Buy & Sell 8/11 – 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 “Triumphant Returnees”, as quite a few players either recovered from injuries or slumps who have been forgotten by many. Granted, in some cases it wasn’t really forgotten as much as “I only have 3 IL spots and I have better players for two, and one I always leave open for social distancing”. It helps further push them down that their lack of volume makes their numbers look weak compared to the compilers, but with two months left, they can still be potent producers down the stretch. Also, I hope you listened to me and got Christian Arroyo last week! On to the list!
BUY
10-team
Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners)
He’s a bad boy antihero, so make sure to fly with Han Solo. Haniger has made the long layoff look like nothing, bursting back onto the scene hitting .429 with a homer in 14 AB, raising his season line to a strong .265 with 4 HR in just 49 AB. Of course, .265 with 4 HR is easy to look past when many players have surpassed the 20 HR mark, especially since the average doesn’t jump off the page.
Of course, we’re not so forgetful to ignore the fact that last year he hit 39 taters, but in leagues with limited IL spots or no IL spots (such as NFBC formats), teams may have had to cut him to hold on to more elite injured players, but I do think he can be elite over the final two months. Of course, the sample is small, but his Barrel% of 16% would be a career-high, and the MaxEV of 111 mph is already better than anything he hit last year and his best since 2018. As far as his contact, which stabilizes faster as a per-pitch metric, it’s looking great as well with a 79% Contact% that would be tied with a career-best and a 90% Z-Contact%.
Of course, this could all fall apart and he could get hurt again, but as long as he can stay on the field he should play, especially with the state of the Mariners’ outfield. Both Kyle Lewis (demoted) and Kelenic (for some reason still not demoted) haven’t translated their minor league success, and the M’s still are in contention, so even if it’s at DH, his bat will be relied upon, though given his history of fragility I wouldn’t count on many SBs. I think there is a fair shot he hits .280 with 10 moonshots though, and in all leagues that makes Han worth ponying up for a Millenium FAABcon.
Seth Brown (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
The baddest man in the whole town is Big Bad MVP-ROY Brown. Okay, he’s not quite MVP and also a sophomore, but I’d argue at least one of the past two years playing for Oakland should count as minor leagues. Brown has continued to be one of the quietest breakouts of the season, hitting a fantastic .378/.451/.889 with 7 HRs and 1 SB over 45 AB (51 PA) over the past 3 weeks, making him one of the hottest hitters over that stretch. However, it still often gets overlooked due to the bad batting average and even worse OBP, as his 17 HR and 8 SB are still overshadowed by his gross .238 AVG and .295 OBP. But we should focus on the undershadow.
For one, he has been the hottest (non-fluke) hitter in baseball with the biggest xwOBA improvement over his last 50 PA, with a fantastic .486 mark over that span after a .249 xwOBA over the previous 50 PA. I noted back on my Buy & Sell from June 30th that Statcast thinks he deserves better than his current batting average and slugging, and he’s trended closer to his xBA of .267 and xSLG of .476. Although he’s cooled off the unexpected stolen base frenzy, nowadays he’s looking a lot like a slower version of Adolis Garcia, with the current hotness and dual eligibility making up for it. Also note that Brown is finally drawing walks and whiffing less, with a 6/9 BB/K over the past 3 weeks, giving hope that he could be a true late-blooming stud. Add in 10-team AVG leagues though OBP leagues can stream and hope the newfound patience is more than a blip.
12-team
Jean Segura (2B/SS, Philadelphia Phillies)
The sky is blue, the earth is round, and Segura provides underrated value at middle infield. Two of three of those are true if you’re a fantasy baseball flat-earther. Prior to his injury, Segura was making everyone quite happy (aside from opposing pitchers), and after a long layoff has taken liftoff, hitting .385 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 13 AB this week. That raises his season line to .283 with 7 HR and 9 SB in just 180 AB, which is approximately half the total at-bats of most other players so it’s easy to do the irresponsible mental math extrapolation.
Segura is hitting the ball hard while making great contact this year, rocking what would be a career-best 44% HardHit%, as well as a studly 94% Z-Contact% that is his best in years. While his supporting cast is not nearly as fearsome as it had seemed to be in April, he’s a great bet to continue scoring lots of runs while contributing across the board, despite not being one of the flashier options. The stolen base in his return is a good sign he’s not done running, so you should run to pick him up because his half-life on the wire is as unstable as Seguranium-238.
Vinnie Pasquantino (1B, Kansas City Royals)
Sure, he didn’t charge out of the gates like gangbusters but don’t make Vinnie a thing of the Pastquantino. He’s in some ways resembled Alejandro Kirk with his combination of good barrel rate, low K rate, and low chase rate. Of course, many have looked past it given his season line of .237/.325/.385 with 5 HR in 154 PA, but Italian Breakfast will soon be taking pitchers to lunch, and hitting grand salamis.
