Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is hitters on bad teams and ruthless cut recommendations. This is the part of the season where you need to pull the plug on players who haven’t gotten their act together yet and pounce on new playing time situations. Or, you could just happen to have Starling Marte this week and let him fix everything for you. But why not both? With that said, on to the list!
Brandon Belt (1B/OF, San Francisco Giants)
Belt has taken things up a notch. He has gone 5-for-13 since returning from a lengthy IL stint, with 4 of those 5 hits being home runs. He also has maintained a 12-game hit streak since June 14th. On the year, the 33-year-old has put up a fantastic .266/.373/.576 line with 15 HR, which is all the more impressive when you realize he’s done it in just 184 AB (217 PA). Although he has had a significantly elevated 32% K% this year (20% in 2020), and Statcast thinks he might be overperforming with a .222 xBA and .465 xSLG, I think he is showing that 2020 was no fluke. That’s because he’s matched last year with a strong 16% Barrel% and a career-best 110 mph max eV. Belt is a must-add in all OBP formats but also an underrated play in average leagues looking for some pop… and hey, he stole 3 bases too!
Robbie Grossman (OF, Detroit Tigers)
Is it a 1950s movie intermission? Because I want to sing, “Let’s all go to the Robbie.” With him and Ray holding down the fort, it may even be the year of the Robbie. I am enjoying watching his 2021 unfold, as, in hindsight, it’s kind of odd that we turned bearish on him after cooling off from a hot start in 2020, ignoring the fact that he still ended the year with 8 HR and 8 SB in just 166 AB (192 PA). Well, now with over double the at-bats, he’s doubled his fun, as he’s now up to 17 HR and 13 SB as the late-career breakout continues. In OBP formats, he’s been a poor man’s Cedric Mullins… or a rich man’s Ramon Laureano (pre-suspension, of course). Yet he’s still not getting the respect he deserves, in part due to his .233 AVG. Even though he’s a Tiger, he continues to be a strong source of runs, RBI, HR, and SB, and should be rostered in all 10-team OBP leagues. He even makes for a worthy stream in AVG leagues.
C.J. Cron (1B, Colorado Rockies)
Last week, there was a brief period where the planets aligned, and Cron and Cronenworth had the same homer total. Early this year, I made a bold prediction that C.J. Cron would outhit Nolan Arenado, and he’s doing everything I can to not let me take the L, mashing an eye-popping .556/.636/1.278 with 4 HR and 16 RBI in 18 AB this week. That brings his season total to a C.J. cromulent .257/.366/.493 line with 18 HR in 296 AB, but I think that will all improve in a hurry. He has managed to carry over his unexpected walk rate from 2020, with a 12% BB% more than double his walk rates from pre-2020, while maintaining a strong K rate of 21%. While his 12% Barrel% has taken a step back, he’s still displaying elite 115 mph exit velocity with a great flyball rate and has been unstoppable while at home. Just note he’s been tough to start on the road, with a .207 AVG and just 3 HR. I still think the Rocky Peaks are worth riding, and he should be added in all 12-team leagues, especially OBP.
Yan Gomes (C, Oakland Athletics)
Most folks are still sleeping on him, but they shouldn’t be letting out a Yan. Gomes has quietly been an above-average hitter since 2020, as he cut his previously problematic K rate to a sub-20%. This year, he’s displayed that this change was no fluke, which makes him one of the rare catchers that can actually be an asset for batting average. His xBA of .292 is top 6th percentile in the majors, with a .487 slugging percentage that isn’t bad either and a clear upgrade over Sean Murphy, who is below .230 in his actual and expected batting average. He still might not quite play every day as he’s not a great game caller or framer behind the dish, but the departure of Laureano opens up the possibility for him to play at DH, where he may actually be their best hitter. Even without full-time reps, I think the plus batting average makes him a better investment than many full-time catchers and more rostered part-time pop guys like Garver. With a measly 10% Roster Rate on ESPN, he’s likely on your wire and an underrated asset for the stretch run in 12-team AVG leagues.
Sam Hilliard (OF, Colorado Rockies)
Sometimes you really believe in a player, and sometimes you just see a hot streak that you want to latch onto. Hilliard is the latter, as I’m pretty concerned with his 35% K% rate, but it’s pretty easy to forgive when he’s hit .351/.415/.838 with 5 HR and 1 SB in 37 AB in the past two weeks. Perhaps he can cut down on the Ks, and it’s at least encouraging that in this past week, he’s hit .421 with just 4 Ks in 21 Plate Appearances. If he can even just hit with a 30% K% the rest of the way, the massive power/speed upside playing half his games in Coors makes him worth an add in all 15-team formats for some lightning in a bottle.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers)
Miggy is the fantasy Black Knight, by which I mean he’s not quite dead yet! Although his recent surge has been overlooked by many, he’s hit an impressive .364/.462/.697 with 3 HR in 33 ABs the past 14 days, raising his season line to .248/.309/.379. That’s the most exciting thing since sliced cereal, but the thing that intrigues me is that he had a 7/4 BB/K over that span, offering hope he can be a batting average asset going forward. Cabrera actually leads all major leaguers in 50 PA xwOBA improvement with a .482 rolling xwOBA over that span (previously .260), with a still-solid .371 xwOBA in his past 100 PA. In the heart of a surprisingly decent hodgepodge of a lineup. I think he’s a sleeper to hit .290+ with 6-8 homers the rest of the way, so he’s a strong add in 15-team AVG leagues where 1B has been a wasteland lately.
