents to his owners who believed in him. Compared to some others on this list, his streak has been a shorter spurt, with a .385/.407/.731 line with 3 Ho-ho-homers over the past week to raise his season line to .261/.333/.457 with 14 tates and 2 SB (2 CS) in 276 AB. His xSlash is a mixed bag, as his .267 xAVG and ..343 xOBP are encouraging but trampled by a .419 xSLG that dampens the excitement about his power, his most exciting tool. Although his numbers look rosier from his 2017 campaign, I’m actually much more positive about this one, as he’s had worse batted ball luck this year but made substantial improvements to his K and BB rates. His K rate improved from 28.3% to a much more palatable 23.9%, and his walk rate went up from 5.8% to 7.8%, increasing his OBP appeal. Because I’m skeptical with his ho-hum Statcast data that he can keep up the homers coming at this rate, I see him as a must-own only in 15-team formats, but now also in OBP formats, and he still makes a fine short-term stream in 12-team.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B, Minnesota Twins) – When a potential- 40 homer slugger in his prime years gets demoted to single-A ball, that’s just a Sano the times. Sano honestly didn’t do that great on his minor league campaign considering that at his age he should be expected to demolish the competition but was merely good. Still, on a Twins team that has thrown in the towel, he will get the chance to right the ship full-time at the major league level, and even though it’s clear at this point that batting average will never be part of his game, he still possesses 35+ home run power. Perhaps with Morrison and Mauer hitting well, a fire will be lit under Sano and he’ll respond with a big surge. With all that’s gone on with him this year, it’s impossible to know, but in all 15-team formats and 12-team OBP, the risk may be worth the potential payoff, even if it means taking him as a bench stash.
David Freese (1B/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – He’s clearly the better David F. third baseman I write up in this article. Although often overlooked as that boring, low-ceiling 3B type, lately Mr. Freese has been like Schwarzenegger (bad ice-related puns included), with a .353/.476/.706 line with 2 homers this week to bring his line up to .286/.352/.451. Over the past 30 days he has the 9th-best xOBA with a .434 xOBA tied with the previously white-hot Lourdes Gurriel. One might reason that a 35-year-old with a SLG% far higher than in past years is due for regression, but… WAIT, WHAT’S THIS? An xSlash of .347/.410/.568? Okay, I know you think I did that for dramatic flair, but that was legitimately my reaction I just had. I honestly wonder if this may be some sort of mistake, but assuming that xStats is a flawless man-powered machine, yeah how can you not be intrigued by that? He should be owned in all 18-team leagues and 15-team leagues too. As crazy as it sounds, I think he may actually be 12-team viable despite being widely available, and you’ll be feeling sweet with some Freese’s pieces.
Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – People laughing at him must be his energy source. Ahmed has gone from a punchline to a hitter with punch, as he’s hit ..315/.333/.611 with 3 HRs over the past 3 weeks for a season line of .240/.293/.448 line with 14 longballs over 346 ABs. While xStats is not convinced in the power, giving him a ..394 xSLG, xStats has been pessimistic on him all year and he’s still been producing, and doesn’t need that much to be useful as a shortstop, though more than in olden days. Unfortunately, he can’t draw walks, hit for good average or steal bases, so his fantasy upside is limited to deeper formats, but he should be owned in all NL-only and 18-team formats and makes for a viable streamer in 15-team leagues, where his production shouldn’t be considered Ahmediocre.
Melky Cabrera (OF, Cleveland Indians) – I always liked the Dead Milkmen, but the Melkman is not dead yet! His first debut was forgettable before getting released and weirdly signed again by the Indians, but this time around he’s looked like an entirely different hitter, with a 400/.438/.567 line bringing his season average all the way up to .272. Over the past 30 days, Melky is tied for 6th-best in the MLB with an excellent .438 xOBA, and this is reflected in his fantastic xStats translation, with a studly xSlash of .315/.344/.418. Okay I should probably clarify that is only close to studly in batting average leagues. I think there will be some regression, and I doubt he possesses even double-digit SB speed at this point, but I do think he still has a very high floor in batting average with 10-15 HR pop. Let him deliver for you in AL-only and 18-team Batting Average leagues, and makes for a legitimate batting average stream in 15-team H2H.
David Fletcher (3B Los Angeles Angels) – I probably should preface this by saying I’m not happy about this. Not that I’m not happy about Kinsler being traded, that wasn’t too surprising, it’s that the Angels, despite having basically nobody to play 2b, are making Fletcher play there and not calling up Jose Miguel Fernandez. Jose is 31 and his time is being wasted crushing at Triple-A and who xStats suggests deserved way better in his short majors stint. Rant over. Fletcher is still pretty good though, and like Fernandez, was a member of Carson Cistulli’s Fringe Five earlier this year. He’s quietly posted a hot streak with a .295/.442/.500 line the past 2 weeks for an overall line of .298/.339/.404 with 1 HR and 1 SB over 114 ABs. xStats suggests that may be lucky, with a more humble xSlash of .275/.317/.356, but that still has its uses in batting average leagues thanks to Fletcher’s imminent multi-position eligibility. He’s just one game from reaching 5-game qualifications at 2B, SS, and OF, and with Kinsler gone, he’ll get at least one. I still have hope that he continues to contribute a plus average with a little more power and speed than he’s shown in the majors so far… granted that won’t be too hard. Try to make Fletch happen in AL-only and 18-team Batting Average formats.
Brett Phillips (OF, Kansas City Royals) – Look, I debated even writing him up at all, since he’s unowned even in some AL-only leagues. But I’ll say this: While so far his contact rate has been very bad, he still has significant power and speed, and should have full-time ABs all but locked up on KC’s rebuilding franchise. After a strong 2017 that caused his stock to rebound upwards, he’s had quite the underwhelming Triple-A season, but we now know about the majors power boost. He could be an asset in a similar way as Niko Goodrum, another power/speed guy with poor contact, though when that’s the positive comp, you know we’re talking deep leagues here. He’s a fine add in AL-only and 18-team OBP formats as I expect that walk rate to improve.
Adam Duvall (OF, Atlanta Braves) – Duvall goes from one red team to another, but now his value is in the red. He’s getting Steve Pearced in Atlanta, which may be great for the team but terrible for the average fantasy owner, as now Duvall will likely see most of his ABs from the weak side of platoon. Unless you play daily matchups, it’s safe to cut him in all leagues but the deepest of NL-only formats. Don’t cry too hard as you cast away your Duvallyball and watch him float away.
Carlos Gomez (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – Okay, he may have been dropped in your league already, on account of, y’know, being pretty bad. I mean, he put up decent power and speed numbers, but that average was hard to stomach, and now with the addition of Pham, someone’s got to step aside, and it’s likely not the young speedster Mallex or the defensive whiz Kiermaier. I think it’s safe to cut him even in AL-only leagues, but you can be happy for him that he didn’t get terribly injured this year, I guess!
Nick Martini (OF, Oakland Athletics) – Look, I could’ve said Orlando Arcia, but who was really still starting him at this point? Man that Brewer’s defense will be hilarious. Speaking of alcohol, Martini has shaken, not stirred things up with a .421/.522/.684 line this week for a ..325/.426/.500 line over 40 AB. Hey, Voros McCracken always said anything can happen over 60 PA. I actually wanted to list him as a buy with him being this hot, until I looked at what xStats had to say. They see what he’s done and give him a dry, bitter xSlash of .217/.339/.321. I’m pretty sure I just heard a balloon deflate and fly around the room. So be warned that in anything deeper than AL-only, you may look silly becoming a Martinibopper.