While many minor league sluggers don’t bring real raw power, Vinnie P. has brought the boomstick with an excellent 113 mph maxEV, which suggests his current 9% Barrel% has additional upside, especially given his healthy launch angle of 12 and elite HardHit% of 50%. The quality of contact is in part thanks to his quantity of contact with a strong 92% Z-Contact% and an 86% overall Contact% which suggests he can maintain his current 15% Contact%. Lots of people are hoping for a return to form for Joey Votto, but I think currently Vinnie is looking far more Vottoian. Sure, the rest of the team is bad, but at least that gives him job security and perhaps more walks for OBP leaguers. Add in all 12-team OBP formats and deeper 12-team AVG formats.
15-team
Sam Haggerty (OF, Seattle Mariners)
He may always seem on the shelf or short a few buttons, but you should hold on to your Haggerty Ann Doll. The older he gets the better, as he’s now hitting an excellent .325 with 3 HR and 5 SB in 100 AB. It’s not the first year that he’s enticed with his excellent speed combined with decent pop, but I think this year we may be seeing the best version.
For one, he’s had a massive jump in his raw power, hitting a MaxEV of 109 mph, which is 2 mph better than his previous best of 107 mph. While it could have been a fluke as his hard-hit rate and barrel rate are in line or worse than previous years, given the small sample I’m still hopeful more power is coming soon. Even more important though is that his historically mediocre contact has improved substantially, with a career-best (though still not great) 75% Contact% and 12% SwStr%. That’s enough to get on base enough to get continued playing time, especially since his speed should allow for high BABIP. The M’s have been playing him regularly as of late, and I don’t think Dylan Moore’s return is going to affect his PT much provided he keeps hitting. Ride Haggrid’s flying motorcycle in all 15-team formats and hope he’ll take you to HogWAR.
Nelson Velázquez (OF, Chicago Cubs)
I looked at the Cubs’ inaction at the deadline and wanted to point and say “Ha-ha!”, so I’m glad they have Nelson. The 23-year-old has cooled off from a splashy power debut but is still hitting a solid .239 with 6 HR and 2 SB in 102 PA, which is not at all shabby from the young rookie. Velázquez didn’t get a lot of prospect love and frankly didn’t deserve much this year, despite his 15 HR and 12 SB across two levels, as his minor league K rate of 36% is untenable for a major leaguer and practically a death sentence for a minor leaguer.
So, unfortunately, his current 29% K% might be the lowest we’ll see for the rest of the year, as his Z-Contact% of 68% is one of the worst I can recall seeing, I mean that’s like Keon Broxton bad. Broxton may be a decent low-end comp, but the good news is Nellie does have real power, with an elite 16% Barrel% that has covered up for his plate skills failings. Even if he slips, he’s a rather safe bet for playing time going forward given the Cubs’ lack of contention, and there’s at least a chance that with his youth he adapts and becomes similar to Seth Brown as a power/speed threat, which is always hard to find on the wire. So if you’re either going broke for power/speed and don’t mind a low batting average floor, don’t snub the Cub in 15-team OBP formats.
Deep Leagues
Bubba Thompson (OF, Texas Rangers)
There is no fantasy player more fickle than those hunting for SBs off the wire. A month ago, everyone (me included) was clamoring over Esteury Ruiz, and once that flopped, we flocked to Bubba as we’re ready for our hearts to be broken again. Thompson hasn’t had a great run in the majors so far, well actually the run is the only thing that’s great, hitting .211 with 0 HR and 3 SB in 19 PA in the majors. But it’s the minors season that has everyone giddy, as the former first-rounder hit .303 with 13 HR and 49 SB in 375 PA in Triple-A. That’ll do.
While his prospect sheen had faded substantially to the point that he was only in a large group of honorable mentions on Eric Longenhagen’s Top 50 prospects as a “lower-impact bat”, he never ran close to this much, with “only” 25 SB in 2021. The strikeouts are the biggest flaw in his game, as his career year in the minors this year was aided by a .385 BABIP, but at least his 25% was better than his previous years in the minors. The bust risk here is quite high with a poor 74% Z-Contact% and 67% Contact% overall, and his double-digit minors power has yet to show with an awful 15% HardHit% and puny 102 mph EV. But unlike Esteury, he’s playing regularly with minimal competition, and he could rack up SBs in a Billy Hamilton-esque fashion, though I don’t think his true SB talent is that level. In other words, he’s best left to AL-only formats, though 15-team formats in need of speed can spec roster him and see if Bubba Thomp is a catch or just a flash-fried shrimp.
Terrin Vavra (2B, Baltimore Orioles)
This Terrin is looking like the command center of batting average, and you may not need to Zerg rush to grab him. The underrated bat-first older prospect is making his debut at 25 and has been orange-hot, hitting .348/.448/.491 with 0 HR and 0 SB in his first 29 PA. Bat-first doesn’t mean power, as he only hit 2 HR in 208 PA in Triple-A and so is expected to have David Fletcher-like power. But the good news is, also like Fletcher, he has not only good contact but a good eye, which helps explain his great 17% BB% as it’s backed by an elite 20% chase rate. Unfortunately, the contact isn’t nearly as good as expected, with a sub-par 75% Contact%.