Seth Brown (OF, Oakland Athletics)
Now that Ramon got caught juicing, Brown’s value is boosting. The boring-named player has had a quite unremarkable season in spite of his remarkable 2019 minor league campaign, hitting just .208/.286/.467, although the 14 HR in 197 AB (220 PA) with 3 SB is nice. I think better things are in store for him, as he has a career-best 27% K% and 9% (not by much), but with a strong 13% Barrel% and 114 mph Max eV that is in the top 10% of the league. He’s going all-in for the homers with a 50% FB%, which is not a great fit for Oakland and will keep his batting average down, but he’s still quietly pacing for 30+ HR and 5+ SB pace over a full season and may even hit well enough to hold off the floundering Piscotty against lefties. With just one game from 1B eligibility in most leagues, he’s a strong buy in 18-team OBP formats and all AL-only formats.
Rob Refsnyder (OF, Minnesota Twins)
He deserves to be put in, but right now, Rob is sitting on the Refsnydlines. That pun was almost as bad as Brett Rooker playing over him. Ref has battled quite a few unlucky injuries and is listed on Roster Resource as the backup centerfielder (which won’t be eased by Buxton’s return), but I hold faith that he will capitalize on playing time and provide value in the near future. He’s hit a surprising .309/.385/.471 with 2 HR in 68 AB (78 PA), and while he’s unlikely to maintain that, there are many things to like. Statcast believes in the small sample with a .289 xBA and .521 xSLG, and his 13% Barrel% and 110 mph max eV are surprisingly strong from a purported batting average guy. I think he can continue to be a high-floor player with a .270 AVG with a strong OBP and a handful of homers over the rest of the season, which makes him quite useful in a year where both categories are in high demand. Add in AL-only formats and 18-team formats that have a bench to stash him.
Cody Bellinger (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Say it ain’t so, but Bellinger, it’s time to go. I know this might seem like a crazy time to drop him, considering he’s hit .294 with just 2 Ks in 17 AB this week, but that’s like saying you want to stay on a sinking ship because you found a rubber ducky on it. In a Dodgers’ lineup that’s so stacked, he’s been getting increasingly pushed to the side, as he’s shown an inability to solve lefties and getting benched against them. The bar in 10-team leagues for a platoon player is extremely high, and despite his “upside,” you’d likely much be immediately better off rolling with Belt or Cron who are likely available in those shallower formats. Trim Belli from your roster in all 10-team formats, and I wouldn’t even fault you for cutting in 12-team formats.
Eugenio Suarez (3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds)
Eugenio’s in a bottleneck, and it’s rubbing me the wrong way. Speaking of platoons, Suarez looks to find himself on the wrong side of one, as Moustakas’s return (combined with the strong recent performances of second baseman Jonathan India and shortstop Kyle Farmer) leaves Moose and Suarez sharing the hot corner and tanking both of their values. Suarez does have 22 HR and sports a nearly identical strong Barrel% and Max eV from the past 3 years, but his .173 AVG is simply unbearable. It’s a bit hard to understand from the numbers, as his K rate only inched up to 31% with a reduced 9% walk rate, but Statcast validates his struggles with a lousy .205 xBA. With how much harder it is to find AVG and OBP on the wire than power, the Juicenio is simply not worth the Suareeze. Cut in all 12-team formats.
Daulton Varsho (C/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
I think he needs to get sent back to junior Varshity. The Diamondbacks do have nothing much to play for, so they might not care that he’s hitting .197 with 5 HR and 3 SB in 158 PA, but that average is likely hurting you in AVG leagues. It hasn’t all been bad luck either, as his xBA of .216 and xSLG of .375 aren’t lighting the world on fire. I will say his strong 13% BB% makes him worth clinging to in OBP leagues, but also consider this… he only has one more SB than Eric Haase and Jonah Heim. While the sprint speed is still elite, and he certainly possesses good raw power, there are simply other catchers (like Elias Diaz and Yan Gomes) that will make a better fantasy impact. I think he still makes a great target for next year, but in 15-team leagues, I think it’s fine to cut him and the .071/.133/.071 line he left in your lap this week.
Isan Diaz (2B/3B, Miami Marlins)
The good news is he’s still playing every day. The bad news is… why? The 25-year-old has managed to only have 3 RBI in 51 AB in the past 3 weeks, and while his .255 AVG over that span is passable, it comes with just one home run. Even though he’s drawn walks at a strong 13% clip, there’s a lot of pressure on the bat to produce, and it hasn’t been enough so far. After all, he isn’t great defensively and is unlikely to help on the base paths with his 25th percentile sprint speed, and Statcast validates his struggles with his .209 xBA. I’d cut in 18-team AVG formats, as it seems his 2019 minors mashing was merely a mirage.