So unless BABIP is a category in your league, he’s probably going to regress. On the other hand, he’s playing almost regularly and I believe he’s probably still a safer bet in batting average than most options available on a deep league wire, and also has a cool name. In AL-only leagues, it’s time to wake your offense up and feel Vavracious.
SELL
10-team
Seiya Suzuki (OF, Chicago Cubs)
Maybe I’ll buy back next year, but for now, I’m saying Seiya later, alligator. One could argue he’s performing like a poor man’s 2022 Ian Happ, but I’m also not sure I’d consider that a good thing. He burst back onto the scene following his injury and apparently then ran out of juice, as he’s hit just .159 with 1 HR and 1 SB with a 15/1 K/BB in 44 AB over the past two weeks. That brings his season line down to .252/.321/.428 with 9 HR and 6 SB (3 CS) in 250 AB, which is a fair deal worse than even the level-headed Suzuki projections entering the year.
I had figured as someone who hits the ball hard and still has a somewhat smaller sample size, maybe he’s just been unlucky. Au contraire, mon frere! He’s actually been a bit lucky with an xBA of .234 and xSLG of .403. While I hoped he’d be like a prime Tommy Pham, he has managed at least a decent walk rate, though it’s worse than his chase rate, because he’s often striking out by letting good strikes go by. His 59% Z-Swing% is just way too low and bottom-5 in baseball, and part of why his decent 9% Swinging Strike Rate explains a lot less than his lousy 31% CSW%. I get that he could have power and speed to still unlock, but in 10-team AVG leagues, I think you’re better off not wasting your energy angrily stomping around because of the Suzuki method.
12-team
Austin Hays (OF, Baltimore Orioles)
Hays are for horses, and I’m not looking him in the mouth or leading him to water, though his recent performance could lead me to drink. He’s hitting .261/.318/.435 with 13 HR and 2 SB (3 CS) on the season, which is so underwhelming that I yawned twice while typing it. Worse, he’s hit just .196 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 46 AB over the past 3 weeks, making him a fair companion to Mountcastle who I controversially wrote as a sell last week.
Hays, like Mountcastle, surely suffered from the wall being moved back (and up), and upon the news of the wall, I decided to invest zero shares as nearly every one of his 2021 home runs was pulled to that wall. And now he’s been one of the bigger xwOBA decliners over the past 100 PA, with a consistently below-league average wOBA over his last 50 PA. While he still doesn’t strike out a lot, his chase rate is just 6th percentile so he’s not helping in OBP, and his handful of stolen bases, which boosted his value a bit in 2021, seem to be a think of the past with his 40% SB success rate, especially now that the team has a chance. I’d rather have Christian Arroyo for the next two months, call me crazy. Cut in all 10-team leagues and 12-team OBP leagues.
15-team
Jarred Kelenic (OF, Seattle Mariners)
I think he needs to be flushed out of our rosters like a Jarred Colonic. That’s it. That’s the blurb.
Okay fine, I’m guessing you noticed, but it seems many overrated his “surging” Triple-A numbers, which were often bandied about despite the fact that his strikeout rate was still high, and the production wasn’t better than previous minor league stints. Of course, he’s 23 and still regarded as a top prospect, but it seems he’s still broken in the majors after returning and hitting just .083/.083/.208 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 24 AB. The sample is still quite small, but the 0/9 BB/K over those 24 doesn’t inspire any confidence, and while the power and speed are apparent, I think the batting average floor is as bottomless as the rhymes from hip-hippopotamus… Those crickets you hear are from the fielders when he’s up. Some will wait longer for a turnaround, but in redrafts, it’s probably time to cut in all 12-team and even 15-team formats that don’t have a bench.
Deep Leagues
Bobby Dalbec (1B, Boston Red Sox)
You know when the Red Sox make effort to acquire Eric Hosmer that your first base situation is pretty bad. Dalbec was a quite popular sleeper pick in drafts this year thanks to his big barrel rate and 2nd half improvement, but instead of aging like a fine red wine, you realize it was knockoff booze from Wish.com and that there’s no such wine as a Dalbec. He’s hit a disgusting .203/.277/.365 with 11 HR over 271 AB.
Although Hosmer may be day-to-day with an injury, it seems the Red Sox have other options who can spell at 1B, including my favorite Christian Arroyo and Enrique when he returns. Dalbec is likely looking at a platoon situation as a best-case scenario or pinch hitter, though given the presence of Triston Casas on the farm, it would not surprise me if his Red Sox tenure is nearing a rapid end. I believe there was a 90s song that went, “Soy un perdedor, I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you cut me in all formats” written by DalBeck.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by David J. Griffin & Kiyoshi Mio / 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.

7 responses to “Buy & Sell 8/11 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. Mike says:

    Hey Ben,

    I was expecting to see J.D. Martinez on the 10 team list. He’s been pretty bad the past 5+ weeks. His K and BB rates have gone from 22% and 10% through late June to 30% and 5% since then. What are your thoughts on him?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. Mike says:

    I meant 10 Team Sell list in case it’s not clear.

  3. J.C. Aoudad says:

    Great stuff, as always.

  4. BB says:

    Dylan Moore shouldn’t take too many AB away from Haggerty, but Julio’s return tomorrow and a healthy Winker will definitely make an impact (since Haggerty has been exclusively playing OF in their absence).

  5. Ben Pernick says:

    Thanks so much, J.C.!

  6. Ben Pernick says:

    You do make a fair point regarding both Julio and Winker, though I hope that’s somewhat cancelled out by Kelenic’s demotion. Winker’s bat will take some PT away though I do think Winker won’t play full time while Haggerty stays hot. Haggerty hasn’t played much 2B this year but I suppose I’m hopeful they’ll move him around, but perhaps the streaming goodness is near its end.

  7. Ben Pernick says:

    Excellent suggestion, and I admit that as someone who doesn’t roster him anywhere, I really overlooked just how bad he’s been lately, You know, if he keeps this up, I may very well write him as my sell next week. Thanks Mike!

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